Fable keeps the rhythm


The pupils should program Fable to keep the rhythm on a egg shakers possibly homemade constructed out of plastic cups. When the pupils have solved the task, they have to try and play to the rhythm all together.


You need the following materials for the lesson plan (per group):

  • Hub (Dongle)
  • 1 Fable joint-module
  • 1 lid
  • Computer with Fable Blockly installed
  • Egg shakers
  • Plastic cups
  • Pudding rice, plastic pellets or something similar
  • Baking paper and rubber bands
  • Xylophones, glockenspiels or something similar
  • Possibly small drums (in Fable’s size – could be yoghurt tubs or something similar)
  • Evt. små trommer (i Fables størrelse – kan være yoghurt-bøtter el. lign)
  • Possibly a drumstick or a mallet

Subject and grade: Music – 3rd.-4th. grade

Length: 8 weeks of 2 lessons (2×45 min) every week


Overall learning objectives:

  • The pupils can program Fable to keep the rhythm in eighth notes
  • The pupils can play to the rhythm that Fable keeps

Learning goals regarding programming:

  • The pupil can program using block structured programming.
  • The pupil can use debug their programming.
  • The pupil can optimise and correct their programming using logic reasoning.

Teaching differentiation:

If some pupils have a hard time with the task, or are unsure of the eighth note pulse, you could instead ask them to try and create a regular pulse on the quarter notes.

Teaching activities:

This project starts, with the teacher going over or refreshing the pupils’ knowledge about bars and notes. The pupils need to have a strong sense of quarter notes and eighth notes. This leads on to a talk about basic rhythmic music and the rhythm section of a band. The pupils need to have an understanding of, that in a simple beat on the drums, the hi-hat plays eighth notes and the bass drum and snare drum plays on the quarter notes.

The teacher goes over, how an egg shaker works, and while doing this, it would be a great idea to build a shaker out of plastic cups, filled with pudding rice, plastic pellets or something similar. By making these out of transparent plastic cups, the pupils will get a good visual perception of how a shaker actually works. Allow the pupils to experiment with different kinds of filling e.g. chickpeas, lentils etc. and let them experience what that does to the weight and sound of the shaker, and how it works rhythmically. This shakers however, are not very suitable for when programming the robot, as the size and filling will make it very difficult to create a tight and coherent rhythm.

Then the teacher introduces the pupils to Fable, and show them how to use Fable and the computer program. If this lesson plan is used with a class, that is used to working with Fable, then skip this part (and the preliminary exercises), and start the class with the actual task.

Start by doing basic exercises, so the pupils learn how to program the robot, and get a good knowledge of the basic block structures, especially, actions, loops and logic.

It is important that the pupils understand the fundamentals of programming, like adding a ‘wait in sec.’ between 2 movements, to get the robot to act in the desired way.

When the basic exercises have been completed, the actual task is presented to the pupils. When the pupil start programming, it is expected, that to begin with, they will make mistakes, and create programs, that doesn’t work as intended. Here, it is the job of the teacher to gently try and council the pupils and nudge them in the right direction, without actually giving them the solution.

As they get further into the task, one possible problem they will face, is that the rhythm will be very slow, if they don’t change the value of the ‘wait in sec.’ block. In the suggested solutions it is at 0.3 sec., which results in a tempo at about 112 bpm.

As some groups finish, it seems obvious to ask them to help the other groups and show their work to each other. Although their final product might be similar, their solutions will probably be different. An actual robot-band, playing synchronously is probably too much to hope for at this stage in their development.

When all the pupils are done programming the robots, they have to try to play to the rhythm the robot makes. In other words, they have to use the robot as a metronome.

To begin with you could let all the pupils play the same song, possibly on xylophones, glockenspiels, or whatever is at hand for the whole class. The song should be known by the pupils, and possibly played before. When the pupils have had the experience of playing the same song to the rhythm, you could then turn it into an exercise in improvisation, where the pupils freely play. Then you could try actual composition. Let the pupils try to compose 4 bars to the rhythm Fable keeps.

Extra assignment:

Let Fable be the band leader. Use the app Fable Face, to display different facial expressions, happy, sad etc. and let the pupils try to improvise music, that go with the emotions. This could also be done, while Fable keeps the rhythm.

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