Fitness Drumming Lesson Planning Tips in PE

Nicole Reed 1

Fitness drumming a great activity for any grade level! It teaches students various patterns, beat recognition and helps develop rhythm all while improving health-related fitness because of the high intensity movements and heart-pumping music playing. Students use drumsticks to drum to the beat of the song on a stability ball that is placed on a small bucket stand and follow the teacher’s moves or create their own to get in a fun workout.

I am expanding upon my other fitness drumming blogs, Getting Started with Fitness Drumming in PE and Learning Moves & Patterns for Fitness Drumming in PE by sharing lesson planning and organization tips including teaching safety and etiquette to continue the conversation and help prepare you for teaching fitness drumming.

Fitness Drumming Etiquette & Safety:

It is important to cover safety and etiquette during your first lesson and then review these expectations at the start of each lesson thereafter.

  • STOP & FREEZE cues. Students need to have “silent sticks” so you can quickly give directions, teach a new move and then carry on. Stop & freeze cue examples:
    • Music Off = Stop.
    • Teacher says “freeze” = Stop.
    • Teacher says “Silent Sticks” = freeze and bring both hands with sticks together and hold.
    • Teacher says “Sticks in Pits” = freeze and tuck sticks, one under each armpit. It may be silly sounding, but it works. 
  • Plug side down – As a safety precaution, place the ball in the bucket “plug side down” so the plastic plug is not hit during activity.
  • Ball on bucket – The ball stays on the bucket. If it accidentally falls off, quickly return it to its home with plug side facing down.
  • Don’t push down on ball – To prevent the bucket or stand from breaking, never sit on or push down on the ball when on the stand or bucket. 
  • Setup “T” distance from neighbor – Space out from each other in rows about arm’s length apart to allow enough space to travel around the ball without bumping others.
  • Hitting the ball – We only need to use soft and medium taps on the ball. Hitting the ball too hard could cause damage to the sticks, the ball, or ball stand. Show students “Soft vs. Medium vs. Hard” taps on the ball and have them practice soft and medium taps along with freeze cues.
  • Clean up – If you have another class coming in to repeat the lesson, you may have students place the sticks in the bucket under the ball at end of lesson. Emphasize students may not touch equipment until directed to do so. For an efficient cleanup at the end, I have the first student at the end of each row walk down the line to collect the sticks in a bucket. The next student follows down the line to collect the stackable buckets or stands. After all sticks and ball stands are packed up, I then have students pick up their ball and carry it to storage.

Learning Targets:

As in any lesson, it is important to have learning targets that align to your standards. Here are some sample learning targets written in student-centered language I would use throughout a drumming fitness lesson and unit:

  • I can play safely.
  • I can care for equipment.
  • I can perform all basic drum and locomotor moves on cue.
  • I can perform 4-count and/or 8-count basic beats on cue
  • I can follow teacher-led cues and moves for 4-count and/or 8-count basic beats.
  • I can work with others to achieve a goal.
  • I can create a 4-count and/or 8-count pattern.

Fitness Drumming Sample Lesson Outline:

  • Introduction:
    • Introduce or review lesson learning targets.
    • Review of safety expectations and etiquette
  • Warmup:
    • Review moves and patterns previously taught.
    • Playful experience – This can be some sort of warm-up of following the teacher, trying a silly song such as the “chicken dance” or “wipe out” or doing an echo-beats activity where students work with a neighbor to review moves.
  • Fitness Drumming:
    • Learn new moves, try new moves.
    • Incorporate old moves and patterns.
    • Use various upbeat songs.
    • Add fitness moves throughout songs like squats, jumping jacks, grapevine, etc.
  • Challenges:
    • Group Fitness Challenge – Near the end of the lesson I like to incorporate some sort of group fitness challenge such as a “squat challenge” using the song “Flower” by Moby. When you hear the word “down” you squat. When you hear the word “up” you stand up. Try different hits during song and feel the burn!
    • Interactive Partner or Team Challenge – Have students partner up or get in small groups to develop their own beats and teach each other or even show the class.
  • Ball Fitness:
    • Teach many different exercises students can do using stability balls as an additional challenge and connection to making fitness fun. This is great to do near the end of the lesson once all the drumsticks and ball stands are packed up.
  • Cool Down:
    • Teach various stretches and relaxation moves using the stability ball.
    • Students also like to sit on the ball like it is a chair and do a ‘low and slow bounce’ while listening to and answering questions during lesson wrap-up.

Continue the conversation: What are some of your favorite fitness drumming activities? Share your ideas in the comment section below!

2 Responses

  1. This is great! However I would not use “Flower” by Moby which uses the song “Green Sally Up.” Research the origin of that song and you will understand why. Other than that I love cardio drumming in P.E.!

    1. I found out an explanation:

      “I found this about “Flower”, hope it helps. I do not know who to credit for the original post though… the lyrics used in “Flower” are sampled from an old African American children’s song called “Green Sally Up,” which shares similarities with the British children’s song, “Ring Around The Rosie.” The actual lyrics being sung in the “Flower” sample are “Green Sally up, Green Sally down. Last one squat gotta tear the ground.” It is correct to assume that this song is rooted historically in the slave culture of the American South, but it was more a song to entertain and occupy the children out in the fields than it was a commentary on slavery. Like “Ring Around The Rosie,” “Green Sally Up” has an accompanying game that’s played in time and accordance with the lyrics. ‘Green Sally’ means ‘little girl,’ hence the first two lines direct the children to rise up and then squat down in rhythm with the song. “Last one squat gotta tear the ground” means, quite plainly, that the last child to squat has to help the adults with the cotton picking. It’s assumed that this was not a literal rule of the game, but a threat of the “last one home is a rotten egg” variety. The lines, “Old Miss Lucy’s dead and gone, left me here to weep and moan” is indeed a reference to the death of a slave ‘owner’, and in the original song is followed by the lines, “If you hate it, fold your arms; if you love it, clap your hands,” which was a signal for those listening to indicate their feelings towards their ‘master’ by either joining in the rhythmic clapping that accompanies the song, or by refraining from doing so, which would indicate a measure of love/respect/complacency that the individual may have had for the ‘owner’.”

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