Lego Rhythms Unit
EVERYTHING IS AWESOME when you use Legos in the classroom! This engaging and enlightening unit introduces and covers a wide range of topics from loops and ostinatos to rhythm and composition.
Find full lesson and materials for here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Lego-Loops-Rhythms-Unit-2666674
Notation is always one of the big struggles for me as a music teacher. Most of my students don’t play instruments outside of school and so learning to read and write music is like learning Latin. Because they can’t read or write music, (I’m trying!) composting is a bit tricky, luckily I found a way around it. Instead of writing notes, we’re using Legos!
I start with the amazing website, Lego Movie Music Maker, which is of course based on the immensely popular Lego Movie. So immediately students are engaged, and the site is so intuitive most are creating original music within minutes. Essentially they drop legos onto a blank staff and depending on the color or size of the Lego, it will change the sounds or duration respectively. Students can even save or share their songs with their friends. You could spend easily an entire class period just having them using this site.
From there we cover the basic ideas that the different legos represented different sounds, just like notes can represent different sounds. Also the size of the Lego tells you how long or short that sound would be. We use the rhythm from the beginning of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” (*stomp stomp clap*) as our example and then try and diagram it out using Legos. First the rhythm, then changing the colors to suit the different sounds. At the end of Lesson #2 I break them into partners and they have to decode some pre-rendered rhythms that are represented by Legos.
Finally done with all the front loading students are ready to create their own. In small groups, I first give them a sheet with 5 potential sounds: clapping, stomping, tambourine, egg shaker, and rhythms sticks. I chose these because I have a lot of those instruments, but whatever suits your students best is what you should choose. From there, they build physical representations of their rhythms using real Legos (thanks mom for saving mine for all those years!) and when ready they call me over to their group. They’ll explain it and then perform it for me, and I have them then transcribe it onto a piece of paper. My kids are real perfectionists and this took way longer than I anticipated, almost 2 periods! As students were finishing up at them perform their rhythms during their class’ community meetings (with permission from their classroom teacher)
Integration Potentials Include: Math – fractions, addition, patterns, and decoding.