Rhythms centers can be really fun.. or really boring, depending on how you handle them. My kids always love them, because I try to include at least one game. Now, I love to stick to crowd favorites, like Kaboom! (seriously, they are disappointed it we don’t play this one!) or Go Fish (yes, even my fifth graders seem to enjoy this one), but it is nice to switch it up sometimes. What is a good way to switch it up? Well, Feed the Monster generally does the trick.
Feed the Monster is a game that I found on Pinterest. I looked and looked but cannot find the original post that I saw, however, if you type Feed the Monster into the search bar, you can find a ton of differs monster styles. In the post I read, they used it to teach sight words, but obviously, I am not going to do that. I generally use it with rhythms (although we are trying with melody soon…. wish me luck!). It does work best with younger students, and I have had success with students K-2.
Feed the Monster Rhythm Game
Grocery store paper bags (or a cereal box would also work)
For this game, you will need to set a few things up.
Monster: The monster is a brown paper bag or a cereal box. Cut a hole in it to be the mouth. I also like to have the top part open so that you can dump the cards out easily when finished. Add some eyes and hands and so forth to the bag to make it more fun.
First off, put students into groups. I find groups of 4-5 usually work pretty well.
Each group sits at a station with a Monster bag. Cards can be stacked up or just on the floor. I like to use a hula hoop to contain the chaos.
The first person picks up a card and reads it. If they get it right, they feed it to the monster. If it’s wrong, it goes back in the pile.
Next person goes next.
Keep going until you are out of cards!
It really is that simple.
I usually walk around while this is going on and assess whether students are reading the rhythms correctly or not. This allows me to assess their skills without them knowing that they are being tested– which is a win in my book (I even have a whole blog post on assessment without “assessment” in the music room!).
This game works really well in October, but I have done is in all different seasons– the kids do not mind!
What rhythm games work well with your little people? Let us know in the comments!
Since I started teaching, I have wanted to incorporate more books into my lessons, but I had two problems: 1. I didn’t have many books and 2. I didn’t know what to do with them.
Over the past few months, I have been working to remedy #1, and not I am working on #2– figuring out what to do with these books.
Now, of course, you can read a book just to read it. You can also read a book that has a similar theme to a song that you are learning. Even though both of those ideas are valid, I wanted more meaningful, musical ways to read books. These different ways are coming along (slowly but surely!) as I try to incorporate one to three books in each set of lessons.
This lesson was a huge hit.
This lesson is based off of the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. It includes beat, rhythm, instruments, and more!
I also have a Teachers Pay Teachers product that has some helpful resources in it. You can do this lesson without it, but it has a printable lesson plan, powerpoint, and a bunch of printables to go along with it! You can get it here!
So without further ado, let’s get into the lesson!
Prefer to watch or listen? You can see this lesson on YouTube!
Go to the piano (or grab a guitar or ukulele) and play along with the students while reviewing a previous song. Allow students to keep the steady beat.
Say, “I wonder who can keep the steady beat to this song” and start to sing the alphabet song.
Next, say, “Great! That reminds me of a super fun book that we can read today! And we can keep the steady beat to it.”
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Lesson:
Read the book and have students keep the beat (quietly) on their bodies. It helps if you keep the beat on a drum– I have this djembe and use it all of the time.
After reading the book, tell the students you are going to play the instruments– but first you have to figure out what to play. Write the words to some of the lines that repeat themselves on the board with heartbeats on top (or use the cards that come in my TPT product, which will make this part much easier!) and have students help you figure out the rhythms. We do this one beat at a time and I ask if there is one sound or two on the beat. Then I ask if that is ta or titi.
Practice reading the rhythms with both the words and the rhythm syllables.
Then, pass out small percussion instruments. I used castanets, which are my favorite.
Have students practice the rhythms with the instruments.
Once the students know the parts they are playing, read the book again. When you get to the parts you pulled out (Chicka chicka boom boom, Will there be enough room?, I’ll meet you at the top of the coconut tree, etc), pick up your instrument and play the rhythm. Have the students repeat it back to you and play their instrument.
