"Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature can not do without." ~Confucius

Friday, April 13, 2012

Clapping Game = Sneaky Rhythm Practice

Well, today I felt like I hadn't done anything very musically stimulating with the boys all week... so of course I decide to do something when they're crankiest right before nap time. Brilliant, I know.
They were getting testy with each other and needed to go to bed a diversion by their dear mother.

So, I thought we could do a clapping game (what I told them) which would include some organized rhythm training (what I told myself).

Very simple. Here's what we used:
popsicle sticks, tooth picks, some treats (if needed.. and oh yes, they were needed today), and some paper for a confined "work" surface.

The goals of this activity were to: 

  • Teach concept of fast and slow beats.
  • Teach concept of creating and describing a pattern (In our case, the description was rhythmic).
  • Get rhythm in their body!!

The popsicle sticks represent
a quarter note (one beat)  Vocalized as "Ta"
Two toothpicks represented a set of eighth notes (1/2 beat each). Vocalized as "ti-ti"

Each person gets 4 Ta's and 8 ti-ti's (or less depending on age).

The parent/teacher will demonstrate first - with LOTS of demonstrating as you go.... or else all the kids' clapping will sound the same instead of having the difference between the slow and fast notes.

Tell kiddos to arrange the ta's and ti-ti's on their page to make a clapping pattern.

I made one first to demonstrate:

Ta, Ta, ti-ti

(slow, slow, quick-quick)

They did great echoing this back to me clapping and chanting it.

When they did it correctly, they got a chocolate chip.

Pointing as you go is a good idea to help them follow along and not get lost... who's really used to reading a bunch of sticks on a page, anyway?

Now it was their turn.

I helped K demonstrate for all of us, then we each tried to copy him, all of us receiving a chocolate chip for our wonderful effort.

Keep going around as long as you'd like and as long as their interest holds.
This is K telling us he could do this "hard" one he made up because he's really, really strong. :-)

I felt a bit like I was feeding the dolphins at Sea World when they performed a nice trick by giving the boys a chocolate chip for each wonderful demonstration, but it was helpful at this time of day, and made it more fun anyway. So, whatever works, sometimes! :-)



  1. This is a great idea! I'm always trying to think of ways to teach music to my preschooler in a way that is actually preparing him for really playing an instrument, instead of just having free for all music time =) I will definitely have to give this a try!

  2. We did this this morning (except with birthday candles instead of popsicle sticks since I had none on hand) - it was a great success! Thanks for the fun suggestions. :)