by Tamsyn

March 27, 2017

Increase gametime appeal by making supersized rhythm manipulatives.

There's something about changing the size of every-day items that enchant our minds and give us a sense of awe.  A miniature anything well done makes us say, "Wow, that's so cute!"  Conversely, when a small thing is made large, it's almost as though we have been magically shrunk, to experience the world as our toys would.  If you want that "Wow" factor, supersize any learning activity and see how your students act.  When you bring out the supersized rhythm cards, you will see your kids' eye light up, whether you are in a classroom or more intimate setting.  My private students LOVE them!

Making supersized rhythm manipulatives is fairly easy and well worth the effort.  There are three basic ways to do this, including:

supersized rhythm cards
  • Making your own from scratch using cardstock and a thick marker.  Use fun colors!
  • Printing your own, either by enlarging rhythm notation in a file using something like illustrator, or by simply changing your printer settings by zooming in before you print.
  • Purchasing pre-made files.  There are plenty of great examples on Teachers Pay Teachers, or check out "Beginning Rhythm" in our store.

There are two different kinds of supersized rhythm cards that I work with.  One is isolated notes, such as a single quarter note, a single half note, an eighth note duplet, and so forth.  The other is measure cards, such as simple rhythms made for 4/4 time, 3/4 time, etc.  The first is best for introducing rhythm notation.  The second is better for rhythm games.

I highly recommend laminating whatever method you choose to use.  There will be lots of little fingers playing with them and laminating protects your work from tearing.  You can be fairly rough with them after they've been laminated!

Rhythm Games

Playing with measure cards are a great way to warm up any music session.  Students sight-read rhythms created by mixing and matching the cards and either clapping the rhythms, saying them with rhythm solfege ("Ta, Ta, Sh, Ta"), or playing them on a simple percussion instrument.  Here are a few games you can play with supersized rhythm *measures* to make the process even more fun;

"Which one doesn't belong?"  Place four rhythm cards down in a row and play all four measures, changing one beat.  Have the student identify the card where the beat changed.

"What's your rhythm?"  Play a classroom circle game where each student gets their own measure card and must recognize when another player says their rhythm and then correctly say another student's rhythm or be "out".

"Which one?"  Place a few cards out and play one of them.  Ask a student to identify which one you played.  Very young students can choose between two cards, more advanced with five or six.

"Fill in the blanks."  Show the rhythm of the line of a song, except for one measure.  Show a few measure cards, including one that has the rhythm of that measure.  Sing the line and let students figure out which card will complete the rhythm.

"Be the Composer."  Let students arrange cards in any order and then play the rhythm together.  They can also make two rows and create a duet.

Some of the tools I use include:
  • Stick Notation (Sticks are EASY to supersize!)
  • French rhythm solfege (Ta, Ti-Ti, Ta-ah)
  • Body and instrument percussion
  • Short, simple lessons (I like to use these cards for warm-ups)

#31 Days of Rhythm

This blog post is part of a collaborative effort with other music bloggers to give you 31 different posts about how you can really give you a LOT of great ideas for rhythm time.  This post is day 27, and I have been delighted with all of the creative ideas.  You can find the other posts through the Facebook page "MusicEd Blogs Community", and by searching for the hashtag #31daysofrhythm.  So get out there and have some fun!  "You've got rhythm, you've got music..."

About the author 


My name is Tamsyn and I love music. I got my bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from USU. I spent many years teaching private piano lessons until I had children of my own. I have attended several children workshops on how to teach children music. I really like the Kodaly method, but have adapted a lot of different techniques for my own children.

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  1. I have been playing rhythm games for years, I have fond memories for thousands of hours of Frequency, Amplitude, Guitar Hero 1 – 3, Rock Band 1 -2, the list goes on and on. I just have a wicked thing for music and gaming, so when they are together I usually can’t resist.

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