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23 Updated SMARTboard Musical Activities

23 Updated SMARTboard Musical Activities


23 Updated SMARTboard Musical Activities for Young Children

23 Updated IWB Musical Activities for Young Children

This collection of 23 Updated SMARTboard Musical Activities for Young Children is free to download and use throughout the year.

While not an all-inclusive music lesson, these 23 Updated SMARTboard Musical Activities for Young Children work  best as interactive supplements to standard musical concepts for young music students. Many of the pages will work across multiple grade levels just by changing instructions. Most importantly, the activities have been kid-tested and refined for maximum fun and engagement.

Now that I have a new SMART Board 6065 interactive flat panel and the latest notebook software, I am updating my lessons and formatting them for the wide-screen (16:9) display. Summer is the perfect time to improve the page layouts for easier navigation, and replace the flash activities with the new HTML5 LAB activities. By the way, if you would like this updated version in the standard full-screen (4:3) view, just send me an email and I’ll post it for you.

23 Updated Activities Include:

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Chladni Patters, Tonoscope, and Green Screen Magic

Chladni Patters, Tonoscope, and Green Screen Magic

Can We See Sound?

Can we SEE sound and vibration? To explore cymatics, the study of sound and vibration made visible, my 4th graders created Chladni patterns with a tonoscope. In fact, the Chladni Patters, Tonoscope, and Green Screen Magic made this an unforgettable introduction to sound. I had them record their Chladni patterns on their iPads and upload images and video to their Seesaw account. Then I used their videos and images to make a background video. This was an early activity in their sound unit meant to pique their curiosity, and boy did it! The green screen was up so the kids wanted to pretend they were in the sound waves…. here’s how it all happened.

Chladni Patters, Tonoscope, and Green Screen Magic With 4th GradeCymatics

“In African tribes 1000 years ago, according to the Encyclopedia of Religion Vol. 4, fortunes were told using the taut skin of drums sprinkled with small grains. Leonardo Da Vinci (1452 -1519) noticed that vibrating a wooden table on which dust lay created various shapes. Ernst Chladni (1756-1827) discovered that when he used a sand-strewn brass plate, excited by a violin bow it would create geometric patterns. These patterns are now known as ‘Chladni Figures.'” More information can be found on this site.

Ernst Chladni

Ernst Chladni, an 18th century German scientist and musician, conducted a famous experiment in which he showed how moving a violin bow against a metal plate covered with sand could visually display the movement of sound. You can read about Ernst Chladni here. The study of visible sound is called Cymatics. Take a look at how the patterns change with the pitches in the video below.

This has fascinated me for several years and I’ve been trying, with the help of our Naturalist at school, to create a Chladni plate and replicate this experiment. We haven’t been able to get our piece of metal to work yet.  Bummer! We’ll keep trying; but in the mean time, I found this video and made a tonoscope.


A Tonoscope allows you to make the sound waves from your own voice visible. A vibrating membrane (balloon) spread with sand or salt will pick up sound waves and make visible the patterns these waves create at various tones. The Tonoscope device is made of plastic PVC pipe from a hardware store, a balloon, and sand or salt. It is simple to construct, easy to use, and a fun way to talk about the science of sound.

Chladni patterns

Making Chladni Patterns

To use a tonoscope to make your voice visible, spread some sand or salt on the surface of the balloon. Hold it level to the ground so that the sand does not fall off. Sing a tone into the opening of the scope and hold that note for a few seconds. Rather than blowing air directly into the mouthpiece make a sound into it, think “do re mi fa so la ti do.” You can even sing a song! You should start to see the sand move and fall into different geometric patterns. Now try singing a higher or lower tone and watch how the pattern changes. As the pitch of the note gets higher the frequency of the sound waves increase and the waves appear more “intense” or close together. As the frequency of the waves increase the patterns become more intricate. My students discovered the higher the note you sing, the more intricate the pattern will be.

Chladni Patters, Tonoscope, and Green Screen Magic With 4th Grade

The green screen was up in my music room and the students wanted to pretend they were on the top of the surface feeling the sound waves. The video above is a combination of the Chladni patterns created on the tonoscope mixed with green screen magic in 4th grade. Since this was just a teaser for the upcoming sound unit, they only have a basic understanding of the way sound can be made visible. However, they get it! The higher the pitch, the more intricate the pattern and the lower the pitch, the less intricate the pattern.


Making Sound WavesAs an exit ticket, some students used Seesaw to record any questions they had after this activity. Here are a few of their questions:

  • How did the sound waves get to the salt?
  • Why did it vibrate more with salt than with rice?
  • Why do different sounds make different patterns?
  • Is there a pattern for every pitch that is made?
  • Are the patterns always the same for every pitch?
  • Would the patterns be different or the same on a bigger surface?
  • Can sound move brick?
  • This was really cool. Can we do it again?

I love how my students are so at ease with technology and they are driving the learning. I just wish my classes were longer; we just get into it and have to stop. What about you? What have you done with Chladni patterns in your sound unit? I would love to hear how you lead your students deeper in their understanding of sound.

I’m fascinated by the power and magic of sound-waves.


3 Green Screen Tempo Videos for Kindergarten

Exploring Tempo with Green Screens

Want to make a musical memory? Bring tempo to life by combining movement and  green screens. Here are 3 green screen tempo videos for Kindergarten made by kids.

We all have our students move to music played at different tempi. In a classroom with one or more iPads, it’s possible to go a step further and have students use the iPad to research and show what they know about Largo, Moderato, and Presto. We are in our fifth year as a 1:1 iPad school and our students are feeling confident using the iPad as a tool for learning, just like a pencil. We made 3 green screen tempo videos for kindergarten and awesome musical memories and it was easier than you think! [click to continue…]


11 October Musical Freebies for iPads and More

11 October Musical Freebies for iPads and More

During October, technology makes learning and creating so creepy cool… Here are a few of my favorite activities and links to find 11 October Musical Freebies for iPads and more. My students have “squeezed the goody” out of every one of these and I’d like to share the fun!! October is one of my favorite months for teaching because of all the imaginative things we can do with musical concepts.

Scary Dynamic Story

1-speckled-numberIf you have access to iPads, look at the end of this post to find the link to a Scary Dynamic Story activity using the Explain Everything app. There is also a QR code  students may scan to access this file on their iPad. What better way to demonstrate understanding of musical dynamics and actually hear the excitement created with musical secret codes than by telling a very spooky story? Here is a link to the original post. Listen to this story in the video below to hear the possibilities with the activity.

“In a Dark, Dark Wood” Dynamic Story

2Alvin Schwartz’s spooky story about the shelf in the cupboard comes to life when first and second graders add musical dynamics to create the creepiest, scariest, most terrifying story ever in the history of the world. This story is a bit easier to read than the “Scary Dynamic Story” mentioned earlier; it might just be perfect for your beginning readers. If you want to use this with your students, have them scan the QR code and open the file in Explain Everything. The files are at the bottom of this post.

With these two stories we learned that the best story tellers are musical dynamic WIZARDS! With technology, we can really, really hear the difference dynamics make and we can practice, fix and gain confidence. Technology allows our students to go deeper, to experience more, and to shine individually.

Listen to this first grader… wait for it!!!

Ghosty Long and Short Rhythm Activity

October musical freebies for iPads

3Boys and girls love to create long and short rhythms with all sorts of things: worms and pom poms, touchy-feely trays I made with Dollar Tree finds, ghost patterns on the iPad, and creepy patterns on the SMARTBoard. Here are a few images, a video, and download at the bottom of this post.

If you want to use his with your students, have them scan the QR code to download the Ghostly Long and Short in Explain Everything.

This ended up being a really great rhythmic and vocal activity when the students used the laser pointer to record the sounds of big ghosts (whooooo) and baby ghosts (Boo! Boo!) Technology is such a great equalizer; every student gets a turn to sing and respond at the same time.

Spooky Rhythms

4is also a great activity for working on Long and short rhythmic patterns. There are many ways to use this iPad activity. Students can record their chanting and laser pointing, they can play these rhythmic patterns on instruments, or older students can notate and perform the correct rhythm. It’s useful for many grade levels. I like having open-ended activities like this at my fingertips and loaded on my students’ iPads the whole month of October. Similarly, Here is a video of children using the iPad to notate the rhythm to “Pumpkin, Pumpkin.”

Bat Book and Spider Book

5The first graders have been studying Bats and Spiders, so to help the teachers, I created two iPad books for students to use to share what they have been learning. The Bat book is in Book Creator and the Spider Book is in Explain Everything. These aren’t specifically related to music, but (since I created them) I piggy-backed on the units and included a listening walk and study of echolocation. We also used our dynamic markings to help make the reading of the poems more exciting. I’ve included these here so you can see the possibilities for designing interactive learning activities within each app and maybe a way to connect to the classroom.

There’s a Spider on my Instrument

October musical freebies for iPads

6Right after Halloween is over, run to Walmart and Target and scoop up all of the spider rings for next year. This is a terrific activity for allowing students to explore instruments and use their singing voice. I place various instruments around the music room and allow students to used their iPads to take a photo of the spider on the instruments. Pic Collage is a great app for gathering all of their spider images. As an extension, students can sort the instruments by hit, scrape or shake. In a 30 minute class time, this is a do-able activity.


Ghostly Vocal Sounds

Halloween is the perfect time to explore Ghostly Vocal sounds! Here is a simple SMARTBoard Music Lesson and vocal exploration activity for young children. Here is the original post and link to this file on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Peer Gynt Listening Map for iPad


The Peer Gynt Listening Map is a challenge the students love and ask for every year. “In the Hall of the Mountain King” is one of my students’ favorite pieces. I created this listening map using the Explain Everything app. To add the music, I used Audacity to split the music into smaller sections and insert a section on the same page as the listening map. Students had great fun trying to use the laser pointer to keep up with the melodic line. Once they felt confident, they could record the music and laser pointing at the same time. (In Explain Everything, most of the time the music and pointing is in sync, but sometimes there is a lag) You may download the QR code at the end of this post and have your students scan. download and open the listening map in Explain Everything.


Bach and Grieg Interactive QR Codes

October musical freebies for iPads

October musical freebies for iPads

Here is a video of my students’ reaction to learning about and hearing Bach’s music for the first time. Ear buds make the music extra impressive. I made the introduction videos using the MadLips app. I was by myself and inside my car where no one could see our hear me!


Skin and Bones Song Animation

Using Explain Everything, I created a visualization of “Skin and Bones” for the students to use with their favorite Halloween song. After students record their voice and movement, have them export it as a video to share with their parents. We use Seesaw and the parents love hearing the work of their children.


Pumpkin Stew

Pumpkin Stew

October musical freebies for iPads

October musical freebies for iPads

The SMARTNotebook file (#11)  contains the Pumpkin Stew activity that I have updated. As the versions of .notebook have changed, so has the stability of flash items. This version of the Pumpkin Stew song is not based on the flash random image generator and will be completely stable for your use. Students simply chose an item and follow the dotted path to add it to the stew.

SMARTBoard: October Musical Adventures

This SMARTNotebook file contains all of the links I have included fin this post as well as other links and activities you can use during your celebration of all things spooky. Some pages might make great substitute activities or fillers. There are also extras that you might find useful and fun. Here is a link to download this SMARTNotebook file.  Should you have any problems with the download, please let me know. 

I kind of hate to see October come to an end because there is always so much to do and so many ways to make discovering music exciting. We’ve also been working on composing with Garage band, but that’s for another post.  I hope you will find something in all of this to use in your classroom, or at least get you thinking of ways you can modify it to suit your teaching style. Let me hear what you think of these. I have more if you are interested!






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Commercial Jingle Project Using a Green Screen

The Commercial Jingle Project started as a Quaver lesson, but it morphed into an incredible collaborative adventure that will forever change the way I teach music.

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Music Room Storage Becomes Multi-purpose Stations

Music room storage becomes multi-purpose stations

Starting with 5-tier metal shelving from Lowes, my music room storage has evolved from stacks of tubs on top of tubs, to created spaces that serve multiple purposes. How? In my music room [click to continue…]