First graders have been really enjoying our unit on mallet instruments! We have been focusing on mallet grip, basic technique, and playing on cue. These skills will prepare them for the Orff pieces they will play in 1st - 5th grade! They have had a blast participating in activities from Artie Almeida's Mallet Madness and Mallet Madness Strikes Again - LOVE her stuff!
Since we don't have quite enough for the students to have their own instrument, they have been pairing up with a partner. One activity that they loved was echoing rhythm patterns on their instruments. Since they just completed a unit on basic rhythm patterns, this was a great connection! First, I would play various rhythm patterns on my drum and they would echo that pattern on their instruments (in pentatonic). Then, I would say a pattern using syllables and they would echo that as well. Next, they tried this same activity with their partner calling out the rhythms to them.
(A note to Orff people: We are still working on getting those fingers wrapped around the mallets. I use the "pinch and wrap" technique but they revert back quickly.)
Another favorite mallet activity used hoola hoops! I found this fun activity on YouTube. One student is chosen as the leader and they step into the 3 hoola hoops randomly. The other students must play their instruments according to what color the leader chooses. The xylophones would play if the leader stepped into the orange hoola hoop, the metallophones would play when the leader stepped into purple, and the glockenspiels would be yellow. Sometimes the leader would try to be tricky and step in two colors at the same time. This was a great way for me to assess their mallet techniques while also giving the students practice following the cues of a "director."
Here the students are demonstrating the correct technique for removing and replacing the bars on their instruments.
First graders LOVE the mallet instruments!