Thursday, October 1, 2015

Brown Bear, Brown Bear: Rhythms and Drums and iPads

I have seen so many melodic activities and variations to this classic children's book.  The simplicity of the repetition lends itself nicely to students singing the question: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see?  And teacher answering the question to move the storyline along.  I use this book in 2nd grade to assess solo singing and we get out our own beat buddies (aka. Beanie Babies) to sing about more animal friends.

In 1st grade, I wanted to build rhythmic reading skills but pre-notation.  I also finally got a class set of hand drums!  So here's my fun new rhythmic approach to Brown Bear!

Lesson Plan
This "game" has 4 levels.  I've been having tons of success with telling students that we need to master a level before we can "level up" and add something new

Objective: Students will create, read, and perform 8 beat patterns using familiar themes from Brown Bear, Brown Bear

Level 1: Whole Class Verbal
Introduce activity to whole class using the Smartboard.  Students place 4 cards in any order.  Whole class reads rhythm string together using words (brown bear, goldfish, green frog, yellow duck). 

Level 2: Whole Class Body Percussion
Students add body percussion to verbal chant.  I used hand clapping to prepare for hand drums. **Be sure to discuss "Purple Cat" and "Yellow Duck" having more syllables.  This is an important learning step towards eighth notes!**

Level 3: Whole Class Hand Drums
Students add percussion. 

Level 4: Small Groups with iPads
Students create their own rhythm strings on iPads and perform for each other.  I used groups of 2 and one student was the "composer" who created the string while the other was the performer.  Students switch after each turn.

Bonus Round: Double Up!
Two group join forces and place their two iPads together.  Composers work together to compose an 8 card string and both hand drummers perform together.

Tech Specs
Smartboard File
Explain Everything File

You can turn my Explain Everything File into a QR code for easy access for student downloading.


  1. Is the smart board file interactive?

    1. Yes! It looks and acts exactly like the EE file where students come up to the board to create a 4 animal pattern.

    2. Another silly question - how do I open on the iPads? Do I have to load Explain Everything onto every iPad? I am not tech savvy but want to be. Your lessons are great and I appreciate that you share.

      P.S. What application do you need to open EE?

    3. EE is an app that you purchase through the App Store for the iPads. Maybe your tech it could help you download on all the ipads. I put a QR code on the board and have students scan that to link them to the EE file. Only one class has to do that and the file will automatically save in EE for future classes.

    4. So does this file Brown Bear have a QR code that students scan?

  2. I have never used Explain Everything. Any tips?

    1. It's pretty similar to most presentation apps. I have a post from a while ago explaining the tools and uses. For this activity, I don't teach students anything about the app besides touch and drag. Cherie Herring had a great blog with tips for EE too.

  3. This is fabulous. I have done a similar lesson with these books, but the technology integration is an awesome addition.

  4. Do you know if there's a program that is free for iPads to do the same thing as EE? We aren't allowed to get apps that cost money... only free.

    1. That's a shame and a real minimizer of the potential of this tech tool! You would need an app that allows you to upload a picture and also move images around. Educreations might suffice and you can make a save projects. I'll let you know if I think of anything else!

  5. Is this compatible with the Promethean board?

  6. I was looking for this on TPT but could not find it. Is it still available?