K-6 Music Games

Elementary school music teachers have to be creative in their approach and have several fun and educational games to teach children about music. With children, keeping them active and busy will help keep them focused on the task. Kindergarten through sixth grade is a time of expansive learning from children and all activities must be planned to be hands-on activities.

Rhythm Bingo

This activity requires some time to prepare. You will need to create a new bingo card for each group of students. For a class of 30 children, you should have at least 15 cards. Place two children on each card so that they can help each other. When possible, pair a more experienced child with a less experienced child. On the card, make a grid of 1-by-1 inch squares in 5 rows and columns. You will need to write down 25 simple rhythms no longer than 2 beats in duration on a separate sheet of paper. This will be the teacher’s key. Randomly assign these rhythms to every square on the sheet. When the teacher plays a rhythm, students should find it on the sheet and put a coin or token over the rhythm. When someone gets five in a row, they call out Bingo and then clap the rhythms listed in each square to check for accuracy.

Clapping Game

This game helps students learn to play in time. The teacher should start simply by using a metronome and have the students pass the beat around the class in a circle. For instance, the first child begins by clapping with the click of the metronome. The second child will then clap the next beat and so on around the circle. Once the class knows how to do this, break the classroom up into two or three groups. Have a contest to see which group can clap the longest without getting off the beat. This activity can be made more complex by changing the beat to a rhythm, or having each student add a four beat rhythm to the previous child's rhythm. The teacher will select two judges to monitor each group. These students should have a proven ability to play rhythms accurately. The teacher can also keep an eye on each group to make sure they are playing properly.

Note Drill

Break the class into two groups of students. The teacher should keep score. Each group will send one student to the front of the classroom. The teacher should prepare the board with a staff system in the treble or bass clef. The selected students will stand with their backs to the board while the teacher quickly writes 10 notes on the staff. When the teacher gives the word to start, the students should turn around and fill in the note names as quickly as possible with the chalk or marker. The first student to finish and get all of the answers correct will earn one point for the team. The other student should be allowed to finish filling in the notes since if the first student gets any notes wrong, the second team can steal the point if their team member gets all of the answers correct.

Rhythm Drill

This is very similar to the note name drill. However, instead of using note names the teacher will tap, clap or play a rhythm. The first student to get the rhythm correct will earn a point for their team. Students should write the rhythm on the front chalkboard. Since this game is only concerned with rhythm, a musical staff is not needed. Students can simply write out the rhythm using standard notation from the beginning to end of the rhythm. For younger children use very basic rhythms. Older students can begin to comprehend more difficult and involved rhythms. The teacher should use his best judgment to determine what level of rhythms are suitable for the classroom.

Memory Game

The teacher should select five simple and contrasting melodies for this game. The class divides into no more than five groups. Each group has a melody to remember and identify with their group. The teacher will then play one of the five melodies. When the team hears their melody played they should all stand-up and sing the melody as a group from memory. If they get the melody correct, they will earn one point for their team. The teacher can play several rounds and give the winning team a certificate or other appropriate award.


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