Music Classroom Lesson Plans

10 Music Lesson Plans for Rhythm (K-6)

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!


Browse Related Music Lesson Plan Posts

Pick a Bale of Cotton | Free Music Lesson Plan for Teaching Tempo
Monsters in My Closet | Drumming/Music Lesson Plan – K-3rd
8 Free Music Lesson Plans for the Elementary Music Classroom
5 Free Music Lesson Plans for Steady Beat

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1st Grade · 2nd Grade · 3rd Grade · 4th Grade · 5th Grade · Kindergarten · Music Classroom Lesson Plans

5 Free Music Lesson Plans for Steady Beat

One of the most important musical concepts that a child must learn is keeping a steady beat. It is a fundamental aspect that is often not given the emphasis it deserves.

What is Steady Beat? Is it the same as Rhythm?

Steady beat (or simply referred to as the beat) is the underlying continuous, even, and repetitive pulse that you feel in a song, rhyme, chant or any piece of music. It remains the same throughout, much like the ticking of a clock.

Most people think that beat and rhythm are the same. However, they are two very different things. In a song, the beat is what we usually feel like clapping our hands, snapping our fingers or tapping our feet to. The rhythm, on the other hand, would be the combination of the short and long sounds of the notes as well as the absence of sound (rests) that occur throughout the music. The lyrics of a song tell us the rhythm by the way the words are arranged.

Why is it important to learn Steady beat?

Humans experience steady beat early on in life. From the moment we were in our mother’s womb, we felt and heard the steady beating of her heart and of our own heart. We are created to respond to a steady beat.

However, even though we have been constantly exposed to steady beat even before we were born, consciously being able to recognize and demonstrate it is not something that happens without practice. That’s why teaching young learners about steady beat early on can be highly beneficial for them. There are many advantages to helping them have a good grasp of this concept, not only in music but in other areas of their life as well.

  1. It helps them develop lower body competency. It also helps them with their sense of coordination and equilibrium. Being able to keep a steady beat in their legs and feet can help a child walk, skip, run or jump easily as well as prepare them for sports activities such as dribbling or shooting a basketball, or other things like dancing.
  2. Aside from their gross motor skills, a child’s fine motor skills (the ability to use a scissor, a whisk, a hammer or any tool in the future) is also enhanced with steady beat competency.
  3. Steady beat can help a child with their reading and language abilities because it teaches them to have a smooth cadence.
  4. Studies have shown that even a child’s math skills can benefit from having the ability to keep a steady beat.

How do I teach kids about Steady Beat?

There are many ways that a child can learn to practice steady beat. It can be taught through aural, visual, and kinesthetic methods. Allowing the kids to see, hear, feel, and move with the beat through various activities makes it possible for everyone to experience steady beat in whatever way they learn best.

Here’s a collection of 5 Music Lesson Plans for Steady Beat that’s jam-packed with fun ideas 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 because they can simply try doing the lessons as they are written. However, it can also be used as a starting point which more experienced teachers can modify to suit their needs. Keep reading to learn more about these lessons for steady beat.

Entry Kentry | Free Music Lesson Plan

This fast-paced passing game aims to help students demonstrate an ability to keep a steady beat and also enhances their coordination skills.

Little Sally Walker | Free Music Lesson Plan

This is a singing game where students fulfill the first standard in the National Standards for Music by singing alone (and with others) a varied repertoire of music. It is a fun way to develop the ability to follow instructions and introduce the concept of steady beat for kids in elementary grades K-2 through a simple game.

Jump the Hoop | Free Music Lesson Plan

Children can demonstrate their grasp of steady beat through this team-based movement activity. This session also helps them listen to, analyze, and describe music– which is the 6th standard in the National Standards for Music.

Touchdown | Free Music Lesson Plan

This lesson gets students moving and jumping around as they develop their skills in steady beat as well as math. It’s a creative way to engage the students in arithmetic and musical concepts through kinesthetics.

The Wee Little Scare | Free Music Lesson Plan

This music class incorporates the use of a jump rope (a definite favorite among kids), a chant, and a contest to teach kids how to keep a steady beat. Students will get the hands-on opportunity to make music with Orff arrangement, and the activity brings out their naturally competitive nature in an entertaining and educational way.


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Pick a Bale of Cotton | Free Music Lesson Plan for Teaching Tempo

Want a fun way to teach tempo to elementary-age students? Check out this free music lesson plan that uses the traditional American folk song Pick a Bale of Cotton to help kids learn different tempo terms.

Tempo is the measure of time given to a rhythm or beat. It refers to the speed of the music (how fast or slow it’s going) and is measured in BPM (beats per minute). Tempo is an essential structural element in music and has a specific effect on the emotional expression and perception of it. A slow tempo, for example, is often used to create an atmosphere of serenity or sadness, while a fast tempo can help express a sense of excitement or a feeling of liveliness and energy. Teaching tempo to your students helps them to master the skill of reading and notating music which is Standard #5 of the 9 National Standards for Music.

