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Taking it Outside – 7 Outdoor Activities to Combat May Madness in the Music Room

May 9, 2023 | Music Teacher Activities, Tips and Tricks for Music Teachers

May Madness is real, and it’s here. Your students are OVER it, and YOU are bone tired. So what’s a worn out music teacher to do? Take it outside!

Get ready to step outside the classroom and dive into a world of musical adventure. Whether you’re looking to review note values with Four Square, get your students bouncing to the beat with Bouncy Ball Note Values, or sneaking around playing Hide and Seek, you’ve found the perfect resource for elementary music teachers who want to get their students moving, grooving, and learning about music in a fun and exciting way! Join us as we explore the best outdoor games to help your students review music, rhythm, and note values. So grab your sunscreen, get ready to play, and let’s learn some music skills!

Bouncy Ball Note Values

My outdoor bouncy ball lesson plan is a fantastic opportunity for students to have a blast while learning about basic note values. Not only do they get to go outside and enjoy some fresh air, but they also get to toss and bounce the bouncy balls with their friends! 

Imagine the excitement on their faces as they try to catch the ball and bounce it back to their partner. And to add to the fun, you’ll get a chance to review note values through this active kinesthetic lesson plan.  This activity gives them a chance to show off their musical skills in a unique and engaging way. It’s a lesson plan that combines physical activity, social interaction, and music education, all in one awesome package!  Win, Win, Win!

Read Light, Green Light

This outdoor lesson plan is a creative twist on the classic game of Red Light Green Light. In this activity, students will be asked to walk instead of run, and they will have to adjust their pace according to the different musical note values.

The teacher starts the game by playing a piece of music.  A student leader (we call them the traffic cop) will hold up a note.  When the music starts, the students will begin walking like that note.  For example, for whole note, students would do a long step that lasts for 4 beats.  For double eighth notes, students get to jog.  Instead of saying “Red Light,” the traffic cop holds up a quarter rest, and students have to stop in place. However, instead of just standing still, the teacher will call out a specific note value, and the students will have to adjust their pace accordingly. For example, if the teacher says “Half Note,” the students will take two steps forward and freeze again.

As the game continues, the teacher will switch up the note values and call them out randomly, challenging the students to pay attention and adapt their walking pace accordingly. This fun and engaging activity helps students develop a deeper understanding of musical note values and reinforces their ability to listen and respond to music.

Extension:  the traffic cop holds up 4 beat rhythms, and students have to move to the rhythm.

Overall, this lesson plan is an excellent way to combine music education and physical activity in a way that is both fun and educational for elementary school students. They will have a blast playing the game while learning important musical concepts in the process.

Musical Tag

This game is a great way to review note values and encourage physical activity.  Have one student be “it” and chase the other students.  When “it” tags a student, they must feeze and call out a note name.  The other students must then clap or stomp their feet to the beat of that note value for a specific number of beats, such as 4 quarter notes. 

Musical Hide & Seek

This game is just like traditional hide and seek, only you hide music note flash cards in the playing area.  When a student finds a flashcard, they must run back to the designated spot and clap the rhythm of the note value written on the flashcard for the teacher or for a savvy student.  For example, if the note value is a quarter note, the student would clap or stomp four times.  This game could also be extended to use 4 beat rhythm flash cards.

Musical Capture the Flag

Divide your students into 2 teams and assign the same note value to each team.  When a team captures the other team’s flag, they must run it back to their own base while clapping or stomping their feet to the rhythm of their assigned note value.  For example, if they have quarter note, they must clap ta, ta, ta, ta (or whatever sound your students use for quarter notes) as they are running.  The other team must then try to tag them before they reach their base.  After a round is over, assign new note values to each team.

Musical Four Square

In this game, assign a different note value to each square.  When a student hits the ball to another square, the student in that square must clap or stomp their feet to the rhythm of the note value assigned to their square.  For example, if the note value assigned to Square 1 is a quarter note, the student in that square would clap or stomp four times before hitting the ball back to another square.

To make the game more challenging, you can have the students alternate between different note values or assign different note values to each hit.  This encourages students to listen carefully to the music and adjust their actions accordingly, helping them to develop a deeper understanding of rhythms and note values.

Listening Walk

Get ready for a musical adventure with “The Listening Walk” by Paul Showers. In this lesson, your students will become sound detectives and go on a journey to explore the sounds around their school. They’ll be encouraged to use their ears like superpowers to identify and listen for all kinds of sounds, from birds singing to the sound of the wind blowing.

After their walk, your students will become music producers and use the sounds they discovered to create their own unique soundscape. They can experiment with different rhythms, tempos, and melodies to make their soundscape sound like a musical masterpiece.

This lesson is not only a fun way to engage your students in music, but it also helps them develop their listening skills and appreciation for the world around them. So, put on your detective hats, grab your listening ears, and let’s get ready to create some musical magic on “The Listening Walk”!

Playing outdoor games is a fantastic way to make music class more fun for your elementary school students. From Four Square to Capture the Flag, these games offer a fun and interactive way to teach note values, rhythm, and other musical skills.

Learning music will be more fun, plus these games also help students develop important skills like teamwork, communication, and problem-solving. By incorporating these outdoor music games into your curriculum, you can make learning music a fun and memorable experience for your students.

So why not step outside, get your students bouncing, jumping, and dancing to the beat, and let the music education adventure begin!

Want to grab these outdoor games, plus flashcards by Becca Davis from Becca’s Music Room? Click on the button below to check out the lesson plans in my shop. Best part . . . they’re on sale for 15% off regular price through June 10th!

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