*Note: I have students put their instrument on the floor and hands on their shoulders when they are not playing, and I do the same so they have a visual reminder of what they are doing.
To close, you can do something that practices ta and titi. Here are a few suggestions:
Have students work in small groups to figure out the rhythm of a different line in the book
Have students write the rhythms to one of the lines. I have pages in my product pack where students can write the rhythms and color in a picture of that scene.
Give every student a card with a word on it and have them sort the words into ta or titi. (This is a good example of an exit ticket that does not require any writing– which is helpful if you don’t have tables!)
Give students a heartbeat chart and have them write rhythms or use manipulatives to make rhythms.
Need some heartbeat charts? There are a ton of different ones in my FREE resource library! Not a member yet? Sign up here! You will get access to all of my free resources– and I add new ones every month! You will also get one email a week with tips and tricks that you can use in your classroom tomorrow.
Alright friends, that is my Chicka Chicka Boom Boom lesson. It was a huge hit with my first graders at the beginning of the year (and you know 1st grade needs some alphabet reminders at the beginning of the year).
I am always looking for really easy, low stress movement activities– but that desire becomes even more apparent at the beginning of the school year. At the beginning of the year, I like to get kids moving in a way that is fun and not stressful– especially for students who are new to my school and the way that I teach music. This year, the stick figures posters have been my saving grace.
Now, some of these activities I came up with, but some I did not. I originally got the idea from my mentor teacher during student teaching. I am not sure where she got it from. I also got one of the variations from the book 85 Engaging Movement Activities by Phyllis Weikart (which I highly recommend, by the way).
The first (and easiest!) of these activities is 4 beat phrases. This is the one that I got out of the book 85 Engaging Movement Activities by Phyllis Weikart. Basically, you hold up a stick figure poster and students match it. You count to four, and each time, you switch the card. Super simple. What is cool is that students will start memorizing the pattern and will be able to switch to the next pose without even seeing it. You can also switch it up by changing the tempo or going to 8 beats or 16 beats. This is the activity I used this year right off the bat with my 3-5 graders.
Stick Figures with a Song
The next activity is actually the same, but with music in the background. Do the same procedure, just add some music. I really like this, because it will get students listening to things they may not normally listen to. I have done this with everything from salsa to Michael Jackson to Japanese classical music, when we did the song Star Festival (check it out here!).
Add a Blank Sheet
In order to get kids thinking more creatively, I add a black sheet of paper (or two or three!). Students copy the stick figure poses that are on the papers. When it is a blank sheet of paper, they make up their own. This is really simple, lets them be creative in a low-stakes way, because it is just for a moment. I even say they can use one of the ones we have already used.
After adding a blank sheet of paper, I will sometimes go to a pile of blank sheets. Students have to come up with their own poses. I like using a pile of blank sheets of paper, because that allows the kids to get the visual cue of when to switch poses. You could also just tell them to switch between 4 and 1 if you are counting, or you could use a drum to signal time to shift.
With a Partner
Annnd lastly, we do this in small groups. I always have them come up with their own in whole group first. Then we get into small groups or partners. One person is the leader and the other(s) follow the leader. The leader makes up the poses every four beats, like we have been doing, and the others do the same thing. After about 30 seconds, signal to the students to switch (I like to use a triangle or a maraca or something like that).
So there you go– five movement activities with stick figures! These are simple enough that you could use them in a teacher’s classroom or add it into your lesson if you happen to finish 5 minutes early. I have used it with grades 2-5, but the little people could probably do it as well.
You can draw the stick figures on paper, or you can get mine from my TPT shop (they are $1 and surprisingly popular. I didn’t think that anyone would want them, but what do I know?).
Want to get free resources? Sign up for the FREE resource library– all you do is put your email in, and you have access to all of the resources in the library (including quizzes, powerpoint, beat charts, rhythm cards, lyric sheets, and more!)– and new resources are added monthly! Sign up here!
What is your favorite simple movement activity? Let us know in the comments!
Have you heard of the song Ickle Ockle? It is a really fun folk song… with like 20 different versions of it in cyberspace. I have seen it as Bickle Bockle, with do, without do, different wording…. yeah.
