Theme: Elements of Art

Music Explorers: Percussion


Objective: Children will explore instruments and sound through observation and sort percussion instruments by how they produce sound.

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What You Will Need

  • Video – Music Explorers: Percussion
  • Various classroom percussion instruments:
    • Striking: triangle, drums
    • Shaking: maracas, egg shakers, bells
    • Scraping: rhythm sticks, sand paper blocks, guiro/gourd
  • Alternative: Pictures of various percussion instruments

What To Do

  1. Explain that we will be exploring different instruments and how they make sound.  
  2. As a class, watch the Music Explorers: Percussion video, pausing at appropriate times to allow children to answer questions and participate when prompted. 
  3. Review how different percussion instruments make sound (by striking, shaking, or scraping) with the hand motions.
  4. Ask children if they can name an instrument that you strike to make sound (drum)? That you shake to make sound (maracas)? And that you scrape to make sound (gourd)?
  5. Pass out classroom percussion instruments (or pictures of instruments if you do not have a classroom set). Ask children to experiment and figure out how to play their instrument.
  6. Tell children that together you will sort the instruments by how they make sound. Have children with striking instruments move to one corner of the room, children with shaking instruments at another corner, and children with scraping instruments move to a third corner of the room.
  7. Now find out if you sorted correctly. Ask children in each group to show their instruments one at a time and demonstrate how to play it. If you are using pictures, have children demonstrate using the hand motions. Let children check that they are in the right group and correct their answer if needed. (see Guiding Student Inquiry)
  8. Come back to the middle of the room and redistribute instruments. Repeat steps 6 and 7 to sort instruments again.

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • What do you see that is the same about instruments you strike? Shake? Scrape?
  • What do you see that is different?
  • What do you hear that is the same about instruments you strike? Shake? Scrape?
  • What do you hear that is different?

Explore, Extend & Integrate

  • Review words that start with P and sing the letter song as a class keeping the beat with percussion instruments. Sing other classroom favorites using percussion instruments to keep the beat. Consider featuring different percussion instruments in different verses (i.e. shaking instruments on verse one, striking on verse two, scraping on verse three).
  • Look for items in the classroom that could be used as percussion instruments. What can you find to strike, shake, or scrape to make sound (blocks, books, toys, pencils in a cup, etc.)? 
  • How can you make a percussion instrument from items you might find around the classroom or at home (ex: rice or beads in food containers, empty oatmeal or coffee can for drums)?

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Did children accurately sort instruments in the video?
  • Could children name percussion instruments from the video?
  • Did children remember the hand motions for strike, shake, and scrape?
  • Could children accurately identify and sort classroom instruments?
  • Could children demonstrate how to play different classroom instruments?

Did You Know?

There are thousands of different percussion instruments in the world from every country and culture. In an orchestra, there can be many different percussion instruments playing at the same time, like the timpani, bass drum, triangle, cymbals, xylophone, chimes, and maracas to name a few. The percussion section sits in the very back of the orchestra. This is because some of the instruments are very large and take up a lot of space, and because percussion instruments are also very loud so we can still hear them from far away.

Did You Know?

There are thousands of different percussion instruments in the world from every country and culture. In an orchestra, there can be many different percussion instruments playing at the same time, like the timpani, bass drum, triangle, cymbals, xylophone, chimes, and maracas to name a few. The percussion section sits in the very back of the orchestra. This is because some of the instruments are very large and take up a lot of space, and because percussion instruments are also very loud so we can still hear them from far away.


Vocabulary

  • strike – to hit (usually using a stick to hit the instrument; think drums or triangle)
  • shake – to move back and forth quickly
  • scrape – to drag one object across another (usually one object has a bumpy texture)
  • timpani – large round drum(s); also called a kettle drum
  • bass drum – a large drum that sounds low
  • xylophone – a percussion instrument that has metal bars and tubes laid out like a piano keyboard
  • maracas – a percussion instrument filled with small beads or rice that make sound when you shake the instrument
  • gourd – a percussion instrument with bumps or ridges that you scrape to make sound

Vocabulary

  • strike
  • shake
  • scrape
  • timpani
  • bass drum
  • xylophone
  • maracas
  • gourd

Child-Friendly Definitions

Lesson Tips

You could introduce this lesson with the book Max Found Two Sticks by Brian Pinkney. Max finds two sticks and creates percussion instruments from everyday objects he finds. As you read the book, pause at each rhythm Max plays and ask students to verbally repeat the rhythm sounds back to you and then clap the rhythm sounds back to you. When finished reading, ask students to list some of the things Max used to play his sticks. Explain that by hitting or striking different objects with his sticks, Max was creating his own percussion instruments, and today they will learn what makes it a percussion instrument.

Books

  • Max Found Two Sticks by Brian Pinkney
  • I Know a Sly Fellow Who Swallowed a Cello by Barbara Garriel
  • The Listening Walk by Paul Showers

Common Core State
Standards Initiative

These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge.[2]

Visit the CCSS website

    

Important Legal Disclosures & Information

  1. While we believe that the books and resources recommended may be of value to you, keep in mind that these are suggestions only and you must do your own due diligence to determine whether the materials are appropriate and suitable for your use. PNC has no sponsorship or endorsement agreement with the authors or publishers of the materials listed.

  2. There are currently no Common Core Standards for pre-k, but these lessons are aligned as closely as possible to capture the requirements and meet the goals of Common Core Standards. However, these lessons were neither reviewed or approved by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices or the Council of Chief State School Officers, which together are the owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards.

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