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Innovative Ways to Use Boom Cards – Elementary Music Lesson Ideas

Music Boom Cards are an important tool to develop music reading skills. Check out these elementary music lesson ideas for your classroom.

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Are you looking for fun and effective ways to engage your students and inspire them to develop their music reading skills? Music Literacy Boom Cards are versatile tools that seamlessly integrate into your elementary music lesson plans.

They provide students with attainable challenges and immediate feedback, all in a game-like environment. Music Boom Cards may be used in many ways. And, you don’t have to have 1:1 devices for each student.

Still skeptical? Read on to see innovative elementary music lesson ideas to develop your students’ music reading skills.

Note: If you’re not sure what Boom Cards are, take a peek at this post to see a deck of Music Boom Cards in action.

Rhythm Dictation Boom Cards displayed on a music classroom whiteboard

Develop a Well-Rounded Song-Based Music Reading Strategy

Simple songs should form the foundation of any elementary music reading program. After you lay that foundation Music Literacy Boom Cards are the perfect way to practice, reinforce, and assess students’ skills.

See the post below to develop a solid music reading strategy for your elementary music classroom – How to Develop and Assess Music Reading Skills.

Integrate Innovative Elementary Music Lesson Ideas

Music Literacy Boom Cards gained popularity as valuable 1:1 digital activities when we abruptly transitioned to distance learning. However, these activities are still effective resources for whole-class and small-group instruction in the music classroom.

The techniques below are designed to be used in a large classroom setting with ALL students answering ALL questions.

Elementary Music Class Activity – Question/All “Write”

Display each question on the classroom whiteboard while the entire class writes or builds their own answers on paper or individual write/wipe boards, or even by using simple manipulatives.

Rhythm Dictation Boom Cards Make Dictation Fun

Dictation is an integral part of developing music reading skills and dictation can be fun! Vary the activities and use the elementary music lesson ideas below to actively engage all of your students. Help them become successful music readers and develop life-long musicians.

All of the activities below are compatible with our sequential Rhythm Dictation Bundle.

💡 Option 1 – Printable Templates

Download and print this Printable Rhythm Block Template for students to write their answers.

Or, print the template on sturdy card stock and laminate it to create reusable templates. Students may use “write and wipe” markers to notate the rhythm patterns they hear.

💡 Option 2 – Manipulatives

Students may construct the rhythm patterns they hear using stick dictation with popsicle sticks or other manipulatives.

Here’s a fun twist: use pretzel sticks (on a paper plate, a napkin, or a clean piece of paper) to construct the rhythm patterns they hear. And the best part? When the activity is done, students get to “eat their assignment.” 🥨🎵

Teaching Young Children to Read Music | Stick Dictation vs. Standard Notation
Popsicle Stick Music Notation

💡 Option 3 – Printable Manipulatives

Use Color, Cut, and Compose templates and rhythm blocks as dictation manipulatives. If students color each of the rhythmic notes the same color, it’s simple for teachers to scan the room and check students’ answers.

Or, consider printing the different notes on different colors of card stock. Then laminate and cut to create reusable classroom sets.

Rhythmic Dictation Boom Cards Series

Dictation is FUN with these drag-and-drop blocks. Students listen and then “build” the rhythm pattern they hear. They may listen as many times as they need to complete each card. When students make a mistake, they listen again and fix it.

Click the purple bar below to see what’s included in our Complete Rhythm Dictation Bundle

Melodic Dictation Boom Cards

Students don’t mind fixing their mistakes when it’s as simple as moving a marker. Use one of the same activities above with different types of manipulatives for Melodic Dictation.

Pair the activity below with our Melodic Dictation Boom Cards.

💡 Answer with Melodic Manipulatives

Download this Free Printable and Digital Treble Clef Staff for use with simple manipulatives. Print the staff on heavy card stock and laminate it for use with multiple classes over several years.

The staff is the perfect size to use with pennies or small BINGO chips as note heads. Students don’t mind “erasing” and fixing their answers when it’s as simple as moving a note head.

*Use a piece of yarn or a pipe cleaner for a ledger line if necessary.

FREE PRINTABLE & DIGITAL Treble Clef Music Staff | Manipulative Activities for the Music Classroom

Melodic Dictation Boom Cards Series

Similar to the rhythmic dictation sets, students listen and then drag and drop blocks to “build” the MELODY they hear. Again, students may listen as many times as they want. When students make a mistake they should listen again and work to correct their answer.

Click the purple bar below to see what’s included in our Complete Melodic Dictation Bundle.

Melodic Dictation Blocks are available in the Key of C, Key of F, and the Key of G.

Note: If your young students are not ready to read ledger lines and notes below the staff, choose the Key of F or the Key of G.

Other Types of Music Boom Cards

💡 Answer with Sign Language or Signals

Display each question on the classroom whiteboard and have ALL students respond using sign language and/or signals. This works well when students select the correct answer from provided examples, such as in the sets below. Students simply display the number of the correct answer on their hand.

