Body Percussion Lesson Plan for Elementary School

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

This lesson plan provides activities and ideas to help elementary teachers teach students about body percussion. Students relate percussion instruments to body percussion, explore ways to make sounds with their bodies and relate these sounds to characters' actions in a children's picture book.

Learning Objectives

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define 'percussion'
  • define 'body percussion'
  • improvise body percussion to fit with a story

Length

60 minutes

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.2.6

Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts, including using adjectives and adverbs to describe (e.g., When other kids are happy that makes me happy).

Materials

  • The Foolish Tortoise by Richard Buckley (1 copy for read aloud)
  • pictures of various percussion instruments
  • videos of body percussion performers
  • chart paper or whiteboard and markers

Vocabulary

  • percussion: instruments that create sound when they are hit, shaken or rubbed/scraped, such as the bass drum, xylophone, timpani, tambourine, maracas, snare drum and triangle
  • body percussion: using the body to make sounds by stomping, clapping, snapping fingers and patting body parts such as the chest, feet or thighs

Instructions

  • Introduce the term 'percussion' to the students. Show some pictures of percussion instruments and, if possible, listen to recordings of percussion instruments.
  • When students are familiar with the term 'percussion,' ask them what they think 'body percussion' might mean. Elicit the idea that, with body percussion, the students themselves become the instrument! Ensure students can define 'body percussion' before moving on.
  • Show students several videos of body percussion performances so they can see how the sounds are being created.
  • Ask students to take a few minutes and experiment with making sounds using only their bodies, similar to those they saw in the videos. Be sure to establish ground rules, such as:
    • Be gentle and pat yourself lightly.
    • Pat feet, thighs, stomach or chest only; do not pat other areas of the body.
    • Create music using your own body only.
    • In addition to patting, use stomping, clapping and snapping.

Activity 1

  • Tell the students that you are going to use body percussion to make sounds in a pattern and the students should copy the sounds and pattern.
  • Begin with single sounds, such as:
    • Loudly clapping hands together
    • Slapping your knees
    • Snapping your fingers
    • Tapping your toes on the floor
  • Move to combinations of sounds, such as:
    • Clapping loudly once, clapping quietly once, then stomping both feet
    • Tapping your fingernails on the desk, tapping your palm with one finger, slapping one knee with one hand
    • Flicking your index finger into the palm of the other hand, flicking your index finger against your thigh, tapping the backs of your hands together

Activity 2

  • Have the students sit in a circle.
  • Have one student make a sound using body percussion.
  • The next student has to copy that sound, and so on, until it travels the whole way around the circle and back to the student who started it.
  • Then the next student makes a different sound using body percussion and it travels around the whole circle.
  • Repeat this until all the students have had a chance to start a sound.
  • To make this more challenging for older students, instead of just imitating the first sound, the second student would add a sound to it, making two sounds. Then the third student would repeat the first two sounds and add a third sound, and so on. This quickly becomes very challenging! If a student messes up, just start the process over again with that student providing the first sound.

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