South African Inspired Activities for the Physical Education and Music Classroom

Lesson 5: South African Inspired Speech Piece and Game

North Carolina Essential Standards

5.CR.1.2 Understand the relationships between music and concepts from other areas.

5.ML.3.3 Create rhythmic compositions using notation for whole, dotted half, half, and quarter notes; whole, half and quarter rests; and beamed eighth notes in duple, triple, and common time and which are arranged using a variety of sound sources.

5.MR.1.2 Use music terminology in explaining music, including notation, instruments, voices, and performances.

5.ML.1.3 Use instruments to perform rhythmic, melodic, and chordal patterns accurately and independently on classroom rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic instruments.

5.C.1.4 Understand how cultural narratives (legends, songs, ballads, games, folk tales and art forms) reflect the lifestyles, beliefs and struggles of diverse ethnic groups.

Prerequisite Knowledge

  • Students will understand the concept of 4 phrase speech piece.
  • Students will know music notation for rhythm composition.
  • Students will demonstrate the fundamentals of planning and creating games.


Students will be able to:

            • write a speech piece (poem) inspired from a poem written by an  African child or a photo taken in South Africa.
            • compose a three-part instrumental accompaniment to their speech piece.
            • create a game/dance that goes along with their speech piece.


            • Students will create an original speech piece evaluated using a three-stage rubric.
            • Students will present his/her original work.



Online resources:

  • SMARTBoard activity “Classifications of World Instruments” with accompany worksheet
  • Songs of the Rainbow Children by Cheryl Lavender: Impuku Nedati


  • “South African Songs, Dances, and Games” [video created by the authors of games and music and movements from Emafini and NMMU Choir]
  • Picture-Inspired Speech Piece examples
  • CD of Song of the Rainbow Children by Cheryl Lavender
  • Poems from children found in Songs of the Rainbow Children
  • Instruments (e.g., Mbira and shakers)
  • Game equipment (e.g., jump ropes, chinese jump ropes, balls, beanbags,  scarves, ribbons, boom whackers and pool noodles)
  • Selected photographs of South Africa
  • Summative assessment rubric
  • Paper and pencils

Prior Preparation

  • Copies of poems for student inspiration.
  • Photos for inspiration
  • Presentation video of students from Emafini
  • Student-Peer Evaluation forms
  • Four-phrase speech piece inspired by a poem from the book to demonstrate to the learners.  
  • Three stage rubric for speech piece, rhythm piece, and game or movement


  1. In this final lesson of South African Inspired Activities for the Physical Education and Music Classroom, we will review some of the games and activities in South Africa and include how culture is reflected in music and sports.  Students will be guided through a three stage writing, creating and presenting project.
  2. Introduce the video “South African Songs, Dances, and Games” showing children playing games and singing at Emafini Primary School and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa.  
  3. Have students to note similarities and differences between South African and U.S. culture.  
    • Similarities may include: girls putting repetitive dance steps to song; Frog Dance: children playfully acting out the lyrics of song (similar); jump rope; NMMU Chorus with choreography is similar to U.S. choral groups.
    • Differences may include: Intoga stick-fighting moves; Jump rope (both Forward and Reverse and Little Loop Big Loop); Chinese jump rope used differently than our games; Puca: game of stones similar to marbles but used primarily as a girl's’ activity; Hand Jive very similar to our hand games; Ladies dance during a farewell celebration not common in the U.S.

