Thursday, September 16, 2021

Hispanic Heritage Month

So many lovely songs to sing, books to read, and games to play!  I always struggle this time of year to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, starting September 15, the Chinese holiday Mid-Autumn Moon Festival September 21st, fall, and Halloween. 

So let's start with Hispanic Heritage Month! My next post will be about Mid-Autumn Moon Festival.

Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15-October 15


 Click this link to make a copy of the Google Slides with 8 songs. 

Sol solecito - check it out here at my Patreon community. This is a member exclusive. 

Children's Literature 

The ADL (Anti-Defamation League) has an article of their "must-reads" for this month. Click the picture to go to their site and read a short description and age range for each book on the list. 

I created an activity to go with the beautiful Tito Puente book and it's another Patreon exclusive. Check it out here! 

Several other books I love for this month:

Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Come Chat!

 Music Teacher Friends and Fam:
Come and chat about anything to do with music education. Need ideas, we will all share some. Bring a lesson you are working on or an idea for a lesson, or a question. Bring yourself and a beverage. Let's chat.
I hope to see you there! 😊

Sunday, September 5, 2021


 Hello, friends - first, an exciting announcement! I have a new community full of music educators who are trying to simplify their planning and grow professionally. I welcome you to come join for exclusive video lessons, print lessons, workshops, and one on one mentoring opportunities. We are going to have so much fun learning and growing with each other. If you are seeking lessons, they are there and will continually be added. Lessons from my books are added and children's literature lessons are there. If you are looking for ideas for assessment - well, there is a 45 minute video chat with a group of music teachers just like you with a BUNCH of ideas, tricks, and tips. 

Join here!

In terms of fall planning, don't forget Diwali is coming soon- November 7. I posted some ideas and activities on instagram @Aimee_ofortunaorff last year and with all the chaos with school and Covid did not post here. So here we go! 

What is Diwali? 

Diwali is a religious holiday and festival originating in India. People often think of Diwali as a Hindu festival, but it is also celebrated by Sikhs and Jains. The celebration lasts for five days and marks the start of the Hindu New Year. The exact dates change each year and are determined by the position of the moon but usually fall between October and November. 

Diwali (or Deepavali as it’s sometimes called) means “row of lights” in Sanskrit. During this festival, people decorate their homes with lights and oil lamps, called diyas.  The lights and lamps are said to help the Hindu goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, find her way into peoples’ homes, bringing prosperity in the year to come. It is also a celebration of good triumphing evil.

Check out the Nat Geo page for more interesting facts. 

I began last year by talking with some of my families who are Indian. I had some wonderful moms come in and teach me some Dandiya (stick) dances and we created a very simple one for our young students. There is some footwork involved in Dandiya dances, but the most important thing was for us to get the feeling of the holiday and to perform the stick dance correctly. I also talked with a few of my students privately, asking if they wanted to speak or tell us during class about how they celebrated, or if I knew any of them were performing classical Indian dance or song (I have a first grader who takes classical Indian singing lessons!) I invited them to perform. 

Book to Begin

Diwali, Diwali Song

Then we learned Manju Durairaj's Diwali, Diwali song and sang the chorus together. 

Dandiya (Stick) Dance

We created a simple Dandiya dance on the chorus of the song.  All movements are to the beat. Facing a partner tap right sticks together, tap left sticks together, tap own sticks to the right, tap own sticks to the left. Step back with one foot and tap sticks behind back, step same foot forward and both stick face right (like windshield wipers) and tap both partners sticks making a # hashtag, then trade places while turning around in a circle. Of course this can be modified but this is what the Moms at school and I came up with.

I would highly recommend wooden sticks - aluminum ones are available from Amazon but my experience is they break far too easily. Rhythm Sticks or dowels could also be used as long as they are the longer ones (12" or so).

Here is a video of Dandiya Dancing.

And an excellent teaching video to show you the footwork and sticking. The first one is just right for beginners and children.

Concert with Indian Instruments, Songs

This is an excellent 30 minute concert made for children from Lincoln Center featuring Grammy nominated artist Falu. I like beginning at 7:47 and end at 15:00 if I am pressed for time as they talk about traditional solfege, then Indian solfege, then sing a song incorporating the solfege.

Sitar and Tabla - played by KIDS!

A fun little video about sitar made for children:

Garba Dancing

My students love to see both the women and the men dancing here - and they love the music!

More Books Featuring India and Indian Characters

The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh - this is a google slide presentation featuring a video of the book, rhythms created from colors, along with discussion points for students about tone color. The end features several Bhangra dance videos.

The Wheels on the Tuk Tuk is sung to the tune of The Wheels on the Bus and is a great introduction to India.

Festival of Colors is just one of the most beautiful books and is about the Indian festival of Holi.

A Gift for Amma follows a girl as she goes through the vibrant rainbow colors of the market trying to find a gift for her mother.

10 Gulab Jamuns is the story of two brothers discovering a sweet treat from India.

Hope you enjoy all of these and Happy Diwali (in November)!

Sunday, August 22, 2021

The Magical Yet book and Lesson

Many thanks to my friend Jeaneau Julian for sharing this lovely lesson she created! 

Don't forget to check out my new Patreon community of music teachers for exclusive content, workshops, and mentoring opportunities.

Click here to download the Google Slides and make a copy. 

There are a couple "pathways" you can use for this- the composed song below or the one from the Volumes (see lesson idea below).  Either way you go, this is a MUST READ book for every child- and adult, too! 

Saturday, August 21, 2021

New Community to Learn and Grow With!

 I am so excited to announce my new community of music makers and teachers!  

If you have spent any time on the blog you know how important sharing is to me. Sharing my creativity and experience in teaching music using the Orff Approach has been gratifying, exciting, and a tremendous honor.  There are a plethora of posts here, on Facebook, and Instagram, and I present at workshops and conferences in the US and Canada.  I also create lesson activities and exclusive playful and process-based lessons and video chats on my Patreon page for the O For Tuna community. 

We are all looking for ideas to streamline and energize our music classrooms. We are all wanting to be the best we can be for our students- more organized, prepared, excited, and to make lesson planning easier. For about the price of a latte mocha once a month, you will connect with other music teachers who are excited to grow and learn together. We will have Zoom discussions, work on lesson planning, develop children's literature into music activities, attend workshops, and much, much, more.  I hope you will consider joining us! Check it out here! 

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Planning for the New School Year - Celebrating Tanabata

 Are you feeling this way-

Yay, school planning should be starting.  Ummm... Covid.. higher numbers, Delta variant, what does that mean for school this year?  Will we be able to sing, play instruments, get back to "normal" or does that mean we will have to continue social distancing, quarantining, masking, no instrument playing?  How do I plan for that?

The short answer- I don't know. The long(er) answer - much depends on CDC recommendations, Governor, state, and local school board decisions. And then there is vaccination issues, and the comfortability of those wanting to mask or unmask. SO many decisions. 

I am making plans as I know my students will be in person and we will be able to do a little singing and will be able to share instruments as long as we are sanitizing hands and cleaning.

I have been enjoying the Olympics, which in turn renewed my interests in learning about Tanabata, a Japanese holiday celebrated on July 7. Although the holiday will be over when we return to school, I am going to be teaching about Tanabata as part of the first few lessons. 


First, share these images: 

We will chat about the Olympics and events students may have seen or cheered for, then we will talk about the holiday of Tanabata and read this book which shares the story of Tanabata, also called the Star Festival.
For older students, we might make this origami "paper river":

We may also watch this story of the two stars, Orihime and Hikoboshi:
Then we will learn this speech piece and develop the lesson.

Since Tanabata are wishes, we can create wishes for students for the new school year. 

Then we will learn the Tanabata-sama song. Many thanks to Beth from bethsnotes!  Check out the beautiful video! 

Then to further connect culture and knowledge of Japan, here is another book to share about an artist who wants to fill the world with polka dots and a couple further books featuring polka dots! 

Hope you enjoy these ideas!

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Upcoming WORKSHOPS!!! TWO!!!

Ready for the new school year?  Need a boost? TWO Virtual workshops - Diverse and Inclusive Children's Lit (ALL NEW!!!) and Playful Possibilities!

Both will be recorded and sent to all fully registered participants.

Workshops are $10 each or both for $15!