Monday, February 19, 2018

Broom Dance and Other Favorite Folk Dances!

I love folk dances and love when I see someone post a question on facebook about their favorite folk dance.  I recently learned the Broom Dance from friend Leslie B. on fb and she kindly directed me to Martha Riley, who shared her directions with me and gave permission to share here!  Enjoy!  As always, if you would like the pdf, send your request to
This has quickly become a favorite with all my students - a nice 5 minute end to class- and would be a great dance to teach at a family music night!

1.  The Broom Dance

Another Broom Dance!

2.  Wassouma -

Another one I learned from the AOSA facebook page.  This one is from Suriname, a country in North East South America.  Such a great energetic dance!  The music is from "Bulgarian, Balkan and International Folk Dances" from the Folk Arts Center of New England.

3.  Chimes of Dunkirk

From New England Dancing Masters

4.  Yesh Lanu Tayish

Shared with me by another dear internet friend!  My second graders BEG to do this dance!

5.  Chilili

This is another one that is simple, yet so satisfying!  I teach this at my Hands to Hands workshops and it has become a quick favorite!

Hope you enjoy learning some new dances with your kiddos!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Hula Hoop Activities

These are SO much fun! The full pdf has 20 pages with all the games listed.  Hope you enjoy them - if you would like the pdf, send me an email at  If you haven't yet checked out my facebook page, there are extras including a video that shows some other activities and teaching tips with hula hoops - search for @ofortunaorff.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Up and Down with Children's Lit

I am part of a wonderful group of music teachers who blog.  Together we are blogging all of February to bring you the best ideas for teaching melody ! Check us out on facebook - MusicEd Blogs Community.
Today's post is on teaching melody, specifically using children's literature to teach up and down.

Children's literature is full of wonder, excitement, and joy.  These delightful books are like magical gems that can transport a class through a concept or skill in a memorable way.  Here are my favorites to use while teaching up and down.

1.  Up, Up, Down - Robert Munsch

This is the story of a rather naughty girl, Anna, who likes to climb up up up up.. fall...... down.  She climbs everything, and finally makes it to... THE TREE!  ]I prep this by playing a lot of slide whistle games where students listen to me play various ascending and descending notes and move (first bodies, then voices later) accordingly.
While reading, encourage students to do the same while saying the six "ups" and then perform "fall" with a vocal glissando.  Of course we have to do an exaggerated fall, also!  Each time Anna lands on a different body part and we sing, "Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow" with S M L S M.  The students catch on quickly and this is a very engaging story! 
The next class, we perform the story again, only this time using glockenspiels.  I can't remember who shared this idea and would thank them profusely for introducing the tree idea - cut out a tree top, tape it to the end of the glockenspiel box and hold this end in the air- voila- tree!

Each time Anna climbs up, we play an ascending note, then glissando down on the word "fall". 

 I also use this idea with the song "Let Us Chase the Squirrels" and you can find that blog post here. It is another song to use for reinforcing melodic direction instrumentally.
As a follow up, another Robert Munsch book, Mortimer!  This is a PERFECT song for up and down - and lots of other happy clanging and rattle bing banging! Here is a blog post about this one as well as some other ideas for high/low/up/down.  

2.  Up, Down, and Around by Katherine Ayers

Teacher plays slide whistle, students move up and down, vary playing slowly, quickly, legato, staccato, etc.  Then ask them to move one arm ONLY, then elbow only (very funny), hand only, thumb only.  It's an interesting thing to observe! 
Teach song; every time students sing "up" they will move higher, "down", lower, and they can choose HOW to move "'round and round". 
In the book each vegetable grows up, down, or around and around.  Students play glissandi on "Up and down and show around and around with movement - usually rolling their mallets around or turning around.  Sing the song each time after the words "around and around" and the final "let's have lunch" occur.

3.  Up, Up, Up! by Susan Reed

This delightful book is a song, another Barefoot Books gem!! I love the ascending DMS melody on the first three words of the chorus; Up, Up, Up!
Here is a video:
Hope you have found some new things to try with your kiddos!  Hop on over to facebook to MusicEd Blog Community to check out the other posts all month long!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Traditions with a Twist!

I love traditional folk songs and use them daily in my classroom.  I also love when I re-discover some of these and also find twists on the original!  If you want the full pdf with each slide, send a request to me at


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Rhythm Stick Song

Most of us teach multiple grade levels. I teach 4 year olds through 94 year olds.  I skip 12 year olds through somewhere in the 60's, though. I think that probably needs explaining, right? I teach Junior Kindergarten through fourth grade and also facilitate music and drum circles at an assisted living center every 2-3 months.
The youngest were probably my most difficult age to plan for starting out as a brand new teacher and I continue searching for great material to add to my "collection".  We all know how it is - in a singular 30 minute lesson with the younger kiddos we might go through 10-15 activities!  Interestingly, my oldest sometimes seem the same!
I seek materials from various sources; blogs, bools, fellow teachers, and websites. Several years ago I found a childrens music performer named Nancy Stewart. Each month she posts a Song of the Month!  You can search by category, year/month, and alphabetically, and even better - all her songs are downloadable, some have visuals to download, and most have the sheet music to download - all for FREE! YES!  There are songs for Eid, Christmas, St. Patirck's Day, Diwali, Valentines, seasonal songs and everything in between. Most of the music is original and I have found some really wonderful material! 
One of my favorites is the Rhythm Stick Song.
 Nancy so kindly gave me permission to share the song with you here - the mp3 is available on her site - click the link above.  

Hope you enjoy it - my kiddos do!  We also make up additional verses - "With my sticks I run...", walk, hop, etc.

My favorite rhythm sticks are the Basic Beat Combination Sticks pictured below. I love these - perfectly sized at 8" long, no splintering, and one is smooth and the other ridged.  They are about $3.00 a pair, and an awesome investment!  You can get them here from West Music.

Have fun with these!
Happy New Year!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Movement Resources, Two Songs, Hula Hoops, and Ocean Animals!

Short post today- if you haven't already been to my facebook page - check it out- I have several videos posted there and some special info not posted here on the blog! Today I am posting the video here.
Search for @ofortunaorff  and you will be able to like the page and follow! :)

Friday, January 5, 2018

Frosty Weather and book, The Bear Snores On

First- if you haven't checked out my O For Tuna Orff Schulwerk Music page on facebook, I just posted a video about a lesson using "The Chubby Little Snowman" and googly eyeball finger puppets you can get right now at Dollar Tree in the Valentines Day section!  I will be posting extra teaching ideas and lessons there, so go check it out and follow! 

While on the American Orff Schulwerk Association (AOSA) facebook page recently I stumbled across a great lesson using the song, "Frosty Weather" and the book, "The Bear Snores On".  I absolutely love this book.  My daughter loved it, too, when she was little. I can still hear her making the funny bear noises! If you would like the pdf with all the pages below, send a request to

Stretchy bands are available here - these are fabulous!!  I have also made MANY in the past out of white pantyhose - here is a video tutorial!

 Bjornen Sover is available here and the sheet music and several videos of children singing the song in the original Norwegian are available here from Mama Lisa.