Kids love to take turns rolling the dice in this fun tempo music activity. You simply sit students in a circle and pass out a small percussion instrument to each one. Remember to go over rules before you pass out instruments. I bought a large foam dice from the Dollar General and wrote the names of the tempos I wanted them to learn on each side. Then I put tape over the tempo terms, so it wouldn’t rub off when little hands started passing the dice around. Tape is also a great way to wipe the dice down after each student to take Covid preventative measures without the ink smearing. One child rolls the dice into the middle of the circle. When the dice stops, they all try to remember what the tempo means. I let everyone shout it out, but you can make them raise their hand. Then the students play their drums for about ten-seconds to the tempo. This helps students internalize the tempo and make a decision to play faster or slower than the time before. I use the conductor motion for silence to get them to stop, because it will be loud. A great way to pick the next student is to have the student who rolled the dice pick someone of the opposite sex who is sitting Criss-cross apple sauce, quietly, with their hand raised.
Walking to the Beat - A Fun Tempo Song
Walking to the Beat has become a class favorite. Give students a small percussion instrument or just have them clap. Students form a circle and chant the song together. At the word “freeze,” (inserted in the space at the end) have students stop quickly and then try to name the tempo they were walking and singing previously. I find that giving them the middle tempo first is a great way to put the other tempos in context. I won’t use fast until the circle and rules have been established and I see that it is safe. Kids will get really excited about this activity. If your classroom is small or has a lot of desks, this is a great excuse to go outside.
I use PowerPoint presentations to teach my little ones fast and slow. Slightly older kids get a Powerpoint that has the correct terms on them. This helps elementary students associate an animal or object with the tempo. It also helps solidify new vocabulary. You can have monthly themes that relate to the Powerpoint and tie it in with the songs you are choosing for the class. I love lessons which combine subjects. In this case music is combined with English. To get a Tempo PowerPoint for you class click here.
Need more ideas? Check out the Learn Music Through Coloring Series. These kids music theory workbooks are perfect for elementary grades 2-5th, virtual/homeschool, private lessons, and classroom. Notes, Rests, and Meter: BIRDS is a fun music workbook that teaches kids music theory while also learning about birds. It uses multidiscipline learning to keep music interesting, incorporating music, art, science, math, and the language arts. There are 26 lessons total with gorgeous bird pictures and easy to read explanation pages. Extra attention is given to those topics kids easily forget, such as time signatures, sixteenth notes and rests, and tied notes, so they can be confident with these theory concepts. Note Reading: MARINE LIFE is a fun music workbook that teaches kids to read notes while also learning about marine animal. Music Theory Color By Music: MAMMALS is a fun music workbook that teaches kids music theory while also learning about mammals. Topics covered in this book are dynamics, intervals, tempos, and articulation markings. This is a great way to get a music theory education and have fun at the same time.
There they are. Twenty-five students all lined up and staring wide-eyed at you. You know you need to warm them up, but are afraid this will be the "boring" part of the lesson. Don't give up on warm ups yet! Here are five elementary music choir warm ups kids love. I've compiled and tested these myself.
1. SSS Contest
Have students stand up and then direct them to all take a deep breath at the same time and let it out on the sound "ss." When each student finishes their breath, direct them to sit down. The last student standing is the winner. (You can give them a prize/sticker if you'd like.) Tip: If you think someone has cheated, pick a few classmates to be judges and watch the others.
Going back to class can be daunting after a long summer break. Elementary class is filled with miraculous moments of children coming together in beautiful harmony, learning that Christmas concert song just in time, or giving you a fond smile as they hand you a handmade gift with a note that reads, "Best Teacher Ever." But there are also those times when eyes role, children group together to exclaim how much they hate an activity, and one sincere question from a student sends the class into chaos. Let's be honest, you may be hesitating a little on finalizing your lesson plan this year, and with good reason! Will you meet the Music State Standards? Will you end up boring kids with too much theory? Here are ten steps for a successful elementary school year.
1. Procedures, procedures, procedures
Before you roll out your lesson plan, mentally go through every aspect of your lesson time from the first second you see them until the very last student exits the room. You can't decide to have a morning activity if you don't know how they enter the room. Will you set the activity out? Will they form a circle? Sit in seats? Is there a welcome song? What does their homeroom teacher say to quiet them? If there are books or papers, how do they pass them out or collect them?