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Boomwhackers. I love Boomwhackers. I love to use them for everything, really. Rhythms, chords, etc.
This is a super simple, mini science lesson that I like to use with Boomwhackers.
In Georgia at least, they talk about the science of sound in 1st grade and 4th grade. I have used parts of this with all of my grades to help reinforce some science. This lesson is better suited for older students though.
Boomwhackers and Science
Boomwhackers in a Pentatonic scale (click here to check them out)
- Start by introducing the Boomwhackers, and going over the rules.
- Show them two Boomwhackers that are the same note but different octaves. I like to use C because I have them in three octaves, so I can use my really big one and really small one.
- Repeat after me: Small is high, big is low, that is science you should know!
- Say that a few times and then ask which one of the boomwhackers is going to be higher just by looking at it. I like to have them point either right or left so that I can see what they think. Then play them so the kids can hear if they are correct.
- Pass out the Boomwhackers.
- Have the students get into groups, one with each of the Boomwhackers and have them arrange themselves lowest to highest (this works better if your kids haven’t figured out that the letters are on the Boomwhackers. And yes, mine usually don’t notice.) Then have them play a rhythm in that order so that you can hear it going up the scale.
- Have students sit with all their colored Boomwhackers at a hula hoop. Put a rhythm (I just use my normal rhythm cards) inside of the hula hoop. Give them thirty seconds to practice the rhythm (I always walk around and double check that they are all playing them correct).
- Do whatever your attention-getting system is. I use a cow bell because it is louder than thirty Boomwhackers.
- You are the conductor. Walk to each of the groups and have them play their rhythm on repeat. Bring in each of the other groups until everyone is playing. I like to add in crescendos and decrescendos after everyone is playing.
- After everyone has come in, go through and stop each of the groups.
- Assessment time: Have students take a good look at the Boomwhacker they have. After rotating to a new instrument, have them hold it above their head if it is higher than the old one or close to the group if it is lower—just by sight.
- Bonus: Have a student “conduct” the Boomwhacker choir!
- Extension: Show them two other similar instruments and have them guess which one is higher. I like to bring in my violin and cello, but it could work with a guitar and an ukulele or a flute and a piccolo, or whatever you have available.
Also read: Music Lesson Ideas: Opera
So there you go! It’s not too hard, but it does really help solidify their understanding of how size relates to sound. You can also show them pictures of the whole string family, or a close up of strings on a guitar or ukulele or violin and show them how even the thickness of the strings affects how high or low they are.
If you don’t have and Boomwhackers, get them! Click on the picture below.
Also read: Free Music Lesson: Bizet Scarf Routine
Do you talk about science in music? What is your favorite way to do that? Let us know in the comments!