Rhythm Cards

The Rhythm Cards have been developed as a resource to use across the school and are available as laminated flash cards from Bristol Plays Music and also as .jpeg files below. They are designed to fulfil the National Curriculum criteria for KS2 to ‘use and understand staff and other musical notations’. Although this is not statutory at KS1 the cards have been developed to create a progressive learning approach across both Key Stages and extending to EYFS. Each year group has a set of 10 cards. The cards stand alone as a rhythm resource that can be used at any time in the classroom and independently from the lesson plans. They also link directly to aspects of the plans and are where this is the case it is indicated in the plans. They are structured as follows:

Reception: basic notation and simple rhythms, this forms a foundation pack which is relevant for all year groups to refer to. Reception also have a set of 8 fruit rhythm cards to support the set of plans based on Handa’s Surprise.

Year 1: Introducing semiquavers

Year 2: Introducing rests

Year 3: Introducing more complex semiquaver patterns

Year 4: Introducing dotted minim

Year 5: Introducing triplets

Year 6: Samba rhythms

The cards have the notated rhythm on the front and on the reverse the rhythm plus words/sounds that can be chanted to help internalise the rhythms. There are 2 choices here and the teacher can select which ever he/she is most comfortable with.

A selection of backing tracks at a variety of speeds have been composed and can be used for classes to clap along to. There are also supporting video clips to demonstrate how to use the cards effectively.

There are a set of Rhythm Starter activities with suggestions of how to use the cards in Year 3/4 and 5/6.

Teachers are encouraged to dip into this resource to encourage children to become very familiar and confident reading notation. They are also encouraged to use the backing tracks to support learning enabling children to maintain a steady pulse. The backing tracks are available at rehearsal and performance speeds to aid learning. This activity can be repeated several times over a week, and, as the children become more confident, teachers can try some of the following ideas.

  • Hold one rhythm card and children repeat the rhythm until the card is changed
  • Have two cards help up simultaneously and split class so both rhythms are clapped together
  • Individuals can clap rhythms back
  • Vary the style of backing track
  • Clap the rhythm, tap it in knees, use claves to play the rhythm, use other percussion to play the rhythm