These rhythm exploration and performance activity cards were created with the PreK student in mind, but beginning piano students in kindergarten and first grade will enjoy them as well. Use them to introduce new note and rest values, for improvisation, echo play, creating short rhythm patterns, body percussion, creating short compositions, and more!
This download includes 4 beginning rhythm activities. Each activity is described below. View the Preview for more information and sample pages.
This set of rhythm exploration and performance activities includes:
You’ll find 4 beginning rhythm activities in this download, each with the instructions you see below. The activities progress pedagogically from pre-notation animal cards, to a single note or rest value on each card, to multiple notes and rests on each card.
Each rhythm exploration and performance activity can be introduced over a period of several piano lessons or classes and builds upon the previous activity, culminating with an adorable rhythm composition activity in which students can write their own music and perform it by using a single piano key, multiple piano keys, classroom percussion instruments, or body percussion.
- Teacher information
- Supply list and instructions
- Creative rhythm cards
- Basic rhythm cards
- Mixed rhythm cards
- Bonus cut and paste composition activity (song sheets and small rhythm cards)
What supplies will you need to use this pack of rhythm exploration and performance activities?
- The PDF download, which includes the animal cards, time signature cards, and song sheets
- White card stock or printer paper
- Scissors or a paper cutter
- Glue or tape for the song sheets
- Laminator and laminating sheets (optional)
How to use the rhythm exploration and performance activities in this resource:
- Print the cards.
- Laminate (optional) and cut out the cards.
- Use one of the following options with your students, or use the cards in any way you like.
Her are some piano teacher tips for using these rhythm exploration and performance activities successfully:
- The possibilities for using these rhythm cards are endless! They work well in both private and group/classroom settings.
- Draw a card and clap, tap, or play the rhythm on a rhythm instrument or piano key of their choice.
- Draw a card and play the rhythms with one hand, then the other.
- Play and echo different rhythms back and forth with the teacher using large and small body movements such as clapping, blinking, marching, jumping, skipping, nodding, waving, etc.
- Use the time signature cards and note and rest cards to create short rhythm patterns to clap, tap, or play.
- Take turns drawing a card and performing the rhythm. Keep the card if it is correct, return it to the pile if it is not. The person with the most cards at the end of a set amount of time is the winner.
- Use the cards for different types of body percussion including slapping knees, stomping feet, squishing cheeks filled with air, rubbing hands together, etc.
- Use the cards as improv ideas. For example, what might it sound like if a mouse ran across the piano keys? How about an elephant?
- Silly songs: Use the word cards to make up silly songs about the animals.
- Acting like the animal: How would a bear play this? How would a hippopotamus play it? What about a cat or a pig?
- I’m sure you’ll be able to think of many more ways to use the cards (and your students will love helping with that!). Have fun!
Activity #1: Creative Rhythms
- Various animal cards for imaginative play. Print multiple copies of each page if desired.
- Students can arrange these cards and perform them in any way they like.
- These cards can be used as a pre-notation activity and students can clap the name of the animal as they say the syllables.
- The large single animal on a card represents a single sound, such as a quarter note. The two small animals on a card represent two shorter sounds, such as two eighth notes. However, as the teacher, you have the freedom to use them however you like.
- Students can also make the sound of the animal, or walk/move like the animal as they go through the cards. For example, if a student chooses the cat card, the student could pounce like a cat: one large pounce for the large cat and two small pounces for the two small cats. Or the student could meow like a cat: one large meow for the large cat and two small meows for the two small cats.
- The most important thing is to remember to have fun with these cards and allow students freedom to explore movements, voices, body percussion, etc.
Activity #2: Basic Rhythms
- Print multiple copies of each page if desired.
- Students can use these animal cards to practice clapping and saying the name of each note or rest value.
- Then they can put two or more cards together to create longer simple rhythms to clap or play.
- Students could also move like the animal on the card or make the sound of the animal on the card as they demonstrate the note or rest value on that card.
Activity #3: Mixed Rhythms
- Print multiple copies of each page if desired.
- Students can use these animal cards to practice clapping and saying the name of each animal as shown on each card.
- Then they can put two or more cards together to create longer rhythms to clap or play.
- Students can also use the optional time signature cards along with the animal cards to create a specific number of beats in their rhythm pattern if they’re ready for that challenge.
Activity #4: Bonus Cut and Paste Composition
- In this engaging bonus activity, students will create a single-page song to take home and perform for their families.
- Use the small cards, cut them out, and allow the student to paste them in any order onto their song sheet.
- Practice their composition during their lesson so they feel confident to perform it at home.
Storing and Organizing the Rhythm Cards
I love storing these rhythm cards in colorful 4×6 photo boxes like these (affiliate link). They are my favorites because they’re the perfect size, and the colors are vibrant and fun!
Teachers like you are saying:
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Judy N. says, “Thanks so much for helping me be a better teacher […] These are super cute and will make for a great preschool violin and piano group lesson!”