For almost the entire first quarter of school I design fun and different ways of teaching the children the difference between a steady beat and rhythm in music. We use kinesthetics, language, instruments and notation to utilize many different intellegences.
There is not one set way that all students learn which makes it increasingly important to present the material in a variety of ways. I typically begin this unit with feeling the steady beat in songs while moving, patting our laps and playing the beat on instruments. Once the beat is established I have the students identify the number of syllables in different words and then match those words with music rhythm symbols. We then use body percussion and instruments to play different rhythm patterns. I follow this process by then teaching the students how to write their very own rhythm patterns and share their creations with other classmates.
This is a very important skill for the students to learn because it helps them develop a strong sense of rhythm that can carry over into other subjects in school as well as music class. The use of rhythm can assist them when writing poetry, running the mile, memorizing facts, learning to play an instrument in band and singing in the choir.
I am very proud of the work the students have accomplished so far and can't wait to see how far they go as musicians this year. More importantly, I like to instill how important it is for the children to be proud of their own work. When they have pride in their work they bring a great attitude and hard work to each task. Below is a picture of two second graders sharing some rhythms they wrote.