I had to share this little activity my 2nd and 3rd grade students used today. They grasped the concepts really well and made so many cute, creative little compositions.
To begin, I handed each pair of students a bag of 8 pumpkin erasers (from Target this year). You don't really need to use pumpkins though, or even anything Halloween-themed.
I chanted a line of text in a steady beat format and the students needed to figure out the rhythm (this picture, for example, shows "Pump-kin, Pump-kin, in the patch"):
Once the rhythm was correct, we moved the pumpkins to various pitch levels (my 2nd graders are working on reviewing "mi so la" so theirs was so-so, la-la, so-so, mi). The students sung the song on the solfa syllables and the correct pitches.
Then, I passed out my handy Halloween-themed staff page. The students then placed the pumpkins in the correct line or space on the staff.
We did a total of three of these "examples" together.
Then, I asked the students to think of lyrics and match rhythms to the lyrics. We shared these around the circle so we could make sure the number of pumpkins matched the rhythm. (and, to my delight, I only had to fix one or two per class, whew!)
Next, the students moved their pumpkins to different pitch levels. My 3rd graders were happy to move the pumpkins in eighth note pairs to different pitches (such as "do-re" instead of "do-do" - aren't they tricky). The students sang their melodies and I realized all of our ear-training was paying off (they were singing the correct pitch intervals!!!!). I've been requiring the students to sing soloistically more and more often, and this resulted in many students eager to sing their composition for the class.
Last, the students placed their pumpkins on the staff (again, very few errors for me to correct - aren't they smart?!) and (time allowing) we shared them with the class. I wrote down a few exceptionally cute ones to use as vocal ostinatos next time (how excited will they be to teach their composition to the class).
So, in one little activity that the students LOVED, I got to assess (without handing out a gross worksheet - I mean, gross, gross, gross):
1. Who understands how to match rhythms to lyrics
2. Who can sing the pitches correctly
3. Who understands the pitch relationships on the staff
My 3rd graders who finished early had to tell me where steps, skips, and repeats occurred in their composition. You could even extend this to have them notate their song in different keys. I also had the idea to (when everyone has a composition notated), sing on a neutral syllable or play on the recorder a student composition and have the students pinpoint which one I was performing (ear-training, ear-training).
Sorry if I'm gushing a bit - I was just soooo proud of their work. You have got to give this a try!