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Name of Activity:

Drumming for Fitness and Learning

Purpose of Activity:

To incorporate math and anatomical concepts with fitness and rhythmic movement.

Suggested Grade Level:


Materials Needed:

One pair of rhythm sticks or drum sticks/student, one exercise ball for every 2 students, and a platform for the exercise ball which will hold the ball in place (a turned over aerobic step works well).

Recommended music:

“Some Nights” by FUN

Beginning dance formation:

Students are divided into pairs. The pairs of students can be placed randomly around the floor.

Description of Idea

Partner crunches - Students begin on the floor with toes touching. They will hold for 8 counts

Movement #1 – Counting by 2s, partners hit sticks together as each student crunches up and hit sticks to floor as each student moves down. Count to 48 – each movement will take 2 counts (up counts will be 2 and down counts will be 4, up will be 6 and down counts will be 8 etc.)

Movement #2 – There will be 8 counts to stand up and face the ball.

For 4 sets of 8 counts students will use the sticks to “drum” a rhythmic pattern. Students will stand in a squat and use the sticks to mimic pattern of the song. Teacher will say a math problem and students will respond with answer. A set of multiplication tables work perfectly. For instance, teacher says 9x2 and students say 18. Teacher says 9 x 3 and students says 27. The timing works perfectly for a complete set of a multiplication table from 2-9.

Movement #3 - Doing squats hit the sticks on the ground 2x and raising on toes hit sticks above head 2x – Repeat for a total of 32 counts. Here is the rhyme to say as the class is doing this movement:

Gastrocnemius, Quadriceps, Gluteus Maximus, Abdominal Recs,

Erector Spinae – Hold us up, antigravity they’re a must

Movement #4 – Slow music begins and students stay in squat position and bounce in place for There is a 4 count lead in followed by 4 sets of 8 counts.

Repeat the drumming (4 sets of 8 counts) as described in Movement #2, this time using a different set of multiplication tables. For younger children try using 4s or 5s. For older children try 12s!

Repeat squats as described in Movement #3. Try this rhyme on muscles of the upper body.

Triceps, Biceps, Trapzius, Deltoid, Pectoralis – They are lifters without malice. (4 sets of 8 counts).

Repeat slow movements as described in Movement #4. (6 sets of 8 counts)

Drumming begins again as described in Movement #2. Try a different set of multiplication tables for this sequence or repeat one if the students had some difficulty responding. (4 sets of 8 counts).

Slow music begins again and Movement #4 is repeated for 4 sets of 8 counts. During this music the teacher can point to muscle groups and ask students to name them.

Squats and toe raises as described in Movement #3. (4 sets of 8 counts) Try this rhyme or repeat an earlier rhyme.

Name those bones – Cranium for my brainium, tibia in front and fibula in back. All my fingers and my toes – they’re all phalanges we all know.

Drumming begins again as described in Movement #2. Try multiples of 6 this time. (4 sets of 8 counts)

Partners will get into push-up position – and do partner push-ups by hitting sticks together and counting by 3s. (6 sets of 8 counts)

Assessment Ideas:

Assessment: Heart rates could be taken before the song begins and again at the end in order to teach working in the target heart rate zone.

Teaching Suggestions:

This fitness activity can be done with 4 people around each ball. Any rhyme or math sequence can be taught during the movements.

Adaptations for Students with Disabilities:

Adaptations for children in wheelchairs: The crunch movement could become any one of several arm movements (biceps curls, triceps curls, etc.). The drumming could be done without any adaptations. The squats and toe raises could be done by hitting the sticks together in front and then overhead. The slow bouncing movements could be done by holding sticks overhead.


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Submitted by Brenda Goodwin who teaches at Missouri State University Thanks for contributing to PE Central! Posted on PEC: 4/22/2014.

Viewed 18838 times since 4/22/2014.

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Previous Comments:

Marilyn Arabella

I am looking at exercise balls for this. Is there a size/brand you recommend or wish to warn me about?

Jeanne Keeler

Can someone explain a partner push-up that is use in this dance activity? I want to use it, I can figure out everything but that?

Drumming for Fitness and Learning