Recognizing and practicing with rhythms is an important pre-reading skill, and it can be both calming and energizing — something you’ll appreciate at this point in the year!
How can you teach about rhythm if you’re not a musician? Here are some easy ideas using books, recorded music (your computer will do this part just fine), and simple rhythm instruments.
Every elementary classroom ought to have some rhythm instruments. You can buy a little rhythm band set, or follow the link below to make your own. However, you can always use clapping, stomping, or knee-patting, so don’t let a lack of instruments deter you from exploring rhythm in your classroom.
Here are easy ways to bring rhythm into your lessons:
- Clap along to rhythms in music or in stories. For example, when you read or tell “Chicken Little,” have the whole class clap along to the rhythmic recitation of “The sky is falling! The sky is falling! and we must tell the king!” every time it comes up. Do the same with the giant’s rhyme in “Jack and the Beanstalk” and similar opportunities.
- Use a call and response pattern to practice rhythms. Clap out a rhythm and have students clap it back to you. Start with simple rhythms (1,2,3,4) and work up to more complex ones (1 and a 2, rest, 4). Once the class has the concept, have students take turns being the leader.
- Play or sing familiar songs and clap, tap feet, or pat knees to the beat. Work up to unfamiliar ones.
Here are some fun online resources on the subject:
- Use a body rhythms lesson plan to explore rhythm in a very natural way.
- Wordsearches from Jukebox by David Merveille look at different musical genres associated with different rhythms.
- Use Jan Brett’s designs to make a rhythm band. The designs go with Brett’s book Honey… Honey… Lion!
- Learn to use rhythm charts.