If you’re a regular reader of the Teach Piano Today blog, then you know that we love getting piano students off of the bench!
While off-the-bench activities inevitably take more time than reading from a method book or verbally discussing a concept, I’ve always found that imaginative activities save me and my students time down the road. The concrete approach provided by hands-on learning means that my students and I spend way less time reviewing and revisiting concepts that shouldn’t need reviewing or revisiting.
In today’s post we’re sharing a fun, hands-on activity for a concept that you probably review and revisit more often than you might like: time signatures! Keep reading to discover how you can make Caterpillar Time Signatures work for your students.
Setting Up Caterpillar Time Signatures
- To begin, you will need strips of construction paper, a sharpie pen and some bottle caps.
- Write a variety of note values and rest values on the tops of your bottle caps. Include quarter notes/rests, half notes/rests, whole notes/rests and dotted half notes.
- Create four “Caterpillar Cards” by using a bottle cap to trace a circular head and body segments on each strip of construction paper. Be sure to create one card with just one body segment, one card with two body segments, one card with three body segments, and one card with four body segments. Add legs, antennae and a smile 🙂 Do not write the time signatures on the cards yet, as these will be added after the cards have been laminated. Your Caterpillar Cards with time signature labels will look like this:
How To Play With Caterpillar Time Signatures
- Choose one Caterpillar Rhythm Card.
- Spread out the labelled bottle caps around the rhythm card.
- Draw your desired time signature (3/4 or 4/4) on the card (remembering not to draw 3/4 time in the “4 segment caterpillar” unless you have decided to also create eighth-note bottle caps).
- Discuss the meaning of the top and bottom numbers in the time signature.
- Ask your student to find a variety of bottle caps with note and rest values that would correctly complete a measure in the selected time signature. They can only use as many bottle caps as will fit on your caterpillar segments. For example, if you selected a Caterpillar Card in Step 1 with two segments and wrote 4/4 on the card, your student could choose two bottle caps with half notes or one bottle cap with a half note and one with a half rest.
- Watch as your student has fun deciding which note and rest values can be used to fill in the available spaces… all the while making uber-valuable learning connections!
- Repeat Steps 2-6 changing the card and the time signature each time.
Fun, Effective And Easy!
If you love using simple materials to create DIY piano teaching fun, then be sure to check out these two posts from the Teach Piano Today blog. Click the image to visit the post or pin for later!