Rhythmic Patterns: Imitating the Rhythm of Words

Suggested Grades



Students will examine and repeat the rhythmic patterns that are found in words and develop and understanding and appreciation of rhythm.


  • a percussion instrument for each child: sticks, drums, xylophone, bricks, rocks, bells… basically something to bang something with or shake. You can also just clap, but using an percussion is more fun!


  • Explain and demonstrate to students that we speak with rhythm. Emphasize the syllables in our words by talking and clapping to the syllables at the same time. Also emphasize the natural pauses that exist when we speak.
  • Hand out percussion instruments to each student, let them play around with them for a little while to get them used to the instruments.
  • After this time, ask students to repeat the rhythm of what you say through their instruments. Start by giving them a one syllable word, move on to multi-syllabic words and sentences, and then songs or poems. For example, if you say “bird” the students should tap or shake their instrument once, because there is only one syllable in “bird”. If you say “woodpecker”, you should hear tap pause taptap
    Here’s a list that you can follow:
You say:
1. bird
2. blue jay
3. woodpecker
4. I saw a woodpecker
You Hear:
– tap
– taptap
– tap, taptap
– tap, taptap, tap, taptap
  • Try asking students to think of words and sentences for the class.
  • Work backwards by tapping a rhythm and asking students to think of a word or sentence to match it.