Guided Practice

Part I

  1. Recite a four-phrase speech piece inspired from  a picture taken in South Africa and present as an example.
  2. Each picture will  include a caption of what it is about.  Pictures will include wild animals, houses from the communities, children from the schools, statues and artwork from South Africa, scenery, and playgrounds.  
  3. Some pictures capture the beauty of South Africa, others will show what the country has to offer as far as art and animals, whiles other pictures will depict the life and school in the more rural areas.
  4. Share this quote from the author of Songs from the Rainbow Children: “A spirit of resourcefulness prevails.  South African schools are still surrounded by iron gates, barbed wire, and concrete walls -protection from crime.  But, big walls become artists’ canvas, and children paint wonderful, brightly colored murals on them.”  Ask how students would interpret this quote. (Literally….there are fences and walls everywhere some with graffiti...or even though there are fences up the African children still have smiles, dreams, and inspirations.)
  5. Ask the students what they noticed about the speech piece.
    • Poem had 4 lines
    • All four lines matched beat to either  2, 3, or 4; one or two measures.
    • Read fluently
    • Correct rhyming scheme (2  lines or 4 lines rhyme)
    • Content reflected the chosen picture or child’s poem
  6. Review the framework of a successful speech piece.
  7. Select a topic (inspiration from photo or child’s writing)
  8. Each line should have four beats or eight beats.  (If you start with four beat, every line should have 4 beats.  If you start with 3 beats, every line should have 3 beats.
  9. Rhyming lines:  Select which lines will rhyme. (Not all need to least two.)
  10. Does it make sense? Does it have substance?
  11. Before having the students select their child’s poem or picture, share the author’s reflection from the Forward of the book, “Songs of the Rainbow Children”. (to help further the understanding of  South Africa, its people, history, and culture.)
  12. Students are grouped in threes to work and complete their speech piece.
  13. The group is encouraged to rehearse their speech piece for fluency and tempo before presenting it to the teacher for feedback.
  14. Give feedback to each group after demonstrated. Rubric form from framework established.  
  15. Rewrites as needed.

Part II: Writing the 3 instrument accompaniment.  

  1. Review framework for successful rhythm accompaniment.   
  2. Select instruments that would perform this piece. (Using at least two African instruments from the classroom: Djembe, Talking drum, Low Drum, mbira, shekere, shakers, xylophones.
  3. Select a time signature.
  4. One part must keep a steady beat pattern (rhythm ostinato)
  5. Options for part II and III
  6. Call and response  (highly used in African music)
  7. Complementary duet
  8. If you use xylophone, must use a staff
  9. Rhythm composition written correctly with notation and 8 or 16 measures complete.  Sixteen measures if 2 beat phrases, 8 measures in 4 beat phrases.  (Repetition is your friend! )
  10. Give feedback to each group after demonstrated. Rubric form from framework established earlier.   
  11. Rewrites as needed.

Part III: Creating a game or movement to accompany the speech composition.

  1. Revisit the opening video of games, songs, and activities.
  2. Select one of the following:
    • Choreographed dance with ribbons/scarves or movements. (Almost all South African songs are performed with some kind of whole-group movement, consisting of simple or complex step patterns.  This is an opportunity from students to be creative.)
    • Choreographed “Stick-Fighting” routine using boomwhackers or pool noodle sticks. (review  movements from lesson #3.)
    • Choreographed Netball or Soccer warm-up activity using the techniques learned in lesson #1 or #2.
    • Whole group game (similar to “mouse and cat” from lesson #4.)
      • What is the objective of the game?
      • How does your game relate to the speech piece?
      • What are the rules?
      • How does the speech piece fit into the game?
        • Is it ABA section: A is the speech and instrument part and B is the game?
        • Do you play while the speech piece and instruments are playing?
    • Individual or small group game (as seen in the opening video clip)
      • Chinese jump rope routine
      • Jump rope routine
      • Hand clapping routine
      • Ball and Jacks type game
      • Other
  3. Students write out instructions and practice their game/movement
  4. Give feedback to each group after demonstrated. Rubric form from framework established earlier.   
  5. Rewrites as needed.


  1. The students will share their work with other classmates. Participate in games and activities.  They will be given a peer-evaluation form to complete.  
    • What did you learn about the culture from the picture/poem inspired speech piece?
    • How did the instrument composition reflect the South African spirit?
    • What was the cultural impact of the game or choreographed movement?  What did it make you think and reflect about as you participated?