Dyan Branstetter | May 2016

Groove Pizza

Have you checked out the app Groove Pizza, the music app for kids? It is a project that came out of the NYU MusEd lab, and it is fabulous. There are so many ways that you could use this to integrate music into intermediate and advanced math, but Groove Pizza is simple enough for even preschoolers to play with. (“The Groove Pizza is a playful tool for creating grooves using math concepts like shapes, angles, and patterns. Start working with one of the “specials” pizza presets and add/remove “toppings” to adjust the groove, or click on the “Shape Pizza” tab and drag various shapes onto the big circle to play and explore math-inspired grooves.” – https://musedlab.org/groovepizza)

As the school year draws to a close, the last month of school sometimes has random pockets of time in between special events and end of the year assessments. It is also a time when it is a struggle to engage students as we compete with sunny days and wandering minds. The following activity is great for addressing both of those needs at the primary level, and could be adapted for older grades simply by choosing a different text. It simply uses Groove Pizza as a tool to create a backing track for a student-written rhyme inspired by a book.


  • Computers or iPads with headphones
  • Dan Gutman’s Mr. Hynde is Out of His Mind! Or any book from My Weird School series. (Really, this could work for any topic or book.)

Second graders love this silly series of books by Dan Gutman, and they love coming up with silly rhymes. After reading, have pairs of students use characters from the book series to come up one little rhyme based on a four count. This is a great way to review syllable counting, and that it is only the 4th beat of each phrase that rhymes. Example:

Hey, (beat 1)

Yo, (beat 2)

My name is Mr. Hynde, (3, 4)

and I (1)

am (2)

gonna blow your mind. (3, 4)

Then, have those student pairs experiment with the Groove Pizza app. Allow them to play until they feel comfortable with the app, and then encourage them to adjust the beat until they have something they feel could accompany their rap/rhyme. As they are working, rotate to each pair and have them demonstrate how they count a 4-count beat. Explain how to count off so that the partners can begin the rhyme together, and then help them fit their rhyme into the beat that they chose. After finding their “backing track”, students can build their rap by adding more lines that follow the same pattern. Once groups are satisfied and have rehearsed, they can take turns performing for the class.

Share student created backing tracks on social media through Groove Pizza’s “share’ button, and have students perform for parents at home. They’ll love it!

Side Note:

The app can also help teach students to think independently about the elements surrounding music such as pitch, duration, dynamics, etc. For a visual, or an extra student-aid in the classroom, check out our Arts Integration Student Placemat:


About the Author

Dyan is a fifth grade teacher in a public school district in Lancaster, PA and has over 16 years of classroom experience. With a Masters of Science Education and a passion for dance and music, she strives to integrate the arts into the curriculum whenever possible. Dyan has a background in teaching advanced learners, and is devoted to using project based learning to help her students achieve 21st century learning skills and master the PA Core Standards.