May the '4th' Be With You! in Your Music Classroom

May the '4th' is just around the corner, and, being the huge Star Wars fan I am, we will be celebrating it my my elementary music classroom with the Star Wars themed activities. (We can't forget May 5th either which is not only Cinco de Mayo, which we will be celebrating as well, but also Revenge of the '5th'!)

So excited to use my pool noodle lightsabers! I first got the idea from my son who loved making anything into a sword when he was little. My idea was refined a little more when I discovered the blog Mrs. King Rocks (you may know her as The Bulletin Board Lady Tracy King) She cut the pool noodles in half. Both brilliant and duh, can't believe I never thought of that! ;-) You can find her blog post about it HERE.

Then, of course, being the perfectionist that I am, I had to take those babies one step further by wrapping the "handles" with some duct tape and electrical tape and 'voila!' I now have some awesome pretty cool light sabers.

I've had my lightsabers sitting out in my room for a while now and my students walk by and have started to ask when we are going to use them. I am almost as excited as they are! Here's what we're doing:

My kindergarten students have been practicing steady beat ALL YEAR, and they are so good. They will be using pool noodle lightsabers to keep the beat while listening to the "Imperial March". They will tap their lightsabers on the floor for the first section of the music. When the quiet part of the piece begins they will march around the room holding their lightsaber in front of the "marine-style". When the loud part returns, back to tapping the lightsabers on the floor. Of course, very careful and thorough explanation of rules and procedures will need to be in place before ANY of these activities are performed.

UPDATE: The piece below is TOO long for Kindergarten students. So I just changed where we begin so we only perform the last section of the piece. We tap our lightsabers on the floor while saying "force" on the beat, and on my cue we march around the room holding our lightsabers "marine-style".

UPDATE UPDATE: Prepare you Kindergarten students (or really any grade) with some four beat echo rhythm tapping (lightsabers tap on the floor). Quarter note= "force" Eighth notes= "jedi" For example, "force force jedi force" Big hit!


My first graders will also do this activity with a twist! A year or so ago, I stumbled onto Pedro Morales' YouTube channel. He has a few fun videos with Star Wars themes. I will be using this one:


I will probably point to the rhythms as we tap our lightsabers on the ground as it may be a little tricky for some students to keep track of where we are since they will most likely be a bit distracted by the excitement of LIGHTSABERS!

After the work part of this, we will do just like Kindergarten except students will get to be with a partner and tap the beat with a partner in the first and last sections of the piece. Of course, again, rules and procedures are vital for this activity to work.

Professor Morales has another Star Wars themed video using the theme from the Cantina. I like it because he highlights the notes when it's time to play which makes it a bit easier to follow along, but I like the sound of the Imperial March better.


For my 2nd and 3rd grade students I will be pulling out some Star Wars themed rhythm cards. I've kept the rhythms pretty easy because, you know, LIGHTSABERS! and students are going to want to try out some of their really cool moves while reading the rhythms.

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, I've also made these available to YOU for a FREE download! Just click on any of the pictures below to get yours. :-D  Feel free to mix and match from the different downloads to best meet your students' needs, but please keep within the terms of my TOU. Thank you so much to all of you who read my blog, follow my store, and give the great feedback that makes me smile.

Here is the file with quarter notes and eighth notes:


Here is the file with quarter notes, eighth notes, and quarter rest:


Here is the file with quarter notes, eighth notes, quarter rest and half note:


Here is the file with quarter notes, eighth notes, half notes, and half rests:


My 4th and 5th grade students have had many experiences with all these rhythms and more so I thought I'd do something a little different for them: composition.

Some of my students REALLY get into composition with body percussion, movements, props, etc. So I thought this would be right up their alley. Not only will they be composing a sixteen beat rhythmic pattern that will reinforce their understanding of rhythm and how it's written in music, but they will also be creating their own 'moves' with their lightsaber to go along with it~ I've recommended that students either work alone on this project or with only one other student partner. Not only can the movements get tricky with more than that number in a group, but, as I've said before, LIGHTSABERS! You, however, know your students better than I, so feel free to try it another way. Suggested prep and instructions on how to set up this activity are included in the download which, for Teacher Appreciation Week and Star Wars Day, is FREE for you!


UPDATE: I knew my students would like this activity, but I was not prepared for how much they'd love it. I prepared them with some of the rhythm cards from above to keep it easy. We reviewed how many beats each note value was worth and that there must be four beats in each measure, and then off they went to create with partners. We spent over 30 minutes of our 50 minute creating and writing and practicing. It was so fun! Some of the moves I've seen so far that I thought were creative were for half note=spin, rest=act like you exhausted from fighting, four sixteenth notes=pretend that your lightsabers are reacting to the blades touching (not sure if I described that clearly). I saw smiles and excitement from students that are normally very reserved or tend to have poor attitudes. This one's a KEEPER! :-D

THANK YOU all you wonderful music teachers out there who work so hard to bring the joy of music to our students and May the 4th be with you! :-)



11 comments:

  1. I'm headed to the store now for my pool noodles! Thank you for your inspiration and sharing great ideas!

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    1. Have fun making them! I know your students will love it. :-)

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    2. and many thanks for your generosity sharing the different rhythm files! We all appreciate YOU too :-)

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  2. Great ideas!!! I really enjoy reading your blog!! Thank you for your generosity in sharing these files!

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    1. We teachers deserve to be spoiled every once and a while. This week is a perfect time. Enjoy! :-)

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  3. Great ideas!!! I really enjoy reading your blog!! Thank you for your generosity in sharing these files!

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    1. Thanks so much and you are very welcome. :-)

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  4. Thanks so much! I saw Mrs. King's blog post a long time ago, but you have inspired me to make those light sabers happen!!! Love the cute files.

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  5. Are all the handle designs the same 'pattern' or are they different? I went to the Muddy Boots site and as you noted, it doesn't seem to provide any info about the handles. Can you provide any other help for the handles?

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    1. I bought grey and white duct tape and some electrical tape. The bases/handles were all the same but just in either white or grey duct tape. I wrapped the ends first and then went around the end to create the actual handle. All the details on the handles were done in the electrical tape. I just used my imagination to make the designs. I did not try to be accurate to any specific lightsaber. I hope that helps!

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