Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Buggy Beats

Deborah Supe
Orange County Schools


The students have an opportunity to use both creative and logical sides of the brain by developing an understanding that ALL words have a logical, patterned rhythm of their own, and by being able to create and perform their own unique musical compositions.


The student improvises simple rhythmic and melodic patterns and accompaniments.


-My Original “Buggy Beats” Composition Sheet
-Sheet of Bugs (see associated file)
-Teacher’s Music Performance Rubric
-Glue Sticks
-Finger Puppets or Small Stuffed Animals
-Fly Swatters


1. Obtain 4-6 finger puppets or small stuffed animals that reflect the “bugs” indicated on the student worksheets (See Associated File) and 2 plastic fly swatters.
2. Make copies of the 2 student worksheets and the assessment rubric. (See Associated Files)
3. Have enough scissors for each student to have his/her own pair and enough glue sticks and pencils for each group of 2 children to share.


1. Ask the students to name some bugs.

2. Write the names of the bugs on the board.

3. Discuss the fact that all words have a rhythm. Pick some of the bug names from the board one at a time and say the word. Have the students repeat the word. Now clap a steady beat. Have the students clap with you. While clapping, have the students say the name of one of the bugs. Next, have the students clap the rhythm of the word.

4. Bring out 4-6 stuffed animals or finger puppet bugs and a plastic fly swatter. Ask the children who can name a bug that you hold up. The student that names the bug correctly may then come up and sit in the front of the class holding the bug. (NOTE: It is easier to begin the game initially with only 4 bugs. As the students gain proficiency, the number of bugs can be increased to 6.)

5. The teacher now gives instructions to play the “Buggy Beat” game. The teacher explains that the students will clap a steady beat (at a tempo established by the teacher). When everyone is maintaining a steady beat, the teacher arbitrarily holds the fly swatter over the head of one of the students who is holding a bug. The students have ONE BEAT in which to say the name of the bug.

6. When the students are able to say each bug’s name in one beat, the game is ready to begin. As the students are clapping the steady beat established by the teacher (which is slow initially), the teacher moves the fly swatter over the heads of the students on each beat so the children can say the name of each bug, one after another. The teacher may repeat a bug in the sequence by moving the fly swatter in the established beat pattern back over the same student/bug.

7. As the students become more proficient with naming the bugs in tempo, the teacher can increase the speed of the tempo. Another extension of the game is to allow a student to come up and use the fly swatter. Remember to allow different students to have a chance to hold the bugs.

8. Now the students are ready to become “Buggy Composers”. Before passing out the activity sheets and supplies (pencils, scissors and glue sticks) to the children, explain that each student will receive a sheet of bugs and a composition sheet. (See Associated File) Explain that each student will now become a composer by picking out any 8 bugs of his/her choice to cut out and place one bug in each box. Make sure that they understand that a composer always signs his/her work and that when he/she has completed his/her composition, he/she will sign the composition, too.

9. Once the supplies have been handed out, circulate among the worktables to help the children with their compositions. As the class nears completion, explain that each student will be given the opportunity to perform his/her composition for the class. Students who are finished should take turns performing their composition for their group and then give the group a chance to perform each composition. During this practice time, the teacher is able to circulate around the room and offer positive feedback and/or assistance where needed.

10. Prior to having the students come up one at a time to perform their compositions, explain the qualities of a good audience. A good audience sits and listens to a performer quietly and shows their appreciation for a performer at the end of the performance by clapping.

11. Have the students come up one at a time to perform their compositions. The teacher can say the composition with any student who is having trouble. During the performance, do the simple assessment (See Associated File) and attach it to the student’s composition sheet when the student hands it in at the end of the performance.

12. Students will be given the composition sheets to take home with them.


NOTE: This assessment is aligned with the part of the standard that assesses the student’s ability to improvise and create his/her own unique musical rhythmic composition.

NOTE: In this lesson, the student only improvises a rhythmic pattern. Though some students may present their rhythmic composition to the class in a melodic form, the melodic implication is not the focus of the lesson.

NOTE: This lesson addresses part of this standard, however, it is listed here because it is reviewed and reinforced, not assessed.

Evidence: Each student has a composition sheet with eight rhythm blocks and a page of “bugs” (See Associated File). Students place one bug per block and are able to perform their composition individually for the class in their own consistent metered time.

To ensure student understanding, while the students are cutting out their “bugs” and pasting them on their composition sheet, the teacher is circulating among the groups to offer assistance and positive feedback to the students. Prior to performance for the class, the students have the opportunity to practice their compositions before their group by either the students performing their own composition or the students having the group perform the composition while the students direct their group. This is another opportunity for the teacher to offer individual counseling to any student who may be experiencing difficulty executing the exercise.

Formatively assess each performance using a checklist containing the criteria listed below during the student’s presentation to the class. Students who do not successfully meet all of the criteria are able to repeat the activity with the help of their group members, teacher and/or class. Teacher provides the student a copy of the completed checklist to use to allow each student to know what to concentrate on as he/she practices the current composition or develops new compositions.

1) The students place one “bug” of their choice in one rhythm block until they have filled all eight blocks.
2) When the students are satisfied with their composition, the students glue the “bugs” in place on their composition sheet.
3) The students perform their composition individually for their groups.
4) The students determine a steady beat and point to each “bug” to direct the group while the group members perform the composition.
5) The students perform their “Buggy Beats” composition for the class individually.

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