Game-Based Learning: Valentine’s Day Edition

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner … and I’m here to show you how easy (and cheap!) it can be to prep a versatile game to work on notes, intervals, and creativity 🙂

A quick recap – why are games so important to use in your teaching? Because we are working towards not passive learning but active learning! When we play games with our students, we are building relationships that last a lifetime. We give a safe place to fail and a fun space that consistently repeats the correct answers. And it doesn’t have to take the whole lesson! Sometimes the most effective learning comes in short, repetitive packages 🙂

So I took a quick trip down to the Dollar Tree… and I mean quick. If I don’t give myself a time limit I walk away with the whole store. I mean come on, it’s all just a dollar! But this time I went in with a list.  I picked up a cookie sheet, 2 pairs of jumbo tweezers (education aisle), a pack a foam heart stickers, and some dice. $5 later and I have everything I need!

Setup was also pretty simple. I took a sharpie and wrote letter names A-G onto the back (the sticker part, but leave it on the heart) of each heart. Repeat: I didn’t remove the white sticker backing!

Five minutes later, and we are set for a variety of games right at my fingertips. Here’s how we will be playing these in the studio this Valentine’s Day season!

~ Steal My Heart: Grab whatever level flashcards fits your student’s needs and the tweezers! Take turns pulling a flashcard, and then the race begins. Use the tweezers to grab one heart at a time. Whoever pulls the correct letter first keeps the heart and wins the round! I recommend not discussing which note it is before you race. This makes it a bit trickier for the student! Whoever collects 5 hearts first wins!

~ Heart Beats: Time for a bit of improvisation or composition fun! Have your student randomly pick 5 different hearts. From these hearts, have the student create melodies by adding rhythm! To move from improv into composition, have the students write down what they create. Don’t forget dynamics and articulations to make it interesting!

~ Love is Risky: Have each player use their tweezers to grab one heart from the pile. Determine what interval these hearts create together. At this point the game becomes a race. Each player rolls a dice until they roll the number of the interval (for a 7th interval, roll a one). Whoever is the first to roll the correct number gets a point. Whoever gets 3 first wins!

Not interested in the risk factor? Make it a race to yell out the correct interval number and play it on the piano first (best done with two students, not student-teacher).

~ Alphabet Love: Do you teach little students? Set the timer for 2 minutes. Have the student use the tweezers (hand strength and fine motor skills!) to grab a heart. Have them identify the note on the piano that matches the letter on the back of the heart. See how many they can accomplish in 2 minutes! If you have time, repeat and see if they can beat their score 🙂

And just like that you have it … $5 and 5 minutes of prep to give you four Valentine’s Day activities that work across all levels of students! Have some fun this week and marvel at how your students will leave the studio glowing with excitement over their new games. They won’t even care that they were simultaneously learning!

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