The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum

Contributed by: Andy Kenen, Kenston High School, Bainbridge Township, OH


Rap music and hip-hop have become the pop music of the nineties. Students of all ages like to mimic the rappers they listen to on CD’s, tapes, and the radio. As we prepare to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of rap music in American, it’s time to bring the music into the classroom. This lesson builds on students’ interest in rap music as well as their enjoyment of rhyming and word games to work on language and communication skills such as rhyming words, writing, and public speaking.


The students will be able to: 

  1. list words that rhyme.
  2. create poetic couplets.
  3. read the poetry aloud to the eight beat rhythm.



This lesson is most effective and appropriate for elementary students, but could be adapted for an older audience.

Time Frame

One class meeting.


CD or cassette player; blackboard or posterboard and markers; copy of selected recording and lyrics or other rap example of teacher’s choice.


Will Smith’s recordings are popular with the younger crowd and high school-aged students. His hip-hop style is generally positive and appropriate for classroom use. If you would like to use another artist, solicit help from your students. Many of the younger children listen to rap on the radio and can provide some other examples of “clean” rap music.



  1. Introduce the idea of rap music being built on eight beats (two sets of four beats).
  2. Play examples of rap and hip-hop music like “Just the Two of Us” by Will Smith. Have students read the lyrics and analyze the rhyme patterns. Point out the story that is told (the song is written to Smith’s young son). Let students clap to the rhythm to get the eight beat feel. Point out how the chorus fits in with the verses.
  3. Have students list words on the blackboard that rhyme with eight. (I chose this because it fits with the beat count and is easy to rhyme.)
  4. Introduce this chorus: Rappin’ 8, rappin’ 8,
  5. Join the fun, don’t be late.
  6. Rappin’ 8, rappin’ 8,
  7. You’re up next, don’t hesitate.
  8. Each student should choose two of the rhyming words and write a couplet to use for the rap. The couplet should follow the eight beat pattern of the chorus.
  9. Start the class clapping and counting the rhythm. After each chorus have another student join in with a verse.
  10. Encourage students to applaud at the end.
  11. As students become adept at this, have contest to see if they can rhyme more complex words.


Students may be evaluated based on participation. A contest may be held with groups creating their own 8-Raps.

Selected Recordings

“Just the Two of Us” Recorded by Will Smith Big Willie Style (Columbia, 1997).

Contributed by

Andrew Kenen, Kenston High School, Bainbridge Township, Ohio


Language Arts, ELEM, Winter, 1998