Beacon Lesson Plan Library

How Do I Measure Up? (Intermediate)

Tisa Craig
Polk County Schools


This activity allows students to compare the relationship between meter in music and measurement in math.


The student selects and uses the appropriate tool for situational measures (for example, measuring sticks, scales and balances, thermometer, measuring cups, gauges, protractors).

The student sight reads simple melodies from standard notation on the treble clef; 2/4, 3/4, and 4/4 meters; various major keys.


-Plain white paper
-CD Player
-“The Garden Song” from Music Connection Compact Disk
-Classroom white board and markers or chalkboard and chalk


1. Set rulers, paper and pencils in containers near the classroom entrance.
2. Students need prior knowledge of using a ruler to draw measured lines.
3. Students need prior knowledge of how to draw a treble clef sign and placement of the clef on a music staff as well as note values and the meaning of a double bar line.
4. Students need prior knowledge of Kodaly's solfege syllables and hand signs.


1. Lesson introduction: Begin this activity by meeting students at the door and directing them to pick up a paper, pencil, and rulers from containers placed near the entrance before being seated in rows. “The Garden Song” should be playing until the last student is seated.

2. Ask students what measurement word(s) they heard throughout the song. Discuss these terms briefly, relating them to how they are used.

3. Students line their rulers up with the top of the paper then draw a 6-inch line along the bottom side of their rulers. Students print their first and last names on this line.

4. Students measure 4 inches down from their name line then draw a line from the left edge to the right edge (the beginning line of a musical staff). Ask students how many inches this line measures.

5. Students measure ½ inch down from the line they just drew and draw another line. Students repeat this procedure until they have five lines drawn the width of their paper.

6. Ask students what music symbol they have just drawn? Provide this information if they do not know the term. Discuss what purpose the staff serves in writing music.

7. Explain that just as we know the number of inches in a foot and now the number of inches across a paper, in music we must know the number of beats to direct in a conducting pattern.

8. Ask a student volunteer to come to the white board and write the fraction ¾.

9. Ask a student volunteer to write the time signature or meter for triple time on the board.

10. Students notice a fraction has a line separating the top and bottom number while the time signature has none. If the students have difficulty with this information, provide assistance.

11. Students draw a treble clef sign at the beginning of the staff they previously drew.

12. After drawing the clef sign, students write a time signature for triple time. Demonstrate (by drawing on the board) the top number takes up the first two spaces and the bottom number the bottom two spaces. Check student responses by circulating around the room.

13. Students then divide their staves into three measures.

14. Students use their knowledge of note values to create three measures of music, being careful not to use the same rhythmic pattern in any of the measures. For example: a student may not write a dotted half note in each measure. Continue circulating and assisting as necessary.

15. When students have completed this task, ask them to write the symbol that lets musicians know they have reached the end of the score.

16. Collect students papers then ask students for similarities and differences between measuring with rulers and measuring in music, i.e. (similarities) numbers mark off inches/bar lines mark off measures; number of lines between inch marks/number of counts within a measure (differences) 12 inches on a ruler/staff has no set measurement for each measure; 12 inches in a foot/5 lines in a staff, etc.

17. Next, select one student's paper (correctly written and without naming the student) and write the three measures of musical notation on the board. Direct students in counting and clapping the rhythm then guide students through analyzing the melodic contour of the written music. Students will sightsing the selection on the syllable -loo-. Give the beginning pitch and assist students in sightreading the piece measure by measure.

18. Encourage students to practice sightreading music before our next meeting by: determining the number of beats per measure, clapping and counting the rhythm, then singing the pattern on the syllable -loo-. Challenge students to sing a melody unknown to them using Kodaly's solfege syllables and hand signs.


Use the student-generated worksheet as a formative assessment, checking for the following criteria:
-Student measured 4 inches down from the name line.
-Student drew a musical staff with the required 1/2 inch between lines.
-Student divided the staff into three measures.
-Each measure contains notes/rests of three counts.
-Student placed a treble clef at the beginning of the staff.
-Student placed a double bar line at the end of the staff.


In preparation for our next class, students practice sightsinging short melodies using Kodaly's solfege syllables and hand signs. (See Weblink)

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