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Happy Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving can be such a weird time in the elementary music classroom– you have a short month, it’s sandwiched between Halloween and Christmas, and you might be working on holiday concerts. If you need something fun to do (that doesn’t require your FULL attention), then you should try Thanksgiving centers for elementary music class!
These are fun activities your kidscan do in small groups or in centers that will keep them interested but also be a bit more hands off for you.
I love centers at times when I am super busy, or the kids are super crazy. And you know… all the times in between.
The kids have many things to do so they are occupied with many different rhythm activities, and I don’t have to lecture or try to keep their attention. The students learn more, and I can spend more time assisting, observing, or running a teacher group.
If you’re looking for free centers activities, make sure you download the Great List of Centers Ideas– it’s a free 12 page PDF that includes a ton of low prep or no prep centers ideas for elementary music class (and some extra freebies link inside).
Turkey rhythm composition
First off, try these turkey rhythms! This is a FREE download (click here to grab it), and it includes all of the rhythms under the sun– which means that you can use it with every grade level.
Laminate the feathers to use for centers. Students can create rhythm and play it on body percussion or instruments, or create it and write it on a recording sheet for you.
Alternatively, students can glue their answers down and even color them in to make a turkey rhythm craft. This is a fun item to take home or use on a bulletin board.
Thanksgiving dinner meter game
Next up, the Thanksgiving dinner meter game. This is a fun meter game where students take turns pulling out cards to add to their “plates”. Each card has a Thanksgiving food on it, along with the matching rhythm. Students must fill up their plates without going over the time signature– but look out for the water spilling on your food or the dog eating your food– that sets you back.
Someone who previously purchased said in their review that they used this one as a craft for the bulletin board instead, so you’ve got plenty of options!
This is another game where you can use whichever rhythms you need, so you can use it with multiple grade levels.
High low pumpkins
Let’s practice high and low (or sol and mi or la or do…) with pumpkins!
For this one, you’ll need pumpkin manipulatives. These could be mini erases or paper cut outs of pumpkins. I’ve been obsessed with the acrylic vase fillers, so I use little plastic pumpkins for this. (Get them on Amazon here)
Have students create high low patterns (or sol mi patterns) and sing it. They can try to stump each other, notate a known song, or create patterns that you’ve made for them.
You could even add a treble clef and notate solfege or treble clef patterns.
How many sounds?
Use those same acrylic pumpkins to have students notate ta and titi patterns– even if they can’t read rhythms yet! You can print out a heartbeat chart from the free resource library. (I keep them in page protectors for extra sturdiness– and you can use Expo markers on them!)
Not a member of the free resource library? Join here!
Thanksgiving parade game
If you need a fun solfege thanksgiving game, I’ve got you! Students take turns pulling a card out of the bucket to add the float to their parade. Each time they get a new one, they sing the WHOLE parade route.
Some of the cards cause snafus in the parade– like losing certain floats or getting lost!
Most cards at the end is the winner!
This game is available in sol mi, la, do, pentatonic, and do re mi sets.
Thanksgiving rhythm manipulatives
My go to seasonal center– and Thanksgiving music center in that case– is the rhythm manipulatives. Print out pictures of Thanksgiving themed things– parade, turkey, cranberry sauce, football, etc– and have students create rhythmic patterns.
Students can create patterns to read, they can dictate to a partner, or they can decode the rhythms.
You can get ready a ready made set (with and without rhythms on them) in my TPT if you want one that is ready to go! Get them here.
Thanksgiving dinner rap or chant
Once you’ve made patterns with the manipulatives, have students do more creating! Get students to create a rap or chant about their favorite thanksgiving food.
I like to add a few parameters to make it easier:
- 16 beats
- 4 lines
- Must be about favorite food or event or activity
This may take longer than one center, but they can get started. They can do this together or separate. Have them write and illustrate it on a piece or paper, or chart paper for group work!
Another option is to do a favorite food ABA form. The A section is just the the food (turkey, turkey, tur- tur- turkey), while the B section is a verse about the favorite food.
It may seem simple, but it’s a quick way to get kids composing and it’s actually very fun.
Turkey meter sort
Working on meter? You need this turkey meter sort! This is a Thanksgiving music center at its best– because it’s turkey themed.
Students match the feathers to the turkey with the correct time signature. This comes with a ton of different rhythms (on different pages), so you can use it with a variety of skills and abilities.
Laminate the materials to use for centers, or glue on a paper to create a craft!
Apparently I’m all about the crafting for Thanksgiving. Who knew?
Write the Room– Thanksgiving Style
And last but not least on the Thanksgiving music centers list is write the room. This is a simple way to get kids to read and write rhythms and melodies.
Typically, you put the cards all over the room and students walk around and find them scavenger hunt style to write them on a recording sheet.
In centers, I don’t like that much movement, so I typically have students sit at a center with a bunch of the cards and sort through them and write. Same activity, just stationary.
You can do the rhythm set for students to copy (or play on instruments), or you can do the solfa set where students can copy the notes, write the notes on the staff, or write the solfa they see on the staff.
There’s a ton of ideas to keep yours students busy in thanksgiving music centers!
Need more Thanksgiving lessons? Check out my favorites here!
And if you want some ready-to-go lessons, you can get the Thanksgiving bundle in my TPT shop. Many of these are included in it!