Use hula hoops – or make your own. Use plastic tubing covered by electrical tape. (It’s a little cheaper, and you can make the hoops a little smaller and easier to store.)

  • Put the 4 hoops on the floor. Turn on a steady beat (Try a “rock beat” on the keyboard). (I use a tempo about 88.)
  • Display 4 cards, whole note, half note, quarter note, eighth note (The colors correspond with the colors of the hoops.)
  • When you stand in the red hoop, the students pat whole notes, etc.
  • I demonstrate first. I stand in each hoop for 8 beats.
  • Choose other students to be “conductors.” When a student is in each hoop, I say “switch” on beat 6 so the student knows to move to the next hoop. That way he/she is in the new hoop by beat 1.
  • Use this as a lesson opener for several days in a row, choosing different students different days – and keep track which students have had turns.


There are many variations of the hoops activity. Some ideas are:

  • Use the colors to signify which students on which colored risers are to play or sing.
  • Students put steady beat with different body percussion. Make cards like this.


  • Make cards like this to signify which types of percussion instruments are to play.



  •  32-beat pattern:
    • Have a student put the 4 hoops in a certain order, then stand out of the way. The class performs the 32-beat pattern. They have to count in their heads to know when to switch to the action of the next hoop (every 8 beats).
  • Improvisation:
    • Now tell the students to imagine there are 4 hoops in a row. They must improvise their own patterns and switch to a different pattern every 8 beats. Everyone will do it at the same time. This will take practice, because it can be scary for the kids to do this!

See also

Extras for Plus Members

  • Printable & Digital Cards