Recorder Karate Pagodas — Displaying Student Progress
You can never have too many ways to show off student progress and celebrate success. I had a blank/grey bulletin board space in my classroom and wanted a way to show my students’ progress when they tested for recorder karate belts. In case you’re not familiar, Recorder Karate is a system to teach the recorder and measure student progress. Basically, students can earn a “belt” to tie on their recorder any time they test through a specific song. Each song has a new note or concept tied to it and the belts get progressively harder. Kids think that they’re just working for the belt but actually they’re working their way through the curriculum.
I created this pagoda display as a way to show student growth and also encourage kids to progress further. The pagoda has a new level/floor for each level of the recorder karate system and the colors follow the RK progression from white belt to black belt. I took colorful felt rectangles (get them at Hobby Lobby for 25 cents a piece), safety pinned them together, and then pinned them to the bulletin board/wall. Pieces of white paper were cut to look like the eaves/roofing of a pagoda and each strip of white paper covered where the felt was safety pinned together. So, the white paper gave the pagoda its shape but also hid where the felt rectangles were held together At the very top of the pagoda was a white roof and on it I wrote the name of a homeroom teacher.
I created a little card for each student which had their name along with a little picture of a kid playing recorder (these come as free downloads when you buy the recorder karate system… seriously, you should go get it). I would write the student name on the piece of paper and then put a bit of sticky velcro on the back. The cards stuck right on the felt and came off easily when I needed them to.
The beauty of this display was that kids could easily see their name go up the pagoda. When a student tested up to a new belt I let them move their name up. The display tracked their progress, tied the pagoda/karate theme together, looked great, and was super fun for me and the kids. It’s actually pretty easy and cheap to make and maintain.
Leave comments below if you have questions about how I made this work or if you’d like to learn more. You can also click on the Recorder Karate Tag to see all of the different kids of display that I make to track recorder karate progress.