Dyan Branstetter | August 2016

Rhythms of Rio – NEW UNIT!

The Rio Olympics may be over, but it’s not too late for students to revisit what they watched this summer by exploring Brazilian culture! This new arts integration unit, the Rhythms of Rio is designed for grade 2-4, integrates the percussive Brazilian samba with social studies and ELA standards. It focuses on basic Brazilian geography, culture, and history.

During each section of this unit, students are introduced to a different Brazilian percussion instrument and the samba rhythm of Rio that corresponds. While it can be used in a self-contained elementary classroom, it would be a fabulous opportunity to collaborate with your music teacher for a co-teaching experience.

Rhythms of Rio begins with an introduction to Brazilian samba, rhythm, and samba instruments, and then students explore information about Brazil. Each social studies lesson concludes with students learning the phonetic rhythm for each samba instrument. Once students have learned about Brazil and each instrument/rhythm, the unit culminates with the student-created videos of small ensemble samba performances combined with presentations that allow students to compare and contrast Brazil with their own country.

This unit is rich with standards. It is designed to integrate National Arts Anchor Standards 5, 11, and Social Studies Standards for the elementary level. Through instruction and assignments, students will work on mastering five different ELA standards as they read nonfiction text, compare/contrast information, find evidence for their answers and present information.

Don’t let a lack of access to instruments or lack of musical experience deter you. If you aren’t able to borrow instruments from a music teacher, substitutions are listed for each instrument as well as directions for how to make each one. If you lack experience with music, you can use the samba video clips as instruction for the class and learn as the students learn.

As with all of the EducationCloset units, this is available for you free after registration! It contains everything you need – from videos to materials – all in one spot. Take advantage of this resource and save yourself valuable planning time!


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.