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!


The following content is available below to Plus Members:

  • PDF includes:
    • Hula Hoop Printable Rhythm Cards
  • Digital Rhythm Cards