Large Staff to move notes

Giant Staff for Three C’s Activity

The Three C’s is an activity I made it to help young students learn middle C, bass C, and treble C, but of course it can be used for other activities as well.

Lately I have been teaching the three C’s together as guide notes  before I teach G and F. I have found that many beginning students get  mixed up and I wanted to try something different. Instead of starting with middle C, treble G, and bass F, will it be easier to remember 3 C’s first before branching out?

Counting lines and spaces symmetrically (illustration only, not for printing)

In order to help students remember, I made a giant staff as a manipulative.  I tell them it’s called Three C’s because we are placing 3 C’s on the staff and we go up 3 spaces for treble C and down 3 spaces for bass C. If you count from the bottom up on the bass clef, you might wonder why I am counting down. The reason is because counting up the treble and down the bass staff is more intuitive for children who are learning middle C. This is the way Faber’s My First Piano Adventures teaches counting on the staff and I have found it works very well.  I am not a teacher who always does something just because that was the way I was taught! Does it hurt later on when they start to read chords from the root up? No, I have not found that to be a problem.

Posted separately are the notes for the giant staff.

Notes for 3 C’s Activity

Three C’s is the largest grand staff I have on my website. The spaces are 1 1/2 wide and the grand staff is about 14 inches high.

To construct the grand staff , first, print out the treble and bass pages. Laminate them with clear vinyl or a laminating machine.  You will have to attach them together. I used clear mailing tape to tape right sides together, being careful to get the line for middle C exactly in the middle and spaced an even distance from the treble and bass staves. My home lamination sheets are only 8 1/2 by 11, so that is why I had to tape the staves together. Also, the way I taped them makes it easy to fold together and put in a file folder for storage with the notes.

Next, print out the notes for the grand staff, but do not laminate them yet.  If you can print on clear transparency paper, do that and then cut out your notes.

If you can not do that, print on card stock, and cut out the notes, including out the insides of the half and whole notes. After the notes are cut out, laminate them being careful not to put them too close together.  You will need to leave some space around the notes when you laminate them. If you are using clear vinyl such as clear book covers, you will have to cover both sides to get the same effect. Cut them out again, leaving about 1/2 inch or more clear laminating border around the notes so the children can handle them easier.  Now when students place the half and whole notes on lines, they will see the staff lines underneath the note.

You might need some small embroidery scissors to cut the insides of the notes.  If you can see a little white inside the notes because it is hard to cut close, color the white edges with a black Sharpie.

If this looks and sounds complicated, it is not. I was able to print it all out, laminate it all, and get it ready for a student in about 30 minutes, and that includes the cutting time.

I made quarter and half notes for this set because so many times students learn only how to place whole notes and get totally confused when the notes have stems. This is especially true with young children and older children with learning disabilities. We practiced placing the whole notes first, then on top of that we would place notes with a stem so students could see how it is the note head that is in the space or line. That is so simple to us, but to children it is often a revelation!

I teach reading by intervals, but it is still necessary to learn how to identify notes, not only to give students confidence,  but so they can learn to quickly move from one to position to another. It might not be evident  from all the activities I have on my website, but I take a fairly relaxed attitude toward note reading. Eventually they all will learn them if you keep plugging along.

This manipulative is also handy for older students to review all their notes, and to practice the stem rule.

Let me know how it goes!

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5 thoughts to “Three C’s (A Giant Staff)

  • Hannah

    I have been using just the laminated notes for teaching rhythm at the first lesson or two. I start out with just the quarter and half notes, and have them clap once for each note. I then have them clap and count.

    After they get it down, I let them mix them out how they want to, and they enjoy trying to clap and count out what they arranged. 🙂

    It would be great if there were rests as well so that they could do more counting later on.

    Thank you for your resources! My students absolutely love them. I had a student come in Monday with a big smile on her face and she said “Hannah, are we going to play a game today?” 🙂

  • Carol Dawn

    Have made another staff with G line and F line colored. Like another visual aid to help with note identification.

  • Carol Dawn

    I’ve been using this with beginners for steps and skips, too. Might add another width of just lines to allow more manipulative space. Made 2 sets of the notes. Laminated, they’re easy to handle and look super!
    Thanks yet again.

  • Rachel J.

    This was a great post. I teach High C and Low C first using the 3 spaces up/down explanation, and it does seem to work well. I hadn’t thought about the big visual aid with the movable notes, though! Seems like it would really reinforce it for the young kids.

    • susanparadis

      Thanks for your comments! It’s good to know someone else is trying this, too.


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