Let's Lesson Plan: 3rd Grade #10


In this video I share my 10th lesson with my 3rd graders. I love seeing how other teachers think through their planning process, and thought it would be fun to share my own.

Below the video you’ll find the PDF download of the lesson, as well as the sheet music I used and any other links mentioned.


Getting Started

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There are several documents I use to lesson plan. They save me time while they make sure each activity on the page is intentional, and seamlessly leads into other ideas.

All the templates I use are available to purchase as a part of my Elementary Music Planning Kit.

You can check it out here.

Scope and Sequence:

My scope and sequence keeps me on track throughout the year. This is the document I use to decide what I want to teach, and when I want to teach it.

3rd Grade Scope and Sequence

Concept Plans:

Concept plans are where teachers write down purposeful teaching strategies for specific concepts.

For this lesson I’m using a concept plan for takadimi and do. Both of these are partially completed - I don’t always necessarily have every single activity mapped out when I start a concept.

Below you’ll find my practice activities for takadimi and preparation activities for do.

Takadimi practice activities

Takadimi practice activities

Do preparation activities

Do preparation activities

You can watch these videos or read this blog post to see how I put together my scope and sequence and my concept plans.


My Teaching Situation:

I see my students for 45 minutes on a six day rotation. This is my second full year at this school, and I am still working to “catch up” many grade levels to where I want them to be. In this lesson you’ll that my third graders are working on concepts you might expect from a second grade classroom.


For this lesson I wanted to practice 16th notes and prepare do. To accomplish this, my objectives were to improvise using 16th notes, and aurally identify a note lower than mi.

The Lesson

Warm Up

As students entered the room, they made up a body percussion pattern of their choice. I didn’t care how many levels they used, or what specific rhythms they incorporated. I did, however, watch for a steady beat in their feet as they walked.

Once we entered the room we sang greetings using a sol-mi-do toneset. This was to prepare for our melodic focus for the lesson.

After some tonal work we echoed a few body percussion rhythms, and I included takadimi in these patterns to practice our target rhythm element.

You can watch a video on my elementary warm up routine here, or read this blog post.

New song: I See the Moon

This was a new song my students had never heard. I chose a simple song that highlights the melodic pattern, sol-mi-do.

My students didn’t need to do much with this material, simply hear the song as they copied my hand motions. For the melodic pattern I put my hands on my head for sol, hands on shoulders for mi, and hands on hips for do.

I sang the song again and had students copy my motions as we walked in a circle with a steady beat in their feet. At some point we ended I See the Moon and I went into the song, Apple Tree.

I used the circle formation from I See the Moon. Since students were already walking to a steady beat in a circle they had already set up the formation of the next game.

Main Concentration: Apple Tree

As I was writing this lesson I thought I would use the song, Sorida in this section. However, the more I worked on the lesson outline, I realized Apple Tree would work better as the main concentration material.

My students were in late preparation, which means they were ready to aurally discover a note lower than mi. To discover this note, I asked questions to guide students’ ears:

  • How many beats did we pat?

  • Which one had the lowest note?

We agreed that the new note was lower than mi, so I had the class sing the song on solfege, this time calling the last note “low”. We played the game again singing on solfege.

When we had played the game a few times, I had students continue singing the song in solfege as they walked back to their spots.

Game: Built My Lady a Fine Brick House

My students love this game! We used it to practice 16th notes, but since it has both our target rhythm and melodic elements in it, I could have used it as either a rhythmic or melodic focus.

We had just played the game to Apple Tree, so we sat down a few minutes while we sang the song and patted the steady beat. After that we played the rhythm of the chorus (the section with 16th notes) on our laps.

From there we moved to playing the actual game. You can find game directions in the sheet music.

To add some takadimi instrumental practice, I played the steady beat on a tubano and had a few other students play the rhythm of the chorus on woodblock. After a few rounds like this, switching who plays the game and who plays instruments, we read the rhythm of the chorus on the board.

After we read the rhythm I changed one beat at a time to turn the song into the opening of Tideo.

Secondary Concentration: Tideo

My students have played the game to Tideo before, so they’re pretty familiar with it. For this lesson I wanted to do an improvisation activity with 16th notes.

Since the first three phases have the same rhythm, that became the call. The last phrase became the response. Students have trouble moving straight into an independent improvisation activity, so it’s best to go through some steps to prepare them for your expectations. Here was my outline for this lesson:

  • I clapped the call and the whole class gave a response (we did this several times)

  • The class offered suggestions of how to fill in the four beats, and I wrote down three rhythm possibilities. Students could choose one of these three, or make up their own.

  • Students turned to a partner - one partner clapped A, the other improvised B.

One addition I made after I had already filmed the video was to have partners share their improvisations with the class. For that I brought out two tubanos and had students share their ideas, each partner playing individually.

After that we kept that same partner and moved into the game to Tideo. This time there was a variation of the game: the inside circle clapped A and the outside circle improvised B.

