Beat Tracking

I don't know about you, but we started school this week.  This means I'm in "review" mode.  In mid-to the end of kindergarten I start working with my kiddos on beat tracking and beat vs. "the way the words go" (a.k.a. rhythm).

One of the activities that I do in mid to late kindergarten and review in first grade is beat tracking.  This is an important preparatory activity for music literacy (and is a great reading reinforcement for tracking left to right).  Essentially, I have cards that have four icons.  The students track the beats on the cards, from left to right and start back at the beginning of the card once they reach the last beat of the card.  I have several cards that have hearts that represent the beat, but I also have song-specific cards.  This varies the activity just enough so you can get "more bang for your buck" out of the same activity (that is, they practice and do the same activity with the only thing changing being the card.)

Below are some of my iconic beat strips.  I DO NOT use all of these every year.  I admit, I get bored using the same repertoire every year so I vary my song choice.  And I do have more cards than just these; these cards just happened to be on the top of the pile.

I also use: "Pitter Patter" (in John Feierabend's early music program), "It's Raining, It's Pouring"

Can also be used with "Cobble Cobbler"

Can also be used with "I Have Lost My Jingle Bell" In Liz GilPatrick's Round the Seasons Book.

And here is an example of a non-specific song beat chart.  I leave room at the top so these can also be used for writing and dictation, as seen below:


  1. Great visual aids for the classroom. I also use 8 1/2" x 11" laminated pages with 8 or 16 beats of icons to challenge students.
    For Cobbler, Cobbler, I've always used plastic and foam hammers and students keep the beat on their shoe or someone else's shoe. I may add beat charts for variety.
    Thanks for another great post!

    1. Alisha, I have the beat sheets too, those are a fun way to challenge students! Once we get into rhythm I have sheets that use the same icons but different sizes to represent the rhythm- I guess that will be a new post! :)

      Speaking of Cobbler Cobbler, have you seen the inflatable hammers at Oriental Trading? I found them last year and they work well. I've always use the handmade hammers from Silver Lake College but the inflatable ones are cheaper.

      Aren't blogs fun, what a great way to share ideas!! :)
      Have you started school yet?

  2. Very cool! All my beat cards are non-specific. I like the idea of making them for important songs! Mine are just for seasons/holidays.

    One thing I do differently is that the first beat on all my cards is a different color than the other three. I start talking to them about the "strong" beat in first grade. One of their favorite things to do on a short day is put on some pop music and play to the beat.

    I also like the idea of notating on the cards! Sweet! Thanks for sharing!

    1. I LOVE the idea of a different colored starting beat! I thought about that in hind sight, next time! :) And what a great way to reinforce meter and strong beat!

  3. I just did a set using the shaped post-it notes. Super easy way to do it! Just stick then laminate! I only did hearts, but I think for the future I might do stars ("Starlight"), paws ("Doggie Doggie") and Apples ("Apple Tree"). They've got so many fun shapes.


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