Rhythm Ping Pong: The students LOVED this, no matter how old they were (I admit I haven’t tried it with my youngest class yet because I’m a little nervous how they’ll handle it…). I adapted the idea from this post on Pinterest. So I brought in a large tub that I had at home and conveniently had a box of ping pong balls in my room at school. I went ahead and drew different rhythms on the ping pong balls – whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes, quarter rests, and half rests. I designated one student as the “thrower” and one as the “ball getter” (because ping pong balls are pesky and just roll all over the place). The thrower had a bag of maybe 15 or so ping pong balls and his/her goal was to toss or bounce them so that they landed in the bucket. The bucket I got was large enough so that a majority of the students were very successful at scoring ping pong balls. Once they were done throwing, the students took the ping pong balls they scored and wrote them down in any order on a sheet of paper. After everyone got an opportunity to throw, then they got to perform their rhythms on a drum. The only tricky part is that I included half notes and whole notes, which are a little tough to comprehend on an instrument that doesn’t necessarily hold out a sound. I just told them to let the drum ring out when they had rhythms with multiple beats. One adaptation I did for my younger classes was instead of focusing on the act of playing the rhythms, I focused on the note values. I had the kids spread out in a circle around the container and one by one they threw their ping pong balls in. Then I collected all the ones they scored and as a group we counted the total “points” based on the rhythmic values. Then we did it again (and even a speed round at the end because they loved the game so much) to see if we could beat our score. While this is certainly very educationally focused, it does address impulse control, following directions, and also frustration tolerance if they happen to miss a few in a row (however, as I said, I tried to set this up so that students would be successful).
Staff Word Game: I adapted this one a little bit depending on the age of the students. For my younger class, I set up 5 taped lines on the floor and labeled each line/space with the letters. I only happened to have one student in class that day, so her and I worked together to spell different words using A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. I told her the “high score” was 10 so she had something to work towards. Once we spelled a word, she had to walk over to the tape staff and mark where each of the notes would be with her hands and feet. With my older students, I put sheets of paper with a large staff on them inside sheet protectors. I also gave them little squares of paper that had the letters of the musical alphabet on them. These were supposed to be for the students to manipulate and move around to help them spell different words. They sort of just ended up being a source of confusion rather than helpful, and I just lost a lot of paper clips in the process, haha. I explained how the lines/spaces on the staff are labeled, and then let the students work on figuring out how to put the words on the staff. Each time a student got a word, he/she raised his hand for me to come over and check it. I kept a running list of the words from each class, and the highest score was 42!
Credit: I got the idea for the tape staff and marking the notes with hands/feet from my supervisor, Katie.
Magazine Articles: So, teenagers are tough to plan for. I tried thinking outside of the box to come up with something music-related but still cool that they would like. This idea came to mind and then I did a little searching on the internet to find stuff to help me. I thought it would be cool for them to use their favorite songs and write a music critic article about them. I found a list of questions to guide them in their writing somewhere online but I can’t find it right now /: It was from a project someone had about writing about bluegrass music. Anyway, I wrote the questions on the board and had the students take notes to answer the questions:
- Name of the artist/band
- Name of the song
- Any background about the band
- What do the lyrics mean?
- Does the song fit with the artist’s typical sound?
- Unique elements (instruments/sounds/etc)
- Overall impressions – rate on a scale of 1-10 or letter grade
Those are just a few of the questions. I also asked them to reflect on the tempo, dynamics, voice, etc. Once they wrote out their notes, they got to type up their article in paragraph form on the computer. I put all the articles on my new handy dandy flash drive, and I am going to compile them into a magazine format (once I find some time…). I was nervous about this activity because I thought it might feel too much like “work” for them. Most of the students ended up completing it eventually. They didn’t go quite as in-depth as I hoped, but they did put some nice thought into it.
Song Challenge: If you Google “30 Day Song Challenge” you’ll find a list of questions that ask you to fill out different songs for different scenarios. That’s a bad explanation, but if you Google it, you’ll see what I mean. Basically I compiled a bunch of these questions and put them on a worksheet for the students to fill in their own answers. I used this mainly for my high school class because this classroom is acute, so the students are only there for a few weeks usually. This activity was a way for me to gain some rapport; we could just sit, be chill, and talk about what music they liked.
– Arianna (: