Any time I introduce a piano student to scales, you can bet my Circle of 5ths teaching tool is close by. A solid understanding of key signatures and relative major/minor keys is not complete until a student can relate the Circle of 5ths to the construction of key signatures.
My piano students are first introduced to scales through pentascales (using our very cute printable found here). Using my Circle of 5ths teaching tool I show them how the sharps and flats found in their pentascales have a connected, important meaning. As my students mature and begin playing more difficult music that includes key signatures, they become Circle of 5ths Masters.
Most Circle of 5ths “charts” are pretty boring. They’re not interactive or appealing (even though the Circle of 5ths itself is pretty cool!!)
So, to help you bring some interest into your discussions of the Circle of 5ths, today we’re sharing a hands-on printable that encourages your students to actively participate in learning about this important concept.
The Circle of 5ths Wheel of Fun!
Today we’re sharing a printable Circle of 5ths chart… but this chart is more than a diagram to be referenced… it is an interactive, hands-on Circle of 5ths teaching tool.
To use this activity, you’ll need our printable Circle of 5ths chart (see download instructions below), 12 clothespins (the kind you would use to clip laundry to a line), and some small, round sticker labels.
Before you begin with a student, download, cut out and laminate the Circle of 5ths chart for long-term use. Next, label the round stickers with all of the major key names (you can also make a minor key set too if you desire). Then, attach each label to the end of a clothespin.
Once you’re all set up, the process as pretty simple. As you introduce and explain the Circle of 5ths, spread out the major clothespins and help your students clip each pin to its appropriate “slice” on the wheel.
Once you move on to discuss relative minor keys, you can create a “Minor Key Clothespin Set” (simply label 12 clothespins with the minor key names).
Extension Activities For Your Hands-On Circle of 5ths
Here are a few more fun activities that can be completed with your “Hands-on Circle of 5ths”:
- Add 4 clothespins to the wheel, placing some in incorrect positions. Instruct your piano students to correct your mistakes by identifying and then moving the incorrect pins to the correct positions.
- Hide the clothespins around your studio and have your piano students “hunt” for the pins and then attach them to the wheel in the correct order in a “Circle of 5ths Scavenger Hunt”. Time your students and then have other students attempt to beat the high score.
- Have your students clip a clothespin to the wheel and then play the corresponding major scale. Can they complete the entire wheel, one scale at a time? Take a photo (with parental permission) of those who are able to complete the entire wheel and post them on your studio “Circle of 5ths Wall of Fame”.
Find The Printable Circle of 5ths Chart Here:
As you know from previous posts, to make our printables easier to find, and to correlate them with our new WunderKeys Primer and Level 1 books that we’ll be releasing later this year, we’ll be putting them up on WunderKeys.com.
Today’s resource has been added to the “Level 1+” section of the WunderKeys Resource Page.
Click here or on the activity image below to visit the WunderKeys Resource Page, and then scroll down to the Level 1 Section to find the downloadable pdf. And, while you’re there, be sure to check out our completely revamped 2nd edition WunderKeys Preschool Piano books!