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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!
Also read: Favorite Activities for Piano and Forte
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!
Also read: Tick Tock Song for ta/titi and sol/mi/la
Feed the Monster
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 it literally never ends.
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.
What are some flashcard activities that you use with your students? Let us know in the comments!