But, no matter how you sing it, it is a really fun folk song and my students really liked it.
I used it with second and third grade to introduce do. If you do it without do, you can use it with even younger students…. It’s really up to you!
Here is the most reliable version that I have found.
In my TPT product, I have slightly different wording, because I went with what was in my textbook series.
However you sing it, it is really fun. And thanks to testing, I have now been able to do about a million different activities with this one song… So, I hope you enjoy the ones down below:
Ickle Ockle Game
First and foremost, we have to talk about the game. Full disclosure, I have not had a chance to play the game (yet!) because I have been in classrooms without enough space… but I have hopes for next week!
To play the game, everyone gets with a partner (except the person in the middle, who I call the shark). They walk with their partner in a circle. Everyone sings. At the end of the song, Everyone has to find a new partner, and whoever is without a partner goes to the middle.
So. Much. Fun.
I use Ickle Ockle to review sol, la, and mi and also introduce do. So we do this activity twice– first for sol, la, and mi, and second to include do.
I put flashcards all over the floor (I use the fish shaped ones from the Ickle Ockle pack on TPT). Students sing and walk to the steady beat. When the song stops, they stop. Whatever fish the are closest to, they sing. Then they go back to singing and walking.
Students hold a flashcard. As they sing the song, they walk around the room. When the song stops, they turn to the closest person and sing their flashcard. Then they go back to singing and walking.
Side note: To avoid having anyone crying because they didn’t have a partner, I tell them that if they are really far away from the other students, they can just read their own– but only once. This makes the activity waaaay less stressful.
Write the rhythm or the melody on cards. Have students get into small groups and arrange the cards in the correct order!
(PS– Melody cards that match the music are included in my product!)
Wow, writing that feels like the fun is going away. Activity sheet? Does that sound less taboo?
Anyway, I promise, worksheets can be fun. No matter what people say.
I used three different ones with my students this week. First, we wrote the rhythm to the song under the words. Then we did a coloring sheet, where they had to match the solfege pattern to the notes on the staff (it was really a quiz, but they didn’t know that…), and then we created our own pattern and created a fish habitat with crayons!
Does that seem boring? No.
Annnnd…. You could just do a fish themed coloring sheet or have students draw fish scenes. This is extra great if you are in their classrooms one day or if you have a sub.
Think flashcards can’t be fun? Think again! I use flashcards in my elementary music classroom all of the time to help students get engaged in music literacy. By using them different ways and mixing them up, I am able to help students stay engaged and become more musically literate.
These flashcard activities will work whether you are working on rhythm or melody or instruments of the orchestra or whatever.
So here we go, for some of the easiest, most fun, no prep literacy activities.
Note: For every activity, I start by having the students read the flashcards while I hold them in the front to make sure that they know what it is asking of them.
Need some flashcards? You can check out flashcards for recorder, melody, solfege, rhythm, treble clef, bass clef, alto clef, etc here!
Also, you can get a FREE set of Level 1 rhythms (ta, titi, and rest) in my free resource library. They are available in both stick notation and regular notation. Not a member yet? Just sign up here to get access to monthly downloads! You will get two emails and a free resource every month!
Spread flashcards all over the ground. You can have them going in a specific pattern or formation, or just spread all over the ground. Have students sing a song or listen to recorded music and walk. When the music stops, they turn to the nearest flashcard on the ground and read it– out loud, all together. They go back to singing and moving.
This works especially great if you can match the flashcards to the song, like in my Ickle Ockle lesson. This lesson includes fish flashcards, so students sing about fish and then find a fish.
This is similar to the last one (and I sometimes use that one to prepare this one!).
Give every student a flashcard. Have them sing one of your songs (or even just play a song). When the song goes off, they turn (so their feet down’t move) the nearest partner and read that person’s flashcard. The song starts again, and they walk again.
You could make this really structured with concentric circles of having only half of the students moving if that would make your classroom less chaotic. Or they could just walk all over the place.
Note: I always tell them that if they are not near a partner at the end of the song, they should just read their own flashcard. This helps avoid students crying because all the partners were taken and helps avoid students running across the room to get a partner.
