Name/Title: Drum Beat Commands

Purpose of Event: To promote understanding of how to move, where to move, and when to move while interacting in physical education class.

Prerequisites: Students need to know where their 'spot' is to warm up; students need to recognize various 'meeting spots' for group instruction (e.g., circle on the floor)

Suggested Grade Level: 3-5

Materials Needed: Drum for teacher

Description of Idea

This is a great way to introduce students to procedures in a physical education class. Students can be taught to freeze instantly and put equipment down immediately, rather than 'take one more shot.' This system has allowed for me to take extra classes when necessary, as all students in the school are taught to react the same way to the drum beat.

One drum beat means: students freeze and put their hands on their knees; if they have equipment, they put it down on the floor and place their hands on their knees.

Two drumbeats mean: students run to the spot where the teacher points, such as a center circle, or around the teacher if the teacher points to themselves.

Three drum beats mean: students run and sit, legs criss-crossed, in personal spot.

The drum beat commands are being taught by having the students walk or jog in the same direction around the gym or field. On the beat (either once, twice, or three times), students react quickly and quietly. This allows for immediate silence in a busy class, as well as for quick relocation for group discussion or learning. These drum beat commands also allow a game to be stopped instantly if an announcement is heard over the intercom, a student is injured, or a quick 'teachable' moment is needed.

Assessment Ideas:

While students jog, walk, or skip the teacher checks for understanding by beating the drum in various ways. Continue until all students understand the signals.

Teaching Suggestions:

Instead of a drum you can use a hand clap signal, a chime, tambourine or any auditory signal that suits your needs.


Submitted by Jacqueline Wheeler who teaches at Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts in Hilton Head, SC. Thanks for contributing to PE Central! Posted on PEC: 2/17/2010.
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