Be a Staff Detective

I can't believe I haven't blogged since Monday!  Yikes!  I admit, I have spring fever and our kids still have another week of school until spring break AND we had one of our only big snow falls here in Colorado today!  

After spring break my 4th and 5th grade students will be starting recorders.  While we practice the staff a lot throughout the school year (we usually do some type of practice every lesson), we do a lot of "drill & kill" on the treble staff before recorders as preparation so that the main thing they're focusing on is the actual instrument.  

So, I have finally compiled all my materials this year into a packet:

It includes three different PowerPoints, some worksheets, flashcards/matching cards and timed tests.  I'll walk you through it now.

There is a PowerPoint that teaches the lines and spaces:

This is review, but we all know how important that is (The numbers are animated so they come up one by one):

We do A LOT of work off the do-clef and in third grade introduce the treble clef.  I also like the kids to know it as the G-clef:

I point out the "hidden" G and how it wraps around the G-line:

This is the important part:
We DRILL the fact that it is the note HEAD that is on the G-line and defines the pitch.  So many kiddos get confused once you add note stems to the heads.  So this is where I point out that each of these is a G because of the placement of the note heads (in the actual PowerPoint I go through adding each of these notes to the staff to make sure they really "get it."):

I know a lot of people drill the acronyms for the lines and have the kids remember the spaces spell face.  But I want the kids to know WHY and HOW those lines and spaces get those names. Here are the prep slides for that:

Again, there is a slide for each of these pitches and I keep it really interactive, asking them what the next pitch is going to be called.

And then we figure out the notes below the G-line:

(again, there's a slide for each pitch):

And then I do point this out.  Some students need to know the theory, some do great with the acronyms.  I like to try to meet all modalities and needs of the learners so I include these too:

From here (and definitely not in the same lesson) we have some PowerPoint games.  The first is a word to staff game.  Here's the menu they see:

They can, working in teams (large or small) or individually, pick the number of letters in the word they want to write on the staff:

From there, you get one of these menus (and the Obsessive-Compulsive in me did ALL the different words, don't ask me why!! lol!!  Surprisingly the kids weren't overwhelmed but we prefaced it with the fact that we will NOT get to every slide!):

After picking a hat they'll see a word.  Their job is to then put it on the staff.

Here's an example of one of my 5th graders putting it on an individual staff.  This particular class has problems working in teams effectively.  With 45 minutes I wanted to put music content over team working (trust me, we do a lot of team building and working through singing games so I didn't feel bad about having them do this individually). The first person that got the answer right got to pick the next hat:

And here are my 4th graders, who did the same PPT but worked in two teams.  They were really cute about organizing themselves and they came up with some rules.  The first was they had to take turns working on the staff.  First only people in the first row could answer, then the second row and then the third.  The teams alternated: they were divided into the "north" and "south" teams.  When it was the "south" team's turn to pick they had the first chance to answer.  But while they were working the north side was also working it for if the south team got it wrong they had a chance to "steal."  We play it that way for a few turns and then we make it a race to see which team can get it first (again, knowing my classes there was one 4th grade team for which this spelled disaster so we did not play it that way with that class)

We used poly dots for the note heads but again, to keep the kids interest, towards the end of the game I had them use people to spell out the words- again taking turns standing on the staves.  And BTW, my staves are Dollar Tree shower curtains with electrical tape!

In the bundle is also a PowerPoint that is staff to words.  It's set up the same as the previous game but they have to figure out what the word is on the staff:

Here's a sample slide:

There are some matching cards (and yes, the OCD person in me, made matching cards for every word possible on the staff)
Here are a couple of the large cards:

There's also small cards:

And VERY small cards that can be used for matching or also for an advanced version of "memory."

I included three worksheets:

And timed tests as well as a pre- and post-assessment (that look similarly to these):

This bundle is available at my Teacher Pay Teachers store.  
You can also purchase the PowerPoints individually, but it's more cost effective to buy the bundle.  Here are links to all the files:
  1. Be a Staff Detective, Word to Staff PPT
  2. Be a Staff Detective, Staff to Word PPT
  3. Be a Staff Detective, A PowerPoint for Teaching the Treble Clef
  4. Be a Staff Detective, Activities for Teaching the Treble Clef

I'm working on a Spelling Bee File that will be similar to this, so you can use it as a way to practice the same thing but have it be a little different.


  1. Very cool! I present absolute pitch much the same way but I do it on my regular old white board and have to erase all that info before the next class gets in my room and redo it all...a PPT would be soooo much easier, but I'm often too busy to make my own presentations/manipulatives so I'm in love with all the awesome people like you that I've found on TPT!

  2. I love this! I am just now working on absolute letter names with my 3rd graders. I will definitely have to snag this. I am having visions of making the kids wear hats and mustaches to disguise themselves like a detective going undercover.

    Would these files work with a SMARTBoard?


    1. Hi Shannon,

      I'm so sorry, I just saw your reply!!! I don't think these will work with a SMARTboard, how I wish I had one!! I'm so sorry!



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