When I was in band, I always wanted to play the cymbal. I wanted to crash it loudly during the “Stars and Stripes Forever” march. The cymbal meant power and stardom! But, No! Only boys were able to play the cymbal; girls were given the triangle. Fast forward a few years…. I can see it in my students’ eyes – They desperately want the freedom to just play and explore all the instruments in my music room – especially the cymbal! This idea of 20 Musical Challenges for iPads and Instruments started with a collection of cards designed for independent use by children with a box of instruments, found on the tesconnect website. These cards and the SMART Notebook lesson is my adaptation of the free teaching resource first created in 2009. It’s my way of creating opportunities for my students to freely explore all instruments they’ve always wanted to play. . . with a technology twist.
Directions for the challenges:
To use this activity, have small groups (2-3) touch a fish on the homepage to choose their musical challenge. Each numbered fish is linked to its challenge page. This activity is designed for students to record their challenges on their iPads, but the challenges will still work without the technology. If you are using iPads, have students use the “Explain Everything” app. They should take a picture of each challenge card, record on that page, and then make a new page for each new challenge. Once the challenges are complete, their Explain Everything project can be exported as a Movie and shared with everyone.
Room Setup: I tried several different ways, but the way that seemed to work the best was to put two large tables in the middle of the room and fill them with tons of rhythm instruments. Drums are grouped outside or in a corner, Orff instruments can also be made available. If you choose to use the printed challenges, consider placing each card in its own chair and have students walk around to choose their next challenge. The attached video will demonstrate the setup.
Noise: This is an active, sound-producing activity. Plan ahead and take extra meds! If you have outside access as I do, it works beautifully. You might even consider making this an outside activity for a sunny day!
Outcome: In a 30-minute class, students will be able to finish 2-3 activities. Save time at the end to ask “Why?” Give students time to discuss the sounds they created, their favorite challenge, and even share their creativity on the iPad. This activity can be repeated for several class times.
Watch this video for examples of children completing several musical challenges:
Download the SMARTNotebook Activity here:
Download the PDF challenge cards for copying here.
Here is a special video example of a team of very gifted girls creating a rain storm story.
I hope you can use these challenges to create opportunities for your students to create and explore. They were a big hit with my students and a great introduction to small group activities(centers) to come. I was afraid it might be too chaotic, but the students were totally focused and driven to learn. It was amazing.
Most of all, I hope you have many students who will finally get to play those cymbals loudly.. with all their hearts!
If you use it, I’d love to hear how it goes!