Animal Alphabet Clothespin Matching cards

Alphabet Clothes Pin Matching Cards on the staff

Alphabet Keyboard Clothes Pin Keyboard Cards

Alphabet Clothpin Matchup

I’ve used the little animal characters I designed to create a matching game for students who are learning the note names around middle C. Students take a clothes pin and clip it on the matching letter on the staff. It’s fun, and something a little different. It’s not hard but I think it’s a good way for younger students to practice learning note names. I also made a version for pre-readers using keyboards. If there is enough interest I’ll post it.

If is funny that some children don’t know what clothes pins are. I tell them how I was the person in the house who had to carry the clothes out in the back and hang them on the clothes line. And I was the one who had to run out real fast and take them down if it started raining. Their eyes seem to get big like they are sitting in the presence of a true pioneer woman, especially when I tell them I remember finally getting a washing machine when I was a little girl. When I was real young we lived in a small city and the laundry man came around and got our dirty laundry. One student asked me if I remember when cars were invented!

There are 3 pages of cards. Print them on sturdy card stock and laminate. If you can’t laminate, and you want them to last, cover with clear plastic, such as clear Contact™ paper.

A few years ago I gave a baby shower and one of the games used little mini-clothes pins. I still have them, and I’m trying to think of some way to use them. But they were too small for my young students to use, so I went into my laundry room and got these. Laundry rooms are nice, but in a way I miss those simpler times when I spent the summer dashing out in the backyard to bring in the clothes!


  • To quickly identify the 9 notes around Middle C
  • To work on eye-hand coordination
  • To strengthen the fingers
  • To enjoy a hands-on activity


  • Children ages 5-8 who are learning to read note names


  • Regular size clothes pins
  • Alphabet Clothes Pin Matching Cards, printed and cut out of card stock


  • This activity is for one student, but can be modified for more than one
  • The teacher gives the student the cards and a supply of clothes pins
  • The object is to attach the clothes pin under the correct name of the note on the staff
  • As the students get better and know the notes, the game can be played with a timer

Why I like this game

  • It does not require a lot of preparation
  • It is fast and can be played in a few minutes
  • It is something a little different for students but they recognize the characters
  • It also helps to strengthen the fingers a little



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Filed under Games, Note Identification, Preschool Music Resources

62 Responses to Animal Alphabet Clothespin Matching cards

  1. Please post the pre-reader version. I just started a new bunch of little ones and I have tons of $ store clothes pins. Love this.

    • susanparadis

      I will. I will try my best to get it up Monday. I have the file made, just not the things you have to do for a blog post.

    • Priscilla Moffett

      Susan, I am just reading that you have a floor staff!! I have been trying
      to find one….not make it…like on the videos for Piano Adventures, Faber….can you give direction? Also do you have a school year activity calendar for your studio? I will devise one but just wondered if there was
      something clever there too!

      • susanparadis

        I am working on a pdf floor keyboard you can send to a printer. I posted a school year calendar about 2 weeks ago. Hope that helps!

        • Priscilla Moffett

          Great! I missed it ….will do a search

        • Priscilla Moffett

          DISCOVERY: I found a box of self laminating document protectors in a box of teaching/game making stuff…more than 10 years old.. a few years for sure….just tested on one of the cartoon sheets about Dotted notes, which you made and it
          was quick and Easy! Gonna try on the Alphabet Animal cards – Easy to cut through too. WOW Scotch brand – made by 3M

        • Priscilla Moffett

          CUTE CALENDAR!! I am just looking for one I can personalize by high lighting special dates for my particular studio….have spent the last 3 hours
          in frustrations – found several to tweek but – not exactly as nice and organized as I wanted it ..

  2. Katie

    Love, love, love this! I have a couple beginning students who are just going to love this game. Thanks for posting it. I have a couple clothes pins that I’ve podge modged some cute paper on that I’ve been thinking of more ways to use.

