There's nothing like a set of rhythm sticks for turning another day indoors into a memorable adventure full of fun and music.
It's amazing that something as inexpensive as a set of rhythm sticks can be so entertaining. It's also refreshing that children can get so much enjoyment out of something so simple – if you're looking for some affordable entertainment, forget all those expensive gadgets and noisy toys and check out these rhythm sticks activities instead!
If you've never heard of rhythm sticks before, they're simple musical instruments – picture a pair of wooden sticks designed to be tapped together or on other surfaces to make all sorts of entertaining percussive sounds. Rhythm sticks are often used in music activities by teachers as they're a great way of encouraging children to get musical whilst having fun.
Most children need little encouragement to work out what to do with rhythm sticks so you don't need a list of rhythm stick activities or games to get started – just hand them over to children and watch them start making music and having fun with the sticks!
Rhythm sticks are easy to find and available to buy inexpensively online and they come in lots of different types of designs. Using rhythm sticks is a fun way of teaching rhythm and encouraging musical expression at home or in the classroom. But as well as being easy for little hands to hold, rhythm sticks are a great resource for helping children with their curriculum learning through a variety of activities. Rhythm sticks aren't just about making music either – you can use them to play all sorts of fun and educational games with children of all ages. They're also brilliant for teaching all sorts of subjects in fun ways, from counting to phonics!
Try these ideas for rhythm sticks activities and games at home as a fun activity to entertain toddlers and preschoolers indoors.
Say Your Name
Children love games that focus on their name, so this rhythm stick activity is a great one for preschool children or a toddler who hasn't played with a rhythm stick before because they'll get the hang of it right away. The idea is to tap the sticks together to sound out the rhythm of your name. The children should sit in a circle and take it in turns, one by one, to say their name aloud while tapping out each syllable. For example, I'd say Hei-di and I'd tap the rhythm sticks together twice at the same time. Everyone in the circle should copy the child's name, tapping the rhythm sticks together as they say it. Let each child have a go. This is also a fun way of helping children to learn each other's names!
Music activities are lots of fun for children of all ages, and copying each other is also always fun! Get each child to take it in turns to sound out a pattern using the rhythm sticks. They might bang them together quickly several times following by slowly once or twice, for example. Each child in the class or group should then try to copy the rhythm. Continue until everyone has had a go.
Read A Story
Rhythm sticks activities aren't just about making music – you can use them to help children focus on learning and listening through games, too. Read a story aloud to the children and use the rhythm sticks to sound out various parts of the plot as you go. It could be the sound of Little Red Riding Hood's feet as she walks through the forest or the rhythm of the words she uses when she speaks to the wolf. Other similar rhythm sticks activities you could try include making up your own story and using the sticks to beat out the sound every time you say a certain word.
Count to Ten
Use the rhythm sticks to help your child get to grips with counting in this fun game. Simply count together from one to two through to ten, using the sticks to count out the numbers as you go.
Thunder and raindrops
No matter how many rhythm stick activities we try, noisy play is always lots of fun for kids. Tell the children a story about the weather and describe hearing the pitter-patter of fine raindrops on the roof. Get everyone to tap the sticks together gently and then tell them about the rain getting heavier and see if they can play the sticks to make them sound like heavy rain. Build up the story and the noise until it's time to drum them on the floor like a thunderstorm.
If you're happy and you know it
Making music is one of the most fun form of rhythm sticks activities. Sing the words to the song 'If you're happy and you know it' with the children and have them dance, make movement and explore making music as they tap the sticks on all kinds of surfaces to the words 'clap your hands' and 'stamp your feet'. This works with lots of other songs, too!
Of all the activities we've tried, this is our favourite. Play the classic game 'Simon says' and have the children follow along. If Simon says 'beat your sticks together' then everyone should do so, but if you don't say 'Simon says' first, then anyone who follows the instruction is out. Pop some music on to make this extra fun.
This is one of those activities that you might not think of doing with rhythm sticks, but it's great fun to have some free play whilst enjoying some music together and banging an instrument! Put some fun music on and have everyone dance and jump around whilst playing their sticks until the music stops, when everyone has to stand still until the music starts again. When each child is out, let them help with the music.
Listen to Teddy
Some sticks activities don't involve music of any kind but still help to develop the skills that budding music makers need! This is one of them. Get a favourite teddy or cuddly toy and pretend they're whispering instructions – like 'play them quietly' or 'use them to make music' – in your ear. Relay the instructions and let everyone volunteer to have the teddy whisper in their ear too! Add extra cuddly toys if you like.