Halloween Group Lesson Activities
Here are the activities I did with students in my first round of Halloween group lessons this week. I had two groups- one younger group of all girls and an older group of both boys and girls.
Dancing the Night Away
The students in my younger group were movin’ and groovin’ to the music as the entered lessons today. I love to have students dance! It’s a great way to get rhythm in their bodies, develop gross motor skills, respond to musical cues, and more.
We danced to Monster Mash in this video:
The girls also requested this video, so we danced to this one, too:
I didn’t have dancing in the lesson plan for my older group, but some broke out when I turned on some background music (Ghostbusters, Addams Family, Cha Cha Slide) while pairs of students were competing for the fast time in Candy Corn Match from Layton Music.
Halloween Candy Rhythm Chants
Inspired by this resource at 88 Piano Keys, I asked students to choose 4 pieces of candy, each representing one beat. Students translated their candy names into Kodaly rhythmic syllables. For example, “Crunch, Dum Dum, Butterfinger, Nerds” became “Ta, Titi, Tika Tika, Ta”. After students turned their candy names into rhythm syllables, the whole group echoed the candy names in rhythm. After all rhythms had been echoed, each student chanted their own candy rhythm as a part of a chant. Here’s a bit of our chant.
Eye Spy Rhythms
I got this idea from Mrs King’s Music Class. Using plastic eyeballs found from the dollar store, I wrote 2 beat rhythms on each eyeball. Students took turns drawing eyeballs and speaking/clapping/echoing these short rhythm patterns.
Roll with It
In this game, students take turns rolling dice in order to get a chance at unwrapping candy that has been “hidden” between layers of plastic wrap. This was a hit with both my younger and older group!
First, make your ball of candy (or other prizes)–I made a quick video of myself making one of these. I changed the direction of the wrapping, and cut the plastic wrap several times to keep it challenging and to make the game last longer. For younger students, this was enough of a challenge. For older students, have them use one hand only or wear some bulky gloves for an extra challenge and more giggles.
Next, choose your dice. Depending on your goals for each group, you can use any kind of musical dice.
- 2 of the same note value
- Note value to rest value
- Note on a staff to it’s letter name
- Note on the treble staff to a note on the bass staff with the same name
- Key Signature on the staff to it’s key name
- Letter name in scale to it’s scale degree name (tonic, mediant, dominant)
- The possibilities go on and on!
Our local teacher store sells a variety of blank dice in different colors, sizes and number of sides. This makes it nice to customize exactly what you want to review with each group. You can also find a nice variety at The Practice Shoppe.
Have students sit in a circle. Student 1 starts rolling two dice and continues until he rolls a match. Once a match is made, he yells “Match!” (or have students choose a word) and passes the dice to Student 2. Student 1 now gets the ball of candy and begins to unwrap it. When Student 2 gets a match, Student 1 passes the ball of candy to him. Play continues around the circle until students reach the center of the ball.
Students get to keep whatever candy they unwrapped during their turn.
Halloween Rhythm Dictation
There are some great Halloween Rhythm slides over at O For Tuna Orff blog. They come in two different levels and I used one with each group.
For my younger group, I used these slides that use quarter notes, quarter rests, and eighth notes. I had students work in pairs to create the rhythms using beat strips of 4 pumpkins, and notes/rests cut out on pieces of paper.
Here are my students speaking and clapping this rhythm and giving their best wolf howl 🙂
I used the next set of slides with my older group. These use quarter, eighth, and sixteenth notes. For this group, I divided students into teams and gave each team a handheld whiteboard, a dry erase marker, and a wet wipe. Teams raced to be the first to write the correct rhythm. Each student got a chance to write and they could ask their team for help.
Grand Staff Battleship
For the closing activity with each group, we played Grand Staff Battleship from Susan Paradis. Students divided into pairs, spread all around the studio, and tried to “sink” their partners notes.
On the way out, I had a little cauldron of treats waiting for them.
Why so much focus on rhythm?
You may have noticed that most of my group lesson activities focused on rhythm. Reading rhythms, feeling rhythms, speaking, clapping, moving and internalizing rhythms and beat are all skills I work on with my students. All of these skills translate to students who can sit down at the piano, recognize rhythm in their pieces, keep a steady beat and groove to music. Just think of the relief that can be eliminated– the frustration of forcing students to count out loud and trying to follow the metronome. Students will just get it!
If you are experiencing some of these frustrations, or just looking for more creative ways to incorporate rhythm into your lessons, you must check out Leila Viss and Bradley Sowash in their webinar Lock in Rhythm Skills: Unlock Creativity. You’ll be sure to notice a difference in your studio. This is a great value with two hours of instruction, freebies included, and you can watch at your own pace-it doesn’t expire!