After a Google search for a rug for my group music classroom only turned up results over $150, I decided to make my own. Actually it is a giant mat made out of foam tiles that I purchased from Wal Mart at $5.97 per set of 9. I bought 5 sets. The picture above shows a smaller version of my Giant Music Mat.
To make your own here is what you need:
5 or more sets of foam tiles (depends on the size you want)
a black marker
Choose tiles of the same color and arrange them in a square shape
Create a border for the square you’ve made using tiles of different colors. Alternate colors.
Use a black marker to draw a different music symbol on each of the border tiles.
If you plan to use your giant mat to designate where each child should sit during group class, it is important to draw a DIFFERENT music symbol on each tile. Do not repeat symbols.
There are so many ways you can use this mat besides just sitting! As I already stated, it can be used to assign seats. This shortens the time it takes to get kids situated and ready for class to begin. At the beginning of the year or session, assign a unique symbol to each child. This will be their spot. Make sure they know the name of their symbol and what it means. You could even have kids act out the meaning. At a parent presentation, kids could “show and tell” using their symbol. Have them hold up their tile while presenting it.
What other ways can you think of for using the Giant Music Mat?
Yesterday I came across a set of balls in my studio like the ones you see at places like Chuck E Cheese where the kids can get in a pit and just have a good time. I had purchased them a while ago knowing that eventually I’d get an idea about how to use them to teach music. Well yesterday was the day the idea finally arrived! SONGWRITING BALLS!
This is an activity that can be done with any instrument, not just piano!
The balls conveniently come in 5 colors. I purchased mine at Wal Mart. Of course in my mind the number 5 screams PENTATONIC SCALE. So, I chose one note of the pentatonic scale for each color. C – red, D – orange, F- blue, G- green, and A-yellow and wrote these one the balls. I made 5 sets of each color.
To play the game (which is really writing a song), place all the balls in a large hat or bag.
Then, using a composing worksheet such as the ones you can find on Susan Paradis’ site, determine how many balls to draw from the bag. You will need one for each note of the song.
Each time a ball is drawn from the bag, write the note name in the appropriate space on the composing worksheet.
Since we are only using the pentatonic scale for this song, any combination should sound nice. You could also specify that the first ball drawn will be the first and last not of the song.
Once you’ve got all the notes written on the worksheet, it’s time to play your new masterpiece!
Extensions – Add lyrics!
Use the G and C balls to demonstrate V-I progression. Add this to the end of your song to show how lots of songs end this way. Have your student play G-C up and down the chosen instrument.