Archive for the ‘Rhythm’ Category


St. Patrick’s Day Rhythm Identification

March 14, 2014

I mentioned before that I am not a big “holidays in the Music room” sort of person. I want the activities to add to my curriculum, not take time away from it. I found a cute way to sneak in a little St. Patty’s Day fun while staying on topic and not taking any extra time to introduce the holiday.

My Kindergarteners have recently learned ta (quarter note) and ta-ti (eighth notes.) They have been reading flash cards, writing/drawing the rhythms on dry erase boards*, and doing simple dictation with craft sticks.  They were ready to identify the pattern they heard performed from a selection of choices.

After perusing Pintrest and mulling over ideas, I had a brainstorm. Why not leprechaun gold? 


For this activity, I performed one of the six patterns and asked the students to find it on the page. They were instructed as to which color crayon to use for each turn. This made it VERY easy to look around the circle and see who was correctly identifying the rhythms.


For the first three turns I clapped and spoke the pattern using rhythm syllables. To amp up the rigor, the last three patterns were only clapped. Most of the kids found the patterns very quickly. When there were only two patterns left, I asked the students to articulate how they were different. (ie. “One pattern starts with ta and the other one starts with ta-ti.”)  Since I do not give report card grades to Kinder, I sent the completed worksheets home with instructions to read all of the rhythms to their families. (Five-year-olds think getting Music homework is the coolest thing EVER.) If I were to do this worksheet with the older classes, to whom I do give grades, I would likely do the same. I would simply look around the circle to quickly mark down the names of those who did not accurately identify all of the patterns, and how many were correct. I would only have had one or two children whom I would have needed to make a note about. 

Interested in this worksheet and versions including other rhythms?  Check them out on my TpT page. It’s a freebie!


Reflections on Valentine’s Day

February 21, 2014

I am not a big Holiday In the Music Room person. Most of my career has been in schools where I only saw the kids once per week. To teach holiday themed songs and activities, I would spend the entirety of the month living Halloween or Thanksgiving.  While I adore the holidays, I never found a way to make this work without having it impact my curriculum in a negative way.

I am now teaching in a school where I see the students twice a week. I have been slowly, and judiciously, adding in holiday themed activities. With Valentine’s Day now a week behind us, I thought it was a good time to reflect on what worked (despite too many snow days to count.)

Last year I wrote a short little Valentine’s Day song that would work with a solfege identification activity I was planning to implement. It is very adaptable and can be used at just about any grade level, for both rhythmic and melodic assessment. Click on the image to see a larger, easily readable version of the song.

Hello, Valentine!

Melodic Identification:  The students enter the room to find hearts scattered around the floor. The hearts are about 6-12″ wide and have four beat phrases written on them with stick notation. Below the rhythms are the solfege pitches. The students take a seat and sing the song. When the song ends, I either sing or play a four beat melody that matches one of the hearts. The students must stay on their rug spot and try to find the matching heart. If it is located near them (their bottom does not have to leave the floor in order to reach the heart) then they can hold it up.   The song is in do-pentatonic, so any pattern with those pitches works well.

Rhythm Reading: I found a really cute “musical hearts” activity on Pintrest. It was basically just musical chairs while stepping on heart shapes, but I knew there had to be a way to make it educational. I found packs of 35 foam hearts at Target about a week before the holiday. On each heart I wrote a four beat rhythm pattern. Each pack came with four different colored hearts. This worked out great, as I color coded the patterns: aqua (quarter note, quarter rest, eighth notes, half note, and sixteenth notes); yellow (added ti-tika, eighth-two sixteenth); pink (added tike-ti, two sixteenth-one eighth); and purple (added syncopa.) My third graders each stood on a heart. As we sang the song, the kids walk around the circle, stepping the beat. When the song ended, they all read the rhythm pattern on which they stood. We did a few rounds where all kids read their pattern at the same time, then we did rounds where I called on specific students. This was a great way to very quickly assess their rhythm reading!

Rhythm ID: I created a rhythm clip chart with some super cute clip art I found on TpT. There are four patterns on the page, with a different color background behind each pattern. We first practiced each pattern. I would chant, “Read the yellow pattern please!” (or whichever color I wanted them to read.) Then the challenge began. We sang the song. I then sang, “Which pattern do you hear?” on so and mi. I performed one of the patterns from the card on my recorder. The students had to identify which pattern I performed and clip a clothes pin next to it. I was easily able to look around and assess who was correct.

