Monday, May 20, 2013

Giant Chalk Keyboard: Outdoor Music Activity for Kids

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Looking for outdoor music activities for kids? Well, why not try this giant chalk keyboard outdoor music activity for kids!

I thought it would be fun to draw a large piano keyboard out of chalk for my kids to play with. Maybe teach them a few music related concepts. Maybe burn off some excess energy by turning it into a hopscotch style game. Get outside and enjoy the warm weather. That kind of thing.

Originally, I was going to leave this chalk keyboard blank without letters, but I've quickly learned that by simply adding letters or even numbers to any craft or activity, my boys are more likely to enjoy the activity. This was before I knew what hyperlexia was by the way. But now it all makes sense why that's the case.

Well, this outdoor music activity for kids ended up being such a great way to sneak in some gross motor play, some music learning, and some letter play. Among many other things.

Giant piano keyboard drawing made out of chalk as part of an outdoor music activity for kids

What You'll Need for this Outdoor Music Activity for Kids

If you're ready for a little music play outdoors this summer, then here's what you'll need:

Simply draw a large piano keyboard using the sidewalk chalk on a driveway or sidewalk. I drew two full octaves, but you can make yours as big or as little as you'd like.

Giant chalk piano keyboard drawing

The keyboard alone was not enough to hold my boys' attention, just as I figured. However, once I wrote all of the note names on the keyboard, the boys were so excited. Hyperlexic kids just can't resist an activity that includes their love of letters!

Chalk keyboard drawing with the musical alphabet written on it

Child standing on a chalk piano with letters on it

Time to Let the Kids Explore the Giant Chalk Keyboard!

This activity is so versatile and can be used to work on a variety of music theory concepts. Music teachers can try it as an outside music class in the spring as a way to make for more engaging music lessons. Or parents can try it at home for fun or to help their kids practice what they're learning in piano lessons.

Seriously this giant chalk keyboard is one of my all time favorite music activities that we've done. Here are some fun ways to play that are perfect for toddlers, preschoolers, and young elementary kids:

  • Walk along each key of the piano and say the corresponding letter names
  • Call out a letter name to your child and have them jump on the piano key that has that letter
  • Practice patterns by calling out a pattern of note names (e.g., C-D-E, C-D-E). Then have them repeat it back by stepping on the keys that have those letters.
  • Sing the letter names starting at the lowest C all the way up to practice pitch and range. That is, they should sing higher as they go up or lower as they come down. Or if do-re-mi is your thing, you can do that instead too.
  • Count the number of keys. You could count just the black keys, just the white ones, or all of the keys on the piano.
  • Skip over notes on the keyboard. For example, go from C to E and then E to G. Doing so is a great opportunity to talk about intervals, or the distance between notes. In beginner piano, we usually just call them skips.
  • Have your child write the letter names on each piano key themselves versus you writing them on

Fun Music Games & Ideas to Try with Older Kids

This music activity is also great for older kids to work on more advance theory concepts than finding keys and naming them. For instance, they could:

  • Use large rocks to mark the notes of a triad or chord on the piano keyboard
  • Explore different intervals by jumping from one piano key to the next. For example, for a perfect fourth, they could start on a C, then jump to an F.
  • Practice different scales by walking along the correct keys needed for their scale
  • Play music! Maybe there is a tricky part of a song that they're working on in piano lessons that needs some extra practice. Try stomping it out for something different.
  • Learn about sharps, flats, and naturals and practice finding them on the chalk keyboard

Let's See this Music Activity in Action!

To give you a better sense of how we did this activity, here are some pictures of my kids learning about music. Like I mentioned, one of the things I did first was label all the keys on the piano with the musical alphabet. So my kids took some time saying the musical alphabet.

Kids enjoying a music activity for kids outdoors

Outdoor music theory games for kids using a giant chalk keyboard

Music and movement activity for toddlers and preschoolers to do outdoors

My oldest son J practiced skips on the keyboard by finding the letters I called out, such as "A to C," and placing a foot on each note. Then he moved to jumping from note to note.

Preschool music and movement activity using a giant chalk keyboard

Child jumping on a musical fun keyboard outdoors

Child jumping on a chalk keyboard

Then, J being J, he numbered the piano keys. Hypernumeracy in action here! 

Close up of numbers and letters on a giant chalk piano keyboard drawing

This outdoor music activity for kids was a blast! And I think J is really starting to pick up on the piano keyboard's layout. Perhaps it's time to start teaching him a bit of piano? Taught by me, of course, as I am a piano teacher.

Other Easy Music Games & Activities for Kids You'll Love

This outdoor music activity for kids is part of the "Music Fun for Little Ones" series. You can see more of the fun ideas here.

This giant chalk keyboard outdoor music activity for kids is a great music and movement activity for toddlers and preschoolers and a great way to work on music theory concepts with older kids