Closing Activity: Sorida

Students already had their partner from Tideo, so it was easy to move into the clapping game to Sorida.

After playing the clapping game with their partner, students turned to the board and traced the melodic contour.

We ended the lesson with the option of playing the game or tracing the melody on the board.

My students loved this lesson. The pacing was fast, and I was challenged to keep things moving in order to fit everything in.

If you take any of these ideas from this lesson, be sure to adapt them to fit your own education needs - every child, every classroom, and every teacher is different!

You can download a PDF of the lesson here, and look for the templates I use in the Elementary Music Planning Kit.

Happy teaching!


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Preparation Activities for Teaching Half Notes

In this post I wrote about some of my favorite materials for teaching half notes.

When we prepare half notes, we're asking students to interact with this element before they realize its name. Instead of simply asking students to memorize the sound, we're asking students to use half notes to sing, play, improvise, and more. Then when we add the name, that name has meaning because students have been given enough experiences to truly understand the element.

This method is intuitive and calls on students to discover music on their own - not just to memorize that a half note gets two beats.

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Experience First

The very first step in teaching a new rhythmic element is to play games, sing songs, and speak rhymes that contain that rhythmic element. This first step might not feel like “teaching” at all. And in many ways it shouldn’t. Instead, this stage should feel like play.

I wrote about some of my favorite materials to use for teaching half notes here. Some of my top choices are: Bluebird Bluebird, Listen to the Sun, Seashell, and Who’s That. You can go to that post for songs, plus the directions to games we use in my classroom.

The experiences we give students in this stage are the foundation for everything we want them to do later, so it’s important that we don’t short-change this step. In my experience it’s often one of the most joyful parts of the process as well.

Notice a sound that lasts two beats

Again, this step in the process is crucial, though it may seem simple.

After students have experience moving, playing, singing, and speaking a half note, they’re ready to become aware that they are using a note that lasts longer than a “ta”.

In my classroom, we do this by keeping a steady beat while we perform a known song or rhyme. I’ll pick one phrase and ask students if I sing a word that lasts longer than one beat.

  • What is the word?
  • Does it happen more than once?
  • How many beats does it last?

Through these questions, students guide themselves in understanding what a half note is.

When students have identified a note longer than one beat, we’ll assign it a name. Since it’s a long note, we’ll simply call it “long”.


After lots of experience with half note songs and rhymes, and after becoming conscious that a note lasts longer than two beats, we’re ready to explore half notes in other ways, like instruments and movement.


Start by showing these sunbeams. How could students show these sunbeams through their bodies?

Orff Sun Movement

In some classrooms you may have all your students create the same shape: standing slanted, and reaching up with vertical arms. This may be especially true if your classroom doesn’t have a strong movement component.

To challenge students, especially if your class doesn’t do much movement, consider inviting students to make the shape without using their arms. In such an open activity like this, I praise students using different levels and body parts.


Instruments are another great way to explore half notes.

What instruments might you choose to represent that long sunbeam? What non-pitched percussion instruments can we find that elongate sound to last more than one beat?

Some great options students might discover are:

  • Triangle
  • Guiro
  • Cabasa
  • Finger cymbals
  • Crash cymbals
  • Sand blocks
  • Wind chimes

What instruments might you choose to show a short sound? Some options students might discover are:

  • Rhythm sticks
  • Tambourine
  • Wood block
  • Claves
  • Shaker
  • Cowbell

Perform the rhyme, Listen to the Sun with instruments and movement. As they speak, students will listen for a sound that lasts two beats. When that sound happens they will either perform their sunbeam movement, or play their two beat instrument.  Other class members not moving or playing may choose to speak the rhyme.

You may also choose to have students speak rhythm syllables instead of the text of the word:

“Ta-di ta-di long,
Ta-di ta-di long,
Ta-di ta-di ta ta
Ta ta ta long”

Create a Visual Representation of What You Hear

After all these preparation experiences, students are able to create a visual representation of what they have been singing, speaking, playing, and moving.

Different teachers have different preferences for this part of the process. For me, the significance of a half note is that students are combining two large beats, so I want to show that visually. We do this with a tie.

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Start with a half note song students are familiar with (check out songs for teaching half notes here). For this example, we’ll go with “Who’s That”.

Starting at the last beat, have students help you notate the first phrase of Who’s That. Explain to students that we don’t know what “long” looks like yet - do they have any ideas of how to show it? Remind students that “long” is the length of two ta’s.

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Students will likely come up with something that looks close to this:

Since you have a visual, have the students help you notate the rest of the song:

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With a visual representation in place, and with students reading their version of half note notation, you can tie two quarter notes together to show that a half note lasts two beats. 

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Strategies like singing, playing games, moving, playing instruments, and reading notation give students preparation they need to truly understand what a half note is before we add the label. 

The next step in the process is to present the real name!