Often to preface one of the other activities, I like to have students pick a flashcard to do. This may be part of our review. I will have one student come to the front and hold up a flashcard. We will sing whatever song we have been working on, then read that flashcard. Then sing and another student will come up and pick a flashcard.
This works especially great with call and response songs like Charlie Over the Ocean. The person who was at the front got to call and have the students respond. Then they would read the card. Mine especially loved it because I used the flashcards from this product and they had different ocean animals in it, which we inserted into the song!
This is one of those activities that I came up with and was not sure the students would like. But they loved it.
Put a bunch of flashcards into a regular manila envelope. Have student pass the envelope to the beat of a song. (I know there is a hot potato song, but I don’t know it. So we use recorded music and use this as a little singing break.) When the song stops, the person holding it has to pull out a card and read it.
And then you can stand by with your handy dandy clipboard and write down grades! Win win!
I found this game on a teaching website talking about using it for literacy centers, but it works so well for music too! I use it with K-2 grade and they think it is so silly.
Get a brown paper bag and cut a hole in the middle of the front to be the mouth of your monster. Add eyes and anything else you want to make it look monster like.
Have students read the flashcard, and if it is right, they get to feed it to the monster!
Matching and Sorting
Matching is one of the only things on the list that is better for melody than anything else.
You can have students use erasers or bingo chips to match the melody from a card (such as the sol-la-mi cards) onto the treble clef. For an added challenge, you could give them cards with just the letters or solfege and have them create the melody on the treble clef.
Sorting is really great for things like instruments of the orchestra. You could sort them into the instrument families by having them put the flashcards in piles or in boxes. You could use these-– then you could also play the game!
Creating Long Pieces
This is one of my students’ favorite centers activities. I will just give them a box full of flashcards for whatever we are working on, and they use them to create their own pieces by stringing 4 or 8 of them together and then reading them. So simple and so fun. Also works well in partners.
Put Flashcards in Order
Just like with my lesson Ickle Ockle, I love to have students create the order of the song. I will make or buy flashcards that match the song, and have them figure out what part goes where. Sometimes we do this as a whole class, and sometimes as small groups. It is great to review if you have already been working on the song for a few classes!
You didn’t think I would leave this one out, did you?
Kaboom is one of my students’ FAVORITE games. They will seriously beg me to play it on free days.
Students sit in a circle. They take turns pulling flashcards out of an envelope or box or whatever is convenient. If they say it correctly, they keep it. If not, they put it back. If they get one that says Kaboom!, then they have to put all of their cards back.
So there you go! 9 engaging flashcard activities. I only intended to write about 4 or 5, but once I got started, I just kept thinking of other ideas!
Don’t forget to join the FREE resource library to get the FREE level 1 black and white rhythm cards. You can sign up here. Need some other flashcards? I have watercolor rhythm flashcards, black and white, solfege, recorder, etc in my TPT shop. Check them out here.
Breezes are Blowing is a Luiseno Indian Rain song that I used with my second and third graders. The rhythms are very simple, but the melody is a bit complex for those grades– it includes low la, do, re, sol, and la– but it was really great to talk about form and improvisation, so that’s what we did! But we know that it is good for students to sing and hear songs even if they cannot correctly notate them immediately.
This lesson talks about aba form, and adds an improvised part to create ABA as well. Students play instruments, sing, create rhythms, improvise, and more!
This lesson does involve a bit of teacher-made resources to facilitate the students’ improvisation, but you can get the product in my TPT shop that has everything in it! It has a powerpoint (stick notation and regular notation), worksheets, rhythm cards, etc. You can definitely do the lesson without it, or you can check it out here.
Want to get free resources? Sign up for the FREE resource library– all you do is put your email in, and you have access to all of the resources in the library (including quizzes, powerpoint, beat charts, rhythm cards, lyric sheets, and more!)– and new resources are added monthly! Sign up here!
Breezes are Blowing
Teach students the song Breezes are Blowing by rote.
Ask the students, what two parts are the same? Which part is different? Then ask, “If I label the first line a, and the second line b, what should I call the last line?” Inevitably, someone will say c. So… then explain, “The third line is actually a, because it is the same as the first. If something is the same as another line, they get the same letter.
