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Preschool Rhythm Class Ideas

topic posted Wed, June 21, 2006 - 9:45 AM by  la-la
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we could also call this thread "Picking Bambi's Brain."

kidding. I know there are others besides Bambi and myself who teach rhythm and drumming to preschoolers (i.e. ages 2-5), but I'd like to get some ideas going about this. I've just been doing this for the past ten months, once a week. it's been a learning-by-fire situation, and as a result I have some definite do's and don'ts that I'm happy to share (later on). this is my last day (thank the lord), and then I have the summer off, and I'll be diving back in in September, with an assistant (thank the lord again). I'd love to swap some ideas about stuff to do with these sweet little gaffers. what are your experiences? what works and what doesn't? what have some of their favourite games and activities been? what are the ones you'd avoid? how many have you worked with at a time? etc, etc.
posted by:
la-la
Toronto
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  • Re: Preschool Rhythm Class Ideas

    Wed, June 21, 2006 - 11:15 AM
    With pre-schoolers, I like to work of similarities and differences in sounds. Remember that percussion, in general, are those instruments that can either be hit, shook or scraped. That does not mean that these are the only ways that percussion instruments can be played, but they are the main ones.

    Some instruments can be both, hit and scraped, or shook and hit, or scraped and shook. Just depends upon what instruments you have available.
  • Re: Preschool Rhythm Class Ideas

    Wed, June 21, 2006 - 11:42 PM
    Can I pick my own brain?
    Ok, then I shall!

    One of the classes I teach is to 2yrs to-3 1/2 year olds. They attend my class with their caregivers, parents...
    Some of the activities that really work with kids in this age range are:

    - At the beginning of class, set out a bunch of small hand drums. They could all be the same, or all assorted. Just make sure every child has one. (You may also have enough drums for the grown ups to participate, but I encourage them to lovingly pat or tap along to the rhythm on their child's back, or leg). I begin with a "hello' song ritual that involves steady beat. We get a beat going, then one by one I sing hello to each child in the circle. When all names have been sung, I will continue to lead in a steady beat pattern for a few measures and chant "tap tap tap tap tap AND STOP. Then keep silent for a few seconds, and do it again for a total of three times. "tap tap tap tap tap AND STOP". (you can continue on this way with rubbing, scratching, etc) This is a very important excersize because it teaches them Inhibitory Control-- Which in itself is a big challenge for preschoolers!

    On this Inhibitory Control subject, I always also do some kind of circle dance that involves walking & clapping.... "walk walk walk walk walk walk AND STOP" (add clapping, throw in some skipping or whatever... but THEN STOP. This is IMMENSELY satisfying to little kids this age, stopping, starting, stopping, starting-- as well as they love seeing the grown ups pleased reactions when they do it!

    - Instrument Exploration. This is a big favorite, since preschoolers NEED to explore everything. I bring out baskets filled with all kinds of (safe and age appropriate) assorted rhythm instruments. I begin by giving them a good 10 minutes just to freely explore and find which objects they are drawn to, as well as the chance to explore making sounds on their own. This is a great way to practice sharing, and community building. Its also a great opportunity to encourage the grown-ups to honor the childs process and to demonstrate how rather than taking the lead--they can 'scaffold' on a child's ideas . This builds self esteem for the child, as well as gives them a sense of control.
    You can't expect a two year old or most three year olds to physically be able to keep a steady beat. Some can, but most cannot. I've found it to be very helpful during this exploration excersize to turn it into an 'Instrument Play-Along" with a recorded song. It doesn't need to be obvious "world Music" for it to work. I've played Chicago Blues, Dave Brubeck, Jazz, Bluegrass, etc. because it's an opportunity to expose kids to many different musical styles.

    There are other ideas I can share later, but here's what comes to mind for now...

    Happy Solstice everyone!
    • Re: Preschool Rhythm Class Ideas

      Sun, June 25, 2006 - 10:16 AM
      good ones, guys!

      here's a couple off the top of my brain:


      the ever-popular Freeze Dance: (good for everybody!)

      everybody's up on their feet. teacher either plays a noisy instrument like a tambourine or drum, or plays recorded music with a steady beat. when the music goes, you dance! when the music stops, you freeze! right in place, no talking, laughing or jumping around.

      they LOVE this one. seems to teach them about dynamics in music, as well as being a great exercise to burn off some "sillies" at the beginning or end of class. I pull out freeze dance when they just can NOT sit still.


      the colour-jumping game: (good for 3-5)

      here's the words to the little song that goes with this game.
      adapted from the tune of "The Eensy Weensy Spider"

      Orange is a carrot
      Yellow is the sun
      Green is the grass
      and White the snow so fun
      Pink is a rose and
      Blue is the sky
      and Black is a witch's hat
      and Red's a cherry pie.

      get construction paper that is each of these colours. one piece each. first just sing the song, sitting in a circle, teacher holding up the colours for each line of the song. then take the pages all around the room; the kids can put them in different places in the room -- all mixed up. then the teacher sits off at the sidelines and sings the song -- encouraging the kids to sing too, although they might not once they're onto this next step -- and the group has to run from one piece of paper to the other as it gets called out. if you have a huge group you can let one or two kids go at a time while the others watch, and mix up the location of the different pages between rounds.

      not directly a rhythm game but definitely teaches recognition of changes in the song, and doing different things at different points in the music.


      1, 2, 3, cow (good for 2-5)

      sit in a circle all together, and get them clapping their hands (or tapping rhythm sticks, or slapping their knees, or whatever -- but stick with ONE) in a steady beat. count together "one, two, three, four." then, after that's established, explain that you're going to go around the room and everyone will get to choose a different animal that they put into the rhythm in place of the number 4. so, "One, two, three, crocodile!" or "one, two, three, moose!" or "one, two, three, cow!" warning: they'll really get the giggles with this one. you can also do it with favourite foods.

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