Rhythm Pizza

When I first posted Rhythm Pizza it was one of my most popular printables. Teachers from all around the world wrote to me about how using this hands-on approach helped teach rhythm values.  Over the years it seems to be forgotten, buried in long ago posts. You can find the original post here. 

After I shared my frustrations in trying to cut circles in foam board, one teacher left a comment that it would have been easier for me to cut it with kitchen shears. Also if foam board sounds too hard to use, try gluing it to sheets of craft foam, which unlike foam board, is really easy to cut. Or you can just laminate and use it without the 3-D effect. However, gluing it to foam board really makes it easier for children to manipulate.

Anyway, I hope you will give it a try because it is really a great way to explain note values to children who haven’t learned fractions yet. If you’ve ever asked a student how many quarter notes is equal to a half note and received a blank stare,  you know what I mean. If they are in elementary school, it could be they have not yet been introduced to the concept of fractions, so you have to do that. Piano teachers are so used to gifted children that sometimes we forget many children don’t learn fractions until 4th grade. Rhythm Pizza works really well to get the concept across, plus you are giving them a head start in math. If students learn what notes equal instead of how many beats the notes receive, then it works for all time signatures. Two eighths always equals one quarter note.

We all learn in our own time.

Cut a picture of pizza into halves, quarters, and eighths to show rhythm values.


Please follow and like us:

3 thoughts to “Throwback Thursday Rhythm Pizza

  • Leigh jenkins

    It’s also helpful when (every!) student has trouble grasping why the 4 on the bottom of the time signature means quarter-note. I say, “Remember when we cut the pizza into FOUR pieces, and each one was a QUARTER note?”

    Rhythm Pizza is one tool I could not do without. I mounted it on foam board and it’s holding up well! Thank you!

  • Leigh jenkins

    Susan, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the Rhythm Pizza! I’ve used it for years with every single beginning student. Because the method books teach the quarter note first, then half, then whole, their names don’t really make sense to them until we get the pizza out. I talk them through the scenario: “You’re about to eat the WHOLE pizza, when a friend comes over. What do you do?” (So far everyone is willing to share.) “You cut it in HALF. Then two more friends come over. Now what?” Even the youngest one understand a QUARTER of the pizza. Works every time. And later, if they forget what a certain note is, I just have to say “Think of the pizza.”

    • Susan Paradis

      Leigh, that’s a great way to put it! I hope it will help some beginning teachers with some ideas about how to use rhythm pizza! What I’ve also noticed is that children don’t use the word “quarter” any more for money. They all say twenty-five cents, rather than a “quarter.” I’m not sure why that is!


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.