When teaching pulse/beat using stick notation, what changes in teaching materials would be needed for students in different grades?
For younger children, for example music beginners in grade two, the best tool for learning the beat or pulse is the student's own body. Rhythm must be kept distinguished from beat (and taught after beat is mastered), so walking around the classroom to the sound of a beat is the recommended tool. This can be modified by stomping the beat in place and by beating their knees to the beat or pulse.
If learning is to be static from, for example, flashcards of stick notation, then pounding the floor in correspondence with the stick notations, or patting their chests or knees, is an alternative to walking the beat. Clapping hands is recommended for rhythm only so that there are distinct physical acknowledgements and registries of the distinct musical elements of beat and rhythm.
For older students, for example in the fifth grade, learning the beat can take place with drums instead of feet if the students are adept learners. Cymbals, chimes, or drumsticks can be useful tools for use in learning beat and pulse for older students. Nonetheless, walking and stomping the beat are always good beginning points as this helps differentiate the beat from the rhythm, a differentiation that grows more difficult to make with less beat recognition learning.