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A Music Lesson Plan Teaching Rhythm and Beat Using Terrific Trains Book

written by: S.A. Coggins • edited by: Sarah Malburg • updated: 1/6/2012

Whether you are incorporating a transportation theme in the classroom or you're simply looking for lesson plans for teaching rhythm and beat to your students in Music class, here is a simple plan for you to use and develop.

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    In this lesson plan on teaching rhythm and beat, students will become more familiar with trains and body percussion by integrating a transportation theme with music. Enjoy!

    Name of the book: Terrific Trains by Tony Mitton and Ant Parker

    Musical Concepts Taught: Beat, Rhythm

    Musical Activities Taught: Non Tuned/Tuned Percussion, Body Percussion, Singing, Listening, Vocal sounds, Performance

    Preparation (resources): Terrific Trains book; Traditional children’s songs: ‘Down by the Station’, ‘Little Red Caboose’ and ‘Little Red Engine’, train sounds CD

    Note: You can find the lyrics to the train songs at this site - Train Songs Lyrics.

    Desired Student Outcomes:

    By the end of this lesson, the students will have:

    • Learned about beat and rhythm
    • Practiced body percussion, dance and movement, non tuned and tuned percussion, listening, and vocal sounds
    • Learned to sing three new songs
    • Performed a song in class in groups.
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    Lesson Plan Instructions (Teaching Outline)

    1. Introduction

    • Play the "train sounds" to the class. Ask the students, “What are those sounds?"
    • Talk about trains briefly. Has anyone been on a train? Do they like trains?

    2. Instructions

    • Read the book, Terrific Trains with rhythm once.
    • Tell the students what ‘beat’ means and give them examples.
    • Show them how to keep the beat while re-reading Terrific Trains book. How many beats? (4)
    • Group the students into four groups – ask them to do an action with beats (e.g., clapping, tapping their laps with their hands, stomping their feet on the floor, and tapping their chair or table lightly with their hands). Practice.
    • Re-read Terrific Trains with students keeping the beat with their actions.

    Pages 1 & 2: Group 1 (Clapping) Pages 3 & 4: Group 2 (Tapping Laps) Pages 5 & 6: Group 3 (Stomping) Pages 7 & 8: Group 4 (Tapping Chairs/Tables) Pages 9 & 10: All Groups

    • Tell the students that everyone will now learn three train songs. Play all three songs (Little Red Caboose first, then Little Red Engine and finally, Down by the Station) once.
    • Before playing the songs again, ask all the students to get one of the non-tuned or tuned percussion instruments to play.
    • Then, teach them to play the instruments with the song Little Red Caboose by listening to the music. Sing and play the instruments together 2 to 3 times.
    • Ask the students to return all the instruments and then position themselves in four groups, each group standing in a line.
    • While the students remain standing, play the song The Little Red Engine. Give some background about the red engine.
    • Explain that the following lines of The Little Red Engine will be sung by the four different groups:

    o “I must chuff and never stop" – Group 1

    o “I must chuff, chuff, chuff til I reach the top" – Group 2

    o “I think I can, I think I can" (first one) – Group 3

    o “I think I can, I think I can" (second one) – Group 4

    The whole class must sing the rest of the song’s lyrics (beginning and end).

    Practice The Little Red Engine Song about 2 to 3 times.

    4. Concluding Activity:

    • Introduce the last train song Down by the Stationand show that students may also practice beat through actions:
      • ‘Down by the station…’ – March in place (4 counts)
      • ‘See the little puffing billies…’ – Sit down and stand up (4 counts)
      • ‘The man upon the engine…’ – Raise left and right arm alternately (4 counts)
      • ‘Choof-choof…’ – March around the room (4 counts)
    • Practice Down by the Station 2 to 3 times.
    • Ask each group to perform Down by the Station to assess.
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    At the end of this transportation-themed music lesson, your students will be letting the "rhythm" move them all day!