Rhythm can be a tricky concept for younger students. Today, I want to share some simple ways to practice rhythm with kindergarten aged students. As part of Music in our Schools Month, I’m teaming up with some other music education bloggers for 31 Days of Rhythm. You can check out the other posts in the series on the MusicEd blogs facebook page.
Before we get to rhythm, though, I want to talk a little about beat. One of the most important skills for kindergarten students to learn in music is the steady beat. While many students are able to quickly identify and keep the steady beat, others struggle throughout the year. If they don’t have the foundation of steady beat, it’s hard to introduce the concept of rhythm.
To build that foundation, I love playing games with kindergarten (and preschool) students. Singing games are a great way to introduce and practice the steady beat, many times without the students even realizing they are practicing anything. There are also many things families can do at home to help reinforce the concept of steady beat.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to practice steady beat:
- march– marches are designed for movement! Try a fun Sousa march to get your students moving to the beat
- Who Stole the Cookie?– to play the game, everyone pats their laps while speaking the chant
- Going on a Bear Hunt-same concept, where everyone pats their laps while speaking
- nursery rhymes– Hickory Dickory Dock, Oliver Twist
I like to have simple sentences to help my students remember different music vocabulary. For instance, when I introduce the steady beat, I pat my legs to a steady beat while saying “beat is steady and even”. Students repeat after me, while patting.
Beat is steady and even
Although we practice rhythms throughout the year in kindergarten, I don’t formally label rhythm until the second half of the year in kindergarten. At that point, we have already had many exposures to long and short sounds in music, so they can easily recognize different rhythms. The sentence we repeat is “rhythm has short sounds, long sounds and no sound”. We keep it pretty basic at the kindergarten level, since we are only dealing with ta, ti ti and rest.
Rhythm has short sounds, long sounds and no sound
I think exposing students to different rhythm patterns is helpful in making the presenting of terminology so much smoother. There are so many ways to practice rhythms with older students, but it can be hard to find ways to practice rhythms with younger students. I like to use games to sneak in rhythm practice.
teacher tip: use games as a way to sneak in rhythm practice
Here are some ways to practice rhythms with preschool and kindergarten:
name games-Children love to hear their own name, and there are many fun name games you can try. A few of my favorites are Higglety, Pigglety Bumblebee and Johnny Whoops!
clapping word rhythms– this is a simple way to get rhythm practice in since kindergartners practice syllable clapping in their classrooms. They should easily be able to clap the different sounds they hear in a word.
singing games-A Tisket, A Tasket was always one of the most popular games in my classroom. To change it up a little, sometimes the person walking around the circle would deliver rhythm flashcards for students to perform. (This works well for older students, also!)
echo patterns– try different patterns and see if they can copy you. I like echo patterns because there are so many ways to do them. You could use body percussion (patting, stamping, clapping, snapping).
The main thing for preschool and kindergarten is to make it fun and keep them engaged! What ways do you practice rhythm with younger grades?