Next, have students come up with movements for each part of the song. Tell them that the two a sections have to have the same movement, and b should be different. You can do this individually or in small groups depending on what you prefer.
After they have some up with their actions, sing the song through twice and just have everyone do their own actions at the same time. (Alternatively, you could have students do them individually and perform for each other if you have the time.)
Have students brainstorm (or have some cards ready, like the ones in the Breezes are Blowing product on TPT) words that relate to breezes and rain. This could be umbrella, thunderstorm, gust, raindrops, etc.
Once you have decided on the words, figure out what rhythms the words have. You could write this on the board, or have it ahead of time if you want to save some time.
Model for the students how to string together the rhythms you just came up with to improvise a new rhythm. Have them repeat back to you the ones you say, then allow students to do create their own rhythms.
Tell the students that the song Breezes are Blowing is going to be A, and they will get to make up the B section by using different words from the board. Practice that a few times.
Write ostinatos on the board for the students to practice. We used four. Our rhythms went with the words breezes blowing all around, rain drop rain drop, ocean, and sh….. We practice each one with just body percussion together.
Next, I handed out the instruments. I started with just two instruments and ostinatos to accompany Breezes are Blowing, and added the other two once they were successful with the first. Our “orffestration” looked like this:
Breezes blowing all around: castanets
Rain drop rain drop: egg shakers
Sh: rainsticks (ocean drums would work too!)
I started one group first, and then added the second group in until everyone was playing. Then I sang the song. Some of the students joined in immediately, but for some students, that was a bit much for them to get all at once. So if they are not singing the first few times, that’s ok. It’s a lot to think about. They will get there (although you may have to remind them).
After your students get the accompaniment down, then you can have them improvise a B section to go with their song.
And to take it one step further, you can have students write down their favorite B section they tried before they leave.
So there it is! This lesson was spread over a few different days (I feel like I always say that…) I used the product from my TPT shop to show all of the rhythms, the improvisation, the words, and for the worksheets my students used at the end to write down their favorite B section. You can feel free to check it out here!
What process do you use to teach improvisation? Let me know in the comments!
Most music teachers include lots of books in their elementary music classes. I see this all the time on social media, in trainings, and in classrooms. But can I admit something to you? When I was first starting out, I felt like i was very unclear as to HOW to go about incorporating books. Like– what do you actually do with them? (And don’t say read them.)
A while later, and I am (finally!) starting to get the hang of using books in my normal classroom life. So if you are thinking, “I want to use books but I don’t know how!” Then this post is for you.
As you read the book, have students look at the pictures of each of the instruments. Have them mime with their hands how to play the instruments. So every time you say cymbals, students can pretend to hit cymbals together in their hands. When you say cello, they can hold one hand up and use the other to play the imaginary bow.
This gets the students involved in the story annnnd the added bonus is that they are now thinking about how each instrument is played rather than “Oh a cello is some kind of instrument I’ve never heard of before.”
Speaking of which….
Show and Tell
For instrument show and tell, you can read the book and then have students look at pictures or posters for each instrument and talk about how it is played.
If you have any of these instruments (and, btw, you can get a fancy silver kazoo on Amazon for cheap here), bring them in! I love to bring in my cello and show the students what it looks like and how it is played. They are always super amazed (and impressed by my Mary Had a Little Lamb rendition).
Oh course, you probably don’t own a cello AND a harp AND a saxophone AND a flute AND cymbals AND all of the other things, but if you have one of them, it is still going to make a huge difference for the students.
This is what I used for my students this year, and it worked really well. I taught 2nd and 3rd grade about the instrument families. Later on, we read this book. While reading the book, I stopped at each instrument and had the students tell me what family that instrument belonged to. If they were correct, then they got to go to the board and put the picture of the instrument onto the section of the board.
For example, after the shy fellow swallowed the cello, I asked, “What instrument family is the cello in?” Athena says, “Oh it’s in the string family!” Athena walks up to the board, finds the cello, and puts it in the section of the board labelled “strings”.
