Slap Happy! A Rhythm Practice Game

Hi, this is Tanya from Teaching Music: Tanya's Kodály Aspiring Blog.

Today I have a new game to practice reading and articulating rhythms to share.

Slap Happy!

A while ago I purchase these foam sticks on sale from a craft store. When I first saw them I almost passed them by, (I already have stacks of colored foam sticks,) until I noticed they are actually slap bracelets! I spend a fair amount of time reminding students how to treat manipulatives; many kids constantly fidget with, toss, and bend staff boards, note heads, and flash cards. Here is a flashcard they can slap on their arms over and over again!

The first graders are deep in ta, ti ti, and rest practice so I thought I'd try out this new game on them.
On the inside of the sticks I wrote several 4 beat rhythm patterns. 
Then I play some recorded music while showing one slap bracelet pattern. John Feierabend's Keeping the Beat has many pieces that work very well for rhythm chanting, (several pieces are in triple meter, so use accordingly!) Last week I played the Prelude to Act 1 of Bizet's Carmen for our rhythm chanting. I saw the Opera Colorado production of Carmen last week and that familiar, lively music has had a motivating influence on me lately, so I brought it to the first graders. (How lucky are we that we get to share wonderful music with children?!)

Students chant that rhythm and repeat it until I reveal a different pattern on a new stick.
Then I pass out one stick per student. That's when they discover they are slap bracelets and start slapping away. Ah, the power of novelty!

Everyone stands and we step to the beat around the room to the music while the music plays. When the music stops, students freeze and I choose a student to spin the colored spinner on the SMART Board. If the spinner lands on their slap bracelet color, those students simultaneously speak their rhythm.
After every color has spoken their rhythm, it's time for round 2.
I change the music to Pharrell's Williams' song Happy. (Again, the power of novelty!)
Now when the music stops and students freeze, they find the person they are closest to, read their slap rhythms to one another and trade slap bracelets. 
1st Graders are Slap Happy!
That is as much as I've done with this game but I have several variations in mind that I'll be trying out next week. Here are a few:
  • Add rhythm patterns to the spinner. Students speak 8 beats of rhythm; the spinner pattern plus their slap bracelet pattern.
  • Use the spinner and all of one color chain rhythms together as students solo speak their rhythms.
  • Students compose longer rhythm patterns by using colors: alternating colors (red, blue, red, blue), grouping with the same color, using only one pattern of each color, or another color pattern they create.
  • Students compose a pattern by laying 4 rhythm patterns down but turning over one of the slap bracelets (a "blank" bracelet.) Students improvise a 4 beat rhythm when they come to the "blank" bracelet.
  • Use bracelets as a "ticket out the door;" they must speak their rhythm before lining up. For more of a challenge, students must speak their rhythm and then improvise a 4 beat rhythm.

There are many more possibilities for practice, of course. Unfortunately the school year will run our before I have the opportunity to take kids through several variations. (There's always review for August!)  Thank you for reading. I hope you have a happy end of the school year!


  1. What a cute idea! I need to remember this for the beginning of next would be a GREAT rhythm review game!

  2. Thanks Aileen! I'm looking forward to making more sets for other grade levels!

  3. The slap bracelets I found are foam but I just found these online:

  4. Fun!!! I remember when we found those last summer at Michaels! Mine are still blank but now I know how I'm going to use them! ;)


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