A Couple "Games" for Reading and Writing Unknown Rhythms

Hello there!!!  This is Amy from Music a la Abbott blogging.  I hope you all are having a fabulous spring!  I'm wrapping up school, with tomorrow being my final day with kiddos and then a work day on Friday.  As I reflect on the year there were many things that were accomplished in my classroom and one of the goals for my students this year was for them to become more proficient and successful at reading unknown rhythms.

Those of you familiar with the Kodály methodology known that reading unknown rhythms comes in the later practice stages of teaching a rhythmic or melodic element.  Today I'm going to focus on two rhythmic late practice activities that we did in my classroom this year, with one of them being in the last week of school.  Crazy, I know!  Practicing rhythmic reading still in the last week of school, but when done in the situation of a "game" the kids don't know that they're actually (shh. ..  . . ) working!!!

Unknown rhythm reading #1: "High Five Rhythms"

This is actually a play on a paper plate relay activity that I presented at the Colorado Music Educators Conference in January and I'm going to give credit to Jenna Olschlager (an amazing colleague, friend and music teacher in CO) for this idea.

I found some foam die cut hands in the dollar bin at the local Target at the beginning of the school year.  On these, I wrote one beat rhythms: ta, ti-ti, rest, tika-tika, ti-tika & tika-ti.  (I used this with 2nd grade at the beginning of the year for review but other than that I used these in 1st and 3rd grade for late practice).  On the back I placed a magnet:

On the board I placed 4 hands, like below:

The students, sitting in a horse shoe shape facing the board had a partner.  Each set of partners was given one had between the two of them that had one of the known rhythmic elements.  One of the partners was assigned the "taker-offer" and one was assigned the "putter-oner".  The essential idea was that the first set of partners would come up, the "taker-offer" would remove one hand (of their choice) and the "putter-oner" would put their hand up in the place of the one taken off.  The class would then read the new rhythm.

Then the next set of partners would come up, take a hand off and replace it with the hand that they had and the class would read the new pattern.  This continued until we made it through all the sets of partners.

To "kick things up a notch" I also recorded their time and their class would "compete" against the other classes to see which class could have the fastest time.

Here's an example of how this looked with 3rd grade rhythms:

Something I'd like to add to this next year, since this year's first graders have done this, is to use the foam mittens that I have to prepare half note.  Wouldn't it be cute to have two mittens with "tas" on them tied together with a mitten clip to represent the tie when they're learning the critical elements of half note?!

Some "house keeping": I get asked a lot on my own blog how I organize my manipulative, well, here's one way.  I LOVE the 80 cent plastic shoe boxes that you can buy at Walmart for storing manipulatives:

They keep the manipulatives looking nice, the boxes stack well and I can write with a Sharpie on the side of the box what the manipulative it that's inside so I can find it easily!

Unknown rhythm reading #2: Rhythm Dice Boggle

Last year on my blog I posted about rhythm and solfa blocks.  I'm a big believer in getting as many uses as you can out of a manipulative.  So, this past week we played rhythm boggle with my 3rd graders to practice ti-tika.

I already had my blocks sorted into sets of 16.  In groups of 2-3 they were given a set of block, they rolled them out onto the floor

And then put them into a 4 x 4 grid like this:

Then, using a tally sheet, the student wrote as many 4 beat patterns as they could find in 3 minutes. The blocks had to be adjacent (next to or diagonal from each other) in order to write a rhythm.  They recorded them on this sheet:

This worked so well that I actually made some pre-made worksheets so I can use it in centers or leave it for a sub next year:

The other thing I liked about this was that with my higher level thinkers I could have them compare answers and any identical answers they had to "cross off" their list, just like with the real game of Boggle.

I hope that you all have a wonderful end of your school year (if that's your calendar, I know some of you are out of the United States or on year round schools).  I'm off to start summer! :)

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