Sunday, January 13, 2013

Popsicle Stick Rhythms

There is a lot I like about Game Plan but Popsicle Stick Rhythms is one of my favorite activities.  It's so easy to do and my 1st graders love manipulating the sticks into a given rhythm.

An adaptation I have made to my sticks are magnets.  I used a bit of magnetic tape on the back so that I would be able to demonstrate how to use them before handing a set off to my students.

I start this activity with reading notation.  I draw 4 beats on the board (I really like to do this because it helps emphasize the space that quarters/eighths take up.) and then explain that I'm going to use my popsicle sticks to write a rhythm pattern.  

I notate a pattern and then ask my students to clap and say the rhythm.  After doing a few, I switch gears into notation.  I remove all of the sticks from the beats and play a rhythm while tracking the beat on the board.  I find that tracking the beat more accurately helps them identify which beat had two sounds.  Eventually I take this away but during the first attempt it seems helpful.

After working together to decode a few patterns on the board, I pass out sets of sticks to every child.  

I have snack size bags with 8 popsicle sticks and they are sorted by color.  Each team gets the color that matches their riser.  Once they have their sticks, I allow them to spread out around the front of the room so that they will have space to notate.

I found my popsicle sticks at Michaels and I want to say they were between $8 and $10 dollars for a ridiculously large package.  !!!WARNING!!!  The first time I used mine, my kids hands turned the color of their sticks, particularly those with extra sweaty palms.  Even after having them wash their hands it did not come right off.  I felt horrible but this effect does wear off.  After the first few classes, hands stopped changing colors.  If this is something you don't want to worry about, you could just buy the natural popsicle sticks.

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