By the way, Athena is my dog, not one of my students. She is sitting next to me while I write this, so I thought I would include her.
A few days later, I have the student do pretty much the same activity but on a printed worksheet. Students write or draw the names of each of the instruments in the boxes that correlate with that instrument’s family.
Here is the best video I can find that has the melody, although we did it much faster than this.
I use the original book at the beginning of the year with my kinders to show the students the difference between singing voice and talking voice (read about that lesson here!). So I read it one day and I sing it another day.
This one is a little bit trickier, but cumulative songs like this are fun to use with instruments. You assign each instrument a word in the song, and every time the word comes, you have a student play that instrument.
Parts of this book would be perfect, and others would take more creativity. Cymbals and a bell would be easy to come by, but finding an alternative to a cello or harp that won’t confuse the students would be more challenging.
Although, it would be a perfect time to pull out all of the autoharps in my closet that I don’t know what to do with…
If you have done this before or have a good idea for which instruments to use in your classroom, let me know in the comments!
And don’t forget to sign up for the FREE resource library– all you do is put your email in, and you have access to all of the resources in the library (including quizzes, powerpoint, beat charts, lyric sheets, and more!)– and new resources are added monthly! Sign up here!
Is St. Patrick’s Day a big deal where you live? It is one of those holidays that either your city takes very seriously, or no one cares.
Here in Savannah, we take it very seriously.
We actually have the third largest St. Patrick’s ay parade in the US– yes, right here in South Georgia! I looked that up to double check we are still #3, and one of the articles I read said we have the highest density of Irish-Americans for our size– 8%. I did not know that.
Now, I’m going to be honest, none of my kids are Irish. But they still love St. Patrick’s Day, and I am shocked by how much they looooved the music in this Irish lesson! I actually did this K-3, although it is probably best suited for 2-3 grade. Nevertheless, in every class, students were asking me if they could sing it again.
At the bottom, I will link some other ideas if you want to expound upon what we’ve got here!
We start the day out with a well known song as a warm up. We did not previously know any Irish songs (should have planned better!), so each grade did whatever they had done last week.
After that, I told them, “We are going to listen to Irish music today! Does anyone know what holiday is coming soon that has to do with Ireland?”
We learn the chorus to “Tell Me Ma”. I taught it to them by rote– first words, then with the melody. This is actually one of our Musical Explorers songs (find out more about that here), which means I have extra resources to go along with it– that you can access! So I use this page to show the lyrics. You can get the song here.
They sing along with the song for about 30 seconds, and then I pause it. Then we talk about how the chorus is a part of the song that keeps coming back over and over, and the verses are different each time. I have the class pick different ways that we can keep the steady beat, and we change each time the section changes. So I will write something like this on the board:
Instrumental: Pat legs
Verse 1: Stomp
Verse 2: Head
We will listen and sing and do the steady beat, changing our motions for each section. Of course, I am letting the kids pick it so it ends up being different each time.
Instrument time! We looked at the bodhran (an Irish drum played with a stick– you can look at one here) and– with the older students– talked about how it is a percussion instrument. We listened again and played hand drums, since they were the closest thing what we had to the bodhran.
To make it more interesting for my second and third graders, they each played the hand drums. Two students went to the front of the room and played tubanos (I have these!). Everyone was playing the steady beat. We walked in a circle on the chorus and stood still the rest of the time. Each section, the people at the tubanos had to switch with someone in our circle until everyone had played.
Next, I showed the students some pictures of Ireland (I literally just google “Ireland” and click on pictures– but make sure that you do this ahead of time and look to make sure they are appropriate!). We looked at the ocean, the castles, the cliffs, and make sure to show them the bogs.
After explaining what a bog is, I told them I had a song about a bog. They learned the chorus by rote. I sang the verses myself, and had them use their arms to make actions that represented all the things in the bog– the limb and the branch and the twig and the nest, and so on. They joined in on the chorus. And, of course, I played my ukulele (but you could play the guitar or the piano or xylophones or just do it a cappella).
