Ice Cream

Lesson: Ice Cream Please

The spring semester is a perfect time to let students have a little more independence and the opportunity to create. Who doesn’t love to create with drums? Most of my students do! This Ice Cream Canon is a fun lesson to use in the spring. This lesson can cover several concepts based on your curriculum or students’ needs. The foundational concept here is rhythmic Canon. There is also an opportunity to use rhythmic building bricks, student creation, and improvisation. To me, the beauty of the Orff Schulwerk process is that there are many paths. I can tailor my lessons to what my students need or where their skill level is.

The guided composition activity towards the end of the lesson allows students to spread their wings a bit. They could use the ice cream flavors I created or choose their own. Most of my students choose the latter. I call these activities guided because I give them a basic structure, but they also have opportunities to make decisions and be creative. I also give my students opportunities to decide on their final form. We have utilized many elements in this lesson, but ultimately they decide how to put it together.

This lesson will work even if you don’t have enough barred instruments for every student. You can have one instrument for every two students, and the lesson works just as well. Some of you are reading this saying, I don’t even have that many. Again, this lesson will still work. Hand drums, wood blocks, rhythm sticks, or any un-pitched percussion instruments will work as our primary focus is on rhythm. The pitched percussion instruments just add a different flavor.

I hope you enjoy creating with your students this spring and take some time for a frosty treat this summer.

– Angela

Ice Cream Please


  • Hand Drum Technique  
  • Canon  
  • Rondo Form  
  • Rhythmic Building Bricks  
  • *Composition

Click here to make a copy of the Teaching Slide Deck

[Based off of Rhythmic Canon, Music for Children, Vol I. pg. 74 #7 by Margaret Murray ] 

  • What is your favorite flavor of Ice Cream? 
  • Present visual of the three rhythmic units 
  • Teacher speaks the pattern 
  • What order did I say these in?  1 -2 -3 – 3 – 1 
  • Teacher speak the pattern, perform body percussion (clap) 
  • Underline word Please & Me – let’s make those a different level of Body Percussion (pat or stomp)
  • Teacher speak the pattern, perform body percussion (clap & pat) one phrase at a time- Students echo
  • Repeat as needed until S are comfortable with the rhythm 
  • Challenge students to do it without your help. Tell them you are going to try and trick them. Teacher performs part 2 of the canon.  Can students hold their own? 
  • Divide the class in half. 
  • Perform the pattern without speech only Body Percussion – Try in a 2-beat canon and 4-beat canon 
  • How is it different? Which do the students like the best? 
  • What would happen if you tried a 1 beat canon? (This is a challenge but fun to try.  Some groups can do it- others can not) 
  • T discusses hand drum technique: 
    • Play drum with dominant hand  
    • Two main sounds – ‘down’ with thumb and ‘up’ with middle & ring fingers  
    • Be sure to ‘bounce’ off the drum  
  • T tells S to use the ‘down’ stroke for the pats and the ‘up’ stroke for the claps -T Models
  • S play rhythm on drum  
  • When S are comfortable on drum – play rhythm in 2-beat canon  


  • Introduce the ice cream map with rhythmic building bricks- insert the building bricks into the ice cream map
    • Example:  I want some Ice, Tin Roof Sundae, Ice; I want some Rocky Road 
      Yes indeed! 
  • Rotate several students to come up and choose their flavors to place in the chart. 
  • Have students clap and say the new pattern. 
  • Have students transfer rhythms to hand drums or other un-pitched percussion instrument.
  • Option:  Have all students go to Orff Barred instruments and set in a Pentatonic (example C pentatonic they would take off their B’s & F’s)
    • At the instruments, can students play the rhythm that was created on the Ice Cream Map on only the note C? Can they expand to the notes C,D,E? Can they expand to the whole pentaton? (C, D, E, G, A)
    • Encourage students to play rhythm on any notes they wish; but end the last word (deed) on a C (your home tone). 
  • You could just work on this as a class or you might choose to work in small groups to create your own building brick ice cream. 
  • Talk about Rondo Form (The A keeps coming back) Day one is the A section – the whole class or small group creations are the contrasting sections. 
  • Create Ronod Form – Perform as a class.   
  • Another Option: Have small groups create a guided composition. See the project sheet below. Guided Composition will take more time, but students enjoy the freedom to choose and create. 

Building Bricks in Duple Meter (these are the basics, to begin with) You could create your own or have your students create their own based on these rhythms.

*Chocolate can be said in different ways depending on your region. Feel free to replace*

Example of Project Sheet I use with students

Click here to download a pdf of Angela’s lesson plan.

Angela Leonhardt

Angela Leonhardt is the music specialist at Hidden Forest Elementary in San Antonio where she was the 2018 NEISD Elementary Teacher of the Year. She holds Masters degrees in Music Education and Administration with principal certification and is currently working on a DMA from Boston University. She received her Orff certification from Trinity University. Angela teaches Orff Level I Pedagogy courses in the summer and is an active clinician in the US and Canada. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Central Texas Orff Chapter in the posts of Recording Secretary, Treasurer, VP and President and chair of the Curriculum Oversight and Review Committee for AOSA. Her service to NAfME-Texas a division of NAfME includes President, the council of chairs for K-12 Music and Music in Our Schools Month. Publications have been included in The Southwestern Musician, TMEC Connections, AOSA Reverberations and General Music Today. She is a contributing author with Growing in Grace and directs children’s choirs at her church and school.

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  1. Ckord on May 24, 2024 at 1:56 am

    Angela, this Ice Cream Canon lesson sounds like an absolute blast! I love how it combines foundational rhythmic concepts with student creativity and independence. The flexibility to use various instruments ensures that everyone can participate, regardless of your classroom’s resources. The idea of integrating body percussion and hand drums adds a tactile and engaging element to the lesson, making rhythm learning more dynamic and fun. Also, the guided composition activity is a brilliant way to let students personalize their learning experience while working within a structured framework. This approach not only makes the learning process more enjoyable but also empowers students to take ownership of their musical creations. I can’t wait to try this out with my own students and see what delicious rhythms they come up with! Thanks for sharing such an innovative and adaptable lesson plan.

  2. L. Shockey on May 29, 2024 at 6:12 pm

    Thank you, Angela, for a fun and creative lesson! Can’t wait to try it!

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