A simple start to using boomwhackers in the music classroom

This is a very simple idea for using boomwhackers. This was developed and tested by my husband Kevin with a group of students who had never learned any music at all.

It was pitched at grade 4/5 level, but can work for students of any age.

All you need is a whiteboard and a set of boomwhackers. We’ve published this as an interactive whiteboard resource, but there is nothing stopping you using pens on a traditional whiteboard.

We used pentatonic boomwhackers (red, orange, yellow, dark green and purple) – these are available as a pentatonic set, or you can use the full set and remove the light green (F) and magenta (B) ones.

Here is how Kevin started the activity:

The idea and resource goes further than is shown in the video.

You can use whatever one of the slides which suits the level of your class, and step through as quickly as you’d like, in one session or multiple sessions.

Slide 1: Colored Circles (as demonstrated in the video)
Slide 2 :Colored Circles with a notated rhythm in them
Slide 3: Colored Circles with one long note in them
Slide 4: Colored Circles with two different notated rhythms (the rhythm they’ve done before and a single long note)

Click the icons below to download the resource:

Interactive Whiteboard Materials

Download SmartNotebook FileInteractive Whiteboard File for SMART boards (SMART Notebook)
Click here for the zipped version
Download ActiveInspire fileInteractive Whiteboard File for Promethean Boards (ActiveInspire)
Click here for the zipped version

We’d love your feedback on this, and we’d love to hear any of your ideas for using boomwhackers in the classroom.

What works well for you and what doesn’t?

Do you have any great ideas for using boomwhackers that you’d like to share?

Please leave your feedback via the comment box below to benefit the wider teaching community.

UPDATE: If you have any trouble downloading the SMART notebook or ActiveInspire lessons by clicking their icons, just download the zipped version by clicking the text link below. Some browsers will not download these files from the icons correctly because of their long file names.


  • By Stephanie Reply

    I want to come to your class!

  • By Leela Pratt USA Reply

    This was a lovely lesson plan, and I plan to use it with various hand percussion (since I don’t have boomwhackers, sadly!) and colored dots with velcro on a plain board (since I don’t have an interactive whiteboard). The kids will love creating arrangements — that was the genius part, I thought!

    We use Rhythm Clock every week in various creative ways. A fun learning tool! Financially-challenged music programs all over the world must be loving these terrific, free lessons as much as I do!

  • By Michelle Reply

    It looks like a great way to use the boomwhackers. I can’t open the Smartnotebook files however. Is it a newer version file that perhaps I can’t open with an older version Smart Notebook?

  • By Rochele King Reply

    I use Boomwhackers in my music classes and the kids LOVE them – I don’t have a white board or smart board so this won’t help me, but, I think it will be great for those who do!

  • By vicky Ohara Reply

    Thank you so much for this great idea!! I plan on using it this week. I so appreciate this and the other ideas you send for the music classroom. They are very helpful.

  • By Garry Reply

    Great stuff keep up the great work. Would it be a good idea to place the notes on the appropriate staff position to help with revision for emergent music readers. Can’t wait to try these flipcharts out today. Thanks again.

  • By Kirsty orr Reply


    I totally love my boomwhackers and have used them throughout our primary school for rhythm work and tuned performances. In fact I had 30 kids play jingle bells on boomwhackers at Christmas while the other 250 played it on their recorders! I love the harmony that can be easily created and the kids love the fact that you whack them. The most recent use of boomwhackers was from a year 3 class (age 6-7) who were playing I hear thunder in a 4 part round within 30 minutes. I wrote a coloured dot under each word and displayed it on the interactive whiteboard.

    However, resources for boomwhackers are hard to come by in the UK so any more you can invent would be most welcome!

    Keep up the good work.


  • By Jenny Reply

    I can’t down load it onto my laptop. How do I get it?

    • By janice Reply

      Hi Jenny,

      Please try again now that we have added ‘zipped versions’ – click the text link, not the icon.

  • By Joy Reply

    Awesome idea!! I have ordered four sets of boomwhackers last week and can hardly wait to start making music with them.

  • By Lynette Reply

    I don’t have an interactive white board in my room at present but some laminated circles on the blackboard work just as well. The children love to play and compose and lessons are engaging and fun.
    Thanks for sharing – it is not always something new but it is always good to be reminded of things we have let go for a while.

  • By Paul Reply

    Love using Boomwhackers. Have used them to accompany songs, creating chordal accompaniment, simple melody using pentatonic and basic melody from Chords. Obvious use when tackling scales, children being leader in pointing to a player and they strike their boomwhacker. (Year 6’s)

    Tricky when atempting to ‘notate’ & read harmony parts…..any advice would be welcomed (especially when no whiteboard is available in a school hall)

    March 26 I am using Boomwhackers, Hand-Bells, Non pitched wooden percussion instruments plus ‘voices’ in leading a Year 3 partnership ‘workshop’!! (in Didcot, UK)

    Lack of workable material, so scope for lots of material to be produced, although Wakefield Council have recently published a book called Boomwhackers in action, which looks useful for starters! See http://www.wakefield.gov.uk

  • By Peta Minter Reply

    Thanks Janice, I use Boomwhackers in my kids African drumming classes and the kids love it. Thanks so much for the video.
    Cheer Peta

  • By Katherine Reply

    I couldn’t open it either. Is there another way we can view it.

