SKILLS: Children will use rhythm to count.
- chart paper and markers
- plastic funnels or stethoscopes (toy or real)
IN ADVANCE: Help children pair up and use a stethoscope to listen to each other's heartbeat. (If you don't have a stethoscope, try funnels or other hollow, tubular items.) Suggest that children imitate the heartbeat sounds by using their voices (lub-dub, lub-dub) or by clapping.
1 Sit in a circle and sing a popular song that has several verses, such as "This Old Man." Introduce the idea that songs have a heartbeat. Sing the song again and clap out the beats, encouraging children to follow your example.
2 Next, ask children to "sing" the first line of the song without words by clapping out the beats. Call for volunteers to count the number of beats as others clap. Use tally marks to record the number of beats the children clap. Repeat this until you have tally marks for the first verse.
3 Together, go back and count the tally marks for each line. Record the numbers at the end, and look for patterns in the numbers you find.
4 Repeat the activity with the next verse. Clap and count the beats, record the 1 tally marks, and write down the number of beats in each line. Look for number patterns both within each verse and by comparing one verse to another. End the activity by asking children to clap out the whole song.
For younger children: Before playing musical selections that children can listen and clap to, count out the numerals 1,2,3,4 and ask children to clap out the rhythm. This simple exercise will prepare them for clapping out the rhythm to the musical selections.
For older children: Let children take turns singing favorite songs or nursery rhymes and clapping out the beats. see if children can identify which songs or rhymes have the most and least beats.
In some traditions, musical beats, such as drumbeats, communicate feelings and ideas. Choose a couple of emotions, such as happiness and fear, and take turns trying to communicate these feelings using hand claps.
Hear Your Heart by Paul Showers (HarperCollins, 2001; $5)
Heart: Our Circulatory System by Seymour Simon (HarperCollins, 2006; $7)
Tanka, Tanka, Skunk by Steve Webb (Scholastic, 2004; $16)