Engine, Engine #9 is one of those staples I use every year. But after doing it for over a decade I needed to find other ways to incorporate the concepts I wanted covered. I was getting bored with what I was teaching, and I knew that would come across in my delivery to the students.
The basic structure of the lesson began as always; learning the chant and the melody. Once my students were able to perform the song on their own, we then GOT OUT THE TUBANOS!! (This could also work for hand drums, rhythm sticks, or any un-pitched percussion you have in your classroom).
I placed the Tubanos around the room and had the students line up in “trains” behind one. Then as we sang the song the leader of the train had to drive their line to a new tubano. It took some practice and navigating on the students’ part. I didn’t want to assign an order of the tubanos that they had to visit because I wanted to see how they would problem solve if they arrived at a tubano at the same time as another group. I also used a triangle to signal that the leader was to go to the back of the line after each time through the song. For one of my classes this is where we stopped for the first day, we had to practice the train movement A LOT. My other class was more efficient in their problem solving so we were able to move to the next step.
We repeated the same process but this time in between each singing of the song the leader of the train had to echo rhythms that I played on my drum. These could be just the sounds, or use the rhythm notation language that you use. After 4 echoes, the leader would move to the back of the line and we would start again. The other train members could also echo the teacher but use body percussion.
The 2nd day we did this activity, instead of just echoing rhythms that I played first, the students had to read rhythms from a card. This could be a card or slide on the board that everyone plays all together; or you could place different cards at each drum so that each drum has a different rhythm for the students to play. They would do these rhythms 4 times and then the leader would go to the back.
This is also a great time to utilize the rhythm from the song and see if any student notices that it is the rhythm of the song. You can draw attention to that and have everyone perform the rhythm of the song.