5 Rhythm Games for your Elementary Music Class
Are your elementary school music students struggling with rhythm reading? The best way to make your lesson plans engaging is always to make them fun – which is why these 5 rhythm games make great teaching tools! Learning music is more than theory worksheets, (although we love a good worksheet). Incorporating play into your music curriculum gets your students amped – forgive the pun – to work together and win, while reinforcing skills like rhythm reading fluency. Great as lesson plans to leave for the substitute teacher, or an end-of-the-year music theory olympics! These easy to implement music games are a great way to teach through play and informally assess where your students are at.
If you’re looking to save time on prep, check out my online store for access to printable resources.
1. Roll A Rhythm
A great rhythm game to add to your classroom repertoire is “Roll A Rhythm”. This game is perfect for reinforcing basic rhythmic notation and can be adapted for different skill levels.
To Prep: I’ve handled the prep for you. Print your Roll-A-Rhythm game cards, grab two dice, and you’re good to go!
To Play: Give students 1 of the 8 Roll-A-Rhythm game cards (laminate or put in a plastic pouch to make the cards reusable). Each player rolls two dice. Match the number on the dice with the number for each box on the card. Clap the rhythm in the box. If the rhythm is clapped correctly, that player gets a point.
This set includes 8 different Roll-A-Rhythm cards, for differentiation and so they can be used for multiple grade levels. The Roll-A-Rhythm cards range in difficulty from easy to challenging, and include specific rhythmic concepts on each card for scaffolding.
2. Add It Up
One way to take the rhythm games in your music classroom to the next level is by adding a bit of math into the mix. That’s where “Add It Up” comes in. This game challenges students to understand the values of different notes by adding them up to get the highest number of points they can.
To Prep: All you need for this game are three rhythm dice!
To Play: Take three rhythm dice and have each student roll them. Students will copy down their rhythm and add up the beats it contains. The student who gets the most beats in their rolled rhythm wins that round and gets a point! First one to 10 points wins. This simple game is not only fun, it gets students thinking about how to build rhythms while practicing rhythm reading fluency, and sets the stage for our next game, “Kaboom”!
This game is perfect for reinforcing students’ understanding of rhythm values. Students won’t have as much time to consider the values as they do in Add It Up, which makes Kaboom a great tool for assessing how quickly your students are recognizing rhythm values.
To Prep: You will need to create rhythms on popsicle sticks (cards work too!) – include a variety of rhythms and add a few “Kaboom” sticks to the mix.
To Play: Students will take turns picking up sticks and saying the rhythm value out loud. However, if they pick up a “Kaboom” stick, they must return all of their sticks to the pile. The winner is the student with the most sticks at the end of the game.
4. Rhythm Jenga
Ready to take your rhythm games to the next level? Rhythm Jenga takes the classic block-stacking game and adds a musical twist.
To Prep: You will need to write different rhythm values on each tumbling tower block – I found mine at @dollaramafindsca! PRO TIP: you can create different sets with more or less complex rhythms to differentiate for your students – just color code the rhythms so you know where they belong.
To Play: As each player removes a block, they must recite the rhythm value written on it. If a player makes the tower tumble, they must start over.
5. I Have, Who Has
Looking for something cooperative instead of competitive? This game would work well in groups, or as a whole class activity.
To Prep: We’ve got your prep set and sorted! Buy 28 rhythm reading cards over at our shop. Print the cards or use the Google Slides™ version for distance learning. Or, with all 8 sets of ‘I Have, Who Has?’, you can differentiate for different grade levels and learners when practicing specific rhythmic concepts in your music classroom.
To Play: Give each student a card (either a printed card or a digital card for distance learning). Give students a minute to clap and hear the rhythms on their card. Have one student start (or have the teacher start).
Say ‘I Have’ and clap the top rhythm. Then say ‘Who has’ and clap the bottom rhythm. Whoever has the bottom rhythm responds next in the same way. Once you have gone through all the cards in the loop, shuffle them and play again!
Incorporating rhythm games into your elementary music classroom is an excellent way to engage your students and make learning fun. Whether competitive or cooperative, there are plenty of games to choose from that will help your students practice rhythm reading while having a blast.