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Music Workstations: Snowball Scoop

Music Workstations:  Snowball Scoop

Recently I've come across a few very sturdy Styrofoam coolers.  With just a little bit of imagination and a bunch of ping pong balls, it has become a rhythm workstation!

For this workstation I used:
-a Styrofoam cooler (although other coolers or containers would work)
-4 pairs of gloves (I found some for about $1 each.  I got four because that is the optimal workstation size for me.)
-some plastic spoons (plus extra because sometimes kids do weird things like put them in their mouth or scratch their head with them and that weirds out other kids...and well...just have some extras.)
-lots of ping pong or other small white plastic balls (You could use a variety of sizes if you wanted.).
-4 containers marked 1, 2, 3 and 4.  I used some little tubs, but I think that small buckets with shovels (instead of spoons) would be fun for this activity.

With a permanent marker, draw notes on each ping pong ball.  I did some single notes and then I did some rhythm patterns so that students would have to add them up to place them in the correct bin.  As I created these I placed the balls in the bin so that I would have a fairly even amount in each one.  To do this I had to duplicate the smaller values which is fine.

I know.  I know.  At this point, you've figured out everything but the gloves, right?  They are there to "highly motivate" students.  Yep.  They are the novelty.  The "Weird" that kids love.  I tell kids that it makes it a little trickier to scoop the snowballs (which I'm pretty sure is not the truth) and that they help them get into the spirit of the activity.

After you have the balls labelled, dump them into the cooler and mix them up a bit.  This makes a delightful sound!

Place the gloves, spoons, bins and the directions near the cooler and your workstation is ready to go.  For some classes that need a reference sheet of note values I include THIS one by Sara Bibee.

There are many variations of Snowball Scoop that would be valuable.  I think I may make a set for instrument families and have students sort instrument names into their appropriate family bin.  This would also work for pitches but those might be a bit trickier to draw on the ping pong balls.

I hope you enjoy this activity with your students!  Be sure to check out my other ideas for centers or workstations in other blog posts.  Music Centers


  1. How fun! I can see these being "recycled" to be eggs for Easter/Spring and use egg cartons cut into 2, 3 or 4 lengths to read rhythms. Thanks!

  2. This is awesome! Can't wait to try with my students. I have my cooler and ping pong balls all labeled. Do you have them for sale? Or could you tell me where to get the snow clip art?
    You are so creative!! Thanks!

    1. Check out Educlips on TeachersPayTeachers for the clipart.

  3. This is a neat center idea! Do you have the visuals available for download for the directions and the sign for the cooler?

    1. I'm sorry. I don't have it available for download.

  4. Hi Tracy King,

    I am currently a pre-service teacher and I hope to one day teach music. I absolutely love your snowball scoop music workstations. It is so creative and easy to make. I really enjoy reading your blogs and gaining new ideas for music. Thank you for the awesome insight and I look forward to reading more of your blogs.


  5. About what size containers do you use, and about how many ping pong balls fit into each! Thanks.

    1. I use some small plastic bins that I picked up at Dollar Tree. About 12-15 ping pong balls fit in each.

  6. I loved this idea and spent several nights writing 2, 3 and 4 beat rhythms on ping pong balls while watching TV. I used it with my students when they were studying time signatures. Another time I bought cute little cups for ice cream sundaes and had them make sundaes. I explained that the best ones have a variety of flavors, so using their spoons, they had to get a prescooped ice cream ball, identify its flavor (how many beats the rhythm in it was) and had to collect one of each flavor. Another fun extension that they enjoyed. I loved your idea! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Could you put the ping-pong balls they pull into egg cartons, and them clap the result? For a more advanced class, they could also leave the correct number of spots open depending on the number of beats - ie, half-note = place the ball, but leave an extra spot open because it's 2 beats. You could also use the 2 lines of six to practice 3/4 and 6/8 times.
    I love your site!