Effective Stations in Kindergarten

Everyone talks about setting up stations in elementary music classes, but some of the materials I’ve perused don’t seem to further a Kodály curriculum. Since I basically see my students once a week for 50 minutes, I have to be choosy about how we spend our class time. That brings us to the topic of this post – Kindergarten stations.

My kindergarten classes can keep a steady beat and we’re beginning to prepare long and short, or “the way the words go.” This is a tricky time, because they must learn to differentiate between beat and rhythm. Just like any melodic or rhythmic concept in upper grades, kindergarten students must demonstrate prior knowledge before working on kinesthetic, aural, or visual preparation of a new element. This week we practiced beat using beat stations. Each station incorporated a known beat activity.

My four stations included: beat charts, toy hammers, hand drums, and cardboard guitars. I placed the supplies for each station inside a hula-hoop and assigned students to a station. The groups picked up their supplies, I named a song, gave the cue “one, two, ready sing,” and the class performed the beat while singing the selection. Next, I called out the hula-hoop station colors and asked them to point to their next station. They transitioned, performed a different sixteen-beat song, and moved through all four stations practicing beat. On average, this activity took fewer than five minutes for all four stations and the students loved it! Here’s a quick shot of one of my classes enjoying their stations.

Do you have an idea for a fun beat station? kinder_stations_hughey2016

What’s in the cards?

Choosing individual students can be challenging because some students are eager to participate, some are shy, others reluctant, but all need opportunities to participate in class and we have to assess them. Many years ago a colleague shared an idea of using a set of cards for class games, and a few years before that I saw a teacher use class cards to determine which students had a turn with the class set of books. So, the card idea wasn’t mine, but I’ve revised the way I use the cards, and the cards themselves, several times during my teaching career. Please feel free to use this card template or revise them in any way that meets your needs.

How I use them: Under each category there are two columns of boxes. The smaller one on the left is for the date and the one on the right for a note or scribble. If students write a note or rhythm on the board, I’ll mark it under the correct column. The game column is especially important to my students, though. If someone has had a turn at the jump rope game, for example, I scribble the date and write “jump” in the right column. Those students don’t get a turn again until everyone has had a turn to jump on one week or another. In the game Chicken on the Fencepost/Dance Josey, I write “DJ” when they get at turn as a farmer and no one repeats until every student has had a chance. The list goes on and on, but the students feel that it’s fair. The same goes for the Instrument section. If three students are called on to play a bass xylophone bordun to accompany a song, the students know I’ll call on someone else the next time. Naturally, there are plenty of lessons that everyone will play an instrument in, but in the case of only a few players, I mark their cards and spread the wealth.

How do you handle calling on students for class activities?

Music Cards