Last year I made some of these rhythm cards to use as manipulatives for a meter unit.

Now, a year later I have expanded the collection and use them constantly for all sorts of assignments.

My favorite thing to is to give my students combinations of these cards including the new rhythm we are learning that day.

First students work with a partner to create a chart of the rhythms they already know.  This chart reinforces the relationships between the various notes and gives them a chance for a quick review before moving on to new material.  This is also a great way for me to quickly assess where we are.

I then give my students the new rhythms and ask them to compose measures containing the new material.

I typically provide enough cards for them to compose 4 measures of rhythm.  As the measures are completed, the students are asked to perform the rhythms they have composed.  Everyone then travels from group to group in a sort of “gallery walk”.  The students perform the rhythms as composed by their peers.

Once we have read and performed each composition I ask the students to go back and choose their two favorite measures.  They share their two favorites with a neighboring group and work together to perform the new combination.

Finally, the students are asked to choose their favorite measure and then ALL of the rhythms are set out so that we have a new class composition.

If you want to print them, I recommend using a variety of card stock.  If you laminate them they will last for a long time.  I also put magnets on a set for myself so that I can use them as models on the board.


quarter notes, quarter rests, barred eighth notes, half notes, half rests

single eighth notes and dotted quarter notes

sixteenth notes and sixteenth note combinations

whole notes, whole rests, dotted half notes  – must be printed on 17×11 paper!