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Teaching Staff Theory Games


Date: Mon, 14 Oct 2002
From: Nancy Paxson
Subject: Re: Staff Theory games

I use thick yarn or 5 yard sticks to make floor staff. 12" rulers for ledger lines. Small paper plates with some fun design like smiley faces, for the notes.

We start with discussion about what "on the line " means if classroom teacher says "write your name on the first line. " And how this if different. In the first place, the first line is not the top one. We count from the bottom like a ladder. And "on" means really "on." sticking over and below, but physically on top of... It is so graphically clear with the plates and yard sticks.

So we get very clear about which line and space are which... and practice that on hand staff too. I have kids come and put plate where I ask... 3rd space , 4th line, etc. When they are good at that , we learn the letter names.

After learning which are which on the staff and on our Hand Staff also, we play a speed game , with 2 people competing. I put a plate down on any line or space and they race to say the letter name. (They can't change their answer, so fast but correct wins.)If they are first and correct, they play against the next person... someone the loser chooses. If they win 3 times, they come to the top of the staff with me and get to have turns to put the notes down. As we get more and more champions, 3 time winners, the line up of note placers gets longer. I also give out a certificate to all champs congratulating them.

I have always used the old clues and tried new ones for fun. But also have taught the letters in chants instead of the beginning- of -word clues. That way they really know the letters are just letters... notes.. and don't mean anything else.

something like...".Here are the lines of the Treble clef...EGBDF,yes,EGBDF!"
"Treble clef spaces can spell face .F-A-C-E, wins the race."

And then practice going up the staff in line-space order ,so they get the alphabetical arrangement .and have them figure out what the space below and space above would be and ledger lines above and below... How about three lines above or below for extra challenge.

We sometimes vary our challenge game to have whole class sitting in circle around the floor staff and play "Around the World" . That is where one player stands behind one seated. The standing person tries to beat the seated one at naming line or space you show. If they win, they continue on to next seated person. They try to go all the way around the circle by winning over and over. But usually after a few wins, they must sit down and new winner continues around the circle. I don't do any of these for too long at a time. But they are motivating for some. I tell kids that I don't care if they compete for speed or not. (Some don't want the pressure. ) But if they don't play, they must be doing it in their heads.. because at some point , they must show me that they do know the answers too.

I also assign student tutors to give a cram course to those who didn't catch on or weren't there when lesson was taught. They love to tutor. They can go to a corner or outside the door for a few minutes.. and are proud to say their student has learned it and is ready to play.

I do team game where they must correctly put notes that I tell them on the staff.... getting the movement from left to right as they put notes on is important.

I put yarn Treble clef on the floor staff, so they are reading the staff right side up. After many times of me verbalizing as I put Treble clef on... see if a student can do it.

Practice transfering notes from floor staff to paper staff.

all for the moment... Nancy