1st & 2nd Grade

April: 1st grade has started their xylophone unit and 2nd grade has been reviewing rhythm reading with some new percussion instruments. Check back for a video compilation of 2nd grade performing Amazing Grace on xylophones accompanied by Mr. Sheffer!

February & March: 1st Grade has been having a blast trying out multiple percussion instruments and practicing their rhythm reading exercise. They’ve used sand blocks, maracas, rhythm sticks and egg shakers. They’ve made it all the way to the rhythm reading bonus level and can play and identify all the notes, 2 bars at a time.

Rhythm Reading Bonus Round

Next up will be the 1st grade xylophone unit. See below for details.

2nd Grade has been working on Xylophone, Metallophones and Glockenspiels in the music room. Here are links for DIY instruments if you’re feeling adventurous and would like to try and make a xylophone.

Paper Xylophone

Wood Xylophone

If you have an old baby xylophone from when you were younger, that will work too.

Here is a link to see one of the tutorial video we’ve been working with: Xylophone Tutorial Video

At the end of the unit, 2nd grade completed a xylophone quiz to summarize what we’ve learned: Xylophone quiz

January: We’ve been talking about our feelings and how music can make us feel a certain way by using Major and Minor chords to make us feel happy or sad. Here is a video that illustrates the difference between the sounds of the chords: Major vs. Minor

A fun activity to illustrate this effect is called “Feelings in Music with Art”.

Draw a line down the center of a blank page and across the middle, forming 4 boxes. Label each box 1-4. Listen to 4 different songs that could evoke different emotions, and show how you’re feeling during each song by drawing a picture. I encourage the students to try and draw objects that represent their feelings as opposed to faces with emotional expressions. Here are 4 examples of songs that we’ve used in class.

Song #1: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Song #2: Can’t Stop the Feeling

Song #3: Phantom of the Opera

Song #4: Shake My Sillies Out

After the activity, encourage the student to reflect on how each song made them feel and elaborate on the reason behind the drawings. Compare the songs. Which songs gave similar emotions? Which songs were very different? Are there other emotions besides happy and sad? What are they?

December: 1st Grade worked on their dance featured in the 2020 HC Christmas Concert video. 2nd grade worked on their boomwhacker song. Click the link to see the video.

November: We’ve been taking a much closer look at reading rhythms while using percussion instruments. Here are two videos showing how to make your own percussion instrument.

DIY Percussion Instruments 1

DIY Percussion Instruments 2

We’ve been using egg shakers, maracas, sand blocks and rhythm sticks to play along with the instructional videos.

Here are the 3 stages of rhythmic notation reading that we’ve been using. I strongly encourage students to say the phrases as they play along. “Ta” for quarter notes, “Ti-Ti” for eighth notes, “To-e” for half notes and “shhh” for quarter rest.

Rhythm Reading 1

Rhythm Reading 2

Rhythm Reading 3

Please don’t move on to the next stage of rhythm reading until you can play through the first one with little to no mistakes. If you don’t have the resources to make your own percussion instrument, you can always play along by clapping. Have fun and please send in videos of the students using the tutorials and their DIY instruments!


October: We’ve been having a ton of fun learning about rhythm and beat in 1st and 2nd Grade. We’ve been dancing and bobbing our head to find the beat in different songs, and have started using some percussion instruments. Here’s a link to a great video explaining the difference between beat and rhythm. Beat vs Rhythm (click for link) Watch and clap along!

Once you’re feeling confident about the difference, go and get 4 paper plates and play along with this fun lesson and activity: Beat vs Rhythm activity

Here is another fun rhythm activity video that you can clap or play along with: Introduction to Rhythm Reading

In the activity above, we’re calling quarter notes “Ta” and eighth notes “Ti-Ti”. I encourage you to say those terms out loud as you clap along with the video.

We’ve also been learning about the different instrument groups. Orchestra Instrument Groups Click the link to learn about the different groups and hear what all of the instruments sound like.

Once you’ve listened to the instruments, click this link to take a fun listening quiz and see how well you can recognize the different sounds.

September: The 1st and 2nd Graders have been busy these first few weeks. We’ve listened to the song Respect by Aretha Franklin and talked about what respect means and ways to show respect to our teachers and friends. We read the Pete the Cat book “Rocking in my School Shoes” and talked about our feelings starting the new school year. We’ve also been getting out of our seats and reviewing the dances and hand motions to the songs Days of the Week and Macarena Months. Click on the titles of the songs or books for a direct link to the track or video.

The 1st and 2nd grade students were working on ORFF instruments before school ended in March. If you’re feeling adventurous and looking for a fun do it yourself project, click on the link below. The website illustrates a few different ways to make a homemade xylophone and mallets.
(the pipe xylophone is probably the easiest)  : Homemade Xylophone Instructions


After you make your homemade xylophone, or if you happen to have a xylophone, metallophone or glockenspiel at home already, click below for a fun xylophone tutorial: