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This lesson is on “Math Through Rhythm”


Math, Music, P.E. & Health  


K, 1, 2, 3  

Title – Math through Rhythm
By – Candice Hoehner
Primary Subject – Music
Secondary Subjects – Math, Physical Education
Grade Level – K-3rd, could be above 3rd

Math through Rhythm

This is for a group of 3rd graders but could be used for all ages.
45 minutes

Pictures of music notes and math symbols

This lesson is for students to use the elements they have already learned to make movements according to the particular rhythm given. They will also develop an understanding of how music can be used in learning math.

Warm up
Make a tape with 4 different types of music which include many different rhythms. Have the students find a perfect spot in the room where they won’t bother each other. Start the tape and give the students freedom to move/dance to the music in anyway they want to express themselves of how they feel with the music. Remind them of all the elements they have learned and that they might want to include them in their dance. Also remind them that in their perfect spot that the space around them is their dancing space and not to get in anyone else’s dancing space.


Name game:
Everyone sits in a circle with the teacher as the leader. With hands the teacher claps out the beats to his/her own name and then some other children’s names.
Explain to the students that our names have beats (or syllables) which we can clap to.
Have all the students try it one at a time with their own names around the circle or popcorn if a student doesn’t feel comfortable going in order like that.
Once all the students have gone all the way around once you can go around again, but instead of having the students beat to their name have them beat to someone else’s name.
This will give the students a feel for beats and rhythm.

Introduce music notes:
Put four music notes on the board (eighth note, quarter note, half note and whole note)
Explain each note individually, according to tempo 4/4:
Eighth: beat drum eight times (with also counting 4/4 tempo)
Quarter: beat drum four times (with also counting 4/4 tempo)
Half: beat drum two times (with also counting 4/4 tempo)
Whole: beat drum one time (with also counting 4/4 tempo)

Movement to Rhythm :
Ask students to get into their perfect spot.
Now have the students move according to the note given, while you beat the drum according to each note but counting 4/4:
Eighth: have students walk to the beat of an eighth note
Quarter: have students stomp to the beat of a quarter note
Half: have students hop to the beat of a half note
Whole: clasp to the beat of a whole note

Circles :
Have everyone get into a big circle.
Explain that we are going to get into 4 groups, have them all count off by 4’s.
Assign each group a note to be (eighth, quarter, half, whole)
Pair the eighth notes with the quarter notes and the half notes with the whole notes, so that there are two groups.
Tell the groups to get into two circles one of the two goes into the middle and one goes around them.
Ask the two groups to develop a dance where each group is moving to the beat of their note by incorporating elements of dance. Give the students 2 minutes for this.
Have each group perform their dance and then have them perform them both together.
Remind the students that as the other students are performing that they need to show respect towards their peers by keeping their eyes open and mouths quiet.

Math problems :
Ask the students to face the board with the notes on it.
Have the students pick one movement for each note.
Ask for five volunteers
Perform math problems with the music notes.
Example: Start off simple, Give 2 volunteers each a quarter note , one a plus sign and one an equal sign, ( Like : o + o =)
Ask the students to perform the problem with the movements of the notes and then what the movement is to the answer to the problem. Now give the last volunteer the note and have everyone perform the entire problem. ( o + o = o )
Have a volunteer write this problem on the board with the numbers under it:
           o + o = o
           1 + 1 = 2

Math problems for Groups :
Have students sit facing you.
Ask the students to group up by colors of shirts. Red’s together, Blue’s together, etc. If there is a student or two by themselves put them into a small group.
Give each group 3 notes with math signs to perform problems with.
Have each group come up with their own moves for the notes and perform 2 different math problems. Give the students 2 minutes.
After everyone is done (by sitting) have each group perform their dance. After they perform talk about what elements they saw and if they can figure out what the math problem was.

Dancing across the room:
Split the students into two groups, have each group go into two corners of the room. Ask the students to pair up.
Have students move across the room from one corner to the other in pairs. As one group reaches the halfway have the other group start. Ask each student to pick any note to move to, the pairs can be different notes. While moving to the beat of a note they must incorporate a element of dance of whatever they would like it to be.
While the students move across the room, use the drum to keep the tempo of 4/4, beat quarter notes.
This gives the students security of having a partner but freedom to do their own thing.
While the students are moving ask the others what elements they see and what notes are each student moving to.

Building a Machine
After this lesson the students should have a well-rounded idea of beats and rhythm of the eighth note, quarter note, half note, and whole note.
Ask the students to get into a large circle around the room.
Explain that we are going to make a machine. One student will start the machine by going into the middle and moving one body part to a beat of a particular note. Have the students add to the machine one by one, but they must touch one of the people in the middle so that the machine is attached. The final product should be all the students connected somehow in the middle moving a body part to a beat of the notes learned that day. Allow the students to incorporate sound with their moves so that this machine not only looks like it’s working but sounds like it working. This also allows the students to release any extra energy. Remind the students to involve different elements of dance, especially levels and shapes.

Cool Down

I know that the students will just be filled with energy after this lesson so I’ll add a cool down.
I’ll make it easy.
Put on a CD of your choice.
Ask the students to gather together in one corner and to perform a goodbye dance.
Have each student pick a note to be and one by one move to the middle in a unique way (4 beats) dance (4 beats) and move to the other corner (4 beats). Give them the freedom to express themselves by whatever note they like the most.

E-Mail Candice Hoehner !

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