Music Lesson Plan Objective

This activity aims to help students become familiar with the different types of tempo (Adagio, Andante, Allegro) so they’re able to easily identify and perform them.

Materials Required

Print or download a copy of the sheet music for Pick a Bale of Cotton

About Pick a Bale of Cotton | Free Music Lesson Plan

The Pick a Bale of Cotton free music lesson plan provides a printable version of the fully-scripted session that new teachers can use right away. It can also help give a different idea and angle on how to approach the subject for experienced teachers as well.  The downloadable and printable lesson plan and the accompanying sheet music are completely free. The lesson page that this post links to provides you with everything you need.

Get the Music Lesson Plan

Pick a Bale of Cotton | Free Music Lesson Plan for Teaching Tempo


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Doctor Foster | Free Easy Piano Sheet Music by Mother Goose
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Monsters in My Closet | Drumming/Music Lesson Plan – K-3rd

Need a music classroom lesson plan that’s jam packed with fun? This Monsters in My Closet | Drumming/Music Lesson Plan is perfect for primary grade music students.

The lesson plan is fully-scripted for teachers that are just getting started, or can be reviewed for the basic ideas if you are an experienced music teacher. The lesson plan also includes a super cute speech piece that was written by


Music Lesson Plan Objective

The goal of this lesson plan is to teach primary age students basic drumming techniques. You can certainly enhance the lesson with a little rhythm reading for a phrase or two of the speech piece.


Materials Required

Monsters in My Closet (Rhyme) from the Monster Music Lesson Pack
4 Tubano Drums (or any non-pitched percussion instrument)


About Monster Music Lesson Pack

The Monster Music Lesson Pack provides a printable version of the Monsters in My Closet speech piece and lesson, and 31 more pages monster-themed lesson resources and bulletin board posters.  The purchase of the lesson pack isn’t required. The lesson page that I link to provides you with everything you need. The Monster Music Lesson Pack just lets you extend the monster-sized fun for a whole month of lessons.


Get the Music Lesson Plan

Monsters in My Closet | Drumming/Music Lesson Plan



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Monster-Themed Elementary Music Lesson Plan Bundle

Looking for a couple fun music lesson plans and worksheets for your K-3rd grade students?

This monster-themed music lesson plan pack is filled with adorable monsters and engaging lesson plans that your students will love!


You’ll get 34 pages of monster-themed lesson plans and resources, including a composer biography for Modest Mussorgsky, lesson plans for composition/dynamics and drumming, treble/bass clef note name worksheets and rhythm worksheets, monster-themed action songs, and cut-outs for your bulletin board.

Print Monster-Themed Music Lesson Bundle – K-3


Here’s the whole list for this awesome music lesson plan bundle:

Music Lesson Bundle Contents

6 – 8.5×11 Monster Bulletin Board Illustrations
1 – 8×16 Monster Music Month Bulletin Board Poster (2 – 8.5×11 Pages)
Hey Kids, Meet Modest Mussorgsky (Biography)
Modest Mussorgsky Word Search Worksheet
Meet the Composer Job Application
Listening Glyph Guide
3 – Listening Glyphs (Night on Bald Mountain, General, Blank)
“Monsters in My Closet” Speech Piece
“Monsters in My Closet” Drumming Lesson K-3
“Monsters in My Closet” Music Composition/Dynamics Lesson Plan K-3
“Monsters in My Closet” Dynamics Lesson Manipulatives
Monster Activity Songs (Lyrics Only)
Monster, Monster (Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear) (Lead Sheet)
Monster Pokey (Hokey Pokey) (Lead Sheet)
One Monster (One Elephant) (Lead Sheet)
Monster Music Spelling Bee (Treble Clef Worksheet)
Monster Music Spelling Bee (Bass Clef Worksheet)
Monster Music Math (Rhythmic Value Worksheet)


Monster Music Listening Glyph

This worksheet is the perfect assessment tool for primary grade music listening lessons. Just start the music and ask your students to color the different parts of the picture based on what they hear. Color the monster orange is the music has a steady beat. Color the monster blue if the music doesn’t have a steady beat.









Monster Music Spelling Bee Worksheet

This worksheet gives kids an opportunity to practice music notation while they learn their note names. A word that you can spell with the musical alphabet is provided below each staff.  Students spell the word in music notes on the staff above. Worksheets are provided for the treble and bass clef.


Meet the Composer Job Application Worksheet

Students read the Hey Kids, Meet the Composer biography, and then complete this “job application for Russian composer, Modest Mussorgsky. It’s a fun way to engage your students with an activity, and increase their reading comprehension.


