Reading music is like reading a book in another language. It has its own characters and sounds. The following collection of music lesson plans for the elementary music classroom will help music teachers share the language of music in fun, active, and effective ways.
What is Rhythm?
According to the dictionary, rhythm is the arrangement of a variety of sound durations as they move through time. Children are born with a strong sense of rhythm, and this skill strengthens even more before they even learn to talk, walk, or sit. However, to be fully and understood, developed, and appreciated, it should be nurtured in young students.
Why Should We Teach Rhythm?
We all engage with music. Because it’s such an important part of our culture it should also be a necessary part of a child’s lessons. However, one could also justify it’s value based on it’s potential for physical and mental development. The study of rhythm engages our higher order thinking skills, such as analysis and evaluation, as we strive to reproduce each rhythmic value accurately. In fact, the only brain more active that a musicians brain while performing music, is the brain of a person in the midst of the electrical storm that gives rise to an epileptic seizure. In other words, it requires the involvement of the whole child to perform music, and a fully invested child is a rewarded child.
Browse Free Music Lesson Plans
Here’s a collection of 10 music lesson plans for rhythm that can be used in the elementary music classroom. Each one offers instructions for a fully-scripted lesson which teachers who are just starting out may find very helpful as they can simply try doing the lessons the way they are written.
Battle of the Bands | Music Lesson Plan – Rhythms
Let the ‘Battle of the Bands’ begin! Students work in cooperative groups (bands) to perform the rhythms of a rhyme/speech piece on non-pitched percussion instruments. The winning band is awarded a ‘Battle of the Bands’ certificate.
Monsters in My Closet | Music Lesson Plan Drumming/Grade K-3
This drumming lesson plan for the elementary music classroom teaches students drumming technique, and helps them to hear and repeat simple rhythms.
John Kanaka | Music Lesson Plan – Reading Music/Rhythms Grade 2-4
Students will learn basic rhythms including the quarter note, quarter rest and eighth note as they participate in this joy-filled song and dance for South Sea Islands kids song, John Kanaka.
I Caught a Fish Alive | Music Lesson Plan – Reading Music/Rhythms Grade K-2
Students learn a Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme and learn to play a quarter/eighth note rhythm pattern on percussion instruments while reciting rhyme.
I’m as Free a Little Bird | Music Lesson Plan – Reading Music/Syncopation Grade 2-3
I’m as Free a Little Bird is a fun and active lesson that provides an easy introduction to syncopation. It’s always a big hit with 2nd and 3rd grade music students.
Mystery Message Game | Music Lesson Plan – Rhythm and Pitch Grade 2-6
Mystery Message Game is “Hangman” with a twist. Music students compare and contrast rhythm/pitch sets and decode a secret message in a race to win the game. It’s a game I love to play before a holiday, as students are always super motivated to participate.
Run From The Farmer | Music Lesson Plan – Syncopation Thanksgiving/Grade 2-3
Run From the Farmer is a wacky Thanksgiving song told from the perspective of the turkey. Music students love this lesson. There’s singing, dancing, and a chance to play Orff instuments. It’s got it all!
Slap Happy Music Math | Music Lesson Plan – Rhythmic Values Grade 2-6
Slap Happy Music Math is a wacky review game for reinforcing rhythm values. Students will learn and drill basic rhythmic values including the whole note, half note, and quarter note.
Tic-Tac-Toe | Music Lesson Plan – Reading and Performing Rhythms Grade 2-6
Students clap simple rhythms to win tie-tac-toe squares in this wacky twist on the traditional game.
Who Has the Candy in Their Pocket | Music Lesson Plan – Rhythms and Rests Grade 2-4
Students perform three basic rhythm symbols (quarter note, quarter rest, eighth note), while they speak a chant and try to guess which student has the candy in their pocket. If they guess correctly they win the candy!
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