Here are 3 tips for teaching some Basic Music Symbols that you could use in an Elementary Music Lesson Plan.

Feel free to use as many or as little as you like and if you would like to add some feedback or extra ideas please feel free to leave a comment.

Hope you find them useful!

Knowledge Content
Just so we are all on the “same page” with content, I am basing the ideas on teaching the following Musical symbols. Of course you could adapt any of the ideas to your own curriculum:

Semibreve/Whole Note
Semibreve/ Whole Note Rest
Crotchet/quarter note
Crotchet/Quarter Note Rest
Minim/ Half Note
Minim/ Half Note Rest
Quaver/Eigth Note
Quaver/Eigth Note Rest
QuaversJoined Eigth Notes/Joined Quavers

Just go to if you want to find the images and print them out for free.

Play a Game: Musical Tic Tac Toe

This game is great for Elementary music Children. Most often children at this level have heard of the game, but may not quite know the strategy and it can be adapted really well for groups.

The aim of the game is to get 3 of the same coloured counters in a row, either vertically, horizontally or diagonally before your opponent does
Hears how to get started,

Step 1
Make a Tic Tac Toe Grid and draw some musical symbols on the grid

Step 2 -Make or Find some coloured counters
All you need to do is find a group of buttons, counters or poker chips which fit your grid. You could raid an old checkers set or draw them out on some coloured paper/cardboard and cut them out.
You will need at least 3 identically coloured counters for each player or team member.

Step 3- Playing the game
Each player has a turn and has to identify with a name the symbol or note where they would like to place their counter.

Because there are only 3 counters involved in the game then when all three have been placed, the players will need to move one that is already on the gameboard to another position. Play continues until a team or player achieves three in a row. Alternatively you can play it the traditional way for a quicker finish using more counters – it’s up to you!

Tip #2
Flashcard Treasure Hunt

Why not set up a “Flashcard Treasure Hunt” in your classroom. It’s a quick activity which can take as long or short as you want it to and you can easily set it up as your children are finishing off a drawing activity.Hears how to do it

Step1 – Print out Treasure Note symbol Cards
You can find them at they are totally free for you to print out or you could use some printed ones that you may already have. For young children, I’ve always found that it works well to print out one flashcard of each symbol- the children just love to find each of them all by themselves! Stick them around the room with blu tack and/ or hide them around, chairs, tables musical instruments(if you’re game!) etc.

Step2 – Teacher gives an instruction of what to find or could give a list ie : Today I want you all to find 1 semibreve/ whole note/ Great Big Whole Note and 1 crotchet/quater/ tahn note rest. (Use the terminology that your children know – i’ve just given a few examples of terminology here)You can make the list of items as small or as large as you wish.

Step3- Watch the fun begin
You’ll have children going in all direcions, but buzzing with excitement trying to find their “treasure”. You’ll be able to watch your children help each other and they will ask you if they don’t understand what to do because they won’t want to miss out. Stand back and enjoy the “buzz”

Make a Worksheet

Children love to draw musical notes and learn to draw them correctly. Why not make some worksheets with some arrows on them so that your students can work out how to do it. Here’s an example with a crotchet/ quarter note rest.

You could even have background music playing, I used to use “Flight of the Bumble Bee” where my children would hear it and know that it was the drawing music…. For longer tasks, I repeated it over again a few times. I would show the whole group or class how to do the first practice to get them started on the whiteboard and then they would complete the rest of the activity on their worksheet.

On your worksheet, you could have your children copy the symbol, colour it in or draw it all by themselves- it’s totally up to you!The main thing is to keep the activity specific, simple and achievable to children of this ability level.

Play Them with Instruments

Simply write a small rhythm on a white board or large flash card and learn to play it together. The children could make their own instruments or could play it on some real instruments in the classroom. The teacher tells the children what instrument to get and the group could play along with a simple piano accompaniment, Cd of classical music or backing track to suit.

Doing this activity gives you a hands on look at how the music works in smaller achievable steps, and the children ask loads of questions about time signatures and repeat signs and understand it – all because they are doing it!