Beat and Rhythm, the Songs and Rhymes

Once you are satisfied that most of the children in your class have experienced all three of the ‘preparation – presentation – practice’ stages in relation to the musical concept of ‘Beat’, and have fully internalised how it works, then you are ready to move into the preparation stage for introducing the musical concept of ‘Rhythm’. (Note that there is no hurry for this – move according to your judgment of your class’ pace. The graphic shows how this might happen late in the Reception Year, but if you have started in Year One, then the same applies, perhaps just a little sooner.)

The 2nd half of the pdf  Experiencing Rhythm, is the essential guide on how to proceed, but we have largely reproduced that text on this page.  In the Beat and Rhythm Supporting Videos, you will find  5 video clips about ‘Beat and Rhythm’.

But we can now get started on the new songs / rhymes.

11 – Engine, engine (Rhythm Card 2)

Of course the children have heard this pattern many times in previous rhymes e.g. Touch your shoulders/Part of Queen Queen Caroline “Washed her hair in turpentine” – so subconsciously they will already feel the pattern.
First show the children the Engine Engine SCORE in pictorial notation.
Ask them why there are two engines under most beats but only one under the final beat? (Hopefully they will answer because there was only one sound on the last beat)

12: Listen, Listen here I come  Rhythm Card 2) uses the same rhythm as Engine Engine. Show them the LISTEN LISTEN SCORE
Can they see and hear that the rhythm is the same for both?

Now look at the RHYTHM PEOPLE supporting video and we can play the rhythm people game.

  • Place four spots on the floor – the spots represent the BEAT.
  • The children will represent the rhythm – where there is one sound on a beat only one child stands and has the rhythm name TA. 

  • Where there are two sounds on a beat, two children stand, with hands on the shoulder of the other person. They each have the rhythm name TE so together they both make therhythm TE-TE. 

  • It is a very short step for most children to make, to realise that the stick notation flashcards look the same – one sound represented by one “stick” and two sounds represented by “two sticks joined together” – best friends just as the children were in the rhythm people game.

From this point the children can be shown the rhythm cards and can play rhythm people for the other already KNOWN songs and rhymes –

One, two, three, four (Rhythm cards Card 1 Card 2 Card 5 Card 1 ), Copy Cat, copy cat (Rhythm cards Card 3 Card 4  ) and Queen, Queen, Caroline (Rhythm cards Card 5 Card 2 Card 2 Card 5 )

And Engine, engine and Listen, listen (Rhythm cards  Card 2 )

Now let’s move to the next song.

13 Apple Tree (Rhythm cards Card 3 Card 2 Card 2 Card 2 )  Uses the very well-known rhythm tete tete tete ta but also tete ta tete ta Ensure that the children can hear that the rhythm “Apple tree, apple tree” sounds just the same as “Copy me, Copy me”

14 Mary Anne (Rhythm cards  Card 3  Card 2  Card 3  Card 2 ) Uses the rhythms from Apple Tree but arranged in a different order: card 3 then 2/ 3 then 2

15 Hot Cross Buns (Rhythm cards Card 6 Card 6 Card 7 Card 6) Hot cross buns introduces the concept of the REST. Before introducing this to the children remind them of the Feet Feet rhyme from term one. Show them the Feet feet score. Why do they think there is no foot on the final beat? (because there are no words!)
Show them 15 Hot Cross Buns Score which is also pictorial notation – someone has stolen the bun in the final beat of the first card – there are only crumbs left! There are no words – only a silence. This is a called a REST. Can they see that the two rhythms match MARCH AND STOP (REST) and HOT CROSS BUNS (REST).  


16 Rain is falling down. (Rhythm cards Card 8 Card 8 Card 7 Card 8 ) The rhythm is slightly different to Hot Cross Buns but the structure is the same – one rhythm heard three times and with the RESTS in the same place. Show the children the 16 Rain is falling down score – first, then rhythm people – then the Rhythm cards numbered 7 /8

17 Mix a pancake (Rhythm cards Card 7 Card 8 Card 7 Card 8 ) The rhythm here is exactly the same as 16 Rain is falling down but in a different order. Show the 17 Mix a pancake Score first, then in RHYTHM PEOPLE and finally from the rhythm cards numbers 7 and 8.

18 Row boys Row  (Rhythm cards Card 6 Card 8 Card 1 Card 6 ) There are three different rhythm patterns in this song – all known.

The children should be ready now to go straight to the rhythm reading from the stick notation cards numbered as above.

19 Bow wow wow (Rhythm cards  Card 6 Card 9 Card 2 Card 6 ) There are three rhythm patterns in this song – two known and one new. Show the children using the rhythm notation cards. Ask if they can work out what order the rhythms appear.

20 Pease pudding hot (Rhythm cards Card 9 Card 9 Card 10 Card 6 ) This song has two known patterns and one new (10) – ask the children if they can discover the new rhythm pattern and write it / say the rhythm names.