With my Kindergarten and 1st grade I spend a lot of time working on steady beat. We talk about what it is (not getting faster and not getting slower). We listen for it in music and they listen to me get faster, get slower, or stay steady on instruments. We walk to it. We try and pat the steady beat. We do lots of things! This is just one more FUN activity that they really enjoy.
Really all you have to do is take some paper and ball it up. I botched a note home a year or so ago (put the wrong date on the note home and realized it AFTER I had printed enough to go home to 200 kids…) so I made a new note but kept the brightly colored paper with the wrong printed date. I just cut up the paper and balled it up, which was pretty cathartic since I messed up all those notes. Sometimes they’re “snowballs” if they're white or “bouncing balls” for multi-color, but these bright orange ones are called “pumpkin balls.” For the other colors I dug through the teacher's lounge recycling and my art teacher's recycling.
I give each quiet student (classroom management bribe/trick/delight) one paper ball. Then we do lots of things with the paper balls. We start by bouncing them on our knees to the steady beat. Then the other knee. Then we smack them (it’s just clapping with the ball in our hand) which they LOVE. Then we bounce them on our head. Then we crumple them for a minute or two. Then we bounce on the palm of our other hand. Then we unfold the paper completely and smooth it out all nice and then…. CRUMPLE again – make a big deal out of this and they’ll freak out and love it!
Once we feel adventurous we’ll pass from hand to hand with a steady beat (crossing the midline of the body is hard for these little people and should come after some one-sided work). Then we work in to some music and bounce to the steady beat of the music. This week I just used whatever was on my iPod and today it was the instrumental tracks for the upcoming 2nd 3rd grade concert. Use what works for you.
Bounce, roll, unfurl, crumple. The kids love the feel of the paper balls, the sound of the paper, and the fun of it all. Let them throw the balls back into whatever basket or box you’re storing them in and the kid will go nuts. Lots of opportunity with these to praise good behavior and reinforce what’s going well.