Using interactive rhythm pattern flashcards can be a fun way to develop rhythm reading skills in the elementary grades. These sets of seasonally-themed rhythm patterns are very versatile and can be used in a variety of ways.
10 Ways to Use Interactive Rhythm Pattern Flashcards
Just a quick note about choosing rhythm patterns: Students always like to have some input and choice. They like to take turns doing something special. By having students choose or click the flashcards, you have already increased engagement. When appropriate, try to find a way to have students choose the rhythm patterns.
I have a “lucky duck cup” with popsicle sticks in it. Each stick has a number on it which corresponds to each student’s assigned spot. I often use the lucky duck cup to choose students for a variety of tasks. Once I draw a stick, I leave it out of the cup until class is over. That insures that no one is chosen twice.
1. ROD – Rhythm of the Day
Choose one pattern per day to practice as a warm up while students enter the classroom. With the rhythm displayed on the board, the teacher calls out the rhythm syllables & students echo. Each time the teacher calls out the rhythm, he/she should change the inflection. Get silly with it. This can be a really fun way to practice and focus attention.
2. Call & Respsonse
Divide your class into two groups and choose one pattern for each group to read or play. Perform four times in call & response form (group 1/group 2). Choose different patterns & repeat. At first, this is often hard for students because they want to echo and not perform their own pattern. Be sure to switch which group performs the call & which group performs the response.
3. Daisy Chain
Taking the rhythm patterns in order, read & perform pattern 1. Repeat (without stopping) and add pattern 2, repeat and add pattern 3. Continue repeating while adding one pattern each time until you are performing all 8 patterns.
- Example: Pattern 1; Patterns 1, 2; Patterns 1, 2, 3,; Patterns, 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.
4. Body Percussion
Challenge the class to make up a body percussion pattern to match a rhythm card. Continue adding one card at a time with another movement pattern. This can be really fun and really tricky.
5. Rap it Out!
Using the seasonal theme of the flashcards or another theme of your choice (character traits, etc.), challenge students to create lyrics to match the rhythm. Daisy chain the rhythms together to create a speech piece.
6. Say & Play
Turn over one or two rhythm pattern cards. Read the pattern together as a group, repeat while playing the pattern. Repeat the sequence four times (say/play, say/play, etc.) on any unpitched rhythm instrument. Incorporate dynamics to vary the repetition and build musicianship skills.
7. Create an Accompaniment
Choose one or two patterns to create an ostinato accompaniment on unpitched rhythm instruments. Marches work really well for this purpose. You can follow the form of the march by choosing different rhythm patterns for each section.
8. Form – Rhythm Rondo
Create a short piece of music using different patterns for each section of the piece. Younger children might want to start with ABA, AABB, or ABC form.
9. Melodic Improvisation
Set up xylophones or other barred instruments in a pentatonic scale (Key of C = C, D, E, G, A). Use the “say & play” technique where students read the rhythm pattern aloud, then play the rhythm while improvising the melody. The last time encourage students to end on Do (C). By ending on the “home tone” their piece will sound finished.
Interactive rhythm pattern flashcards may also be used in a variety of ways as a station for centers. One suggestion is a rhythm challenge where student 1 chooses a pattern for student 2 to read. Then student 2 chooses another pattern for student 1 to read. If both partners are successful, they continue in “daisy-chain” fashion until one partner is stumped or both students read all eight patterns successfully. Then, they “level up” and continue to the next set of flashcards.
If you don’t have time to make your own flashcards, check out these sets – Interactive Rhythm Flashcards on TpT. (Be sure to scroll down.)
Rhythm Elements Included | Interactive Rhythm Pattern Flashcards
This collection of flashcards has 8 different sets which may be used by students in grades K-5. Sets 1-A and 1-B begin with iconic reading for your little ones while sets 6, 7, and 8 will challenge your older students.
- Set 1-A: iconic reading (quarter note/rest)
- Set 1-B: iconic reading (quarter note/rest, eighth note)
- Set 2: quarter note/rest
- Set 3: quarter note/rest, eighth notes
- Set 4: quarter note/rest, eighth notes, half note, whole note
- Set 5: quarter note/rest, eighth notes, sixteenth notes, half note
- Set 6: quarter note/rest, eighth notes, sixteenth notes, eighth/sixteenth, sixteenth/eighth, half note
- Set 7: quarter note/rest, eighth notes, half note, syncopation
- Set 8: quarter note/rest, eighth notes, half note, dotted quarter/eighth
Note: Each holiday set includes the same rhythm patterns. Only the icons and the themes have been changed.
If you are interested in sequential resources to aid in the development of music literacy levels at your school, check out this post Music Literacy: Sequential Lessons Which Build on Prior Learning.
Interactive rhythm pattern flashcards are a great tool to add to your toolbox. They can be pulled out when you have a few extra minutes in class or they can be a main focus of the lesson. Pair different holiday themes with different activities and it becomes a whole new thing! Yes, learning to read rhythm patterns can be FUN!
Do you have other ways to use these interactive flashcards? Leave a comment below.