Legos and Major/Minor Scales

So this is an idea that I've been "flirting" with for a while but haven't tried it with my kids yet.  The main reason being I don't have enough legos for everyone to use. . .. but my librarian is a "sailor".  She goes "sailing" almost every Saturday. . . garage sailing that is!  I have given her a wish list and legos are high on that list.

I've seen on pinterest a few ways to use legos effectively in the music classroom, a lot of them around rhythm.  I want to use them for rhythmic dictation and composition and I will share the way I plan on doing that in a post at a different time.  In the mean time, here's a way that I plan on using  them to teach whole and half steps.  

I believe this is an original idea (I have so very few of them) so I'm quite happy about that, I just hope it's effective in my teaching!  I will use it first with my 4th graders after fa has been presented and bring it back in 5th grade after ti has been presented.

Here's the main idea: every lego equals a half step.  Knowing this, the students are going to build a pentatonic chord (in Kodály analysis do-re-mi-fa-so is called a "chord" even though it's not a "chord" in the traditional sense.  If there was a skip, it would be a pentatone: for example do-re-me-so-la is a pentatone, but I digress).  In the picture below, do is the first column of blue legos (on the left).  To the right of that, in red, is re which is built two legos in height higher then do because there are two half steps between do and re.  Then there is mi in yellow, two legos higher then re (again, there are two half steps between re and mi).  The we have fa in blue, which is only ONE lego in height above mi because there is only one half step between mi  and fa.  Finally there is so, which is two legos in height higher then fa because there are two half steps between fa and so.   And that's the extent to which we will use this in 4th grade.




I mentioned above that I will bring it back after we present ti.  We will use it to write a major scale, which is pictured below.  You see that we added la in black, ti in gray and do'  in blue. There is a whole step (two half steps) between so and la & between la and ti.  Between ti and do' there is a half step.

I also plan on using it in 5th grade to practice writing the half and whole steps of a natural minor scale.  In the picture below the blue column on the left is now la, then the red column is ti, and the yellow column is do.  Students will see that the half steps in a minor scale are between the 2nd-3rd scale degrees and the 5th and 6th scale degrees, but still the intervals between ti-do and mi-fa.

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