I teach a class of self contained autistic students ranging from 8-13 years old. Some students are great at maintaining a steady beat and some students need more practice. I was trying to come up with a “fun” way to keep practicing steady beat without losing interest in the students that already have mastered that concept.
Instead of playing “freeze dance” we played “Freeze Beat!” Freeze dance is when the teacher plays a piece of music (I use a Hawaiian party mix as it’s fun… 🙂 ) and the students dance. When the teacher hits “pause” the students freeze, last one caught moving is out. It’s a silly little game we play at the end of class for 2 minutes if the kids have earned a little “reward.”
For the autistic class I play the music and the students keep the beat on their rhythm sticks, when I hit “pause” the students have to stop keeping the beat (they make bunny ears with the sticks). After they get good at it I’ll let the students take turns hitting “pause.”
They LOVE being in charge of hitting play and pause and I love it because not only are the working the music concept of steady beat, they are also developing the sense that their actions have an impact on the group. It’s simply magical to see the children participating in that way!
What are your best tips for teaching basic concepts to older students or students with special needs?