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.)
- I demonstrate first. Stand in each hoop for 8 beats.
- When you stand in the red hoop, the students pat whole notes. (I have them pat and slide their hands for the other 3 beats so it feels like a long note.) They can count 1-2-3-4 or say a rhythm syllable while patting.
- yellow hoop = half notes
- green hoop = quarter notes
- blue hoop = eighth notes
- Each 8 beats, step into another hoop. (I usually step on beat 6 or 7 into a new hoop to give the students a second to think about how to pat the next notes.)
- 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 and be 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).
- 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!
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