Newsletter Lesson Plans

Meter Madness - Wall Ball

By Oren Logan

Topic:  Meter Follow & Quick Reaction; responding to aural cues; responding to visual cues

Suggested Grade(s): 3rd—5th (Can be done with lower grade levels but stick with lower levels or keep things simple.)

Objective:  Students will demonstrate their ability to react quickly to music meter changes and aural cues by rolling, bouncing, and tossing tennis balls. Students will also demonstrate how to prepare their body to best demonstrate these patterns through good body Crucis and Ana-Crucis (as well as Meta-Crucis).

Materials: Tennis Balls, Piano (or other instrument to improvise different Meters on).

Approximate time per Level:  5-10 minutes

State/National Standards:  2020 Colorado Academic Standards: Meter: Identify and demonstrate various time signatures including 2/4, 3/4, 4/4


These 5 levels of this tennis ball activity are meant to scaffold students learning and help them identify, feel, and move to different meters of music. I have divided them into “levels” instead of lessons, as I like to take the pace of my students when progressing through levels. I also find that this activity can be great for all grade levels in helping students recognize and move to beat/meter. I simply spend more time on higher levels with older students and utilize/adapt lower levels for younger students. 

Level 1: Crucis & Ana-Crucis

  1. Feeling the 1 measure phrase – listening for Crucis/Ana-Crucis in the Meter
    1. Students roll a tennis ball to partner sitting across from them. Students roll when the music plays, stop the ball when the music pauses. 
    2. Teacher improvises a 4/4 Meter tune emphasizing downbeats and lingering on beat 4 for a good Ana-Crucis. 
    3. Students roll and stop the ball with the meter of the music.
    4. Teacher improvises music in different meters and students respond. Note: I make my first improvisations with different Meters very basic to help students recognize what they are listening for. 

Level 2: Differentiating Meter

  1. Add different actions for different Meters
    1. Meter of 2 – “Bounce/Catch” with a partner
    2. Meter of 3 – “Toss – & – Catch” with a partner
    3. Meter of 4 – “Roll – 2 – 3 – 4” with a partner
  2. Teacher and/or student can help demonstrate to do each action with a good set-up (Ana-Crucis) to help students be successful.
  3. Student improvisation – Once students have the basic meters 2,3,4, I like to improvise patterns in 5 and 6 and give students creative control on what they do for these new meters
    1. Example: Students roll the ball down their arm to their partner for a Meter of 6
    2. Example: Students roll ball behind their back for a Meter of 5

Level 3: Hip & Hop

  1. Once Students have mastered Level 2, put students into a group of 4 (have two groups combine)
  2. Students now bounce, toss, roll their tennis ball in a circle
  3. Hip & Hop: Teacher adds vocal cues “hip” and “Hop” (or you can use high and low trills on the piano). 
    1. Hip = Switch directions in the circle
    2. Hop = Roll to the partner across from you 

Level 4: Full Class Meter Madness

  1. Combine all students into 1 big circle in the room
  2. Students and teacher follow rules from previous levels but with the full class.

Level 5: Adding Difficulty

There are many ways to add difficulty to encourage student attention, concentration, and social integration for this activity. Here are a few examples:

  1. Adding Tennis Balls – Repeat Levels 1-4 but give more students tennis balls (2 balls per pair, 2 balls for group of 4, 4 balls for an entire class to start). A great end goal would be to have all students with a tennis ball in a full classroom group moving their ball with the Crucis and Ana-Crucis of the played Meter.
  2. Adjusting Tempo – Have students follow different tempos that require them to move slower or faster. You can even add in more aural cues that have students move 2x or ½ the speed you improvise at. I would limit improvisation to even Meters to start here.
  3. Student Improvisation/Composition: Have students come up with a new way to express each Meter pattern in their own way. This really helps demonstrate which students have mastered this concept, and which students might need a bit more help!
  4. Standing up – Have students repeat some of the levels standing up. Students have a lot of fun doing this, but you may need to start with lower levels again.
    1. When standing up, demonstrate what a good body Crucis and ana-Crucis might look like for different meters
      1. Example: bending knees during a “bounce-catch”


Tic Tock the Division Clock
By Jason D. Jones

Topic:  Pulse Quick Reaction; responding to aural cues; responding to visual cues

Suggested Grade(s): 3-5

Objective:  Students will demonstrate their ability to react quickly to musical changes by responding to verbal cues, the teacher playing a drum, and visuals. 

Materials: A drum, projector (or posters), visuals, speakers

Approximate time per lesson:  10 mins

State/National Standards:  Georgia Standards of Excellence

 ESGM3(4&5).RE.3  Move to a varied repertoire of music, alone and with others.

  1. Respond to contrasts and events in music with locomotor and non-locomotor movement.
  2. Perform choreographed and non-choreographed movements.


These four lessons are scaffolded to help learners reach level four. If your students can already do lessons 1 and 2, briefly review them and move to lesson 3. It is essential that most students achieve mastery in level 2 before moving on to lesson 3. This series of lessons not only helps students practice dividing pulses and rhythms, but also helps them respond to aural and visual cues in music. 

Lesson #1:  

  1. Discover student internal pulse
    1. Students walk around the room exploring the space at their normal pace add period
    2. Teacher copies the pulse of a student. 
    3. Students try to guess which student’s pulse matches teacher’s drum.  
    4. Repeat this for several students.
  2. Matching pulse
    1. Teacher plays a pulse on a drum and students match. 
    2. Teacher changes the pulse, making it quicker and slower. 
    3. Teacher chooses a student to use the drum to indicate the pulse.

Lesson # 2:  

  1. Play the game hip/hop
  • Students walk around the space to the pulse of the teacher’s drum. 
  1. When teacher says, “hip,” students walk twice as fast. 
  2. When the teacher says, “hop,” Students walk twice as slow 
  3. Instruct the students that they should “fill in the space” of the notes with their arms and/or body. For example, moving their arm throughout the duration of a longer pulse versus just stepping on the pulse

Lesson # 3:

  1. Using a visual cue to change note durations 
    1. On a projector or poster, teacher displays the division clock.
    2. Students begin walking a pulse (which becomes the quarter note) of the teacher’s drum.
    3. Using the phrase “tick, tock,” teacher moves the chips and salsa to smaller notes then up to longer notes and the students walk the new note value. The picture helps student keep track of which note value they should doing. 
      1. Quarter to eighth 
      2. Eighth to sixteenth
      3. Sixteenth to eighth
      4. Eighth to quarter
      5. Quarter to half
      6. Half to whole
    4. Remind students they should use their body to fill in the space of the duration.
    5. If students have difficulty in this lesson, teachers can use the drum to play the note duration to scaffold the lesson.
  2. After students demonstrate success, the teacher then moves the chips and salsa to random notes.

Lesson #4

  1. Divide the clock
    1. Briefly review the previous lesson. 
    2. Divide students into two groups. I like to do chips and salsa (I got this idea from Kay Piña).
    3. Use the poster/clock visual to move the chips and salsa pictures to different spots on the clock.
    4. Students walk to the note value of their picture while the teacher keeps a steady pulse on the drum.
    5. Remind students to use their bodies to fill in the space of the durations.
  1. Add some music!
    1. I suggest “Waka, Waka” by Shakira (Spanish or English).

The Division Clock