Teaching High-Low | Kindergarten Music Assessment

Teaching high-low is one of my favorite kindergarten concepts. But It is not as easy to teach as you might think. Children often mix up high-low and loud-soft.

As with all grades, kindergarten music assessment should be integrated naturally into music class activities.  Assessment should be a fun, learning experience.

Teaching High-Low Spatial RElationships

I like to introduce high-low by starting with drag & drop sorting activities on the white board. I don’t take for granted that little ones know the meaning of high and low in terms of spatial relationships.

White Board High-Low Sorting Activity

Teaching High-Low Animal Sounds

I use a similar drag and drop sorting activity to introduce high-low animals sounds. I always make the sound as students place animals. This gives children a reference point. Encourage them to make the animals sounds as well.

Animals for Sorting High-Low Sounds

Teaching High-Low Vocalizations

Halloween is a fun time to integrate “ghost voice” vocalizations. I like to use a flashlight and have students follow the light with their “spooky voices.” I shine the flashlight on the wall moving from low to high. Students love how tricky I am. I always make sure to hold a steady pitch too in order to teach students to really follow and not simply bounce between high and low. Make it fun!

Teaching High-Low with Storybooks

There are several good storybooks to teach high-low. My favorite is “Up, Up, Up Down” by Robert Munsch. There is a YouTube video of the author reading, but he does not follow the words with the pitch and inflection of his voice. 

I always believe it is better to read directly to students anyway. As you read, accentuate the pitches moving your voice upward more each time your say up and moving your voice downward each time you say down. Use your free hand to trace the highs and lows in the air.

Students will automatically begin to join in on the repetitive sections. If they don’t prompt them to join you and help tell the story. 

I always read this book twice. The kids LOVE it!

Assessing High-Low with Movement Activity

After students have had many opportunities to practice high-low in different ways, it is time to assess. I like to use a movement activity I call “Tortises & Ballet Dancers.” I play simple melodic patterns using only the black notes of the piano (pentatonic scale). If I play low, students crawl low like a tortise. It I play high, students move on their tip toes with hands over their heads. 

Activities to Teach High-Low

The first time we play this game, it is just for fun and just for practice. I never record as an assessment the first time. Even when I am recording grades, it is no different for students. It is still just a fun game. 

These sweet kindergarten students loved learning and I loved teaching high-low. Music assessment & learning should be fun and authentic. Enjoy these cute Tortises and Ballet Dancers!

More Kindergarten Favorites

When kindergarten students are ready, these have been some of our favorite rhythm reading activities. I have also used these for student-led conferences. Parents are always impressed when they see their children reading music using icons and standard notation. Each of these lessons include Take it Home Pages to share at home.

This post talks about using Take it Home Pages as Elementary Music Assessments. Not only are students learning, they are sharing what they have learned at home and they are building their own music libraries. Check it out. 

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