Roll-A-Drawing (How to Drill Anything)

Here’s a simple way to make things more fun during the lesson. I’ve provided a link to the three printables, I used, but the Internet is full of such drawing dice games, and you could use any of them.

What You Need:

  • Blank paper
  • Pencils
  • Die
  • A printable guide for a dice drawing game, such as Roll-a-Snowman or Roll-a-Face or Roll-a-Monster.
  • A list of what musical challenges go with each number on the die. You can put anything you want to drill here. For example, my list said:
    • 1 = Note name challenge
    • 2 = Rhythm challenge
    • 3 = Improv duet
    • 4 = Sight reading challenge
    • 5 = Review song
    • 6 = Freebie

Setup:

  • None

How to Play:

  • The student rolls the die. They must complete the challenge for that number first. Afterwards, they can draw the corresponding snowman, face, monster, or whatever.
  • The teach plays too, so you can see more than one result of the drawing game, but the teacher doesn’t need to complete challenges. (It takes too long that way.)

 

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Spider Web (How to Drill Anything)

The specific board I use for this game is created by Hatch Patch Creations. It is intended for a church lesson on honesty for kids, and I did originally use it for exactly that purpose. But I am all about repurposing, so here it is again in a different form.

What You Need:

  • A printable spider board game
    • Basically, it just needs a spider web and some numbers going around it. See the picture below.
  • Die
  • A few plastic spiders
    • Mine were rings in a previous life
  • Two small items to use as game markers
  • Flashcards for whatever you want to drill

Setup:

  • Place your game markers in the middle of the web. The goal is to escape it.

How to Play:

  • Have the student place the plastic spiders on any numbers they choose.
  • The student rolls the die. In order to advance, they need to correctly answer a flashcard. If they get it wrong, they stay where they are.
  • The teacher takes a turn. Repeat.
  • Whenever anyone lands on a number with a plastic spider, that is a wild space which could mean different things, such as:
    • Double or nothing: move forward twice
    • Teacher loses a turn
    • Go back to start
    • Write your own flashcard
      • I was drilling rhythms, so my spiders meant you had to write your own rhythm.
  • Whoever escapes the web first wins.

Variations:

  • To make it easier or harder, just vary your flashcards.
  • To make it shorter, declare whoever is ahead the winner.

 

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Primary Chord Drill

This hardly counts as a game in and of itself, but I made it up this week to use in conjunction with Skeleton, Human or Monster? Most of my students were drilling note names, but several are beyond needing that so we drilled this instead. You could use it with anything in my How to Drill Anything series.

What You Need:

  • Notecards that have the keys you want to practice
    • I always start with C major, G major, D major, and F major. If they’re doing well on those, then expand to A major, E major, B-flat major, and E-flat major.
    • You can use generic note name cards, or write it out on index cards. It won’t take more than 30 seconds to create.
  • Blank Die
    • These things cost 29 cents at my local teacher supply store and are invaluable.
    • On the die, use a sharpie marker to write on the six sides: I, IV, IV, V, V, and *

Setup:

  • None

How to Drill:

  • Student draws a card. That determines the key signature.
  • Student rolls the die. That determines which chord they need to name in that key signature.
    • For example: in the key of C major, the IV is F major, in D major, the V chord is A major.
    • The asterisk can change meaning depending on the student.
      • If the student’s doing well, use it to call out another chord, such as the vi chord or the iii chord.
      •  If the student’s struggling with the concept, use it to mean roll again.

Primary Chord Drill

Suspend (How to Drill Anything)

This balancing game is one of the kids’ favorites. I like it too, since it’s infinitely customizable to each student. It does require owning a specific game, but you can do a similar thing with blocks or plastic cups, if that’s easier to get.

What You Need:

  • Suspend (a Melissa and Doug Family Game)
  • Flashcards of anything (optional)

Setup:

  • Set up the basic stand for the game.
  • The game comes with a die that has six colors on it. Assign a different type of flashcard or challenge for each color. For example, note names, rhythms, chords, key signatures, improv duets, play by ear challenges, sight reading, review songs, hard spots in their current song, etc. You can even leave one color to be a freebie.

How to Play:

  • Ignore the rule book entirely.
  • The student rolls the die and completes the challenge for that color. Then she can place a metal stick of that color on the stand.
  • Repeat.
  • If anything falls off the stand, just add it back into the pile at the bottom.

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Paint Chip Board Game (How to Drill Anything)

Paint Chip Board Game

 

The problem with most music board games is that they are so specific to one concept that at any given time, they aren’t appropriate for most of my students. Here’s a generic one that is practically free, takes about 10 minutes to make, and can be tailored on the fly for any student.

To Create the Board:

  • Paint chips with three obviously different colors. I did yellow, green, and blue.
  • Card stock in a contrasting color
  • Sharpie Marker

Cut out the paint chips so you have stacks of squares or rectangles in each of your three colors. Mine range from pastels to brights, but as long as each stack is identifiably one of your three colors, it’s fine. Glue your squares onto the cardstock in alternating colors. The layout should make a wavy line (see the picture below). With the Sharpie, label the first one as Start and the last one as Finish. To add interest, draw a few arrows from certain squares to shortcut either forward or backward. In a couple of squares, write things like “Teacher loses a turn,” or “Go Again” or “Bonus Question (move forward two more spaces if you get it right).” When you’re done, I suggest laminating the cardstock to make it more durable, but you could also just slip it in a sheet protector.

What You Need to Play:

  • Your game board
  • Two game pieces (you can use coins, erasers, paper clips, whatever)
  • One die
  • Three sets of flashcards, separated by subject
    • For example, treble clef notes, bass clef notes, intervals, key signatures, or rhythms.

Setup:

  • Decide which set of flashcards corresponds with which color on your board.
  • Place two game pieces on Start.

How to Play:

  • The student rolls the dice and moves forward that many squares. She then draws a flashcard from the stack that corresponds with the color she has landed on and answers the question. (If she gets it wrong, I just give her enough hints so that she eventually gets it right.)
  • I take a turn. The only difference is that if I get it wrong and the student catches me, I have to move my game piece back to where I was before.
    • This encourages the student to pay attention during my turn and also ensures that they always win. If my dice throws happen to be luckier than the students, I just start getting a lot of questions wrong.
  • First person to get to the Finish line wins.

Variations

  • The difficulty of this game is entirely controlled by which flashcards you choose. To make it harder, just use progressively harder concepts, even if you don’t have exact flashcards for it. For example:
    • Draw a note flashcard and play the major (or minor or diminished or augmented) chord with that note as the root.
    • Draw a note flashcard and name the note that is a perfect fifth above it (or any other interval).
    • Draw a key signature flashcard and improv a melody in that key.

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