Well it’s half-term holiday in the Russell house and the weather is rubbish. What better time to trawl the internet for fab music games to play with my boys.
My younger son Matthew is 5. He’s been playing around with the black key songs in My First Piano Adventures and he knows where C, D and E are on the keyboard. My elder son Adam is 7. He’s been playing for a few years now and is a confident reader. I’m going to need a game that will work well for both of them. Not too hard for Matthew nor too easy for Adam.
First stop – as always – is Susan Paradis’ amazing site. Always loads of fun games, composition activities and pieces. Especially for pre-readers! Straight away I found an adorable game she calls Save the Turkey. It’s been designed for the US holiday Thanksgiving, but since we don’t have Thanksgiving in the UK then we have no problem playing it in February!!
The set comes with a Turkey card, two “Skip a Turn” cards and seven keyboards, each with a different key highlighted. You can download, print and cut out the cards here.
Firstly, we got rid of the skip a turn cards, they didn’t go down well at all with Matthew!! Secondly we put the Turkey at the bottom of the pile (actually Matthew “looked after” the Turkey – he has been a bit poorly this week!!). We made a pile with the rest of the cards and left them face down.
My Rules: Each player took it in turns to take a card from the top of the pile. Each player had different tasks to do with their cards. Matthew just had to find the key on the piano and play it. Adam had to name the pitch, draw it on the stave on my whiteboard (you could use manuscript paper), then find the key on the piano.
As the game progressed I was able to stretch each of the boys. For Matthew he started naming the pitch if it was C, D or E. Then we talked about “counting” up the alphabet to get F and G. A and B were a stretch but at least the concept has been introduced to him. Matthew also “helped” me when it was my turn! For Adam he was tasked to draw the note on the whiteboard, but in more than one octave. When he played it on the piano he had to match the octave to the ones he had drawn. If your child or student isn’t very confident with writing yet, you could find a piece they’ve been playing and ask them to find the note on the page.
I did think one set would be a very short game so I printed two copies – however, in retrospect I think a couple of short games with a number of winners would have been better. We managed to play for 30 minutes though, which I was really pleased with.