Use hula hoops in 4 different colors (red, orange/yellow, green and blue). You can also 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

  • 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.) Make each hula hoop a different color: red, orange/yellow, green, blue.
  • Put the 4 hoops on the floor. Turn on a steady beat (Try a “rock beat” on a keyboard. I recommend a tempo of ~ quarter note = 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/orange 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” (to step in hoops). 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 on different days.


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

  • Divide the class into four groups. Assign each group one of the colors. When a “conductor” steps in the hoop with their color, they perform.
  • Students pat steady beat with different body percussion. Red = snap, etc.
  • Make cards to signify which types of percussion instruments are to play. Red = woods, etc.
  • 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!

See also

  • Printable & Digital Cards

Share this post

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!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top