3-5, Elementary Music, Games, K-2, Lessons

5 Simple Movement Activities Using Stick Figures

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).

You can draw stick figures yourself, or you can get a set from my TPT shop here!

Let’s get down to it: Movement activities with stick figures!

You may also like: Creative Movement with Scarves

Looking for a super simple movement activity for your elementary music room? Whether you need a warm up, a time suck, or to just wake the students up, these 5 movement activities with stick figures are the way to go. They are easy, require almost no prep, and the kids LOVE them. Becca's Music Room

4 Beat Phrases

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.

You may also like: What Do I Do with Fifth Graders? Lessons and Tips

Looking for a super simple movement activity for your elementary music room? Whether you need a warm up, a time suck, or to just wake the students up, these 5 movement activities with stick figures are the way to go. They are easy, require almost no prep, and the kids LOVE them. Becca's Music Room

Make Up Your Own

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).

Looking for a super simple movement activity for your elementary music room? Whether you need a warm up, a time suck, or to just wake the students up, these 5 movement activities with stick figures are the way to go. They are easy, require almost no prep, and the kids LOVE them. Becca's Music Room

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!

Happy teaching!

Looking for a super simple movement activity for your elementary music room? Whether you need a warm up, a time suck, or to just wake the students up, these 5 movement activities with stick figures are the way to go. They are easy, require almost no prep, and the kids LOVE them. Becca's Music Room
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Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Free K-2 Music Lesson: Sempre Libera Scarf Routine

I love using scarves in my music class. They encourage movement, can be used for many different types of activities, and they are just plain fun. This is a scarf routine to Sempre Libera from La Traviata.

If you have read some of my opera lessons like this one (Music Lesson Ideas: Opera Stories), you know that I spent a lot of the first semester teaching my students about opera. It was partly because of a curriculum that we do in my county, and partially just because I love opera.

And I wanted them to love opera too.

And it worked!

One of the pieces the students had to become familiar with was Sempre Libera from La Traviata (you can find it by clicking here).

Free K-2 Music Lesson: Sempre Libera Scarf Routine. Becca's Music Room. A fun scarf routine to help teach my kindergarteners, 1st graders, and 2nd graders about opera. This piece is from La Traviata. Super fun opera scarf lesson! First, I showed them a YouTube video of Sempre Libera in an opera. Then we talked about how to use facial expressions and body language to show how we feel.

Then we watched it again and I asked them how they think she felt, and how they knew that. (Ex. I think she was excited, because she was dancing.)

I really like this video of Sempre Libera because it shows her excited when she is singing about being free, and upset when the guy is singing to her.

I explained what the aria is about. The guy wants to marry her, so he is singing about how wonderful she is. She does not want to marry him, which is why she doesn’t look happy when he is singing. When she is singing, she is talking about wanting to be free and happy and not with this guy.

After all of this as an intro, I had the kids get scarves.

After the usual explanation of, “If you hit anyone or if your scarf leaves your hand, then you will lose your scarf!” we started.

I started out the week having the kids “Show me what the music looks like.” This worked very well (I go into more details in this post). I, of course, was also showing how the music sounded.

And I noticed that I kept doing the same thing. So, this is how I came up with the Sempre Libera scarf routine.

If you are interested in more scarf lessons you can check them out here:

And get your scarves from Amazon by clicking on the picture below (affiliate link). Free K-2 Music Lesson: Sempre Libera Scarf Routine. Becca's Music Room. A fun scarf routine to help teach my kindergarteners, 1st graders, and 2nd graders about opera. This piece is from La Traviata. Super fun opera scarf lesson!

Sempre Libera from La Traviata

  • During the main part (sempre libera…) move scarf from side to side in dotted quarter notes. Make it very bouncy (and you will want to make it bouncy, just because of the music).
  • During the runs, follow the melody with your scarf. Move the scarf quickly so that you show the vibrato.
  • Repeat twice (just like the music does).
  • At the coda, move the scarf in large circles in front of your body.
  • At the end, follow the melody. It should end with the scarf up in the air moving quickly to show vibrato.
  • And freeze!

Side note: I always end scarf routines by freezing, to help control chaos. So there you have it.

Make sure to check out my other opera and scarf lessons!

You can find some of my favorite scarf routines in one of my favorite books:

How do you like to use scarves? What is your favorite scarf routine? Let us know in the comments!

Free K-2 Music Lesson: Sempre Libera Scarf Routine. Becca's Music Room. A fun scarf routine to help teach my kindergarteners, 1st graders, and 2nd graders about opera. This piece is from La Traviata. Super fun opera scarf lesson!

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