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None of these ideas are terribly original or revolutionary, but I wanted to show how adaptable one song can be. Since the children learned the song this year I will really only need to review it next year. I did each of the activities with a different grade level, so the students will have a new musical challenge next February.

How have you made a song work for multiple activities and/or grade levels? How have you managed to fit in the holiday festivities without sacrificing concentrated curriculum?


Monday (but really Tuesday) Manipulatives

September 10, 2013

Yesterday was our first day of school. We all know how crazy that can be. I meant to share this yesterday so that I could be part of the Monday Music Manipulatives Linkup at Pursuit of Joyfulness.  Alas, it is now Tuesday.  Better late than never?

There are so many rhythm and pitch manipulative ideas out there. I thought I would share one I use for pre-rhythm. My Kindergarteners label ta and ti-ti- (or ta-ti, as I say it) near the end of the school year. However, just because we haven’t labels one and two sounds with their proper names and syllables, it doesn’t mean we aren’t working on the concept.


If you have a SmartBoard, there is a wonderful product called Interactive NOW. Each CD-ROM contains at least six different activities at all different ability levels.  On volume 2 you can find an activity called Beat Box (Set 1).  There are four beat boxes into which you drag colored circles.  The students “read” the colors from left to right. The colors come in pairs: red/yellow and pink/purple.  I have the students say and clap the color names, identifying how many sounds each color makes.


Now here comes the manipulative.  While it is good for the students to read the pattens I create, or for individuals to come up and create a pattern, I want every single student to create their own pattern.  Enter the Math teacher.  I had an amazing Math coach at my old school who gave me an bag full of counting chips.  20130910_154928One side is red, the other is yellow. I give each student four chips. They get to “compose” (it is a great opportunity to start working in this vocab!) their own red/yellow pattern.  They must practice it, speaking and clapping.  We share our patterns with our neighbors, almost like a Music Think-Pair-Share. In later lessons I might give the students eight chips to compose longer pieces. The students can perform them on rhythm sticks or even on a glockenspiel set up in a pentatonic scale.20130910_154913

The great thing about this activity is that, once you have done it together as a class, it is a perfect activity if you do music centers. Provide a selection of instruments and see what the kids create!


Butterfly Rhythms: ta, ta-ti (ti-ti), and rest

April 19, 2013

I had acquired a number of foam pieces shaped like butterflies on a visit to my local the dollar store. I had a couple of different ideas of how I might use them, but just didn’t feel very happy with any of it. They sat in the extra bedroom languishing until about a week and a half ago.  I was doing some last minute lesson planning and needed a quick opening activity that I could also use during the next class for learning centers. I also wanted a way to see if individuals in my kindergarten and 1st grade classes were able to identify patterns of rhythms.  As Spring is finally upon us in New Jersey, I decided the butterflies had found their time.

I took eight butterflies and, using a permanent marker, wrote a four beat rhythm pattern across the shape. For Kindergarten I made a set using quarter notes and eighth notes. The 1st grade set included the same rhythms, plus quarter rest. I had this grand idea of getting a butterfly net and asking the kids to “capture” the butterfly I performed.  As with many grand plans, practicality won the day. Hence, Bop the Butterfly was born.


Bop the Butterfly, a rhythm identification game

•Place the rhythm butterflies on the floor or on a table, randomly spread out.
•Choose one student to be the “entomologist” or “lepidopterist.” Give them a mallet.
•The “expedition leader” (at first the teacher, but later on a student) reads one of the rhythm patterns aloud.
•The “lepidopterist” needs to search/hunt for the correct butterfly. They can “bop” the butterfly by tapping it with the mallet.
•The “lepidopterist” can ask their assistants (the rest of the class) for helpful hints. (ie. “It starts with a ta.” “It is near the door.”)
My students loved this activity.  It is so simple, yet effective. In fact, during the next class the students had a chance to play Bop the Butterfly as part of learning centers. They took turns being the expedition leader. Some groups even made the game competitive by seeing who could discover the butterfly first.  Just last night my school held a curriculum fair for the families. I included Bop the Butterfly at my table. The children taught their parents how to play.  Many were impressed to see the children playing together, reading and identifying the rhythms.
Check out my TeacherPayTeachers store to download the game and rhythm cards for FREE! While you are there, check out the other items I have created.  There aren’t that many right now, but I would love to hear what you think.
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