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Steady Beat Swords

Pool noodles magically transform into light saber inspired steady beat swords in Mrs. King’s Music Class.  This DIY classroom project is easy to do and keeps students engaged and learning.  What do you do with them?  Read on for ideas and video examples.

Welcome to another edition of Summer Project Sundays.  Last week I posted pictures of my ponies, my pool noodle ponies.  This week I'm sharing another project with noodles because they seem to be everywhere this time of year!

I suppose my inspiration for pool noodle swords is quite evident.  Have you ever seen a bunch of kids using them in the pool?  They make a great weapons!  LOL.  Okay...don't tell my kids I said that!  I loved the sound that they made when whacked against each other and new my students would as well.

Pool noodles magically transform into light saber inspired steady beat swords in Mrs. King’s Music Class.  This DIY classroom project is easy to do and keeps students engaged and learning.  What do you do with them?  Read on for ideas and video examples.

To make the noodle swords you'll need a sharp knife.  I used a chef's knife.  It has a 
smooth, large blade.  It was very easy to cut through each of the pool noodles.  I cut each noodle in half (or as close to half as I could guesstimate).

Next, using shiny silver duct tape and regular black duct tape I created handles for each of the swords.  I didn't worry about being precise and tore the tape rather than trying to cut it. 

For best results, put a piece of tape on the bottom of the noodle to cover the hole, then cover about 5 inches or so with the same color.  Tear a couple of rectangles to put on each side of that as a "button" to turn the swords on when they become light sabers.  I also went back and added a trim of black or silver when they were all finished.  I just wanted to make sure I had enough tape before embellishing.  I made 24 noodles with 2 rolls of tape.

Pool noodles magically transform into light saber inspired steady beat swords in Mrs. King’s Music Class.  This DIY classroom project is easy to do and keeps students engaged and learning.  What do you do with them?  Read on for ideas and video examples.

In my classroom they were stored in a large laundry tub with handles until I found a sturdy basket that worked well.  

I use them for several different movement activities with K-2, but my favorite activity works for K-6.  My fifth and sixth graders LOVED learning about the music of John Williams.  At the end of our John Williams studies we used the pool noodles or "Steady Beat Light Sabers" to explore the form of "Imperial March".   You can read about some of the John Williams activities HERE.

Before we start with this activity, I pass out the swords and explain that even one single attempt to use the steady beat sabers to hit or poke another person will cause them to be retired.  No one wants to miss out on the opportunity to play with swords in music class so behavior is EXCELLENT during this activity.

Here's a silly little thing I do before we begin.  The video shows a group of third graders.




Silly, right?  The kids love it!

Before we listen to "Imperial March" we discuss how composers use music to represent characters in stories.  We'll talk about Peter and the Wolf and the motif used for the wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz.  I'll ask them to raise their hand as soon as they know what character is represented by the music.

Hands shoot in the air as the main theme of "Imperial March" starts.  I'll explain that when we get our steady beat light sabers that we'll keep the beat with a partner when we hear the theme and then we'll pretend to be jedi knights and sneak around the room looking for bad guys.  When they hear the theme again, they should find their partner and keep the steady beat again.  For older classes, I'll encourage them to find an advanced way to keep the steady beat.

This might mean tapping the swords together high and then low, using both hands or even adding a little turn.  Such fun!  Here's a clip from a 5th grade group.





Some classes also use the swords for a play along.  I found this little gem while looking for something else on Youtube.  The link takes you to a SafeShare version that I use in the classroom.  I like not having to worry about what may pop up at the end of the video.

I hope you enjoy making steady beat swords or steady beat light sabers this summer!  Let me know of some ways you use them in your classroom.  My kiddos will LOVE more opportunities to play and learn.
Pool noodles magically transform into light saber inspired steady beat swords in Mrs. King’s Music Class.  This DIY classroom project is easy to do and keeps students engaged and learning.  What do you do with them?  Read on for ideas and video examples.





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5 comments:

  1. Tracy, I think you are keeping the pool noodle companies in business! How fun!

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  2. Tracy, I've found pool noodles in at least 3 different sizes. What size is your finished product? Do you think that is the best for this activity or do you wish for shorter or longer? I'm wondering if the longer noodles could be cut into 3 or 4 beat swords, but I want to be sure they are long enough that kids aren't punching each other by accident!

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    Replies
    1. I use the thinnest ones I an find. The thicker ones are difficult for the little people to hold with one hand. I usually cut these in half.

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  3. Samantha ThompsonMay 27, 2016 at 12:02 AM

    What other songs could you use that have a steady beat?

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