Submitted by Sandy Elder, Michigan

Idea posted February 19, 2002

Here's a lesson I did this week to teach rhythm reading, multiple parts, and note values.


Four measures of music written in four parts (stacked like music for multiple instruments or voices)

  • part 1 = quarter notes across (no rests). 16 notes
  • part 2 = eighth notes across (no rests). 16 pairs
  • part 3 = half notes across (no rests). 8 notes
  • part 4 = whole notes across (no rests). 4 notes

Distribute rhythm sticks (2 per kid). If you don't have sticks, clap eighths, wave halves, and rub hands on legs (sitting) for whole notes (or do a vocal). Do one long rub while counting beats.


  • Everybody walk the beat (in place and later moving) while listening to the song.
  • Add the sticks, but play eighth notes (while feet still walk the beat!).
  • Wave sticks in the air to one side for two counts, switch to the other side for two (halves).
  • Rub the sticks together for four counts for wholes, or add a vocal.
  • Move around in a circle "calling" out note names or beats, "beat," "half-beats," "2 beats," "4 beats," etc... always while keeping feet walking the steady beat!
  • Divide into four teams. Lay the sticks aside.

TEAM 1: The dogs! They are the kings of the neighborhood and are in charge of the beat of the song and must have a strong dog sound. "Ruff! Ruff! Ruff! Ruff! etc..." while walking the beat.

TEAM 2: The cats! In high pitched voice "miew" or "meow" the eighth notes. "Miew-miew miew-miew miew-miew miew-miew..." or "Me-ow me-ow me-ow me-ow..."

TEAM 3: The sheep! Half notes. "Baaaa baaaa, etc..."

TEAM 4: The wolves! You guessed it, the whole notes! "Owooooooooo..."

  • Starting with the dogs, put all parts together one by one. The teacher is walking around to keep the kids walking the steady beat.
  • ROTATE! to the left.
  • The dogs chase the wolves out of their spots. All teams move left one spot and become the new animal. Give them a few moments to practice with their teammates.
  • Repeat...


  • Have them identify which lines of notes match the various animal sounds. If they have trouble, the teacher plays on her/his sticks or reads with "ta" and "ti-ti."


  • The teacher sets the tempo and points to the first note of measure one (quarters) while the kids "bark" it.
  • Switch to eighths, "me-ow..." then halves, then wholes, kids doing the sounds while the teacher points.
  • The teacher now switches pointing her finger every measure or so while the kids follow along with their animal sounds.


  • Use instruments or singing to do the same thing, combining parts as able.