After that, we watched some Irish dancing. Again, my kids are used to Irish dancing because– hello, parade– but they still amaze me with how much they love it. They think it is so cool. One fifth grader told me last year, “It’s kind of like our music, because it’s got a cool beat and then a melody on top.” I thought that was very insightful.
Anyway, I like to have them watch Riverdance, because it is super cool. This is my favorite video so far– I always look for one that have guys as well as girls.
You know those songs that you find and you are not sure if your kids will like it, then they love it? That’s how the Tick Tock song was for my classes. I thought it looked/sounded cute, but it was a HUGE hit! My kids wanted to keep doing this song over and over and over again.
And of course we love any songs that keep students singing!
I used this as a movement activity and for playing instruments, but I am planning to bring it back to teach rhythm. It is a ta and titi song as well as a sol-mi-la song. So of course you can use it for any of those.
I do have a TPT product for this, which you can get here. It has rhythmic and melodic practice with flash cards, slides with rhythm and melody, clock faces, beat charts, and basically everything you need for a super smooth class. If you just want to get a preview to use in your classroom with slides for lyrics, solfege, and rhythm, then you can get that in my free resource library. If you have not accessed my free resource library, then you will need to click here. You provide your email and then you get the password and you can download everything in the library! I only email twice a month, so I won’t be spamming you, and of course you can unsubscribe anytime (but you won’t want to because, again, FREE RESOURCES).
PS My second graders also really enjoyed this song!
Teach students the Tick Tock song by rote. You can focus on rhythm or melody. You can find both the rhythm and melody on the free slide in my resource library or you can get all of the resources in my TPT.
Teach the students the movements to the song. I always (ALWAYS) start non-locomotor movements and then switch to locomotor movements if the students can handle it. The movements are a little bit awkward because they really aren’t supposed to be non-locomotor, but my kids did not notice or care. Here are the movements:
Walk in place
At “open wide”, open your arms up wide
At “cuckoo”, bend your body sideways for each cukoo
I learned this from a video on this YouTube channel. It no longer seems to be on YouTube and the link from my Pinterest is broken. So he gets the credit even though you cannot see it!
3. Each time, ask a student to pick what time it will be. This can make it entertaining for hours, because they all want to pick the time. I like to use a plastic teaching clock like this one or the clock cut out in my TPT product to show the time, because most students cannot tell time on analog clocks. I don’t spend a ton of time on it, but we do talk about the big hand and little hand and the hours and then I will change the time each time we sing.
4. If they are doing a good job with that, then we will do it in partners. Now, of course, you have to make sure that you prep them VERY well before doing anything in partners. Since they are so young, I like to model with a student a few times before I let them do it. Basically, one person is the clock and one is the cuckoo. The clock stands still. The cuckoo walks in a circle around the clock. At “open wide”, the cuckoo opens the clocks’ arms. On each “cuckoo” the cuckoo pops out from behind the clock.
5. Use some small percussion instruments to play the beat to the song. Then use the instruments to play the rhythm. I tend to be partial to rhythm sticks and castanets, both of which are really cheap options if you don’t have much in your classroom.
6. Make the rhythm! Depending on where your students are in the rhythm reading journey, you can have them put manipulative (like the clock cut outs in my resource) onto heartbeat sheets. Use one manipulative for ta and two on a beat for titi. Mini erasers are usually a huge hit for this activity. Or you could use popsicle sticks like I talk about in this lesson to make stick notation ta and titi. I have also seen people use straws for this activity, although I have not used them.
7. Make the melody! Cut out the words to the song. Put two lines on the ground with tape. Have students put the words onto the two line staff. Then you could have everyone practice that by themselves with bingo chips or mini erasers on a personal two line staff.
A clock race: Have students get into teams. One student runs up and changes the clock to a particular time, rushes back and the next student goes.
Rhythm clock: Have students work in groups to make a rhythm clock. They have to make a rhythm for each hour that adds up to the hour. This is more fun with older students who know a bunch of rhythms with different beats, but it can still be fun with the littles.
I know that may seem like a weird comment, but it is true. I have a lot of fun teaching piano and forte. I think this is because there are just so many different things that you can do with it– and it is so different from teaching rhythm and melody and styles of music.
