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Grade: 3-5
Subject: Music

#1073. Music Theory

Music, level: Elementary
Posted Wed May 5 11:13:39 PDT 1999 by M. Pyrtle (
Monroeton & South End Elementary Schools, Reidsville, United States
Materials Required: 8" X 11" flash cards with these notes on them: whole note, half note, quarter note, eighth note
Activity Time: 30 - 40 minutes
Concepts Taught: Note names and values (in 4/4, 3/4, 2/4 time)

I wrote the following song to sing with the class. The tune is to the song, "The Wheels on the Bus". Have selected students come to the front to hold the cards up as their verse is sung:
A whole note looks like a hole in the ground,
A hole in the ground, a hole in the ground,
A whole note looks like a hole in the ground
And it is worth 4 beats.

A half note looks like a little "d". . . .
And it is worth 2 beats.

A quarter note looks like a filled-in "d". . .
And it is worth 1 beat.

An eighth note looks like a "d" with a flag. . .
And it is worth 1/2 a beat.

After learning the song, the students play a modified version of the "7-up" game: All students put heads down and thumbs up. The students with the flashcards then choose one student by GENTLY tapping their thumb. ( I usually play the "Jeopardy" theme on the piano while they're doing this.) The teacher calls, "Heads up! Stand up if you were tapped." Instead of guessing the name of the person that selected them, the student must say, "I think whole note worth 4 beats picked me." If he guesses correctly, he gets the card and comes to the front of the room while the other student sits back down. If he guesses incorrectly, he must sit down. When students get stuck, the teacher can prompt them by saying, "Remember the song. What does the note look like?"
You can also add:

2 eighth notes are holding hands. . .
And they are worth one beat.

A sixteenth note has got 2 flags. . .
And it is worth a quarter of a beat. (sung very fast!)