    • By janice Reply

      Hi Katherine,

      This has now been corrected – please download the zipped file by clicking the text link below. This issue is to do with certain browsers not being able to download those files directly.

  • By Susan Brand Reply

    The active inspire edition will not download. I would love to try this! Would you please correct? Thank you.

    • By janice Reply

      Hi Susan,

      This has now been corrected – please download the zipped file by clicking the text link below. This issue is to do with certain browsers not being able to download those files directly.

  • By Garland Reply

    I’ve been using the colored dots the last few years, at my school with no projector I die-cut circles in the correct colors and laminated them.
    For a chord you can stack the colors and box them together to show that they play at the same time. It looks like a strange traffic light.
    My older kids put up 8 dots in an array of colors and we play that over and over, progressing to adding rests. I’ve also got a powerpoint with the same idea.

  • By monique lamothe Reply

    i love this resource. it’s simple, but very effective. i have been a music teacher for only a few years, and was just introduced to the smartboard last month, so these resources are invaluable to me. i just purchased the smartboard music module 1 from you and the kids and i are loving it. would love some more interactive smartboard materials and boomwhacker stuff would be a fun asset! thanks for your hard work!

  • By Julie C Reply

    I have used boomwhakers to teach rhythm patterns using puppets for spider, ladybird, caterpillar, bee ( crotchet and quaver rhythms) with 4 and 5 year olds. I then progress to pictures on cards so they can make sequences of rhythm patterns.
    They love making up and playing patterns and choosing which colours to play together. There is some great research for someone on the choice of colour!
    Boomwhakers are great for a wide age range and affordable too!

  • By caleb mwailenge Reply

    wow what a great interactive lesson.

  • By Bev Reply

    I currently use boomwhackers to teach rhythm patterns to my pre-school (ages 3-5) music class. As most know their colours, the idea from the video will work well with them. I have a white board, but not an interactive board, so I will try laminating coloured dots as described by Garland.

  • By Nicholina Reply


    I am a graduate teacher and have no idea about music, well, at least that is what I thought until I saw your short video.

    I will definetly be taking up your idea during my first music lesson.

    Thank you so much for making people like myself enjoying music and playing short pieces of music by moving the coloured circles around.

  • By Sandy Reply

    Loved the boomwhackers with colors lesson. I used it with several grade levels, added more pitches and stacked them vertically and/or pointed to 2 or 3 to make chords. The little ones really pay attention too!

  • By Claire Reply

    I loved the ideas in the video and although I couldn’t use the resources on the whiteboard (not available in the hall) I started on a similar lesson with a year 2 class. They have already learned some rhythm patterns – spider / caterpillar / bee etc and used these to practice rhythms on the boomwhackers. They then chose a colour and a creaturte rhythm and put thm together to make their own compositionse.g yellow boomwhackers play caterpillar rhythm. They wrote their compositions down in the form of coloured creature symbols – yellow caterpillars meant yellow boomwhackers play ‘caterpillar’ rhythm. They conducted each other and performed their notated compositions as a class. Since then we have added movement to where and how the boomwhackers are played and have created performance pieces. I have been surprised by the way in which the lesast attentive children in the class have risen to this. I even got a hug off one of them !

  • By Judy Reply

    Great fun, easy to use with coloured dots (sticky magnet on back) or a fancy-schmanzy smartboard.
    Just wondering where the funky rhythm track comes from?

  • By Karen Reply

    If you don’t have a white board you can always cut out and laminate (or not) coloured paper which can be manipulated (held in place with sticky tack, magnets, or what hae you…(hope no one else mentioned this – if so, my apologies!)

  • By Kay Reply

    What a great idea- I can see my children working well with this. Thank you so much for sharing the video.

  • By Nigel Hobart Reply

    Brilliant Resource 🙂 Thanks so much for the coloured dots idea!

  • By Aimee Rossler Reply

    Hi! I just tried to watch the video but keep getting a message saying that the video does not exist. Is there any way of making this available again? Thanks so much!

    • By kevin Reply

      Hi Aimee,

      Thanks for letting us know – we have updated this page to make the video available again.

  • By Rebecca Reply


    I enjoyed the Boomwhacker into video and would love to see more activity ideas. Can you send the information as a PDF file. I will not be using an interactive board or promethean board but would love to see what other ideas are available to work with students in elementary school with little or no music knowledge.
    Thank you,

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