Bonus: No copying or cutting is required. Using sign language is a no-prep activity. 😊

Ensure Accountability and Give “Think Time”

To promote independent thinking and accountability, have students hide their answer hands where no one can see them. (Under the bottom of their shirt usually works well.) Then, prompt them to “show your answer” simultaneously.

This not only provides everyone with adequate think time but also ensures that each student gives their own response. It’s an effective strategy for fostering individual engagement and learning.

Sign Language for the Music Alphabet

Sign language is a perfect complement to Treble Clef Note Names and Bass Clef Note Names Boom Cards. Students can easily learn the signs for the first seven letters of the alphabet to indicate their answers. Using sign language helps to make the learning experience more interactive and inclusive as well.

The Music Alphabet
A, B, C, D, E, F, G

Tape a sign language poster to the back of your piano or somewhere else near the front of your classroom so all students can refer to it when necessary.

Use Boom Cards as Centers or Stations

When teaching centers or stations, I always recommend teachers have some way to hold students accountable at each center. If you use Boom Cards with individual student accounts, their scores will automatically be recorded. I often do not recommend this option if you have large numbers of students as most music teachers do. I DO recommend setting up individual accounts if your Tech Support maintains and updates those accounts.

If you do not have tech support, I recommend that you use the FastPlay Link option. This will not record individual student scores but the biggest advantages are you will not have to maintain student accounts and you can use the FREE teacher account.

Try one of the following methods to monitor students’ progress when using FastPlay Links.

  • Create a simple response sheet for students to fill out and turn in their scores. Have another student or teacher initial the score to verify, OR
  • Require students to take a screenshot of their scores and submit the screenshot to “turn in” their assignment.

Whatever method you choose, ensure students know your process for turning in scores.

Use Boom Cards for Pre/Post Tests 

Boom Cards work well for pre/post tests. If students score above 90%, allow them to progress to the next set. If students score low on the pre-test, they may repeat and practice the same deck of cards until they reach proficiency.

You may consider assigning a student a simpler set if necessary. Meet your students where they are.

Differentiation is Easy

Teachers may assign specific decks to specific students or assign a sequence of decks for all students to practice and master at their own pace. This allows students who may be taking private lessons to excel while students who need extra practice can continue to work at their own level.

Repetition and Practice

Repetition is important for learning any concept but especially for music. Students may repeat and practice the same deck of Boom cards multiple times. Often students are not motivated to repeat or practice a skill. However, the game-like atmosphere of Boom Cards motivates students to perform better and improve their scores.

All of our decks are set to randomize and present “tasks” or questions in a different order so students cannot simply memorize the order of the cards.

Fast Finishers or Rewards

Boom Cards may be used as an incentive for students. Allow students who earn a reward to use Boom Cards. This is a great way to keep students engaged in learning while recognizing positive behaviors.

Boom Cards Facilitate Music Literacy

You still might be a bit skeptical that an online “game” that kids enjoy can facilitate music literacy. I used to be until I learned what Boom Cards can do. Boom Cards are an important tool to help your students develop REAL music literacy skills.

Choose a couple of the free sets and pair them with a few of the elementary music lesson ideas and activities from this post. You and your students will be hooked. Music Literacy Boom Cards go beyond simple FUN.

Real learning is happening here.


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Boomwhackers Add Fun to Any Activity

Boomwhackers are incredibly versatile and always a hit with kids. Plus, they are budget-friendly. I bought 4 classroom sets but only added the octavator caps on 2 of those sets.

Octavator caps lower the pitch of each tube by one octave. This allows you to have 2 full octaves of notes. But, octavator caps are VERY difficult to get off once you put them on. My recommendation is to only put octavator caps on half of your Boomwhackers and leave them on. 😊

Boomwhackers C Major Diatonic Scale Set with Octavator Caps 8-Pack

Last update on 2024-06-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Meet the Author

Terri Lloyd is a former elementary music teacher with over 25 years of experience. She holds a Bachelor of Music, a Master of Science in Education, and a Technology Certificate in Instructional Design.

She is currently active in music education through blogging, workshops, and curriculum development. She serves on the music staff at her church and volunteers for an after-school children’s program. Terri is an active musician in the community, performing in a local Big Band, pit orchestras, and various events.

More Ways to Connect – Instagram, Facebook, YouTube.

Meet the Author

Terri Lloyd is a former elementary music teacher with over 25 years of experience. She holds a Bachelor of Music, a Master of Science in Education, and a Technology Certificate in Instructional Design.

She is currently active in music education through blogging, workshops, and curriculum development. She serves on the music staff at her church and volunteers for an after-school children’s program. Terri is an active musician in the community, performing in a local Big Band, pit orchestras, and various events.

More Ways to Connect – Instagram, Facebook, YouTube.