Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Jazz, Children's Book, and Romare Bearden inspired Collage!

A children's book, Du Iz Tak, jazz, scat singing, and the artist Romare Bearden; what do they have in common? A fun, informative project for your students!  Check out the free lesson from my book, Painted Music featuring Du Iz Tak and the NC/NY artist, Romare Bearden. It is on facebook at my ofortunaorff page there -@o for tuna orff . 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019


This is the season of snow for many of us in the US, although I get substantially less here in NC than my friends and family get in my home state of Maine!  I always loved snow forts, sledding, and making snow creatures growing up, so here is a fun song and activity to reinforce eighth and quarter notes, perfect for your first or second graders. The Orff accompaniment is really intended for the teacher as chord changes are not something I do until about third grade. You could also just accompany the kids with ukulele, too - simple enough with C and G7 chords.
Once students have made a snow sculpture, I tell them a magical snow sculptor came to town and blew the snow into bigger shapes (this is when they start creating with 2 people, then 3, etc.).  See below for more info and check out the facebook video I posted this morning @o for tuna orff and also on instagram - @Aimee_ofortunaorff.
As always, if you would like the pdf, simply shoot me an email -

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

How do you "do" vocal dictation/exploration within your classroom?

1.  I posted a video on my facebook site - @o for tuna orff  this morning so go check out some other things to do.  Check it out here!

2.  Vocal Exploration to Staff Notation

Click here for previous blog posts about vocal exploration including these (there are 113 slides in the set and it is FREE!).

3. Vocal Exploration Cards and Ideas

Bushfire Press also has a set of free cards and several ideas here.

4. Winter Vocal Exploration Cards

Another set of vocal exploration cards, these are from a Winter Set I made. Again, FREE!

5.  More and More!

My friend, Jennifer, from Yellow Brick Road blog, has a great blog post about why and how as well as several fun activities to explore. Check it out here. 

So, how do you "do" vocal exploration?

Saturday, December 29, 2018

New Years - 26 Hours Long?!

Do you know there are 38 different local times in use around the world?  Therefore it takes 26 hours for the New Year to actually be celebrated by all on Earth! 
Did you also know that New Year's is not always January 1?  Chinese New Year is celebrated not by calendar year but by the cycle of the new moon.  Buddhists in Thailand celebrate a three day water festival called Songkran in April.  In the Middle Ages in Europe the new year began on March 25.  The Russian Orthodox Church celebrates the new year on January 14, Persian New Year on March 21, and one Hindu celebration in India occurs in April or May.  Read more here. 
The idea for this lesson came first from my Chinese New Year song called, "Xin Nian Kuai Le".  Check out this post with the song and additional activities to use for January and February to go with Chinese New Year.  My daughter was adopted from China, and so the idea of New Year not occurring on January 1 is not new to me as we celebrate Chinese New Year in our family and also at my school. I began to think of New Year celebrations our students might celebrate and wanted to have something to be inclusive of all students.  This also provides a wonderful opportunity to talk about differences while including everyone in the conversation about culture and celebrations. 

The movement idea I first imagined was something like this, only with dancers lying on sides or kneeling on floor, something simple and synchronized  with clock like movements.
I hope you enjoy, and be sure to drop me a line to let me know what you did with it!
As always, if you want the full pdf of the above, send an email to me at
Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Sugar Plum Fairy Play Along

Yes, I love the Nutcracker. The music, the story, the ballet. All of it. I have many students at my school who dance in the ballet every year and I love introducing this to my kiddos although most of them have heard the music or seen the ballet.
Image result for nutcracker images
To begin this lesson, I teach/review the song and game, "We are Dancing in the Forest". My Kindergarten students learn this and play the game, then are introduced to quarter and eighth notes through iconic then actual notation.  In first grade we review the song, read the notation, and then we are ready for how this plays into ballet.
What, you say? How does that song lead into ballet?  DANCING! We sing the song and students must pretend they are in a forest dancing and by the time the song is finished they must be back in their places. We try this a few times, and then I ask them to do this again and I sing the melody of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Repeat ad nauseum.
Then I show them this through the first musical theme:
Students turn and talk to a neighbor about what they noticed.  They will stand up and start showing what they noticed - it is so cute, they can't help but try out some moves! I put the music on and they try out some of the moves with the music playing - it is so sweet to watch them imitate some of what they have seen!
We discuss the meaning of ballet, that some football players take ballet lessons to work on balance and strength, and then I ask if they would like to meet a ballerina?  Then I show them this:
I really like that the video has male and female dancers and talks about body image and accepting who you are and what you have.
After that we watch and learn about a celesta:

Next I break out the foam snowflakes and trees. The snowflakes I got at Dollar Tree one season and the trees I cut out from craft foam (also from Dollar Tree in the craft aisle). See where this is going yet?  Snowflakes have 2 sounds and will become eighth notes, trees have one sound and will become quarter notes.  I put many patterns on the floor, students clap and say, then I break out the quarter note and eighth note cards and students place these above the snowflakes and eighth notes. 
Then they are ready for this visual.  The theme is incomplete and missing a repeat sign, but my first graders haven't learned that symbol yet and the focus is quarter and eighth note reading. Once we practice saying and clapping the theme, half the class gets triangles to play the them on, the other half dances.  Perform, then switch!  Such a blast!  

Hope you enjoy this one! My kiddos sure did! Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Jingle Thingle

I love jingle bells!  Such a wonderfully distinctive sound.
Here are some older posts that have some really fun activities to use with jingles!
Nino Sleigh Bells with Wooden Ergo Grip & 4 Bells Red
1.  Bucket Drumming with Jingle Bell Rock - the version of the song I use is from Music Connection from Silver Burdett Ginn, Grade 5, CD 10, track 10.  You can use other versions and adjust accordingly (most do not have the interlude which is easily omitted).
Jingle Bell Rock Bucket Drum Routine  Click for the full post including score and directions.

2.  Jingle Bell Dances - Two Levels
Click here for the full post.

3.  Jingle Bell Stretchy Band Dance

.4.More ideas here! Check out this post with MANY ideas!

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Nisse Polka

This past summer I was in Finland at JaSeSoi Ry's International Music Village (Finnish Orff Association).  It was amazing and I loved my time both in Finland and making music with musicians and teachers from 14 countries.  I also fell a little in love with the Scandinavian lifestyle and their connection to the outdoors.  Did you know there are 188,000 lakes and more than 1,000,000 saunas in Finland?!
JaSeSoi Ry has put together an amazing resource online called "Nordic Sounds".  There are songs, games, and dances from Norway, Denmark, Finland, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Sweden!  Pronunciation videos, background info, teaching ideas and videos make this site exceptionally user friendly! Check it out here!
When I came back home, I began looking for more music and dances from this area of the world. Via Facebook, I came across a dance teacher in Portland, Oregon, who has been a tremendous help to me. Christie teaches Scandinavian dancing to children 5 years old and up to adults.  She has been incredibly generous and due to some technical problems with sharing music files, she even sent me 2 CD's via snail mail!
Many of the dances are new to me, including the one I am sharing today. This is called the Nisse Polka, though Christie calls it the Nissie Polka and her students call it the Caterpillar Dance.  The Nisse is a Christmas figure - read more below! Many thanks to Christie (again) for her help in putting all of this together and for being so willing to share!  On to the dance!

 Here is the dance performed by Christie's kids at a Scandinavian celebration.

Music with singers: