Popsicle Sticks+Smart Boards+Notation Software=Better Rhythm!

Popsicle Sticks+Smart Boards+Notation Software=Better Rhythm!

Susan E. Basalik
Methacton School District

TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:

Notation Software
Productivity Tools






Hardware: Laptop computer; Smart Board; LCD projector; speakers attached to computer.
Software: Finale and Sibelius (This lesson is designed to work with either program).


25 Minutes

Prior Knowledge and Skills:

This lesson is designed for instrumental music students grades three and above. Students have minimal experience playing their instruments. This lesson would also work well in general music classes.

1. Students can clap and chant simple rhythm patterns using quarter notes, quarter rests, and paired eighth notes.

2. Students can perform on their instruments by rote a variety of simple rhythm patterns.

3. Students can read a variety of simple rhythm patterns using note and rest values mentioned above.

MENC Standards Addressed:

MENC 2: Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
MENC 5: Reading and notating music.
MENC 6: Listening to, analyzing and describing music.
MENC 7: Evaluating music and music performances.


See list of available hardware for audio and visual materials. See Easy Rhythm Patterns Worksheet for suggested rhythm patterns to use (file of worksheet is attached).Teacher computer should be prepared with Rhythm for You worksheet file (See attached worksheet file named Worksheet for Smart Board 2) as well as a file with a single line staff. Students will also need their instruments. Teacher will supply popsicle sticks. Each student will need ten popsicle sticks.


1. Students will be able to perform a variety of simple rhythms by speaking, clapping, and playing instruments.

2. Students will be able to read a variety of simple rhythms.

3. Students will be able to notate a variety of simple rhythms.

4. Students will learn a means of basic note entry in either Finale or Sibelius.


Before this lesson begins, make sure that the computer is interfacing correctly with the Smart Board and the projector. It is especially important to ensure that the Smart Board has been properly calibrated with the computer.

Before this lesson begins, ensure that the rhythm sheet (see attached) can be viewed on the Smart Board. Use your choice of notation software to create and view the rhythm sheet.

The lesson is intended to be part of an instrumental music class. Student instruments need to be tuned before this lesson begins.

Rhythm patterns to be used in this lesson include quarter note, quarter rest, and paired quarter note patterns.

1. Teacher will clap a variety of rhythm patterns for the students. Students will clap patterns back to teacher. Time needed: two minutes.

2. Students will create patterns using rhythms stated above and clap patterns for each other. Time needed: two minutes.

3. Teacher will play a variet! y of single pitched rhythm patterns for the students. Students will play patterns back to teacher. Chanting of patterns may also be used. Time needed: three minutes.

4. Students will create patterns using rhythms stated above and play patterns for each other. Chanting may also be used. Time needed: three minutes.

5. Teacher will clap patterns shown on the Smart Board. Students will clap patterns back to teacher. Time needed: two minutes.

6. Teacher will clap patterns found on the rhythm sheet. Students will notate patterns using popsicle sticks. Time needed: three minutes.

7. Teacher will close the rhythm sheet file and open a new file consisting of a single line staff. Teacher will then demonstrate how to write rhythms on the staff using simple note entry. Teacher will also demonstrate how to start playback of the music that was entered. Time needed: three minutes.

8. Teacher will ask a pair of students to come to the Smart Bo! ard. One student will be asked to change the rhythm values while the other student will be asked to place place the notes on the staff. The teacher will then clap a rhythm pattern and the students will be asked to notate the pattern on the Smart Board. The remaining students should notate the pattern using popsicle sticks. When everyone is finished, students may do a visual check of their pattern with the pattern that was written on the Smart Board. Students should also listen to the playback of the pattern. Once the pattern has been played back, delete it. Depending on the number of students in the class, each student may have a turn at the Smart Board. Time needed: Seven minutes.


1. Students will be able to perform, read, and notate simple rhythms with more accuracy. Evaluation will be made with using student feedback during the lesson. Steadiness of beat as well as accuracy of pattern repetition will be informally assessed.

2. Follow-up lessons will include individual student assessment of rhythmic accuracy. Follow up lessons can include use student recordings or Smart Music software as a means of assessment.

Follow Up:

Follow up lessons should include:

1. Reading and notating rhythms on a five line staff.

2. Reading and notating longer and more complex rhythm patterns.

3. Student composition of rhythm patterns using notation software. If only one computer is available, student compositions may be written on a Smart Board and saved either within the notation program or via Smart Board capture.

Items to Purchase:

All materials are available without any additional purchases.

When budget should be submitted:

Not applicable.


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