Print Monster-Themed Music Lesson Bundle – K-3



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Thanksgiving Activities | Elementary Music Lesson Plans and Resources

With Halloween over, Thanksgiving is the next holiday on the horizon. You can get your music classroom in the holiday spirit without sacrificing learning.

Print Elementary Music Lesson Plans and Resources

Thanksgiving (Turkey) | Free Color-by-Note Rhythm Worksheet

This free printable worksheet reviews basic note and rest values. The key assigns a color to each note type, and students create a colorful holiday picture as they identify the correct note values.

Thanksgiving Music Listening Glyph Worksheets (Digital Print)

Listening glyphs help your students express what they hear as they listen to a piece of music, and these glyphs let them do it with holiday spirit. One of the printable worksheets is specifically designed to be used for Vivaldi’s “Autumn,” providing a ready-to-use November activity. The download also includes a general use turkey glyph, where the listening prompts are provided, but the song choice is yours. Finally, you can create your own glyph, including prompts telling your students what they should listen for with a blank turkey glyph.

Run From The Farmer | Syncopation Lesson Plan

This free music lesson plan uses the Thanksgiving-themed song “Run from the Farmer” to introduce the concept of syncopation. It includes an Orff orchestration and instructions for an active lesson.

Run from the Farmer | Free Orff Orchestration Sheet Music

If all you want is the free Orff orchestration sheet music for “Run from the Farmer,” that’s available on its own. Get students clapping and playing along with this upbeat song.

Thanksgiving Music Activities: SIX Composition Activities

There aren’t very many Thanksgiving songs, are there? Your students can change that with these six Thanksgiving Music Composition Activities from Music Teacher Resources. Recommended for grades 4-8, these activities guide students to create original Thanksgiving songs. Multiple choice measures and limited note choices provide excellent scaffolding to help even first-time composers find success.

Songs and Activities for Thanksgiving (Bundle)

Finally, if you want lots of Thanksgiving options, check out this bundle from Aileen Miracle. Suitable for students from K-5, it includes a variety of Thanksgiving songs, a movement activity, composition lessons, and rhythm work.

Whether you want you students to work on rhythm, compose, sing, or listen thoughtfully to music, there’s a Thanksgiving music activity for you. Enjoy the holiday with your students!


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1st Grade · 2nd Grade · 3rd Grade · 4th Grade · 5th Grade · 6th Grade · Homeschool · Music Classroom Lesson Plans · Music Games

8 Free Music Lesson Plans for the Elementary Music Classroom

If you want to incorporate active, hands-on lessons into your music classroom, take a look at these 8 free lesson plans for elementary music. Each plan will have your students out of their seats and interacting meaningfully with music– no pencils or paper required.

Melody Map | An Introduction to Melodic Contour/Grade 2-4

This simple but effective high and low lesson plan can be completed with the song of your choice. Students first use hand movement to reflect the high and low notes they hear. Then, they progress to using yarn to map the highs and lows on the classroom floor. The movement and manipulation of the yarn will help solidify student’s understanding that the sounds of music can be represented visually.

Hungarian Dance No.5 | AABBCDAB Codetta/Grade 2-6

Musical form takes on a baseball theme in this active lesson plan. Each section of the piece becomes associated with its own baseball game-related action, leading to lots of movement and a memorable introduction (or review) to musical form.

Meter, Meter, 3-4-5 | Meter Activity/Grade 2-4

Round up some playground balls and rhythm sticks for this time signature/ meter lesson. This rhythmic lesson is perfect for either introducing or reinforcing the concept of meter and the “patterns” of common time signatures.

Entry Kentry | A Passing Game/Grade 2-6

Students can have fun while practicing steady beat with this hot-potato style game. Passing must happen on the beat, and eliminated students help keep the beat with rhythm instruments.

Mortimer | An Introduction to Solfege/Grade 2-3

Introduce solfege with this book-based lesson. The stairs in the story provide a perfect opportunity to learn and repeat the scale pattern, while glockenspiels and other non-pitched instruments make students participants in the musical story.

Music Symbol Swat | Music Symbol Swat Game/ Grade 3-5

With just a white board and fly swatters, you’ve got a great review game that can be applied to many musical concepts. Potential answers, such as musical symbols, are displayed visually, and when a definition or question is given, competitors race to swat the correct answer.

Viennese Musical Clock (Kodaly) | Rondo/Grade 2-3

This multi-faceted movement lesson takes a little prep and a bit of patience, but it results in an unforgettable illustrating rondo form. The lesson begins with a helpful hamburger illustration to introduce the form. Then, a complex movement activity lets students act out the form as a live Viennese clock.

Zin, Zin, Zin A Violin | Musical Instrument Identification Game/Grade 2-6

The book, Zin, Zin, Zin A Violin, is used with visual support to introduce 10 orchestral instruments. Then, a racing instrumental identification game is used to review them.


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