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.)

Lesson ideas

  • 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).
  • 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

  • Printable & Digital Cards

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6 thoughts on “Hula Hoop Rhythms”

  1. This is a really good read for me, Must admit that you are one of the best bloggers I ever saw.Thanks for posting this informative article.

    Hoop Dance DVD

  2. @ Christine….if you teach in a school, check with your PE teacher and borrow hula hoops. Also, Beth, your blog is FANTASTIC!!! Thank you for sharing these wonderful ideas!

  3. Beth- I use your blog as a constant resource. It’s made me a better teacher. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! You are my favorite blogger.

  4. Hey! I’m a first year teacher and I really like the meaning for this activity. However, I am a bit confused and was wondering if you could provide more directions or a video!

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