In previous posts I wrote about the importance of learning the circle of thirds and using fingers as a learning mechanism for the circle of thirds and reading. Here’s a quick and easy floor game suitable for individual or group classes that involves traversing staff and ledger lines. You can play this game with or without fingers, depending upon the level of your student(s).
To play the game, you need to mark on the floor a staff (grand or 5 line) and any optional ledgers. You’ll also need markers or cards that have diatonic note names written on them.
I lay on each line of the staff the corresponding note name. A student then takes a bean bag and tosses it to a line. The bean bag is repositioned to the line nearest to where it lands. The student then walks or hops from line to line, naming the note that line represents, and upon arriving to the bean bag, picks up the note name from that line, and continues the hopping & naming to the far end of the staff. We typically start at the lowest note of the staff and work our way up.
Each student takes turns toss, hopping & naming, and picking up their card. They must remember the names of the lines on which there is no card left.
Once every student has had one pass through the staff, we then turn around and toss the beanbag from the HIGH note on the staff. Then the student hops DOWN the staff, naming the staff lines in a reverse circle of thirds order, and again picking up their note name. The idea is that the student develops the ability to name the circle of thirds up and down through the staff lines.
The last student to throw, hop, and name, is naming almost all of the staff lines by memory, either walking up the staff or down the staff.
The game can also be played by naming the spaces.
I create the staff on my floor with Painter’s Tape, not Masking Tape. This is because Painter’s Tape is designed to be removed without leaving a residue, and it safely can be left on materials for some time. This past semester, I left the staff on my carpet for about 2 months, and removal of the tape was straightforward and without mess.
The kids loved the game, and they were disappointed to return from break to find the tape gone (I had removed it before our quarterly recital held in the studio). Luckily, I have other floor games we can play!