Centers, Elementary Music

My All Time Favorite Rhythm Centers

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When it comes to teaching elementary music, I love to use centers to practice different concepts in a fun, kid centered way. In this blog post, we’re talking all about my favorite rhythm centers you can use in your classroom. 

If you want even more ideas, you can start by downloading The Ultimate Centers Ideas list. It’s completely free and has pages and pages of ideas for activities that you can use with general music centers– plus, it’s organized by topics including rhythm, treble clef, composition, instruments, and more. 

Click here to get instant access free!


First off, you know I had to start with Kaboom. Kaboom is my all time favorite game, which means it is also my favorite rhythm centers game! 

Here’s how to play: 

  • Students sit in a circle. 
  • One at a time, students pull a card out of the bucket or box. 
  • Students read the rhythm on the card.
  • If the student gets their card right, they keep it. If it’s wrong, they put it back. 
  • The game continues as students take turns playing.
  • If a student gets a Kaboom!, that student puts ALL of their cards back into the bucket. 
  • The student with the most cards at the end of time is the winner.

You can make your own cards (I used to draw rhythms on popsicle sticks until I discovered printing is so much easier) or you can print out sets that are ready to go from my TPT shop. 

Click here to purchase!

Need more info? Click here to read more about how to play Kaboom

Flashcard composition

Next up, flashcard composition. Basically, just give the kids flashcards. Have them put them into whatever pattern they want, then play the rhythm. They can clap them on play them on durable, cheap instruments like castanets or rhythm sticks.

Notice I said durable and cheap– as in something you won’t be sad if they break (Teacher hack: I keep older instruments for just this occasion!). 

Students like to make suuuuuper long patterns to play– then they can make a new one!

(PS You can get a free set of flashcards in my free resource library. Sign up here.)

Go Fish

Go Fish is such a fun way to practice rhythm, and most students are already familiar. 

  • Everyone gets 7 cards. 
  • The goal of the game is to get as many matches as possible. When you get a match, you lay it on the floor or table in front of you.
  • One student starts by asking if another student has the same card as them, “Johnny, do you have titi titi ta ta?” 
  • If Johnny does, then he gives it to the asker, who gets a second turn. If not, Johnny says “Go Fish”, and the student picks up a card from the pile. 
  • The game ends when someone is out of cards, and the winner is the person with the most matches. 

You can make these yourself or purchase them from my TPT shop here!

a graphic that says the best rhythm centers in music class from a blog post about the best rhythm centers for elementary music by becca's music room

Partner dictation

You can do this rhythm centers activity with manipulatives, white boards, or anything else. 

Have one student say a rhythm, and the other students try to write it. 

Alternatively, have on student write a rhythm and the others try to read it. 

Either way, it’s simple, effective, and they love trying to stump each other. 

graphic that says the best rhythm centers for elementary music class

Roll a Measure

Roll a measure is a fun rhythm centers game! Each rhythm is associated with a number 1-6. Students roll a die. Whichever number they land on is added to their paper (or whiteboard or whatever).

To make it more fun, make it a race! Students take turns rolling and must fill their measures WITHOUT going over. If they only have one more beat and they roll a half note, then they have to wait until the next round to try again. 

You can grab Roll a Measure from my TPT shop here (there are centers, digital, and worksheet version!)

And grab dice off of Amazon here.

Or even better… giant dice!

a photo of a music teacher holding a centers game of I have who has with quarter and eighth note rhythms from a blog post about the best rhythm centers for elementary music class from becca's music room

I Have Who Has

This is typically played whole group, but it’s extra challenging if you play it in small groups. 

Divide the cards between all of the students. One student starts by reading their card it’ll say something like, “I have ta ta titi ta. Who has titi titi ta ta?”

Whoever has titi titi ta ta then reads their cards.

It’s extra tricky in small groups because everyone has more than one card, but it makes it extra fun!

You can make them yourself or purchase here!

graphic that says my kids favorite centers for rhythm

Word sort

Lastly, word sorts. A word sort is when you sort words by their rhythm. For example, “dolphin” would be eighth notes whereas “shark” would be a quarter note. 

We do this with different themed words throughout the year. All you need is paper with rhythms and pictures. You can have them sort the pictures or write their answers on a piece of paper. 

I also have ready to go sets you can purchase here:

This is an example of my Ocean Rhythms 4 corners– it include English AND Spanish

What are your favorite rhythm centers? Let me know by sending me a DM on Instagram @beccasmusicroom. I can’t wait to hear from you!

Don’t forget to grab your free Music Centers Idea list to help you get started! 

Click here to download free!

Happy teaching!


graphic that says my kids' favorite rhythm centers for music class
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