This game is for children aged 4 to 8. It takes a while to prepare, but it's worth it. The children love it! I laminated my fishes about fifteen years ago, and they have been used a lot. They still look great! I wasn't a mom yet, so I had time to make a nice bag, but you can use anything: a reusable bag, a box, a hat, etc.
The principle is simple. There are two teams, each with their own aquarium. The goal of the game is to learn and, incidentally, fill the aquarium with as many fishes as possible.
Each child takes turns picking a fish. They must then interpret the rhythm written on the back of the fish using their voice, body, or an instrument, depending on your pedagogical objectives. If they succeed, they will attach their fish to their team's aquarium with poster putty. If they make a mistake, they put the fish back in the bag, and we move on to the next player. That being said, I usually give multiple chances to the students.
It is easy to implement pedagogical differentiation with this activity, as we can adjust our requests based on each child's interpretation abilities. One student may only name the note figures, while another will have to interpret the same rhythm four times in a row on a single instrument with two different timbres, such as striking the quarter notes and rubbing the eighth notes with rhythm sticks. I also have two categories of fishes: some have rhythms on a white background, which are simpler, and others have rhythms on a yellow background, which are more complex, for second-grade students.
The children can choose their means of interpretation and thus explore the instruments in the classroom without it becoming cacophonous.
The execution of the rhythm can incorporate another musical concept, for example, by asking the child to choose a struck, rubbed, or shaken instrument, or by specifying that they should play loudly, softly, with a crescendo, or with a decrescendo. To do this, you can use a game of chance, such as drawing lots, dice, a spinner, a magnetized spinning arrow on the board, or an online application.
I made some aquariums with poster board, but you can simply draw rectangles on the board.
No time or desire to cut and craft? You probably have meticulous students who would be delighted to do it for you ;)
Fish templates to print and aquarium decorations, recently created in Canva:
Don't feel like writing the rhythms by hand? Here are some to cut and paste on the back of each fish:
You're welcome ;)