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How to Teach Rhythm in Elementary Music Class

How to Teach Rhythm in Elementary Music Class

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Here are some ideas on how to teach rhythm in elementary music class.

I think that it’s important to incorporate beat and rhythm activities with kindergarten through 3rd grade.

I do this to give students practice playing the beat and rhythm and the experience of hearing the beat as they play rhythm or the opposite, hearing the rhythm while playing the beat.

I’ve found that this teaching strategy makes a significant difference in student instrument playing ability later on and overall musicianship skills.

HOW TO TEACH RHYTHM IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC CLASS

These activities can be used to teach rhythm in elementary music class with Kindergarten through second graders.  If you’re the new teacher at a school and starting from scratch, then you can adapt the lessons and teach them to all three grades. This will help you establish the way you teach beat and rhythm and how you want students to respond.

Here’s a few ways to teach steady beat.

BODY PERCUSSION

Body percussion activities are a great way to have students experience the steady beat using the whole body. Students can clap, pat, snap, stomp to music.

Marching, swaying, tapping, snapping, and jumping are also good moves that kindergarteners love!

Just turn on the music and have the student copycat your movements.

Later you can have them be a leader once they’ve got the “beat”.

PLAYING INSTRUMENTS

I love to do instrument units with the kindergarteners.  They get very excited about drums!

First, I will have them learn a song.

Next, I will have the students use body percussion.

Finally, I’ll have them play instruments.

Then I can have half the class play the BEAT and the other half SING (which is the rhythm).

Doing this activity in kindergarten helps to prepare students for playing rhythms.

Here’s some more ideas on teaching the STEADY BEAT in elementary music class.

STEADY BEAT ACTIVITIES LINK

And here’s our STEADY BEAT FREEBIE you can get when you SUBSCRIBE to our newsletter.

Free resource from sing play create for music education teachers.

All these activities are great for practicing, but they’re also good for you to be able to assess who can show the beat!

Then, they can be your leaders during those activities and when you move to instruments.

BEAT CHARTS

When I teach my students a song, I have them play the beat as I point to the chart. Later they will sing and point to the beat too.

I also have laminated beat strips for them to use.

FREE BEAT STRIPS

FREE RHYTHM AND BEAT ACTIVITIES

BEAT AND RHYTHM ACTIVITIES (BTS VERSION)

You may want to check out this activity to use with all of your beat and rhythm activities.

RHYTHM TEACHING IDEAS

Rhythm is the way the words go.

Rhythm is long and short sounds.

That’s why I have my Kindergarteners not only pat the beat but clap the sounds of the words too!

ENGINE, ENGINE NO. 9 is a great chant to use in kindergarten.

I use this chant for teach the beat and long and short sounds.

You can use it too! It’s a free resource in my library.

I also created a more in depth version with music tracks, videos and lesson activities

KINDERGARTEN STEADY BEAT LESSONS

Train Music Lessons & Activities: Beat, Rhythm, Duration, Chants, (Pre-K & K)

HOW TO SHOW SOUNDS ON THE BEAT

One way I have students show sounds on the beat is using my rhythm videos. These are a fun way to teach rhythm in elementary music class because they are animated videos with music. 

I can play the video and stop it as needed, guiding the students through the activity.  They are a powerful teaching tool in the elementary music classroom.

This is the FARM ANIMAL QUARTER NOTE RHYTHM PLAY ALONG VIDEO

First, I have them look at the STARS on the bottom that represent the beat.

image

I have them pat their knees as the pictures play on the beat.

Farm Animal Rhythm Play Along Video & Activities: Rhythm Icons (1 & 2 Sounds)

Next, I have them clap the sounds of the words using the guide.

I’ll ask them how many sounds are in the word “horse”, then “farmer”?

Farm Animal Rhythm Play Along Video & Activities: Rhythm Icons (1 & 2 Sounds)

Then I’ll ask them how I’m going to fit two sounds in one beat?

Many times, they’ll say you have to play it faster.

I’ll say, let’s use the word shorter. Meaning “smaller” so both can fit in the beat.

Some ideas on how to show this visually!

  • RHYTHM CARDS
  • LEGOS
  • BLOCKS
  • DRAW A PIZZA PIE
  • SAY AND PLAY RHYTHMS

Now they are ready for rhythm sounds.

There are several systems for helping students learn rhythms.

I use “ta” and “ti-ti”.

Now we can read the rhythms and use those words.

All these steps are in the Kindergarten Music Lesson Activity “TRAINS ON THE BEAT”

CREATE RHYTHMS

So far, we have felt the beat with our bodies, read the rhythms, clapped the sounds/rhythms to learn the difference between beat and rhythm.

You may want to do some activities where the students write down or show what they hear.

You can use the worksheets in the library for them to write their rhythms, or a dry erase board, or the manipulatives.

Now’s a good time to get students creating their own rhythms.

You’ll want to download all the beat charts and rhythm manipulatives from the FREE RESOURCE LIBRARY. 

Here’s some of them:

Be sure to give yourself enough time to have all the cards printed, cut and laminated before you are ready to use them.

I make mine and put them in folders so that I have them to use every year.

You can also use popsicle sticks, Legos, wood blocks, magnets and worksheets to help students learn to create their own rhythm patterns.

I feel that this is such an important step for the students!  That’s why I made some DRAG AND DROP GOOGLE SLIDES ACTIVITIES to go along with the rhythm play alongs!

FREE BEACH THEMED DRAG AND DROP ACTIVITIES

FREEBIE OCEAN RHYTHM DRAG AND DROP ACTIVITIES FREEBIE

These are fun activities that can be used for students to show you what they know.

They can clap the rhythms, fill in the blanks and create their own patterns using this activity.

You can purchase the FARM ANIMAL RHYTHM PACKAGE HERE:

Farm Animal Rhythm Play Along Video & Activities: Rhythm Icons (1 & 2 Sounds)

RHYTHM TEACHING TIPS

These ideas are not meant for one lesson- they are a whole unit of activities that could be used throughout the school year to teach rhythm in the elementary music classroom.

You may spend the first quarter just doing body percussion activities and marching to music.

During the second quarter you may start introducing playing the beat as they sing songs.

Then during third quarter, they can begin learning simple rhythm chants.

Finally, during the fourth quarter you’ll have them create some rhythms.

Hopefully this article gives you some ideas on how to Teach Rhythm in Elementary Music Class

Sandra from Sing Play Create

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Here are some ideas on how to teach rhythm in elementary music class.  I think it’s important to incorporate beat and rhythm activities early.
HOW TO TEACH BEAT AND RHYTHM IN ELEMENTARY MUSIC CLASS

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Meet Sandra

Hi there!  I’m Sandra, one of the authors behind Sing Play Create.  My goal is to provide teachers with interactive resources and activities to improve the effectiveness of their teaching and enhance student learning.

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