A Knack for Reading

I’m sure that you may have noticed that we have a new sponsor this month (take a look to the right, if you haven’t seen them yet) and today, we’re going to spotlight this terrific product.  Please know that I work hard with our advertisers to make sure that the products that are offered on this site are high-quality, high-leverage products that will yield a fantastic return on your investment in your classroom.  As such, I make sure to test the product and build relationships with their developers to ensure that you can trust their products.  Today’s featured product is the NoteKnacks music reading system, and it has some fabulous features I’d like to share with you!

NoteKnacks was invented by a former music teacher, Kristin Pugliese.  Her innovative and entrepreneurial spirit then led her to put her idea for a hands-on way to teach rhythmic reading into production.  NoteKnacks is a full rhythmic reading system that provides your students with sequential, easy-to-use, developmentally appropriate manipulatives that can help to build their rhythmic reading processes and skills.

When I received the sample kit from Kristin, it contained three durable wooden ledge boards (think Scrabble-tile holders) in various sizes, as well as note blocks that ranged from 16th notes to whole notes.

A couple of things I noticed right off the bat:

1.) The rhythmic notes are on color-coordinated, size-adjusted wooden blocks.  Great for visual and kinesthetic learners, students can immediately see that it takes (4) 16th note blocks to each the size of the quarter note block.  Fantastic links to math objectives here!

2.) The equivalent rests for each rhythmic value is on the back of each block.  So students can make those connections right away.

3.) It would be very easy to have students create specific rhythmic patterns based on the concept you are teaching for that particular lesson.  You just tell them how many beats to fill and with what kind of rhythms on their boards and let them go to town.

4.) The kit comes with a set of 25 lesson plans that are fantastic!  I’m so excited to give some of these a try in my own classroom this fall!

There’s More….

I also noticed how wonderful these would be for differentiated lesson plans, or for when you have classes that have students with special needs.  These blocks are quite solid, so they are easy to grip, and the color-coding helps students who have difficulty with standardized notation to develop an awareness of rhythmic reading.  I also noted that the notes are all placed to the left of the blocks. I understand the reasoning for this. However, on the longer boards (like the half notes and the whole notes), I felt these symbols worked better placed in the center.

However, it is a small preference on my part and not something that I think would hinder student understanding.  In fact, I let my daughter play with them to create a rhythm pattern using long and short blocks to make long and short sounds, and the placement of the notation didn’t bother her at all!  The length and colors of the boards go a long way in helping developing students (even your kindergarteners) have a basic understanding of rhythmic reading.

You can also make a host of connections to the content areas and support the common core standards in the classroom by connecting with math through fractions, as well as patterns, sequences, and problem-solving.  These would also connect well with language arts if you had your students play their rhythms while reading a poem, or even writing a poem that corresponds syllables to the rhythmic values on their boards.

So What?

If you are a music teacher, or a content-area teacher looking for a “safe” way to try to integrate music into your classroom, I very much hope you will give NoteKnacks a try! I know several teachers in my district who are excited to use them, and I can definitely see why. And here’s another GREAT reason to think about using NoteKnacks as an option for your classroom: EducationCloset readers receive a 10% discount now through August 15! Just go to the NoteKnacks website and when you place your order, just let them know that you were referred by EducationCloset.com. [/box]

Enjoy making creating, engaging and empowering your students!

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