Movement, Orff, Rhythm

Color Wheel

This is a lesson I developed for my level 3 Orff Schulwerk teacher education course. I wanted to challenge myself to create a lesson that didn’t use any instruments, although you could expand it and take it there in the end.

multicolored umbrella

To begin I had a color wheel printed and cut out, I laid the pieces of the wheel around on 5he floor being careful to keep them in their circle. You will need them to stay in the basic circle for the future steps.

Students pick whatever color they want, they can even pick the same as someone else if needed, making sure to keep themselves in the circle of the color wheel as well. Task the students to create a movement to represent their color. It can be locomotor or non locomotor. Students share around the circle their movements.

Next students will need to find someone across the circle from them, finding their complementary color. This is why it is important to keep the color wheel somewhat intact. Once in their groups students can work to make their movements work together. You can discuss complementary shapes and positive/negative space to help students move together. Some helpful thoughts to share with students:

  • Group Facilitating Questions:
    • Fit your movements together?
    • Use each other’s positive and negative space.
    • Layer?
    • Canon?
    • Take turns?
    • At the same time?

After students crate their partner/group movements, ask them to try and fit their movements into a desired amount of time. I like to use 4 beats, but you can use whatever meter suits your needs. Once students have perfected their movements into the desired amount of time, you can move onto complementary rhythms.


Using their movement as a spring board, students compose a rhythm to match their movement. Each student  composes their own rhythm for their movement, not the joint movement creation. It can match their movement exactly or be inspired by that movement. It depends on how free form their movements were to the success of transferring them to rhythms. As the teacher you may need to facilitate and help students realize their movements and their corresponding rhythmic notation. Once notated, on paper, students can then fit their rhythms together like they did their movements. And magically you have complementary rhythms!

I think this is a great lesson to show the relation between complementary things through art, movement, and music. Students can see the connections clearly through the process and make those connections. You can also take the rhythms created and continue on in many ways:

  • Body Percussion of rhythms
  • Un-Pitched percussion
  • Adding more groups together to create large pieces
  • Transferring some of the rhythms to melodic phrases
  • Putting groups together and having 1 group perform movement and the other group perform the rhythms associated

You can find the lesson plan and color wheel options here: Complementary Color Wheel



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