Do you have students that struggle with eighth-note rhythms? Through my years of teaching I’ve seen many students battle with counting eighth-notes correctly. I don’t think the concept of eighth-notes is actually that difficult, but I think that maybe with simpler rhythms students are more easily able to hide that they aren’t totally comprehending. This facade breaks down when eighth-notes are introduced. I’ve experimented with many different methods to help students understand rhythms including counting aloud and legos. But, I like to have a large toolbox of ideas to draw from because what works for one student might not work for the next.
My colleague, Julia, introduced me to the idea of using pizzas to represent the beats, because who doesn’t love pizza?! This creates a way for students to visualize the rhythm. Teaching that an eighth-note is half a pizza seems much more concrete than half a beat. So, I created a worksheet and some flashcards to help your students visualize the beats as pizzas and hopefully better understand how eighth-notes work. Here’s an example of one of the flashcards:
The half-note gets two pizzas, representing two beats, and the eighth-notes each get half a pizza. It’s easy to see how the eighth-notes together are equal to one full beat.
The pizzas also help students visualize how the rests still take time even though they don’t have sound.
I’ve created two PDF files for you to use with your students. First is a worksheet using the pizza rhythm concept, and second is a set of rhythm flashcards using the pizza visual. I recommend printing the flashcards on card stock so you can use them many times without them falling apart. Print out the file and cut apart (use a paper cutter to save you time!). You can use them however you generally use rhythm flashcards (look here for some ideas). Have students clap and count them one at a time, put several together in a row to build a longer rhythm, or let the student build their own rhythm. I’d love to hear what kind of games and activities you come up to use them with!
Download the files below:
Spring Seals, NCTM, teaches 60 piano students ranging from age 3 to 70 in Fort Worth, Texas. She also serves as the Director of Certification for TMTA. She is passionate about helping teachers become more effective in their studios through professional development, new resources, and fresh ideas.