Clapping and Tapping

Use a School Readiness Activity to provide early language thinking experiences for preschool children that will prepare them to do well in the early grades.
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Clapping and Tapping


  • To follow verbal directions
  • To demonstrate understanding through actions
  • To build vocabulary

Rhythm instruments or blocks

listen follow directions
clap tap
soft loud
fast     slow

Literature Suggestion
Read any appealing book about making music.

Ask children to close their eyes and listen carefully. Clap your hands. Tell children to open their eyes and guess what you did. Then ask them to clap and make sure they all know how. Have children close their eyes and listen again. This time, take two rhythm sticks or blocks from a hiding spot and tap them together. Hide the sticks or blocks, and have children open their eyes and guess what you did. Show them the sticks or blocks, and demonstrate making the sound.


  • Ask children to pretend that they are musicians in a band. Explain that musicians have to listen and follow directions to make beautiful music together. Tell children that you will make a sound and they should repeat it. Clap your hands slowly a few times; then have them clap their hands slowly a few times. Next, clap your hands fast a few times; then have the children clap their hands fast a few times. Make sure the children understand the words slow and fast. Repeat the experience with soft and loud clapping.
  • When children are comfortable following one-step clapping or tapping directions, introduce two-step directions. For example, clap or play for three beats and then stamp feet for three beats.

Distribute two rhythm sticks or blocks to each child and have the children follow your directions to tap the sticks or blocks together. (Help children position their hands so no little fingers get pinched!) Repeat the activity, adding other rhythm instruments such as tambourines and triangles. Then play some music and let children tap and clap to the beat.

Observation Assessment

  • Proficient - Child listens and watches the demonstration, and follows directions.
  • In Process - Child has difficulty keeping attention on the demonstration, and follows only a few directions.
  • Not Yet Ready - Child does not yet listen well or follow directions.
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