3-5, Elementary Music, Games, Lessons

Al Citron: Mexican Passing Game for dotted quarter note

This month is Hispanic Heritage month! I love Hispanic Heritage month, because I love teaching lessons from different cultures, and I also love a good theme. I find themes to be the easiest way to make lessons really flow together. This year, I am sharing one of my favorite lessons: Al Citron.

Al Citron is a Mexican folk song that has a passing game along with it. It is perfect to teach dotted quarter-eighth note because those are ALL over the song.

Also, the words are nonsense, so if you totally mess them up, it really doesn’t matter.

I use this lesson with my 4th grade and 5th grade students, but you can use it where’ve it fits into your sequence!

This post includes the opportunity to get FREE Spanish fruit rhythm composition cards. If you would like to get those, plus visuals, printable worksheets, and printable lesson plans, then you can check out the product in my TPT shop. As always, you can do the lesson without the product, but it enhances it and makes a huge difference!

Looking for more Hispanic music ideas? Check out this post for a roundup of my favorites!

Al Citron folk song lesson for Hispanic Heritage Month with FREE Spanish fruit composition cards! These  rhythms  manipulatives go along with the Mexican Folk Song Al Citron-- which is a huge hit in my classroom! Students can practice and create rhythms with dotted quarter notes (or ta and titi). Becca's Music Room

Al Citron

  • I always start with a movement based warm up. For this lesson, we learned the A section to a dance to La Raspa (AKA the Mexican Hat Dance). After the dance, I showed them on the map where Mexico was. Then….
  • Tell the students that we are going to learn a Mexican song and game. The words are in Spanish, but most of them don’t mean anything, so it’s ok it they are not perfect.
Al Citron folk song lesson for Hispanic Heritage Month with FREE Spanish fruit composition cards! These rhythms manipulatives go along with the Mexican Folk Song Al Citron-- which is a huge hit in my classroom! Students can practice and create rhythms with dotted quarter notes (or ta and titi). Becca's Music Room
  • Teach students the words to the song (Side note: I find that teaching other languages is easiest when you split up the words one day and the melody another day.)
  • Teach students the melody by rote and have them keep the steady beat on their bodies. (These visuals are from the PowerPoint in my product. It comes in regular and stick notation!)
Al Citron folk song lesson for Hispanic Heritage Month with FREE Spanish fruit composition cards! These rhythms manipulatives go along with the Mexican Folk Song Al Citron-- which is a huge hit in my classroom! Students can practice and create rhythms with dotted quarter notes (or ta and titi). Becca's Music Room

Game Time!

  • After teaching the song, prep the game by having students take their right hand and keep the beat by tapping their left leg and then their right leg (this is prepping the passing motion).
  • Once students have gotten that down, change it so that the last part of Al Citron (triki triki tron) goes left-right-left.
  • Give students items they will pass during the game. Traditionally, I believe that it is supposed to be rocks, but I use cans, because that is what I use for the cup game, so I already have them ready to go.
  • Have them practice the motion in their seats first, then get into a circle. This is helpful, because even with big kids, going from mirroring to being in a circle and seeing people doing what is seemingly the opposite is a struggle.
  • Before playing the game, practice just the very beginning (Al citron) to make sure that all of the students are going the correct way (I usually do counter clockwise for everything).
  • Once everyone is going the right way, play the game! Students pass the cans to the right while singing the song. At the end, on the words triki triki tron, you switch the pattern to right-left-right. If anyone messes that up, then they are out!
Al Citron folk song lesson for Hispanic Heritage Month with FREE Spanish fruit composition cards! These rhythms manipulatives go along with the Mexican Folk Song Al Citron-- which is a huge hit in my classroom! Students can practice and create rhythms with dotted quarter notes (or ta and titi). Becca's Music Room

Dotted Quarter-Eighth Note

  • Once students have sung Al Citron so many times they could sing it in their sleep, we look at the dotted quarter-eighth note rhythm. I start by putting the notation up on the board and asking students what rhythms they know. We will review quarter notes and eighth notes.
  • Next, I point at the dotted quarter note and ask what they think it is. After allowing a few to try to figure it out, someone will usually say “It looks like a quarter note and a dot.” And I say, “You are exactly right! It’s a quarter note with a dot. And we call it a dotted quarter note. Think you can remember that?” And they look at me like I’m crazy.
  • I briefly explain that quarter note gets one beat and the dot gives it half, and we do the math on the board, but really I want them to think of the dotted quarter-eighth combo as having two beats all together, so I don’t stress that too too much.
  • Next, I let the students practice this new rhythm a few different ways. We are working on the pianos, so I have been giving students dotted quarter eighth note rhythms to play on the pianos during centers.
  • We have also been playing Kaboom, because it is wonderful, and my level 3 rhythms include dotted quarter notes.
  • Finally, Mexican fruit compositions! In my Al Citron lesson pack, there are composition cards where students can create rhythms with different fruit names! (Because a citron is a citrus fruit, kind of like a lemon). These composition cards are available FOR FREE in my FREE Resource Library. (Not a member yet? Sign up here! You get access to the growing free resource library PLUS practical tips + tricks in your email every Sunday morning!) There are different options for these– You can make the rhythms and play them on instruments. Make the rhythms and write them down. Or you can make the rhythms and then add melody to it (You can do B-A-G if you are working on recorder– I also have level 3 rhythms BAG flashcards too!)
FREE Spanish fruit composition cards! These rhythms manipulatives go along with the Mexican Folk Song Al Citron-- which is a huge hit in my classroom! Students can practice and create rhythms with dotted quarter notes (or ta and titi). Becca's Music Room

