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These percussion activities help dyslexic children identify rhythm patterns in written text

Subjects:

Language Arts, Music  

Grades:

K, 1, 2, 3, 4  

Title – The Swamp Beat: Rhythm in Verse
By – Kristyn Crow
Primary Subject – Language Arts
Secondary Subjects – Music
Grade Level – K-4
Time – 30 minutes

Introduction:

      Your students can learn about rhythm in verse using Kristyn Crow’s picture book,

Bedtime at the Swamp

    . Feel the Swamp Beat!

Purpose of the Activity:

    In language, rhythm is a cadence produced by a pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables. Rhythm occurs in all forms of language, but is particularly important in poetry and verse. This lesson could supplement a beginning poetry curriculum, but works well with any kind of language or reading instruction. A study was conducted in London which found that children with dyslexia and other reading delays often had difficulty perceiving rhythm in words and sounds. The “Swamp Beat” activity can help strengthen a child’s ability to hear rhythm patterns in written text. It’s fun and engaging, and it promotes interest in reading. Some children are hands-on active learners, and this suits their learning style.

Required Materials:

  • Bedtime at the Swamp , a picture book by Kristyn Crow, illustrated by Macky Pamintuan, published by HarperCollins, 2008. ( Purchase/Order from Amazon.com, Borders, BookSense, Barnes and Noble, etc. )
  • Children may use rhythm sticks, shakers, drums, tambourines, crow sounders, rain sticks, or just their hands and feet to make the rhythm sounds.

Lesson Activity:

      Read

Bedtime at the Swamp

      aloud to the students, having them “echo” the refrain in the book. Read it a second time, having the students clap a steady beat. Explain that the steady beat is like a heartbeat; it keeps on going at an even pace. Ask students to raise their hand if they play a musical instrument at home. Just as there is rhythm in music, language, especially poetry, also has rhythm. Then pass out the rhythm instruments (optional), guiding the children first in keeping a steady beat to the book’s text, and then breaking into “parts” for the refrain. For example:

BEDTIME AT THE SWAMP

        :
        (

Rhythm is marked in the first stanza

        .)
        I was

sit

        tin’ by a

swamp

        just

hum

        min’ a

tune

        With the

fire

        flies

dan

        cin’ ‘neath the

fat

        gold

moon

        When

off

        in the

dist

        ance was a

splash

        in’

sound

        So I

stood

        on my

tip

        py-toes and

looked

        a

round

        .

        I heard:

Splish Splash  

    ( Shakers, tambourines, or finger snaps )

Rumba-Rumba

    ( Crow sounders, sand blocks, noise makers, or feet stomping )

Bim-Bam slapping

    ( Hand drums, claves, triangles, rhythm sticks, or desk/thigh slapping )

BOOM!

              ( Tom Toms, Conga drums, cymbals, or claps )

        (Repeat)

More Suggestions for Teachers:

      For preparation or additional practice, read verse to the class and have them clap or snap to a steady beat. Start by singing the words as the children clap, then speak the same words

without

      singing. Have the students keep the rhythm by clapping in regular intervals (not on every syllable).
      Here are some examples (

the first stanzas show the steady beat with underlines below

      ). Next, have the children keep the rhythm of the words, by clapping or tapping to EVERY syllable. You could then have half the class keep the steady beat, and half the class keep the beat to the rhythm of the words, at the same time.

DING DONG! THE WITCH IS DEAD

        :

Ding Dong

        ! The

Witch

        is

dead

        .

Which

        old

Witch

        ? The

Wick

        ed

Witch

        !

Ding Dong

        ! The

Wick

        ed

Witch

        is

dead

        .
        Wake up — sleepy head,

        rub your eyes, get out of bed.

        Wake up, the Wicked Witch is dead.

I WENT TO THE ANIMAL FAIR

        :
        I

went

        to the

An

        imal

Fair

        The

birds

        and the

beasts

        were

there

        .
        The

big

        ba

boon

        by the

light

        of the

moon

        Was

comb

        ing his

au

        burn

hair

        .
        You should have seen the monk

        He sat on the elephant’s trunk

        The elephant sneezed and fell on his knees

        And that was the end of the monk

        The monk, the monk, the monk.

OLD DAN TUCKER

        :

Old

        Dan

Tuck

        er was a

might

        y

man

        .
        He

washed

        his

face

        in a

fry

        ing

pan

        .
        He

combed

        his

hair

        with a

wag

        on

wheel

        , and he

Walked

        with a

tooth

        ache

in

        his

heel

        .
        Get out the way, old Dan Tucker.

        Get out the way, old Dan Tucker.

        Get out the way, old Dan Tucker.

        You’re too late to eat your supper.

        Here’s verse from another rhythmic picture book by Margaret Mahy:

17 KINGS AND 42 ELEPHANTS

        :

Sev

        enteen

kings

        on

for

        ty-two

el

        ephants

Going

        on a

jour

        ney through a

wild

        wet

night

        ,

Bag

        gy

ears

        like

big

        umbr

ell

        aphants,

Lit

        tle eyes a-

gleam

        ing in the

jun

        gle

light

        .

Sev

        enteen

kings

        saw

white

        -toothed

croc

        odiles

Romp

        ing in the

riv

        er where the

reeds

        grow

tall

        ,

Green

        -eyed

drag

        ons,

rough

        as

rock

        odiles,

Ly

        ing in the

mud

        where the

small

        crabs

crawl

        .

Supplemental Activities:

  • For older students, write lines of verse on the board (or pass out handouts) and have the students draw an “X” over the words/syllables where they hear a beat, or emphasis. Explain that these are stressed syllables, and those without an “X” are unstressed. How many beats do they hear per line?
  • You could also help them determine the stressed syllables in their spelling words or their names.
  • Sometimes it helps to demonstrate how funny it sounds when the wrong syllables are stressed.
  • Older students can also be asked to write a structured poem with two, three, or four stresses (beats) per line, or it may be easier to write a poem to the rhythm of a familiar song, like Old MacDonald.
  • For very young students, just helping them find the beat in different samples of verse is a good exercise.

Advanced Students:

      Have students write three examples of each rhythm unit below.
      In the English language, the most common units of rhythm are:

        The

iamb

        - two syllables, only the second accented (as in “good-

bye

        “)
        The

trochee

        - two syllables, only the first accented (as in “

win

        dow”)
        The

anapest

        - three syllables, with only the third stressed (as in “Hallo

ween

        “)
        The

dactyl

        - one stressed syllable followed by two unstressed (as in “

beau

        tiful”)
        The

spondee

        - two consecutive syllables that are both stressed (as in “

not now

      “)

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