Probably my most favorite category of activities by learning styles, I love bringing in instruments and making the music come to life! Today, I’ll be sharing ideas and activities for using Living Music as a Learning Style!
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Living Music Activities
for Singing Time
1. Jingle Bells
These Jingle Bell Bracelets are a really fun way to easily bring music into the Primary room. They are inexpensive, easy to use, and versatile! Plus, they’re a must-have for several Christmas songs. 🙂
Use the bells to shake constantly, shake only on certain words, to shake following the beat or rhythm, or even to highlight a specific phrase of the song. For example, in Stars Were Gleaming you could have the kids ring the bells for these two parts: “rang with glory” and “hear it ringing”.
See other examples of how I use Jingle Bells:
2. Hand Bells
Hand bells are a very special treat in my Primary! I only bring them out once or twice a year, but they’re always absolutely loved each time they make their appearance. You can set up a hand bell chart to play the chords so you get several bells per note or make it super simple for the kids to follow by following the top note line of the music.
We always start out our hand bells with rules about the special care of the bells and then I have just a couple of kids come up front to take a turn, then rotate through taking turns with a part!
See where I got my Bell Charts:
3. Egg Shakers
I consider Egg Shakers an absolute primary essential! These along with rhythm sticks (below) are my two favorite instruments to use in Primary and I bring them in as often as possible. I’ll usually have one or the other at least once a month!
You can make simple shaker patterns by shaking fast, slow, on beat, on the rhythm, or shake for certain words or phrases. There’s lots of different ways to incorporate them in your lesson plans. Egg shakers work especially well with the gentle songs where some of the other instruments need an upbeat tempo.
4. Rhythm Sticks
I really love using Rhythm Sticks and think they are worth the initial investment, though there are some options for alternatives. Some music leaders have used chopsticks, pencils, or wooden dowels in place of traditional rhythm sticks.
Create a pattern that follows the melody like maybe tap-tap-swish. You can even pass the sticks behind their backs for a challenging addition to your patterns or roll them for a team interaction!
See an example lesson plan for using Rhythm Sticks here:
5. Oooohs and Aaaahs
Mix up your musical expressions by singing along to the melody with a variety of different sounds. Try singing “oooh-po-oooooooh-oooo-ooo-ooo-oooohhh” like a ghost! (That line is following the melody for Shepherd’s Carol).
This Christmas, we used this activity for Shepherd’s Carol. We even performed with a round of oooh’s, then aaah’s, then singing through the song. This was a great replacement for doing the round, which my kids just couldn’t grasp.
Try a variety of other sounds, too, and make a little band with different groups sing along with a different sound.
6. Paper Plates
There’s a lot you can do to make music even with everyday items! Grab a set of Paper Plates per child and you’ll have an instant instrument and movement activity in one! You can clap the plates together, swish them back and forth, tap in quick repetition, clap them in a pattern in front of you, patsch them on your lap, and more! Be creative and find new ways to use them.
Head over to this post to see an example activity:
If you have access to a individual sized drum, the type you hold between your feet or thighs, than bring it in and you’ll have so much fun together in Primary! You can beat out a pattern, and ask a child to try to repeat it. Or, improvise and make drums out of the Primary chairs.
I haven’t used drums, yet, but they’re on my to-do list!
8. Beat vs Rhythm
I use this beat vs rhythm activity all the time when using instruments! It’s so easy for adding in a variety of uses for the instruments, without any fancy patterns needed.
The beat is the steady background pattern to the song. It doesn’t follow the notes, per say, but follows the time signature. So if it’s a 4/4 song it would have 4 steady beats per measure. Or a 3/4 would have 3 steady beats per measure.
Within each measure those 4 beats might be broken down with half notes or a full note that’s held for the whole measure. The rhythm is how the notes move along during the song.
You can even add a third way of adding variety by using the instrument only at the beginning of each words. This style is a fun challenge, that even I will mess up on sometimes! There are some words that carry over a measure that can be extra tricky.
You can use any instrument or simply clap (or patsch, snap, dab…) along with the different musical patterns.
Learn all about using Beat vs Rhythm activity in this example post:
9. Maori Sticks
Maori Sticks are like a thick wooden dowel. They can make a strong thumping pattern, clicks, can be rubbed, etc. They can be used similar to cup pattern games to create music, movement, and people interactions while making the melody come to life!
I haven’t made the investment for Maori sticks, yet, but you could get a small set of about 6 sets and have the kids rotate groups using them! You could also use rhythm sticks in a similar manner, though having variety is fun!
10. Clap Instead
Replace certain keywords throughout the song with a clap (or other action) to highlight the words. This helps bring music and interest into the room really easily.
In the example, I had a certain keyword and in place of singing the word we would clap. You’ll want to look for words that have lots of repetition throughout the song. You can choose more than one word, also, either with a unique action or with the same action.
See the entire lesson plan if you need more explanation:
11. Sand Blocks
Add a fun and interesting new form of music with sand blocks! You can make your own with a cut 2×4 and sandpaper or even cheaper, and easier, cut a pool noodle in 3″ round sections, then cut each in half length wise to make a pair of “c” shaped pool noodles that can be used together as sand blocks!
This is on my to-do list for early 2019! I can’t wait to bring these in and surprise the kids with a new instrument!
Swish, tap, patsch on your lap and create lots of fun music.
12. Egg Cartons
Create a “poor man’s band” with things you can find around the house! An empty egg carton can be used to make a big variety of sounds! Picture it like a metal washboard and use a rhythm stick to rub up and down the bumps. Or turn it flat on your lap and use it like a drum.
More Activities by Learning Styles
This is the third post in a series of posts on teaching by learning styles! The next post will share ideas on using Nature and Sense based activities in Singing Time! You can also head back to the previous post on Logical Conclusions Activities!
You can see all our posts that use Living Music under this category landing page.
Grab the free printable Song Planner Worksheet to make planning engaging activities a cinch — here!
What other living music activities do you use in Singing Time?