Get out your scissors…. This new game definitely falls into the “some-assembly-required (but your students will love you for it)” category.
It’s almost springtime here in Kansas, and I’ve been in the mood for some new, fun spring-themed activities for the studio. One of my students’ favorite ways to drill note-reading is a game I picked up from a workshop a couple of years ago called “Snowball Flashcards.” It’s super-simple: I spread out my big flashcards on the floor, then students toss a beanbag at the notes (like they’re throwing a snowball) and name each one they hit. The kids love it, and would probably play it all year, but I am SOOOOOOO done with the word S-N-O-W at the moment! 🙂
So… this week we’re trying out this Flower Pot Toss game instead:
The basic premise is the same: The kids still get to throw something (which makes them happy), and they still have to name each note they hit (which makes me happy). For this game, they have to get the beanbag (or tennis ball) IN the flower pot, which has been a fun new challenge.
I designed the flowers so I could use them in a variety of ways. Each flower page prints with a letter name in the middle (the centers print on a separate page):
Students can play the game with just the letter name showing (as above), then run to the piano and play the corresponding key of each letter they hit, or place notes on a magnetic staff board. You can also make a game out of attaching the centers (in group lessons, we divided into 2 teams and did this as a relay race).
For an extra challenge in group lessons this week, we used the flower pots to spell 3- and 4-letter words using the letters of the music alphabet. Students each picked a word with a given number of letters, then raced to see who could find and hit each of the letters of their word first.
I picked up the plastic pots at Walmart for just under $1 each, then attached the flowers using a 12″ craft dowel and heavy shipping tape. My pots are pretty light, so I ended up using baggies of sand in the bottom of each one to weight it down (I just happened to have some decorator sand in the house… anything small and heavy would work).
The biggest challenge I ran into was how to attach the centers to the flowers. I initially placed a small magnet on each flower (you can see them in the 2nd picture above), and when I tested them, the centers seemed to stay “stuck” when the beanbags or tennis balls hit the pot. Apparently, though, I underestimated the throwing power and ingenuity of 8-year old boys !! At the first group lesson this week, a couple of my students quickly figured out that if they aimed for the dowel rod and threw hard enough, the center would pop off and reveal the letter name behind. So much for that idea!! After a little more testing the next day, I ended up removing the magnets (I did try some stronger magnets, and poster tack, neither of which worked…) and using circles of masking tape to attach the centers.
The flower templates and centers are available for download on my studio website (scroll down to the Flower Pot Toss file). You can decide what range of notes you want to drill (there are enough centers for each note on the grand staff), then print enough flowers with letter names to match. Happy springtime teaching!!