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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Review Games for the End of the School Year

As the end of the school year approaches, everyone starts to switch into vacation / party mode. With everyone's brains partially switched off, it's hard to get students motivated to do any kind of standard "class work". But it's also really important to review the concepts you covered this year so that they will remember them more quickly in the fall! Here are some of my favorite review games that I love using at the end of the school year.

1. Hula Hoop Conductor: instrument classifications and playing techniques review

I've written about this game before but it's one worth mentioning again! Lay out several hula hoops on the floor and have the students sit on the floor facing the hula hoops. Assign each hula hoop to a group of instruments (woods/metals/scrapers/shakers/etc) and tell students to only play when you step into their hula hoop. Proceed to make a fool of yourself by running back and forth between the hoops, stepping in 2 at once, leaning over and putting your hands in the others, jumping over hoops to trick them, etc. Try stomping in one then tip-toeing in the other and get them to follow you by playing at different dynamics/speeds etc.

Then choose a student to be the conductor in your place. When you pick the next conductor, have the first conductor take the next one's instruments so that they start switching around. Add more hoops and make the classifications more specific, or make the new ones another set of groupings, like one for all boys and another for all girls, so that they have to watch 2 hoops. The variations are endless and it's a great way to get them focused and attentive and review different instrument classifications.

2. Rhythm Chairs: meter and rhythm review

Set up a row of 4 chairs at the front of the room. Show (on the projector or with a flashcard etc) a 4-beat rhythm (such as ta, ta, ti-ti, ta) and have them replicate it in the chairs, telling them the chairs represent beats and they represent notes. Help them out on the first one by making sure they end up with 1 person sitting in the first 2 and last chair, and 2 people sitting together in the 3rd chair (I usually tell them they can stand behind and touch the chair to count as sitting as well if they're uncomfortable sharing a chair). Now split up into 2 teams, each team having their own row of chairs, put up a new rhythm, and see which team can get the right people in the right chairs first (be sure to throw in some longer notes, so students have to lay across multiple chairs- hilarious!). Mix it up (and review meter) by adding in some rhythms with different numbers of beats- they'll have to think outside the box to figure out they need to add or remove chairs!

Read more about the Rhythm Chairs and other rhythm practice games in this post.

3. Note Races: letter names and solfege review

Split the class up into teams and have each team get into a line. Give the person at the front of each line a dry erase board and marker. For letter names review (in any clef), say a word that can be spelled with note letter names (like BEEF or CABBAGE) and have them spell the word with music notes. For solfege, sing a short phrase on solfege and have them notate it (having established beforehand where do is). The first one to correctly write the notes and hold it up to show you wins a point for their team. Have them pass off the board to the next person and go to the back of the line after each round.

There are TONS of great games I love to use for reviewing notes names! Here's a whole post full of some of my other favorites.

4. Dry Erase Dice: music expression vocabulary review

I picked up a few dice with dry erase boards in each side at the Dollar Tree this fall (I still see them in stores- run to your local dollar store if you can to see if they have some!) and I use them for all kinds of games, but my favorite is to put a different dynamic marking on each side of one and a different tempo marking on each side of another and have students take turns rolling both at once. Then they choose a song (sometimes they draw one out of a hat, or they choose from a list, or I let them pick their own) to perform with whatever tempo and dynamic they roll. If they do it correctly they win a point for their team.

5. Truth or Dare: any and all concept review

This is a simple concept but the students go NUTS for this game! I made one deck of "truth" cards and another deck of "dare" cards. The truth cards have trivia questions, like "name a woodwind instrument" or "what does forte mean". The dare cards have tasks, like "clap this rhythm while stomping on the beat" or "do the alphabet song in a whisper voice". On their turn, students pick a card from one deck or the other (each set is a different color) and try to answer the question or complete the task. If they do, they get a point. If they don't, the first person/group to yell "steal" gets a turn to try to do it correctly to take the point!

This can be done as a simple card game like I just described, or you can use them with other games like Jenga. Here's the blog post I wrote explaining how to use them, with a link to the printable cards I made if you want those :)

6. Twister: vocabulary review

I've seen review games with Twister boards on Pinterest before, usually with quarter notes drawn on all the blue circles, eighth notes on the red circles, etc. So the person spinning the spinner calls out the name of the note instead of the color and the players have to know where to put their hand/foot. This is a great way to review vocabulary because the words get repeated over and over again and the students physically connect the word with the symbol. But I didn't want to have just one set of vocabulary that I could review with the game- that would make it less effective to use with multiple grades. So instead of drawing the symbols directly on the Twister mat, I drew them on clear contact paper and then stuck them on the circles. Now I have a whole set that I can change out for whatever I want them to review! I have a set with dynamic markings, tempo words, lots of music notes and rests, and even whole notes on different lines/spaces in treble and bass clef. For the dynamics, notes/rests, and notes on the staff, the person with the spinner calls out the name or letter of the symbol (if they're doing it in a center and a student is doing the spinner, I give that person a "cheat sheet" that tells them what to call the symbols on each color). For tempo words, the spinner calls out the meaning of the word ("fast", "walking speed", etc). This is another one where the possibilities are endless! I'm pretty happy I came up with this solution so that I can use different symbols without buying 10 different Twister games ;)

I hope these ideas help you keep your students engaged without throwing all learning out the window! What are your favorite games to use for reviewing at the end of the year? Leave a comment! If you're looking for more lesson ideas to keep students engaged at the end of the school year, here is a post on end of year lesson ideas, and here is another post on longer "units" for the end of the year.

Looking for more teaching ideas? See my full curriculum here.

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  1. These are such fun ideas! I don't have hula hoops right now but I'm still going to try this idea today in my rhythm workshop without them. It will still work. It sounds too fun, not to do! Thanks for sharing! :)

    1. Oh yes, I'm sure you could do it with any "defined space" rather than hula hoops! The game is SO much fun. I hope your students enjoyed it!

  2. Love these! We're year-round and still going strong and those 5th graders are getting ANNNNTSY! This should keep them engaged for a couple more weeks! Thanks!

    1. I just finished yesterday myself, so I (partially) feel your pain! These games were a big hit this year and I really felt they were helpful for solidifying their learning! Good luck!

  3. I love the idea of reusing the Twister board so that you don't have to be stuck with just one type of game! How do you store the contact paper? Is it the sticky kind?

    1. To be honest I just kept the backing paper that it came on and kept them on there, but that isn't the best solution because you have to line it up perfectly to get the circles back on the paper, which is a pain. Any slick surface- whiteboard, plastic, glass etc- will work to hold the extras. My thought was to put some page protectors in a binder and store the contact paper on the outside of the page protectors. Maybe this year I will do that! ;) The contact paper is just the regular cheap clear kind like this: