Earlier in the year, I used a caterpillar rhythm activity with my older student to help review basic rhythms. I still use the ones I've created as large rhythm cards for the younger students.
Building upon that idea, I created Caterpillar Rhythm Cards.
There are many ways to use these cards:
1. In PowerPoint, as cards to have students read or play projected on the screen. I like to do this at the beginning of class (and not every class) to assess student learning. Students like to read or play these rhythms alone as well. If you have a SmartBoard, or if you've showed your students how to use the pens and hilighters in PowerPoint (I have and they are better at it than me), they can pinpoint and label specific rhythms in the pattern.
2. "Rhythm of the Day" card - this is great for older students. Set a card on a music stand or display it somewhere in the room. Have the students point out the time signature and label the rhythms the pattern is comprised of. Then, have them count the rhythms using syllables of your choice. Another fun thing to do is have them play the pattern on an instrument or add body percussion. When adding body percussion, you create the movements or have the students do this. You can have them use one movement (for example, clapping) for the whole pattern or assign each rhythm or beat a movement (for example, clap quarter notes but pat eighth notes).
3. Flashcards for drilling and practicing - Print out the cards on cardstock and laminate them. Then, you can use them as large flashcards that the entire class can see. They can also be used in stations. My students are used to quizzing each other with flashcards so this works well for them. They know that if they get it wrong, it goes in one pile to try again, and they keep working until all patterns are in the "I got this correct" pile. One student could hold the flashcard while another plays it on an instrument. I'll be using the patters from Level 1-3 with my recorder players to do this.
4. Composition activities: Students can put the patterns into groups to create their own piece (they'll have to ignore the double barline). I've also put in blank caterpillars in both Word and PowerPoint so you or your students can create their own. If you print out a blank caterpillar, students can create their own with marker.
Here is the activity the students did at the beginning of the year (look below for steps and suggestions):
1. Start with a sentence strip of your choice of color. To do this on the cheap side, by a white sentence strip and the students can decorate it.
2. I used circle cut-outs from our die-cut machine and construction paper. When the students created them, I punched the circles on white paper so they could color their own. After coloring (if applicable) glue them down like you see here. For the "tail end", I simply drew that shape and added the repeat sign (you could use a bar line or double bar line). When the students created their own, I gave them a page with the four body circles and a page with the head, time signature circle, antennae, and tail. The students colored everything, cut it out, and pasted it on the caterpillar.
3. Draw the rhythms on the caterpillar. You will need to decided which rhythms you'd like your students to use.
4. Glue on the eyes (so cute)
For younger grades: You may consider having everything at least cut out, if not pasted. I would also use construction paper so the students don't have to color everything.
The students had to "present" (read) their rhythm to the class. Then, the class read the rhythm back and then played the rhythm on rhythm sticks. We strung more than one caterpillar together (see above) to create longer patterns to read and play.