Surprise!!!  In my recent holiday fever I bet you thought this would be a holiday post! But it's not.  This is a post that's been a long time coming.  Back in September, my third graders learned tika-tika.  One of my favorite tika-tika songs is this one:

There are a few activities that I do with this song.  
  1. Name game: we replace "Dinah" with names of students in our class.
  2. Improvisation game: instead of "strumming on the old banjo,"we put other things
    1. the first time, we go around the circle and sing it "Name Game" style (see #1) but I change the ending to various things.  I.e.: "playing on the Nintendo," "eating a burrito," "talking on the telephone," "listening to the radio," "dancing a funky disco," "talking to your daddy-o", etc.
    2. depending on the class we might have to do it again with me modeling this.  If not, then they make up something they are doing with the only requirement being that it rhymes and they can make it fit within the beats of the song (for me, it's okay if they change the rhythm.  That's part of improvisation)
  3. Listening game
    1. Formation: standing circle with one student in the middle who is blindfolded.
    2. Once the student in the middle is blindfolded, we silently make a hole in the circle.  This is the "door" to Dinah's house.  I elaborate through a story that Dinah has a "magically musical house" because the walls sing.  All the standing students are the walls of Dina's house.  The blindfolded student must find the door to the house by walking around the inside of the circle and listening to where there is no singing.  Once they "hear" where the door is they walk towards it until they are out of the "house."  They know when they have made it out of the house because their classmates clap for them.  This is a cue for them to stop moving so they don't run into a wall or equipment and to remove their blindfold.
This year I had a new idea for Dinah's house and that was to build a wall in Dinah's house. I sent out a notice in our school's weekly announcement that the music room was collecting EMPTY SQUARE tissue boxes.  I was able to collect a lot, to date I have collected over 100.  My goal was 80 as that would give me 5 sets of 16 boxes.  I wrapped the boxes in white butcher paper (you know, that roll paper that is in your school's work room).  I then printed out the following rhythms ta, ti-ti, ta-rest & tika-tika using MusicEd font (really, I do NOT work for them, I just LOVE their product!).  I laminated these rhythms and then using packaging tape I taped them and wrapped the boxes so that each box had one of those rhythms on each side (there is NO rhythm on the top or the bottom of the box- if there was the boxes would not stack evenly).

Once the boxes were assembled, as a class, we derived the rhythm of "Dinah's House" (a.k.a. the rhythm to the song "Dinah").  Here's a picture of what that looked like:

Like I mentioned above, I've collect just over 100 boxes and my goal was 80.  Since I had 96 boxes that gave me 6 sets of 16 boxes.  The student then got into groups of 4-5 with each group getting 16 blocks.  Their directions were to build a wall of rhythm.  I didn't care what their rhythms were but they had to be four beat across and stacked 4 high.  The only other rule (besides the etiquette required with this: i.e. do not fall on the boxes, do not punch the boxes, etc.) was that before they knocked down their wall they had to perform their wall for me.

Here are a few sample walls:

This activity ending up being more fun then I ever anticipated it AND lend itself to some AMAZING teaching opportunities.  

First of all, it introduced/reinforced direction of note-heads related to note-stems.  SO many times when dealing with rhythm we write the stems up and neglect to write rhythms with the stems down.  Here's an example where they DID put a note stem going down (you'll notice that ALL the other groups have their stems going up. . . guess what I need to teach more of. ..  stems going down!):

Secondly, it was a GREAT chance for part work.  This group did it before I even asked them too- when I came over to hear their wall, they were ready to read it for me, with the boys reading one side of the wall and the girls reading the other side, AT THE SAME TIME.  As a teacher, this was A.MAZ.ING and fun to see!:

During the second lesson I encouraged all of my classes to have their groups perform both sides of the wall at the same time:

One class took the part work so far as to put all of their block together to create four walls.  They divided themselves into four groups.  Each group practiced their wall individually and then performed their wall for everyone.  After that, they tried clapping and saying all four of the walls together.  This was pretty tricky, but after a few tries they did it, they felt very successful and had a GREAT time figuring it out:

Of course this activity did produce some things I suspected.  Some groups did patterns:

Every class had at least one group that made a wall of rests:

This one was funny, it was their spin on the wall of rest:

And this group had a good time with all those tika-tikas!
This was a great learning activity for me.  It really reminded me of how much more I need to do with small group work, improvisation and composition!


  1. Love the rhythm blocks. I started something like this in the fall- now I see I need to re-do!! Thanks!
    Aimee @ http://ofortunaorff.blogspot.com

  2. Great idea! We're working with sixteenths right now so I will be scrounging for empty tissue boxes!!!

  3. So cool! Great idea! Now I am wondering where I could store so many blocks....

  4. Any chance you could post the template for these (since you already figured the size) or offer it on TpT? I'm already collecting Kleenex boxes!

    1. You bet, I'll get that posted on TpT later today!!! That'll be a freebie! :)

  5. Replies
    1. I'm working on finding it, it must be on my school laptop. I"ll get it up soon, I promise!! :)

  6. If not, then they make up something they are doing with the only requirement being that it rhymes and they can make it fit within the beats of the ... ibeatssolo.blogspot.com

  7. Thanks so much for this awesome idea. I have dozens of tissue boxes collected from a church Christmas musical and am hoping to convert them to these awesome rhythm boxes. Was there every a template available in your store? Thanks!

  8. Ok I FINALLY have all of my 100 boxes wrapped and ready for rhythms.. I'm SO totally hoping you'll put a template for the rhythms in your store. I tried using a different music font, but I can't seem to get them all the same size. I would LOVE it if you added a template with your MusicEd Font! :D I'll even buy it if it's too much work to post it as a freebie :)

  9. I have the same question as a few others- did you ever make and post the template for these in your store? I would love to do this with my students!


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