During the last couple of weeks, I have really been working on reading standard notation with my grade 4 students before they begin learning recorder. Once we get into recorder, it can all become soooooo overwhelming: reading rhythm, reading melody, doing both simultaneously, figuring out a new instrument, and then doing all of those things at once.
I find boomwhackers so useful for students to use while reading music! It gives forces them to track, they don't have to worry about their instrument too much since it's so simple to play and it gives them a fun focus tool while working in independent groups.
Back to Basics Reading Activity with Boomwhackers:
1. Using four different 4 beat melody cards (I have the Hal Leonard ones, they are FABULOUS), practice clapping 4 cards in a row with the class. Have them say the rhythm as they clap.
2. Next have students pat the rhythm while saying the note names.
3. Choose a few students to come to the front and have each hold a different boomwhacker pitch. Have them track the melody cards with you, playing in rhythm when it's their turn. Have the rest of the class pat and say the letter names in rhythm.
4. Explain to students that they will be doing group work. Choose a team leader who will report back to you in writing with issues and successes that their team experienced. The leader will also be in charge of problem solving and keeping the team positive.
5. Give each group 4 melody cards and enough boomwhackers for each person. The team will choose 2 cards (I found starting with 2 was best for my kids), choose how to organize them, practice the phrase with their boomwhackers, and then perform for the class.
I know it sounds so simple and maybe boring, but the students really loved it! Really! It took one class and it was a great chance for them to perform for their peers as well.