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Score on the Floor

Aim: What are the notes on the treble staff?
Summary: Students explore absolute pitch through movement and games.
Standards: US 5, 6; NYC 1, 2
Grade: 3rd
Concept: Pitch
Artistic Process: creating, responding
Materials: painter’s tape, pitched percussion instruments (e.g., glockenspiels, Orff instruments, piano)
Time Required: 15 minutes


  1. Create a staff on the floor using five horizontal lines of tape. Label each line and space with the appropriate letter name but cover the letter with a piece of paper.
  2. Review lines and spaces by having students walk in steps and jump in leaps on the floor staff.
  3. Play an A on a pitched instrument and ask students to stand on the space for A. Check students’ response by revealing the name for the A space.
  4. Play a B and direct students to move up a step (ensure that they move to the B line, not the C space).
    • What comes after A in the alphabet?
    • Let’s see if we are right! (Reveal label on the B line.)
  5. Continue to play the next ascending notes in steps and reveal the notes up to G above the staff.
    • In music, this is where our alphabet ends.
    • How many letters do we have? On what letters did we start and end?
  6. Return students to A on the staff. Play a G and direct students to move down a step and introduce/reveal the musical alphabet descending to E on the staff.
  7. Review each letter name ascending and descending by playing each pitch by step or leap, and have students move up or down and speak the note name.

Going Deeper

  1. Ask for a small group of volunteers to spell out words on the staff (one student per letter). The rest of the class will give a thumbs-up if the word is spelled correctly or raise their hand to help a peer find the right note. (e.g., BAG, FACE, EGG, GAB, FEED, DAD, BED, DEED, BEAD, etc.)
  2. Write the letter names of a well-known classroom song on the board and ask students to stand on the staff to represent the notes of the song. Sing through the song on letter names until students recognize the song, then sing through on lyrics. Have each student on the staff jump when his or her note is sung.
  3. Introduce ledger lines with movable pieces of paper and remove staff labels as students become comfortable with the staff.


Grade 3 Activity Exemplar: Pitch

This video is an exemplar of an activity from Carnegie Hall’s Music Educators Toolbox entitled “Staff Hopscotch.” Students explore absolute pitch through movement and games.


Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

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