“Tell me, I forget, show me, I remember, involve me, I understand.”- Carl Orff

Doing is everything – especially when it comes to teaching music theory!
Playing a game can often help students to retain more and can make a boring concept fun.

So today I have the pleasure of posting a great game which will help upper primary children think and do rhythms and other symbols quickly all while having fun. This game was sent in to us by one of our music teaching friends, Olivia Lucas and she gave us permission to share it with any other interested music teachers-So thank you Olivia for sharing this great idea.

Please also feel free to use the comment box below to leave your feedback or any other games or activities you might want to share.

The Musical Fly Swatter Game

Here is a lively and distinctive activity to practise rhythms or even music vocabulary.

Materials Needed:
Rhythm cards
2 Fly Swatters

Once my students have learn’t rhythm values and how to vary their rhythmic combinations, I play the Fly Swatter Game!

Using Rhythm Cards (with one 4 beat bar for younger or beginner students and 2 or more bars with 4 beats each for older students. Rhythms in Triple Meter are another possibility) spread across the board.

Each rhythm card is then numbered depending on the amount of rhythm cards and die available. If only one dice is used then 6 rhythm cards are needed- numbered 1 to 6, When two die are used 11 cards are needed – numbered 2- 12 ( the number 1 will never come up because two die are used). If more than 11 cards are used then more die are necessary.

Then I divide the class into two teams. The first time with the fly swatters, I explain how the game works. After that, it’s not necessary.

In order to establish who gets his/her turn to play next, I allocate a number to each member of the team. So to begin with, number 1 of each team comes to the front of the room facing the board with their back to the class. Each has a fly swatter. they may not look back: if they do they do, their team loses 2 points.

I then select one other student to throw the dice ( I make a point of choosing a student from one end of the class and work through to the other end,to save any avoiding or omitting anyone. This way I find everyone is given the opportunity to throw the dice as well as to produce the corresponding rhythm and I can evaluate each student’s rhythmic abilities).This student may not reveal or speak out the numbers on the dice. Instead he/she has to clap the rhythm with the corresponding number. To keep everyone focused and involved, the whole class then repeats the same rhythm. Once the rhythm has been clapped, the two fly swatters can swat the correct rhythm. The first one to swat the correct rhythm gets a point for their team.

There are some other basic rules:
1. You may not hit another student with the fly swatter.
2. You may not throw the fly swatter at anyone.
3.You may not ‘block’ another player with your arm or your body to prevent them from swatting a rhythm card.

This game may also be played to practice and consolidate musical vocabulary or symbols. When playing the game in this format, I have two sets of cards, one with the words and the other with corresponding symbols. The teacher can decide on putting either words or symbols on the board as the first set of cards. The second set of cards is in my possession with the written side facing downwards so they are out of sight.

In this version of the game, students with the fly swatters are facing the class with their backs to the board.

Each student in the class is given the opportunity to pick a card.
When the selected card has a word, the students turning it around silently reads the word on it, then shows it while saying the word out loud to the students up front. the students with the fly swatters must then turn to face the board and swat the corresponding symbol. The first one to swat the correct symbols gets a point for their team.

When the selected card has a symbol, the student turning the card must not say what it i. Instead he/she says something like ” look what I’ve got!” while showing the card to the students up front. the students with the fly swatters then turn and face the board and swat the corresponding word. The first one to swat the correct word earns a point for their team.



Happy Swatting!
Olivia Lucas