Friday, April 29, 2022

The Listening Walk

Sounds. Noises. Music. Squeals, splashes, tweets, whistles, zonks, and barks. 

This is a fun video to get children thinking about sounds. 

Clangery bash, splish a ma splash.

Whomp, rumble, wah wah squeak.

So many sounds to make, to hear.

Listen, listen, use your ears. 

I love starting with this book and every couple of pages insert the speech above.

Then we review the ways we use our voices and bodies while we play Boom Chicka Boom. We speak this with various voices; cow sounds, baby style, low and high voices, whisper voices, etc. We also explore new ways to keep the body percussion ostinato.

Next we read The Listening Walk by Paul Showers and Aliki.

Once we have read the book, we go on a silent listening walk outside. You could also choose to take your walk through your building. Students work in pairs with one pencil, a clipboard, and one recording sheet below.

Students then discuss their favorite 5-7 sounds and how to recreate them with voices or bodies.

Next we talk about how to show the sounds visually. I love this post from Classicfm on how art and music collide in graphic notation. Here is one of the graphic scores shown, isn't it gorgeous and a great example of linear non-traditional notation?!

Here's another fun one for singers:

Students will choose an order for their sounds - what comes first, second, etc.? Are they all quiet sounds or is there a mix of quiet and loud? Is there a mix of high and low sounds?

On a blank piece of paper in landscape orientation, students draw a “road” and write their favorite 5-7 sound names or representation. Add dynamics of p or f for quiet or loud for each sound. Perform.

Then we discuss how composers interpret sounds with instruments. Here is a student sample:

Next students circle up to three sounds to try to interpret on instruments. The other instrument sounds continue to be performed with voices or bodies. Students choose the kinds of instrument timbres that best represent the sound. This part can get NOISY, but allow for the noise and for the exploration as students make choices and decisions. There is no right or wrong answer.

Now we are ready for the song to create a Grand Rondo! 


Perform in rondo form with song as A Section, student creations will be contrasting sections.

Then we listen to excerpts from Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony (No. 6). Beethoven deeply loved nature and often traveled to the countryside outside of the busy city. 

As Beethoven's favorite place was being in nature, while listening students draw pictures of their favorite places and add a few sentences about this favorite place. 

This takes 2-3 classes (depending on length of class) and is a fun activity my students have enjoyed for several years!  
Crystal sent me an update to her song and the way she uses the book - here is a Forte/Piano Garden Scavenger Hunt using f and p cards made from paint chips! 

Hope you enjoy! 

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Spring is Here

 I love spring!  All the flowers, the new leaves budding, and green; so much green!!! 

I have been playing with some older lessons I created years ago and have had so much fun using Spring is Here by Will Hillenbrand with my students. This is a Bear and Mole story and is so cute - kids love the ending! 

It is a nice introduction into half note, too!  Check out the lesson below. Click on this link which will take you to the full Google slide complete with a 6-minute video lesson that will talk you through how to teach the lesson as well as give you the 2-beat building bricks.  Like everything else you see and want more lessons like this?  Come and join our Patreon community for exclusive content, monthly mini workshops and mentorship opportunities. All for about the cost of a cup of coffee per month! 


Saturday, April 2, 2022

Books and Music for Ramadan

Ramadan is a holiday celebrated by Muslims around the world. It begins at sundown April 2 and ends May 1 this year. Through fasting, Muslims believe  their relationship with God will be strengthened, as it makes up one of the Five Pillars of Islam.
This 3-minute video shows children sharing information about Ramadan:

This book is the story of Najma, a girl who rises each morning of Ramadan to the drum beat of her neighborhood's musaharati. He wakes each family for the pre-dawn meal before the day of fasting. Najma wants be a musaharati herself one day, but the job has never been one for girls.  This is a lovely story of resilience, determination, and courage.

This is a great read aloud of the book:

Lisa Zargarpur wrote a beautiful article for the American Center for Elemental Music and Movement (ACEMM) with a song for Ramadan.  Check it out here! 

Hena Khan is one of my favorite authors!  
I fell in love with Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets a few years ago and wrote an activity I put in my Painted Music book.  

Here is a link to the pdf with the above images and the 2-beat building bricks.

Hena Khan has several other books I love! 

Ramadan Mubarak


Sunday, March 6, 2022

Manipulatives - The Why and The What

Manipulatives are objects students or teachers use within a lesson to teach or reinforce a concept. 

Manipulatives are engaging and playful.  They make abstract musical concepts visual and concrete. 

Digital manipulatives made to be dragged/dropped, etc. do not engage the brain in the same way and do not impact fine motor skills.  Digital manipulatives are also not typically used in small groups and do encourage social interaction among peers.  There is a time and place for tech.  Using hands-on manipulatives, students develop and practice communication skills with small group composition or partner play.  Kinesthetic learners need the tactile experiences hands-on manipulatives provide. The best reason to use them is simple - they are inexpensive, and FUN!  

Learning Sequence

 This gives students  a variety of experiences and provides structure and familiarity while working in small groups, then partners, before individuals use manipulatives alone.


When using manipulatives with rhythm I begin with imitation - students recreate the rhythms displayed. For example, students will recreate a displayed rhythm with popsicle sticks.  Then we explore rhythms using building bricks, later we would write rhythms with dry erase boards and eventually we would use pencil and paper after many experiences with imitating, exploring, and creating with manipulatives. 
Beat strips - four hearts on one side, three on the other.  This way you can work in triple and duple meters!

Popsicle sticks for rhythm dictation and composition - I prefer just the large colored ones from Dollar Tree. Some people prefer small and large ones, but I really like to KISS - Keep It Simple Sweetie! 

Foam hearts - perfect to find at Dollar Tree or your favorite craft store!  Write various rhythms on each one. 

Pipe cleaners to create notes and Noteman (thanks to Shari and Ashley for this idea).

Two- beat building bricks.  I have so many sets of these for various activities and content areas available in my Patreon community.  Print, cut, and give to students! 

Rhythm Dice; these can be created from purchased wooden dice or foam - Dollar Tree has carried these in the past. Draw notes on each side with sharpie.  Make sets of these with quarter, eighth, and quarter rest, another set which includes two single eighth notes, and another set which includes sixteenth notes.  Each side of the die is a single pulse/beat.

Group together and put into a plastic baggie - get the good heavy freezer bags and punch a hole in the top so when students put them back in and close them the air escapes and they lay flat.  Four inch (or so) piece of string in the bag to show tied notes. 

Mini erasers - These are great to use for notating the number of sounds on beat strips. Also, they are just SO cute! 



Staff boards                                                                                                                                                   

These are commercially available from your favorite music retailer but can be pricey.
I particularly like these staff boards made out of dollar store cookie sheets and electrical tape (also from dollar store).  Original idea from Elizabeth at Organized Chaos. On the back you could make a 2-line or 3-line staff or 4-beat rhythm blocks (the bottom shown here is 8-beats). 
You don't have to use the purchased magnets (they can be pricey); you could use foam (available in craft packs from Dollar Tree) and cut out circles to glue googly eyes on and then glue small round magnets (dollar stores and craft stores carry these).

Draw a 2-line, 3-line, or full staff on a white piece of paper, draw four boxes on the back for a 4-beat rhythm area and place the page inside these page protectors (click on photo to go to Amazon link).  Use dry erase marker or your favorite mini-erasers, transparent bingo chips, or other manipulatives.

Popsicle Stick Texting Sticks

I love these as they make solfege ladders become more personal and interactive. Click on the picture to see Ms. Manguso's tutorial and free downloadable images.  Use a glue stick or Modge Podge to stick the printed letters on. 

Felt staff with notes. Sew a zigzag stitch or use fabric paint to create lines on rectangles of felt, cut black circles from black felt for the notes or use Bingo chips. 

Skittles and M & M's 

S printed on Skittles and M printed on M and M's - give a variety of each to students to dictate a 4-beat solfege phrase for So and Mi, notate a SM song, or have students create their own!

Mini Erasers

Great for kinesthetic learners (and everyone) and fun for students to manipulate. Target has these in the Dollar Spot often and are seasonally themed. 

Pipe Cleaners/Chenille Stems

Children love the fuzzy texture and bright colors and most of them have not used them before! They are the most flexible (pun intended), highly underrated, and undervalued.  They are also wonderful for fine motor control!  You can roll and bend them into notation shapes, use horizontally to demonstrate so and mi/high and low, and bend them to show vocal exploration or movement pathways!  SO much fun in something so very small.  

Yarn for students to create vocal exploration (and movement) pathways

Cotton Balls for vocal exploration and melodies on a sky blue paper background.


Cups - I like the Mini "Solo" Cups Dollar Tree has - they always have the red ones and at Christmas time they also carry green. You could also use any other cups in two or three colors to create elemental forms of ABAB, ABBA, AABB, etc. 

Construction paper or foam shapes cut into 4" squares, circles, triangles - one color per shape and one letter per shape - A, B, and C

I hope these give you some ideas. There are so many other favorite manipulatives - what are some of yours?


Saturday, February 12, 2022


 An auspicious day to be sure - February 22nd, 2022, 2-22-2022 is also happening on a TUEsday!  


One of the most wonderful things that has come from the pandemic are some amazing friendships forged online. Kathy was teaching in Japan when we met and we have chatted many times about collaborating as we both love playful music making.  Kathy wrote this fun song to celebrate the occasion.  Many thanks to her for sharing it! Here are Kathy and I zooming Saturday!

Kathy's bio:
Kathleen Kampa specializes in working with young learners. As a PYP (Primary Years Program) teacher, she uses an inquiry-based approach to teaching through which students develop global skills. Kathleen strives to help all students feel supported, balanced, and successful in the classroom. She supports the development of English language skills by creating songs, chants, and movement activities targeted to young learners' overall needs.
Kathleen and her husband Charles Vilina are co-authors of Beehive, Magic Time, Everybody Up, and the ELTon award-winning course Oxford Discover, published by Oxford University Press.  Kathleen's two CDs for young learners, Kathy Kampa's Special Days and Holidays and Jump Jump Everyone, build English language skills through music and movement while nurturing creativity and imagination.

This song would be perfect to have 2-3 small groups create 4 or 8-beat body percussion ostinato patterns to accompany the song!  You might want to wear your tutu or have a dance party with your class at 2:22 PM! 

Here is the song with a bordun pattern and percussive ostinato that could be adapted for body percussion or instruments.

Hope you enjoy it!