Differentiated Instruction Cubes

I saw these blocks in one of our local teachers stores at the beginning of the school year and I just HAD to have them.  There are so many endless possibilities for their use in the music classroom!  These cubes are made of fabric and have plastic pockets on all sides so you can easily slide paper in and out of them:

Tomorrow I will be presenting a session at CMEA (the Colorado Music Educator's Association Conference) at 10:20 calling "Upping the Ante."  We're going to take about 6-7 singing games and do tons of extension activities with them.  This is one that I will be doing with Apple Tree.

First of all, I made the cubes look like this:
 Each of the blocks has a side that says the following:

  1. Sing on Text
  2. Sing on Rhythm (syllables: ta, ti-ti, rest or doo, doo-day, which ever you use)
  3. Sing on Solfa (that is, they sing the song on solfége syllables)
  4. Sing text while patting the beat
  5. Sing text while clapping the rhythm
  6. Sing text while stepping the beat and clapping the rhythm
What we're going to do with them tomorrow (and what I did with them with my second graders today) is:
  • First, as a whole group, we will sing the chosen song: tomorrow it's going to be Apple Tree
  • Then, as a group, we'll roll the die and sing the chosen song however the die lands.
  • Then, we break into groups, and we'll sing the song in a round, still rolling one die.
  • After that, we'll use individual die for each group, singing the song as a round with each group singing their part according to the way their die landed.
  • This was a lot of fun with my second graders.  And I loved it when one of them said, "that was fun, but Mrs. Abbott, my head hurts."  Too cute!


As I said there are MANY ways to use these.  Here's another Apple Tree variation.  These cubes have the four phrases of Apple Tree written on them, as well as two phrases that are NOT in the song.
 The students must put the song in order, like this:

And here are a few more ideas.  From left to right:

  • a comparative die: (high/low, loud/soft, fast/slow)
  • solfa die (based on whatever melodic concepts you're working on.  The one below is a do-pentatonic die)
  • a dynamic die (the one below has pp, p, mp, mf, f & ff)
  • rhythm die (the one below is a "third grade" die in that it has  ta, ti-ti, rest, tika-tika, ti-tika & tika-ti)

I will admit that these were a little pricey.  I found them for $12.99 for the first set and then $17.99 for the other sets at Barnes & Noble.  But, I believe I eventually bought them from another company that ended up being cheaper.  Look around on the Internet, you can find some deals out there.  I ended up buying 6 sets so I could have a variety of uses and be able to use them in small groups.

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