This post has a few of my favorite activities for teaching piano and forte. It is not nearly everything that can be used for piano and forte, but it is a couple things that my students have enjoyed.
And make sure you read to the bottom, because I saved the best for last.
The first thing that I do with my students is relate piano and forte to animals. I ask them to come up with ideas of what is loud and what is soft. This year, we did a series of lessons based off of mice and bears. This was an easy segway into piano and forte, because we were able to talk about how loud they were. (Are bears loud or soft?)
You could use something else, of course, like lions and bunnies or whatever.
You can also get a PowerPoint for FREE in my resource library. If you haven’t signed up yet, you can do that here. I only send out one email every other week, and I add new free resources to the library once a month (and sometimes more, because I can’t help myself!). If you have already signed up, then you can click the tab at the top that says “free resource library” and enter in the password that was emailed to you.
Responding to a Drum
Is that really the best title to describe this activity, Becca? I guess so.
This is one of my favorite simple warm ups. Seriously. I use it the first week of school and for piano and forte and for any other day the kids just need to move. I play my djembe (I have this one and LOVE it!) piano, and students tip toe. Then I play forte and they jump or stomp. With the younger kids, I play piano for 4, 8, or 16 beats, then forte for 4 or 8 beats. If your students are doing a good job, then you can also change the tempo on them for an extra challenge.
With older students, I use this to get them thinking about groups of rhythms (often in preparation for the game Extra Beat, Take a Seat). I play the downbeat forte, and then play seven beats piano. After a few times, they can anticipate the downbeat.
Then we make it even more fun– we do statues. I still play the downbeat forte followed by seven piano beats, but when it is forte, the students strike a pose. They hold that statue until the next forte beat, when they switch to the next one.
Closet Key (or Lucy Locket)
Closet Key is a fun game for piano and forte. It is a song (check it out here). After learning the song, students sit in a circle. One person closes their eyes. While their eyes are closed, the “key” (or whatever object you have) gets hidden (I prefer to have it so that it is hidden in the circle, but you could have them hide it in the room.
Then the students sing while the person who had their eyes closed moves around. The students sing louder when they are close to it, and softer when they are far away. It’s like hot and cold with your voice.
I have also heard of people doing the same thing with the game Lucy Locket, so I included that in the heading. I personally do not play my game that way, but you certainly could. Check out how I play here.
Of course we are going to play instruments! I use these rhythm cards for piano and forte. Each one has either a bear or a mouse on them. If it has a bear, then the students play the rhythm forte. If it has a mouse, then they play the rhythm piano.
This can go along with singing or playing instruments.
For the little people: Make a sign with “piano” and “forte” (I use the ones that are included in the Piano and Forte Rhythm Cards set). Have the students sing and hold up the cards. While they are singing, switch the cards so that the students have to change dynamic. You can change them at any time. Then have a student come to the front and change the cards.
For older students: They can conduct. Hand them a baton (or a pencil) and have them conduct while the students sing or play instruments. If you don’t want to teach them the conducting patterns, then you could just have them show the beat (so like in one) and get bigger when students should sing forte and smaller when they should sing piano.
Of course, there are all sorts of listening activities that can go with piano and forte. The piece Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks has a very distinct piano section. And–of course– the Surprise Symphony. I am going to play this for my first graders this week and I cannot wait to see their faces!
Students could hold up a card with a bear on it when the music is forte and a card with a mouse on it when the music is piano. And of course, you could always use scarves. Students can make large movements for forte and small movements for piano. You can read more about creative movement with scarves here.
Stuffed Animal Sort
To go along with our animal songs, I’ll often ask students what animals are forte and which ones are piano. For a quick review (or during centers), we will sort them. I will put piano and forte signs on bins or next to a pile, and students come and place their animal in either the piano or the forte pile. This is also great for centers, because it is pretty easy.
I really did save the best for last. In The Monkey Game (which is really for crescendos and decrescendos, but I use it for piano and forte as well), one student hides a stuffed monkey. Another student has to find it. Then I have students at the tubanos who play forte when the person is close to the monkey and piano if they are far away.