Babies Walkers to 2 2s to 3s 3s to 4s

Overview and benefit

Being able to maintain a rhythm is a skill which children need to learn. Having this inner sense of rhythm helps them with so many other skills such as gross and fine motor skills (walking, skipping, jogging, cutting, and writing). Research suggests that it can even help with academic subjects like maths and literacy. Beating in time to music: (castanets/claves) This further develops children’s ability to hear the beat in a piece of music and also to begin to distinguish between beat and rhythm.

Equipment required

  • CD Player and your own choice of song


Up to six weeks

How it works

As a group, children clap or beat time on an instrument in time to a piece of music. Simple songs that are good to use:

  •  Twinkle Twinkle
  • Wind the Bobbin up
  • Half a pound of Tuppenny Rice


What to do in class

Option 1

Sit in a circle and sing a rhythmically simple song once through. Ask everyone to join in second time clapping the beat of the song – alternatively you can march to the beat! eg. To clap the beat of Wind the Bobbin Up – this means clapping on the regular pulse of the tune. Sometimes you can clap on every beat, or on every other beat. It doesn’t matter which you do, as long as they are in time to the music. Tell the parents this… it can be slower and easier if you do every other beat.

Encourage parents to join in and help their child get the beat. This is quite complex in itself and you should suggest parents do this at home with their children when the radio is on or a children’s CD.

Option 2

On another occasion, ask everyone to join in clapping the rhythm. This means clapping to each syllable.

Adaptations for older/younger children


As babies are not yet able to respond themselves to rhythm, this activity is not suitable for them in this unit. However there is a ‘baby beat it’ in the unit ‘To Feel a Beat’ where parents help the babies to beat out a simple rhythm which enables them to begin feeling the beat of music through their hands and instruments.

Older children

In future weeks, and with groups of older children you can try out a combination of the two – ask half the group to clap the rhythm, the other half to clap the beat. Make sure some mums are on board with what you are doing to help!

What to do in a nursery setting

No adaptation is necessary

Training Videos

Beat It2-1 from MAD Academy on Vimeo.



• To make it more interesting you can hand out percussive instruments (bells, castanets, claves etc) to make it more interesting instead of clapping.


• Shakers are not as precise for beating a rhythm as castanets and claves


• Beat it helps children link an understanding of beat to a piece of music


• You can vary the beats you pick out – every 2 for example.


• You can vary again by getting them to beat the syllables to the song lyrics rather than the beat


• Don’t sing whilst beating the rhythm. Singing the words and beating a rhythm are different things which the parents as well as the children will find too difficult.


• You could use the Instrument Time songs, doing the actions with the claves