Breaking down a classroom activity by procedures will make your lesson more effective. When activities fail, many times it’s because a classroom routine or process is missing. I spent twice as much planning time on HOW to teach than WHAT to teach.
The Silent Shape Game
Game Objective: Using their bodies, groups silently create a shape. (See image above for shape ideas)
Movement Objective: Groups use high/middle/low levels creatively to make the shape. (a circle shape could be made by standing, sitting, or lying down)
Skills: Cooperation, gestures, leadership, coordination, creativity, focus, eye contact.
Scoring: To get a team point, groups have to silently and successfully make the shape. Silently means quiet hands, quiet feet, and quiet mouth. Just saying “no talking” won’t work because grunting, oohs, and other verbalization counts as “noise.”
How to Play: Get in groups of 4-6.
- On 8.5 x 11 paper or cardstock, draw some shapes.
- The teacher holds up a shape and says, “The game begins… now. Shape #1.” Once you’ve announced that the game has begun, take note of any noise and at the end of round 1, quickly explain that you heard sounds from certain groups.
- The group has 30-60 seconds to silently make the shape.
- When you see that all have made their shape, quietly say “5-4-3-2-1 and points go to… ”
- “Shape #2 begins… now.”
When time is up for each shape, it’s a great time to remark on creativity and cooperation.
“This group connected with their hands and feet to make their shape smooth. So creative!”
“This group used all lower levels, lying on the floor, to make their shape. Love the use of low levels.”
“So much eye contact and gesturing in this group to make for great cooperation!”
“This group used a mix of high and low levels to create their shape. Mixed levels has a wow factor, right?”
Reference the Game
“Just like you used your silent powers to make shapes in the Silent Shape Game, let’s try it as you make your circle.” (or line up, or other activities that require moving from one place to another)
I used to tell my students, “I spent the weekend at a workshop with a bunch of other music teachers learning games similar to The Silent Shape Game. I ALWAYS had an idea of what I wanted to do in my group but sometimes I’d turn to the person next to me and say, “What do YOU want to do?” Cooperation and fairness is key. Are you the kind of person who turns to another person to hear their idea?”
Expand the Lesson
Let your class choose a word: LOVE, PEACE, JOY, or something similar.
- Let’s say they choose “LOVE.” Have them practice moving from one letter to another on a signal-wind chime, triangle, etc. So they make the “L” and when the triangle chimes, they go to the “O” etc until they’ve spelled the entire word.
- Add barred instruments to it. Have a student (or pairs) in charge of “L.” They can create a very short melodic sequence. Triangle chimes and the pair in charge of “O” plays their sequence, etc.