    • susanparadis

      You should send us a picture! We might get some good ideas. I put little “jewel” stickers on some of mine, but yours sound really cute!

  3. S. Smith

    Do you have your animal pictures available to download? I’m a violin teacher, so I need only the treble clef notes, and I’d like to make my own version of this for a little student.

  4. Heather

    We are using our clothespins outside, but will bring some in;) The keyboard version will be great too! Thanks!

  5. Loved your story….pioneer woman? LOL!!!! : )
    Good way to get back to doing things the old fashion way…clothes pin note naming. I may try it to. : )

  6. Fun game and I would like the keyboard version. I’ve got laundry on the line right now, but I rarely need clothespins-just shake and hang.

  7. Robbin

    Oh, Susan. My struggling little student will enjoy this. I don’t know if I will ever get her reading on the staff, but with your games, she and I are having a great time every week!

    • susanparadis

      Robbin, I have often thought the same thing! Those little songs I posted over the summer have been a great help to one of my students.

  8. Gail

    My question is not related to this game idea but to the assignment sheet form with the circle of fifths. Love this and many other of your ideas, btw, and plan to use with my students! Question: is there another form that you prefer for younger students? Noticed that this one is labled intermediate level.
    Thank you!

    • susanparadis

      Yes, I have an assignment sheet for the young set. I use it for 5 and 6 year olds. It has ladybugs it is in color. Should I post it? Once they are in a regular method, I use the one with the circle of fifths. My students all take the Texas Theory Test, so I like to get them thinking about the circle of 5ths early.

      • Gail

        Thank you for the quick reply! Yes, please post it if you don’t mind. I do Alabama Music Teachers keyboard theory myself, so the circle of fifths is fine to include for most of my students. I just might start first year (and young) students with your ladybug sheet, if it fits.

        • susanparadis

          I may decided to fix it up a little before I post it! My students always feel so grown up when they graduate to the boring black and white one.

          On Thu, Aug 15, 2013 at 2:56 PM, Susan Paradis' Piano Teacher

        • Priscilla Moffett

          is this lady bug assignment sheet posted?

          • susanparadis

            No, since it’s in color, I never thought anyone would want it.

            On Thu, Aug 15, 2013 at 3:21 PM, Susan Paradis' Piano Teacher

          • Priscilla Moffett

            would love it… printing in colors now…the children really react!!

      • Priscilla Moffett

        Love to see both…I do Texas Theory Test too !

        • susanparadis

          The regular assignment sheet with the circle of 5ths is on my website. I call it assignment book, don’t ask me why. Here’s the link.

          On Thu, Aug 15, 2013 at 3:25 PM, Susan Paradis' Piano Teacher

          • Priscilla Moffett

            OK, great Got it – will check back in a day or two for the one for
            younger ones

            carpal tunnel surgery tomorrow…ugh

          • susanparadis

            Oh no, carpal tunnel. I had that and it was so painful. Good luck on your surgery. Keep in touch!

          • Priscilla Moffett

            my second andlast….thanks for the encouragement … main concern
            right now going into that dream land of medicine …is how am I to b successful with this new dyslexic student……and make her feel so fine
            about making music and lovely about herself.

          • Priscilla Moffett

            I found your colorful calendar once and now it’s gone and when I search from your website it isnt there – would you please remind me how to access it? thanks!
            You know how time consuming it is doing a search like that…..

          • susanparadis

            Here’s an idea the next time you can’t find something. Use the search engine. I typed in ‘binder calendar” and went right to it. I posted it August 7. The link is

            On Sun, Aug 18, 2013 at 3:08 PM, Susan Paradis' Piano Teacher

          • Priscilla Moffett

            yeah!!easyi thank you this carpal tunnel was more painful than
            the first…..did you have both done???
            maybe because I am trying to get all this paperwork done this week.

          • susanparadis

            Take it easy! Don’t try to do too much!

        • susanparadis

          Where are you in Texas? Have we met at the convention? You can send an email if you prefer.

  9. Priscilla Moffett

    Susan, how do you get the perfectly rounded corners? probably a
    stupid question…….sorry

    • Robbin

      10 to 1 she uses a corner rounder. Look in the scrapbooking section of Hobby Lobby or Michaels.

      • susanparadis

        No I don’t use a corner rounder, because the cards are made of heavy cardstock and they are laminated. I just cut very carefully. I’ve had lots of practice!

    • susanparadis

      When I made the cards on my computer, I used Photoshop, where you can draw rectangles with rounded corners. When I got ready to cut them out, I decided they would look cute with a white border. I figured if they looked bad, I could just re-cut them on the black line. They are not perfect, if you look closely. Corner rounders will not cut through laminated material, and they don’t work too well on cardstock. If you want to try a corner rounder, use it before you laminate!

      • Priscilla Moffett

        I just love these self laminating sheets – so easy to do and you can cut
        through them to trim those cute animal cards!! made by Scotch/3M, got them several years ago at Office Depot….

        • susanparadis

          It’s good laminating material, too. They will keep for years! BTW, I made a really giant keyboard, and ordered it from a banner company. If it turns out well, I’ll share the file, but if it doesn’t turn out like I hope, I guess it’s back to the drawing board!

          On Sun, Aug 18, 2013 at 2:54 PM, Susan Paradis' Piano Teacher

          • Priscilla Moffett

            Wonderful!! I am hoping it will be a great help with this new dyslexic student especially—

  10. Jean Prior

    I love it! I would like to see the pre-reader version also.

  11. Priscilla Moffett

    What a brilliant idea!! Awesome you are . Love the clothes pin
    story! I am going to try….Just started a new 8 yr student yesterday and her
    father filled out the info form – she is dyslexic. This might prove to be
    a God send! Any other ideas to help such children?

    • susanparadis

      A lot of my material is made specifically for dyslexic students. It is so different teaching them. There is a lot of rote involved, and you have to develop their ear. Also, each one is different, so you have to figure out what works with her. Usually they are never great sight readers, and they are easily confused. It takes a lot of patience, but it can be very rewarding. You have to let go of all your regular expectations, and be happy with small steps. All the hands on activities I make and other teachers make and post on the web are very helpful. Sometimes they have to go through the Primer level several times. Don’t be afraid to teach by rote.

      • Priscilla Moffett

        Thanks so much. Good advice and I will use your colorful ideas for sure!
        do you have the assignment lady bug sheet? not sure what this is

  12. Leslie

    Great idea – would love both versions!

    • susanparadis

      Leslie, check in a day or so. As soon as I get the time to make the PDF’s I’ll post the keyboard version.

  13. Thanks, Susan, for the clever idea. I’m also a clothespin-era person. I can’t wait to show the students a new contraption. I would like to see the pre-readers version, too.

  14. Claire Westlake

    Brilliant Susan!

    • susanparadis

      That’s Claire, but I don’t claim credit for the idea. I’ve seen kindergarten teachers do similar things, so I just made one for piano.

  15. What a great idea, Susan! Another fun way for the little ones to “play” with these cards would be to attach a “clothes line” on the backs of two chairs so the kids can hang the notes up with the pins on the correct letter. I would love to have your pre-readers version as well, please. I love ALL your games, worksheets, etc. and have spent the better part of the summer printing and laminating. After 22 years of teaching, I am always looking for more ideas. Thanks to you, I am feeling energized and ready for September!

    • susanparadis

      That sounds like a fun idea. I have a clothesline in my studio with the music alphabet hanging on it, so I could use that!

  16. Valerie Evensen

    I don’t often comment on your blogs although I do read all of them. I love this idea! Very clever and unique. I’d love to see the other on. Thanks for sharing

    • susanparadis

      Thanks for the comment! Bloggers love comments because it’s the only way we get feedback!

  17. I love this idea! And yes, I would love to see the pre-readers version too. Thanks! 🙂