So there you have it– a whole lessons (or a few day’s worth of lessons) on the singing game Al Citron. Have you ever use this in your classroom? How did you use it?

Don’t forget to check out the FREE fruit rhythms composition cards here, or join the FREE resource library here!

Interested in the whole resource? You can get it here!

Happy teaching!

Al Citron folk song lesson for Hispanic Heritage Month with FREE Spanish fruit composition cards! These rhythms manipulatives go along with the Mexican Folk Song Al Citron-- which is a huge hit in my classroom! Students can practice and create rhythms with dotted quarter notes (or ta and titi). Becca's Music Room
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Instruments of the Orchestra Four Corners

I don’t quite remember when it hit me, but for a long time I have thought that I wanted to do the game 4 Corners with the instruments of the orchestra. I even put it in my lesson plans a few times and took it out.

Why? Because I couldn’t figure out how to make it academic. If the person is just saying “Woodwind” and all the people in the woodwind section go sit out…. it that actually helping anyone?

Then I figured it out. It was kind of like the epiphany that led to treble clef battleship.

The person should call the instrument name, and all of those students go out. That way, you actually have to think about what instrument family it is in.

So we played this and it has been a HUGE hit! I will explain the best way to play, and then also a no-prep way to play in case you are in a pinch.

I have a product in my TPT shop that I used to help my students play– including posters and instrument cards (in color and black and white). You can get it here!

Also read: Write the Room: An active instruments of the orchestra review

Instrument Four Corners: an active game for instruments of the orchestra. My fourth grade and fifth grade elementary music students loved this game-- and it is so easy to set up and explain-- easy enough that a sub could do it. This is great to review instruments of the orchestra or just have some fun! Becca's Music Room

Instruments of the Orchestra Four Corners

  1. Put up a poster in each corner of the room. Each one will have a different instrument family– woodwind, percussion, strings, and brass. (Posters are included in my product!)
  2. Review with the students what instruments are in each of the families.
  3. Have one student stand at the front of the room. They will hold an envelope or bucket with pieces of paper that have pictures of instruments on them.
  4. The person in the front counts (loudly) to ten with their eyes closed.
  5. While they count, all of the other students need to get into one of the corners. THEY MUST BE IN A CORNER BY 10. If they switch or are still in the middle of the room when the count is finished, they are out.
  6. The person in the front pulls out a picture of an instrument and says the name of the instrument.
  7. Everyone in that instrument family sits down. So if they pulled out trombone, they say trombone, and all of the people in the brass section sit down.
  8. This continues until you have a winner, and then that person is the next counter.

It is seriously so. much. fun.

Now, the first time I played it, I had not thought through all of the best things to do. So I present to you the no-material no-prep-at-all version of this:

  • Write the names of the families on the board to correspond with the corners (so the front left corner will match the family written on the board on the front left.
  • Have a student choose an instrument to say instead of pulling a card out of the bucket.

The biggest reason I added the other parts is time. I found that the student calling the instruments just took sooooo long to come up with one. I don’t know if it is because they couldn’t think of the names or couldn’t decide or what. But. I do know that once I added in the bucket with the pictures of instruments, it went so much smoother.

Also, there was less talk about the person in the front cheating because it was more random– they weren’t picking anymore.

Instrument Four Corners: an active game for instruments of the orchestra. My fourth grade and fifth grade elementary music students loved this game-- and it is so easy to set up and explain-- easy enough that a sub could do it. This is great to review instruments of the orchestra or just have some fun! Becca's Music Room

Instruments of the orchestra four corners was a huge hit with my students– especially during testing and the end of the year! It made review so much more fun. Don’t forget to pick up the family posters and instrument cards from my TPT shop! Get them here!

Going to have a sub? Check out my instruments of the orchestra print and go sub plans 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!

Have you ever tried anything like four corners? Let me know how it went in the comments!

Happy teaching!

Instrument Four Corners: an active game for instruments of the orchestra. My fourth grade and fifth grade elementary music students loved this game-- and it is so easy to set up and explain-- easy enough that a sub could do it. This is great to review instruments of the orchestra or just have some fun! Becca's Music Room
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