I love incorporating picture books into my music lessons for students. There are so many stories that include rhythmic text, percussive words and rhymes – the perfect recipe for a great music lesson!

Not only do I want to teach music using picture books, but I want to give my students opportunities to compose rhythms inspired by the stories we read together!

Here’s the lesson outline:

  1. Read a story to the class. I try to choose stories with words that rhythmically match the musical concepts we’re learning (e.g. two syllable words to represent ‘ti-ti’). I also try to read stories with lots of vivid, percussive words like ‘boom’, ‘swoosh’, and ‘kerplat’.
  2. As a class, create a master list of all the memorable words from the story. Depending on how you wish to scaffold the activity, you can determine the rhythm to match each word when creating this list or have students identify the correct rhythms themselves.
  3. Have students compose their own rhythms using the words from the story. My students use my free printable music template, Student Rhythm Composition Worksheets. Scroll to the bottom of this blog to get this freebie.

Rumble Grumble Hush

Not sure which stories to use? Here are some picture books to get you started:

**If you make a purchase through any of the links in this post, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you

The Rain Stomper
The Rain Stomper

Jazmin is trying to stomp away the rain so that she can march in the neighbourhood parade. There are TONS of great percussive words in this story including quarter notes ‘ta’ (bam, bash, whoosh), eighth notes ‘titi’ (splish-splish, clink-clink), sixteenth notes ‘tika tika’ (rattle rattle, walla walla, clatter clatter) and a combination of notes ‘ti-tika’ (boom walla) and ‘tika-ti’ (tippity).

Get your own copy of ‘The Rain Stomper

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom & Chicka Chicka 123
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom & Chicka Chicka 123

Read the original story or its number sequel ‘Chicka Chicka 123’! These books are favourites in any classroom and are a great choice when focusing on quarter notes (ta) and eighth notes (titi), e.g. chicka chicka boom boom = titi titi ta ta.

Get your own copy of ‘Chicka Chicka Boom Boom’ and ‘Chicka Chicka 123’.

Hip-Hop Lollipop
Hip Hop Lollipop

This rhyming story includes a variety of rhythmic words to help get Lolli to bed (who will NOT stop dancing!) For this one, I like to use snippets from the text such as “sisters dancing” (tika tika) and “hands tutting” (ti-tika).

Get your own copy of ‘Hip-Hop Lollipop’

Rumble Grumble Hush
Rumble Grumble Hush

Playtime comes to life as this little boy hears a variety of sounds such as tick-tock, clitter clatter, meow, and pitter-patter as he plays throughout the day. This is a great choice when teaching quarter notes (ta), eighth notes (titi) and sixteenth notes (tika tika).

Get your own copy of ‘Rumble Grumble Hush’

Bedtime in the Swamp
Bedtime At The Swamp

This is an awesome spooky story! It’s bedtime at the swamp, except there might still be a monster on the loose! With the repeating refrain “splish splash rumba-rumba bim bam boom” (aka “titi tika-tika titi ta”) there are lots of opportunities to create and identify rhythms.

Get your own copy of ‘Bedtime At The Swamp’

And that’s it!

It usually takes my students a few tries to really get the hang of it but it’s a super engaging (and no prep) cross-curricular music and literacy lesson. The composing worksheets also include an option to add body percussion, which is always a fun addition!

Interested in more picture books that help you teach rhythm? Click Here

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