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Music Multiples #1: Skip Counting Lesson Plan

Author: Loretta Walker

Year: 2015

Artform: Music

Subjects: Math

Grade: 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th

Duration: 15 - 45 minutes

Overview: This lesson lays the foundation for using steady beat to support the understanding of many multiplication-related concepts in middle and upper grades. Once students master the concepts and skills in this lesson the body percussion patterns can be used as aural “manipulatives” that are always available to students. This lesson, or portions of it, can be repeated using several different number groupings to lay the groundwork for solid understanding of all multiplication facts.

Standards and Objectives

Keep a steady beat in patterns of strong and weak beats
Foundation for understanding multiplication & division
Students will fluently speak multiples while performing a pattern of strong and weak beats at a steady tempo.



Listen to the music and have students move accurately to the beat.

  • Be sure students are performing the steady beat.
  • If necessary, clarify and practice the difference between beat and rhythm (see video).


  1. Identify, or have the students discover, the number of beats in each group of strong and weak beats, or the multiple being studied.
    • For larger numbers you will need to tell the students what number you are studying.
  2. Practice a body percussion pattern that illustrates the multiple being studied and then perform it with the music, always keeping a steady beat with the music.
  3. Have students count out loud on every beat while performing the strong and weak beat pattern with the music.
    • Count loudly on the last number of each group and whisper all the rest of the numbers. This will sound like skip counting.
  4. While students count, write the multiples on the board or a document camera.
    • It helps to write the numbers in a way that visually highlights the numeric patterns.


Have students identify numeric patterns in the written skip counting numbers. Have several students come to the board to point out the patterns they found. Students might tell patterns they found to a friend, or show the patterns they found on paper or individual white boards.


Enjoy singing or listening to the music again while performing the body percussion.

This lesson builds on the natural relationship between the foundational math concepts of equal units and recurring patterns and the foundational music concepts of steady beat, (which is the segmenting of time into equal intervals) and groups of strong and weak beats (which are recurring patterns). These parallel concepts are expressed aurally, orally, kinesthetically, and symbolically in the lesson, providing the brain with multiple ways in which to process the concepts.
What do the patterns of multiples sound and look like?
Choose music that is at a tempo that the students are able to perform accurately. Being too fast or too slow can make it difficult for children. It is also important that the beat maintain a steady tempo, or speed.

This lesson can also be adapted for use by individuals or small groups to meet individual needs.
  • Beat
  • Rhythm
  • Meter
  • Multiples
Historical content of each lesson will vary according to the music used.
Fluent performance of multiples with the music.

Students draw, write, tell about, or recite the numeric patterns they identified.
At some point, the lesson should be taught either in its entirety or as a series of short lessons. However, fragments of the lesson can be incorporated into almost any lesson that uses multiples. The body percussion patterns are effective as transition activities. For example, the teacher may start a pattern as a signal for students to move back to their desks and join in the pattern and skip counting as they get settled. Another strategy is to have a student choose a number and lead the class its associated body percussion pattern and counting while waiting in line.

It is important for students to physically participate in these activities and to keep an accurate beat to fully benefit from this lesson. If they perform the music accurately, accuracy in the math will follow.


  • One or more recordings of music at a steady tempo in meters that match the factors being studied.
  • Music playback equipment
  • White board or document camera
  • A video of this lesson is available at HERE