It's back to the basics the first month of school and I find that beginning with learning and reviewing the Steady Beat is a great way to get everyone back into the groove. I like to provide a lot of different types of activities that address visual, aural, kinesthetic, and read-write types of learners. This way all students have the best chance at feeling the beat. Here are some of the activities I'm using to help students feel the beat.
# BODY PERCUSSION
At first I focus on feeling the beat on the body, so I'm using body percussion activities with my students to help them feel that beat.
I focus on playing body percussion on the beat. We save rhythms for the next level. You can use a simple Steady Beat Map and ask students to create patterns using Clap, Pat, Snap and Stomp. When I begin teaching the Steady Beat, I used a large classroom drum. Students get to take turns too.
As students gain confidence, have them create patterns-on the beat and share with the class for a great interactive lesson. Try letting them write the patterns down too. For older students have them create 8 bar patterns using a partner.
#2 MOVEMENT ACTIVITIES
I use movement cards in a power point to help students feel the beat too. This activity is also a great transition activity from classroom to music room.
I copy and paste the cards in a repeating pattern and put music on the power point to play across the slides. That way I can change the slides on 4 or 8 beats to accommodate Kindergartners through Sixth Graders. When I show the "Feel the Beat" card-I tell students that it's their free choice to show the BEAT!To use this activity with older students I find popular/clean "strong" beat songs. I've used; "Despicable Me" because the beat is a nice moderate tempo, and Pentatonix's "Na Na Na". It's a great choice because it's got some hand clapping in the intro which is PERFECT for body percussion lessons.
MOVEMENT ACTIVITY "Feel the Beat"
Teaching a chant and showing the steady beat is a great visual and aural activity. Have students come to the board and point to the trains as they chant:
Engine, Engine number nine.
Then show them the picture of how the sounds fit on the beat.
Help them feel the beat by marching on the beat as they chant.
My students love this chant because we change our voices using Low when the question is asked and High for the answer. Teach students long and short sounds using rhythm symbols. Show them that sometimes there is one sound on the beat and sometimes there are two sounds on the beat. Have them chant as they play the beat on their knees.
Older students love to talk about PIZZA! (And if they don't-they'll tell you what they like to talk about!)
Here's an example of how you can use things that your students like to help them relate to feeling the steady beat.
#4 WITH A SONG
After my students experimented creating body percussion patterns, I applied their new skills to a different lesson. My third graders are learning "This Old Man" and "Michael Finnagan" as a partner song. I had them sing through all the verses to "This Old Man" and then I had them create a body percussion pattern to play on the chorus, "with a knick, knack paddy whack, give a dog a bone. This old man came rolling home." They really rocked that activity. I loved it because it had something for visual, aural and kinesthetic learners. I posted the video sing a long on YouTube for you to use. I also have a complete resource with teaching pages, Ostinato ideas and more in "Song: This Old Man"
I really believe that starting your school year off with Steady Beat and easy rhythm activities will give you a foundation to build upon for the whole school year.
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