This poster is up at the front of the room. I tell the children, “Here is the pattern.” I immediately demonstrate it using rhythm sticks (even though the children don’t have theirs in hand yet and may not read music notation).
Patsch (the sticks gently hit your thighs once), click, click, click, (raise hands with sticks up and apart for the Rest).
“Do this rhythm with me.” The children follow me and do the pattern about two times when I begin to sing:
“My live is a gift….” as we continue to do the pattern. I sing and stop after I have sung the words “in heaven it began.”
“You’ve got the pattern enough to use the rhythm sticks.” I tell the children. “Remember, if you use these inappropriately, I take them. No questions asked. Your teachers will now pass out the rhythm sticks.” There is a bit of hub bub as each child gets two sticks from the adults that are helping to pass things out. As soon as even 1/3 of the children have sticks, I start the pattern again.
“Patsch, click, click, click, rest!” I lead the children in the pattern until most of the children have their sticks. “Don’t get pulled off from this pattern as I sing the song!” We start the pattern, then I begin to sing, “My life is a gift…”
We sing and do the pattern until I have sung the words, “to direct me from birth.” “Freeze!” I call out. “Now let’s do a new pattern.”
Click, click, click, patsch, patsch. (See the second rhythm pattern on the poster above.) Again we do the new pattern about two times, then I start to sing.
“I will follow God’s plan for me….” We continue to do that pattern as I sing clear to the end of the song.
(They are experiencing the beat and the flow of the music in their bodies. Because music is a great carrier of important words, it is great to have this experience with the body so that we can remember important words set to this rhythm and beat.)
“You have gotten this pattern down so well that you are ready for an extra challenge. We are going to do this same rhythm (pointing at the top rhythm on the poster) with some added instruments.” I ask the adults to pass out the jingle bells (or shakers) and the egg cartons to some of the children. They will be collecting the rhythm sticks from those children, except that the egg carton people will need one rhythm stick in order to play their egg carton. They will be scraping the rhythm stick along the bumps of the back of the egg carton. As the adults are passing out the other instruments, you will be putting up the following word strips:
Immediately jump in and start the activity, even if only half of the children have their new instruments. (Transitions are the places you lose children’s attention, so you make the transition quickly.)
“Egg cartons! Let’s hear you play to this beat. Beat, beat, beat, beat. Freeze!”
“Jingle Bells! Let’s hear you play to this beat. Beat, beat, beat, beat. Freeze!”
“If you are an egg carton player, you play here.” (point to the line) “If you are a rhythm stick player, you play here.” (point) If you are a jingle bell player, you play here.” (point) “Ready orchestra?”
I start the group out by pointing to their beat to the beat of the song for the top pattern. (I don’t point twice for the rhythm sticks even though they play two notes. I only point on the beat.) After they have practiced the top pattern twice, I start to sing, “My life is a gift….” We sing all the way to “…from birth.” I call out, “Switch to here!” And we play in the same beat pattern, but now on the lower pattern of the poster as I sing, “I will follow God’s plan for me….”
If there is time:
If there is time, have the children switch instruments with a friend. You will need the adults who passed out the instruments to give some guidance so that everyone gets a new instrument.
Sing the song, point to the beats, and play the rhythm band pattern once again. Have the children quickly pass in their instruments to the teachers. I will often count down from 15 at this point, to help “reluctant” children give up their instrument.<grin>
The beauty of this activity is that the children are moving in a purposeful way to a steady beat. That kind of movement helps the frontal lobe to develop and progress. It brings order to the brain. And… it’s fun! The children have heard the whole song at least two or three times while being super engaged. That engagement and participation opens up the brain to have the words slip in the back door, even though that is not what you are focused on. The attitude they associate with this song from the activity is energy, fun, and interest!