Who’s That Knocking On the Door?

This is a great song and game to use at the beginning of the school year to learn students’ names. It’s also one of my kids’ favorites. Even in it’s one lined simplicity, 3rd and 4th graders will play it all day. Maybe it’s the unique tone set (s mr) that intrigues them, or the competitive elimination aspect – all’s I know is that they’re hooked. I don’t recommend playing this game all the way to completion every time you play. You can save that for special occasions, (and when you find you’ve under planned…).

The game starts standing in a circle, with a body percussion pattern: back – front – clap – clap (back/front are the hands sweeping against the sides of the thighs). Once the pattern is established, we all sing the tune together. Starting with the teacher (or a designated student), you sing your name  (during back – front) then jump in and out of the circle (during clap-clap). The student to the right of the teacher then sings his or her name and jumps in and out in the same way, and so on around the circle. The rules are: 1) You must sing, and not say your name. 2) You must sing your name at the correct time. 3) You must jump in and out of the circle at the right time. If a child fails to do one of these things, they go into the “cookie jar” (middle of the circle), where they still sing and perform the body percussion with the class. Then the whole process starts again, starting with the next student (not the teacher).


Who’s that, knocking on the door, on a cold winter’s day?

Su-san (clap clap) Phil-lip (clap clap) etc.

geographical origin: U.S. – New York City

tone set: s mr

meter: 4/4

pedagogical use: solo singing, keeping a steady beat


One response to “Who’s That Knocking On the Door?

  1. Ellyn Sillick-Nash

    Where did you find this song? Could you share the tune?

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