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3 Music Theory Games Using Lego Duplo

Nov 7, 2016

As a piano teacher, I like to make music theory fun for my students rather than sending my students home with worksheets to fill in. We still do theory workbooks occasionally, but I find hands-on theory games way more effective for teaching musical concepts.

Most of my beginner piano students love Lego, so here are three ways to teach music theory and rhythm to kids using Lego Duplo. These activities are also a great way for young kids to practice music at home between scheduled lessons.

Here's what you'll need to make some rhythm blocks out of Lego Duplo:

  • Lego Duplo blocks of various sizes and colors
  • Dry erase markers

A wooden tray with the Duplo blocks arranged into different notes with their designated note written on the block in permanent marker

Build the rhythm blocks two bricks high and draw the notes and rests on the blocks using a dry erase marker. Repeat as many times as you'd like. You will use the following combination of bricks to make one block of each different note and rest values:

  • Two 2 x 2 bricks = Quarter note or quarter rest
  • Two 4 x 2 bricks = Half note or half rest
  • Two 2 x 2 bricks and Two 4 x 2 bricks = Dotted half note
  • Three 4 x 2 bricks and Two 2 x 2 bricks = Whole note or whole rest

I chose to leave eighth notes out, but if you want to introduce eighth notes, then simply explain that each row of studs or bumps on the top of the Lego bricks are equivalent to eighth notes.

There are lots of different ways to explore music theory and rhythm using these Lego music blocks, but here are three of my favorite ways to play with them.


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Make A Music Math Tower

Music and math go hand in hand. This simple tower building idea helps kids to see the relationship between different types of note values (or rest values if you want to compare those instead). Start by placing a whole note on the bottom of the tower and see if your kids can arrange other combinations of four counts to the tower, like below.

Blocks arranged and stacked to create different music combinations


Match Rests With Their Note Equivalents

Rests in music are just as important as the music notes that you play! Encourage your kids to match rests with their note equivalents (i.e., match the rest that gets two counts with the note that gets two counts). Super simple!

A stack of larger blocks beside a stack of smaller blocks representing rests with their note equivalent


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Make A Rhythm And Clap It

My kids' favorite way to play is to make rhythms and clap them. I usually include rhythm flashcards for inspiration, which they can choose to replicate with the blocks. Sometimes they also build and create their own rhythms to clap. For additional learning, you can supply a metronome and challenge your child to clap their rhythms to different tempos using the metronome.

A child arranging the blocks in a line to create a musical combination

Little boy clapping out the rhythm arranged in front of him with Duplo blocks

Article Author Dyan Robson
Dyan Robson

Read more from Dyan here.

Married to her high school sweetheart, Dyan is mom to two boys, J and K, who also teaches piano out of her home. On her blog And Next Comes L, Dyan shares her story of raising a child with hyperlexia, hypernumeracy and autism, amongst a variety of sensory activities for kids. You can find out more about their story on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and Google+.

 

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