Musical Cents

Sarah Vitullo

Lesson Goals

Understand the value of quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies.
Understand the value of half/quarter/eighth notes and rests.
Use those coin values and rhythm values to create and perform extended rhythm patterns.

Students will use body percussion and percussion instruments to execute given rhythm patterns and create their own, making connections between values of coins in math and note/rhythm values in music.


Money manipulatives
Rhythm manipulatives
Troy Kryzalka, Number Drummer’s, resource to display on the board
2 drum sticks for each student, or 2 sticks per partner group
Wood sticks for 1/3 of the class
Metals (cowbells, or other metals) for 1/3 of the class
(Other instrument groups or body percussion can be substituted.)


1. Divide into 3 groups (tell students we will rotate groups- do not pass out instruments yet): plastics, woods (sticks),metals (cowbell/triangles/finger cymbals)
2. Show them the number drummer slide for plastics=pennies and have them count out loud to 10 – first just clapping.
3. Have all groups clap each line together. plastic=pennies; metal=nickles; wood=dimes
4. Then have each group clap their own line, one group at a time.
5. Then have all groups clap their own line, but all at the same time.
6. Spend a few minutes talking about/reinforcing that 10 pennies make a dime, 2 nickels make a dime, etc, and ask them to think about what other coins have we not covered yet?
7. Pass out instruments!
8. Repeat number 2-5, this time using instruments.
9. Repeat process until groups have rotated at least 2 or 3 times if possible.
10. Ask if anyone has thought about which coin we have not used yet- and introduce the quarter.
11. Turn and talk with a partner: can anyone make a connection between quarters as in coins, and quarters as in music?
12. Have students work with money manipulatives and music note manipulatives to create an extended rhythm pattern using quarter notes and rests and quarter coins. The extended rhythm pattern should have groups of notes that add up to a 4 beat measure or 1 dollar. They can have as many 4 beat measures or as many dollars as they’d like.
13. Perform the extended rhythmic patterns
14. Students can then create a word problem to go with the money values in their extended rhythmic pattern; have groups switch and solve their neighboring groups’ word problem

Differentiation Approaches

ELL- help students know the basic terms in their language- wood/metal/skins/drum and nickel, dime, quarter, penny; use pictures of each to help make language connections

Students with ADD- may get up and move, stand, etc.

Students who are differently abled- may have more instrument choices or modified ways they hold the instruments (bigger mallets, bigger drums to provide a bigger “target”, etc.)

Students who complete the work quickly and carelessly- may be given a specific goal that they must complete carefully with body perc, in order to be able to play an instrument; or they could have to create 2, 4 beat examples correctly with manipulatives before getting an instrument

Students who complete the work quickly and successfully- may start creating and notating their own extended rhythm patterns with the manipulatives and can perform for the class. Then they can record a video of themselves playing their pattern, and in the video they can teach the students/ explain to views how to execute their pattern


Assess students by listening to them perform in small groups to see if they can play the rhythms correctly. You will know if they understand if they created a rhythm that has the correct number of beats and can accurately play/perform that rhythm correctly.

Follow Up and Extension Ideas

Students can use this structure to create more extended rhythm patterns.
These rhythms patterns could be played using various body percussion and/or played with other classroom instruments or even melodic instruments.
The quarters could be turned into a discussion/connection with fractions as well.
Students could add technology by creating videos to explain how they created their rhythms, or could add to a digital portfolio such as Seesaw.
Students could rotate in groups around the room until they have played each group’s creation.

Additional Details

‹ Back to Search Results