Vocal Call and Response

Add actions to vocal signals for silence – and adapt them to your topic.


Treat call and response as seriously as possible, i.e. it is followed by silence with children physically copying your final position (g. hands in lap).

Don’t let this slip – or it will quickly lose its effectiveness. Always insist on everyone doing it, and silence afterwards.

When you introduce it, explain it to your class as you would any activity. Even practice it with them in a pretend ‘noisy’ scenario.

Vocal call and responses (like ‘ohhhh’/ ‘eyyyy’ in Lebanon) are commonly used – but the actions add a lot more possibility (and you do not need to raise your voice; you just need to be seen).


Tell the children that when you say ‘wacca wacca’, they say ‘hula hula’.

Your action for ‘wacca wacca’ is opening and closing both hands (like two ducks quacking!). Their action for ‘hula hula’ is rolling their fists.

The first time you try, they may just copy your ‘wacca wacca’, so explain it again if necessary.

Practice and increase speed.

With age 5 and up, you can reverse it: you say ‘hula hula’ and they reply ‘wacca wacca’, with the relevant actions. Don’t let the actions slip – this is important.

For variation, try whispering it, saying it slowly, saying it in a high voice, etc.

Also take away the sounds completely so that you have just the actions. This will increase focus.

Finish with stillness in whichever position you want your children (hands in their lap, arms crossed, hands on their knees, etc.), ready for the next activity.


Add new call and responses, for example you say ‘Hi’ (waving one hand) and the class replies ‘Hello’ (waving two hands). This works well for foreign language learning (e.g. English: Hi/Hello; French: Bonjour/Salut)

Make new ones up, themed to your topic – but keep it simple and have two distinct words and actions. For example for Spring, the call could be ‘Bees’ (whilst flapping hands like small wings) and the response could be ‘Bzzzz’ (whilst moving the end of your finger through the air, as if it’s a bee; the finger can end on your lips for silence).