In my school's curriculum, kindergarteners learn about classroom instruments and the 4 orchestral instrument families and then in every other grade 1st through 5th, each grade concentrates specifically on two of the families, so by 5th grade they've studied each family in depth twice. Here are a few ideas I have used recently. Some of these are great for a sub, even a non-music sub...or for those days when the teacher is sick and can't sing. I'm on my 2nd round of antibiotics right now myself.
Instrument Family Manipulatives
I make a manipulative similar to this for each family. The instrument pictures and names are printed on card stock, but then cut apart the names into individual squares. Staple either a baggie or an envelope to the back of each instrument picture card and put the little pieces with the names into the envelop or bag. These manipulatives can then be used for many different activities.
1. Students work with partners (as practice) or alone (as assessment) to identify the instruments by placing the name of the instrument on top of its picture.
2. Students work on aural rather than visual identification. Play a short example of an instrument and students then place a bingo chip (or the name card for that instrument) on the instrument pic they heard.
3. Students review facts about the instruments in the family. For example: Which instruments are bowed? Which are plucked? Which come from China? Which are typically used in an orchestra? Which have 4 strings?
4. Students can categorize instruments by family (one page has Strings,Woodwind, Brass, Percussion then you cut apart instrument pictures from all of the families) or categorize percussion instruments as woods, metals, or membranes (one page has woods, metals, and membranes printed on it, then cut apart pictures of various percussion instruments).
Instrument 4 Corners
This adaptation of the 4 corners game can also be played in many ways to practice visual and aural ID of instruments.
1. Hang pictures only of the instruments from a family around the music room. Call out an instrument name (and/or shows a sign with the word) and students walk to the correct instrument called.
2. Hang signs with only the names of the instruments only and then show the class a picture of an instrument and students walk to the correct name for that picture.
3. Hang signs with both the pictures and names of the instruments around the music room and then play a short example of that instrument and students walk to the correct instrument.
4. Hang signs with the names of the four instrument families around the room then shows pictures of various instruments and students walk to the correct family in which that instrument belongs.
When we first play any version of this game it is just practice and I joke about "tricking" the students who go to the wrong place in the room. Once students become more familiar with the instruments it can be played as an elimination game in which students who go to the wrong instrument or sign must sit on the carpet and be out for the rest of that round, but if they are sitting nicely on the carpet they may rejoin us when we play the next round. My students have become amazingly accurate at identifying instruments in the families both visually and aurally and are now much more capable of identifying specific instruments heard in other listening lessons we do. They will play this game over and over with joy.
1. Tape pictures of the instruments from the family being studied on small boxes and mark 2 tape lines on the floor, the 2 point shot line, and the 3 point shot line.
2. Divide the class into 2 teams and a student from each team comes up to play. Call out the name of an instrument. Students had to decide whether to try a 2 point shot (closer to the boxes) or a 3 point shot (farther away).
3.Students have to not only know the correct instrument, but also make it into the box to earn points for their team. (I don't comment on whose answer was correct or incorrect until both teams' players shoot so as not to influence the 2nd player's instrument choice). Teammates on the carpet are not allowed to give help/call out or their team forfeits points for that turn.
4. You can also play this with instrument family boxes, show a pic of an instrument, and they shoot into the box for the correct family. Although I haven't done it yet, I suppose you could have them play this game for aural practice as well.
Individual Answer Baggies and Flip Card Packs
I make up baggies that are individual answer packs to use for various things such as quick non-paper, pencil assessment. I have baggies with instrument pictures for each instrument family (baggies each include all of the instruments from that family students are familiar with) and I have instrument flip card packs as well, for instance a pack of 4 cards that say String, Brass, Woodwind, Percussion or a pack that says Wood, Metal, Membrane that are hole punched and on one of those book rings. Then instead of a whole group game like the above activities, students can practice or be assessed alone or with a partner on the carpet. I've found them quite useful for many things.
1. I might play a short sample of an instrument and students have to flip their flip card to show me if the instrument they heard was a string, brass, woodwind, or percussion instrument. (Or show a picture, or say the instrument name as in previous activities)
2. We might do a rapid fire review in which I name instruments and students identify and hold up the picture for that instrument from their baggie as quickly as they can. (Or for aural ID as before)
1. Place instrument picture cards (cardstock preferable for durability) in a circle on the floor. There should be enough pictures to equal the number of students in the class.
2. As music is played on the stereo, students walk around the outside of the circle. When music stops, all students place feet on one of the cards.
3. The teacher then draws an instrument name out of the hat and asks, "Who has the ____? If the child standing on that card can identify their instrument I give them a sticker. I often use the rule that students who get 2 stickers in a round sit out until we play another round so others have a better chance to have their instrument called.
Those are some of my recent ideas. What ideas do YOU have for helping students identify instruments? I would love to hear your creative, new ideas.