Monday, August 31, 2015

Three Things

I'm very excited to be joining up with fellow bloggers for Aileen Miracle 's  
Linky Party called "Three Things".  In these posts, we will be blogging about three fun, exciting things we are using in our classrooms. 


#1.  Puppets Vocal Exploration and Call and Response

I teach Junior Kindergarten through Fourth Grade and especially for the little ones, JrK/K I often use these stick puppets to teach call and response and vocal exploration.  They always crack the wee ones up and I find so many uses for them; exploring vocal ranges, types of voices (animal, alien, etc.) and for teaching movement directions as well (hold one in left hand for actions to the left, another in right, etc.).  These little critters are durable and oh-so-fun.  Available here.


#2. Hands to Hands, Clapping Songs and Games from Around the World

I have used many songs from my book that my kiddos love, especially Global Greetings!  The middle part of the song has "hello" in 8 different languages and various ways to say "hi" in English.  A very fun clapping mixer game is included!! The book is on the upper left part of the page, and is available from Beatin' Path Publications

#3.  Stretchy Bands!

One thing I couldn't do without are my stretchy bands!  I have several I made years ago out of white nylons I dyed.  You can get boxes of flawed white nylons from Hanes/Leggs companies (or used to be able to get them), cut the legs into 4-6" segments and dye the hose with Rit dye.  You then twist them into slip knots and create long chains then connect them.  I use these not only for circle dances, to move and groove and assess rhythm notes (piece of upbeat music playing, call out "quarter notes" students move the band up and down to quarter note beat, etc.), but I also use them to differentiate areas of the room or instrument parts as seen below.  This is especially effective with little ones who just can't contain/control themselves around instruments that are set up around a room!! :)

Friday, August 28, 2015

Thump, Quack, Moo book and lesson

Getting back to school I am always reminded how LOOOOONG summer break is; kids seem to have forgotten so many of the concepts and skills we worked on last year!  Yesterday with my first graders I thought we should review beat so I used a lesson I have used before but tweaked it a whole lot!  We made it into a rotation so everyone was able to play drums, shaker eggs, and wood instruments.  You will also see how I keep these areas separate in the classroom.. I love my stretchy bands and made them from white nylon cast-offs that I dyed, cut, and flipped into knots!  I use them a lot to create borders in my room for areas that are "off limits" until it is time, or for organizing groups of players. Next class I will review quarter and eighth notes with another activity but for today, here is a lesson using the book, Thump, Quack, Moo to reinforce quarter notes and beat:

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Hey! Welcome to Music Song

A quick post today with a song you can use for upper grades.  Add a body percussion pattern (patsch, clap) and raise fisted hand on "Hey" and add T (teacher) clapping/students echoing body percussion patterns (in the score).  Create an additional section to create a rondo:  C Section:  T. plays 4 beat pattern on drum, students choose an adjective to describe themselves that is the same letter/sound as their name:  I used Fabulous Pfitzner for myself, I had "Interesting Isaac", "Amazing Allison", etc. Four students, one at a time, say their adjective and name over 4 beats, next student says theirs over the next four beats, etc.  My fourth graders LOVED this!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What's On Your Wall? A Peek Into My Music Room


I'm excited to be linking up with several fellow bloggers to post what my music room looks like this year.  First.. drum roll, please.. I got NEW carpet!  Whoo  hoo!!! BIG excitement here, I tell ya!  It forced me to do something I haven't done in a long time and was WAAAAAY overdue.. PURGE!!!! I had to box everything in my room up for the carpet guys to install the new carpet.  This helped me to go through and really evaluate what to keep, what to throw, and what to store in the storage closet which I share with my chorus teacher.

One thing you won't see that I know a LOT of people have is posters and word walls.  I believe they can overwhelm students and put these up as needed. I do have a small area with the families of instruments displayed, but I think putting word walls up should only happen as you teach that concept/skill/vocabulary.  If the students don't relate to it, why is it there??

Folks, let me tell ya, when floor space is a premium, you find ways to store stuff!  My room is large, but I leave my Orff instruments (except glocks) out and set up so I can always say, "Let's go to the instruments".  I love the ease of leaving them out, except when they take up too much of the floor!  Ha! 

I had so many old things (I've been teaching at my school for 18 years!!) and even had overhead projector film.. remember those!! I purged BIG TIME!  Feel like I almost have a new room.
This is what my kiddos did on their first day.. in addition to singing and making music... each child was given a post it note to draw "something musical".  They added their name and made them as colorful as possible.  We put them outside the music room door and it grew into a heart.  The "M" on the top right is part of a pennant (Team theme this year) that spells out "MUSIC". We heart music!

This gives you an idea of the pennants.. they are all over the room and say,

I also have several instruments around the room.. drums are back on a shelf after having fallen off my hooks the first week of school.. still investigating other ways to hang them! The ukuleles are up this year- last year they were still in boxes on the floor.  I LOVE these adjustable hangers!

And of course, final picture below has the recorder karate board which helps me to evaluat what students are on what belt.  I have a flipped recorder karate program and students are required to pass green belt ( which is not It's Raining!!!) and can then go beyond (one of our school's core values) to purple, blue, etc.  They loved the flipped classroom and I feel like I spend much more time teaching music and not jut recorder!

I really LOVE LOVE LOVE the boomwhackers on the wall and the kids and I both love how easy it is for them to get them out and put them away! 
A final look at the room!  Enjoy!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Here We Gooooooo!!!!

Tomorrow is the big day!  KIDDOS!!!

HAHAHA!!! I don't tremble.. ok, maybe a little.. not out of fear, but excitement, for sure!!
I have seen a few posts on facebook about teachers who are fearful, sad, and lacking in the excitement of the year and that frankly makes me sad.  I truly hope it is because of the situation/school/environment and not because of the fact they are teaching children and nervous about that.  After all, we are one of the few, the chosen, the incredibly blessed/lucky who are privileged enough to teach BOTH sides of the amazing brain; the creative and the analytical.
How cool is that??!!!

First day of school I use my Drums Rule/Drum Rules post (see below for previous post) with older kiddos.  Younger ones I use a Welcome to the Music Room song a friend wrote years ago and the poem "Ickity Tickity Bumblebee, can you say your name for me" while patsching and clapping, then they say their name and do an action (grades 1-2) which everyone has to copy. It's hilarious, silly, but also informs me quickly whether the students have a good grasp of beat.  I also use this one every now and again and put it into a new format for y'all.

Have fun and welcome to another year!!


Monday, August 10, 2015

Beginning of School Year.. Here it Comes!!!

Today was our first day back.. teacher meetings... UGH!  Looking forward to Wednesday when our Lower School (elementary school part of our JrK-12 independent school) goes to an extreme ropes course!  Our theme is teamwork this year and it should be interesting to see how we work together to complete the course!!! FUN!!!
I first posted on making music the first day a few years ago.. after all, the kids have heard blah, blah, blah rules from every class they have walked into.. why not make it a little more, ahem, musical? 
Here's a preview of the file.. including an idea page for how to use these.  I use these with upper grades in addition to name games and Sasha! Dance, I also use "I'm a Nut" and some other name songs.  Email me at for the pdf file.  :)  Hope you are ready for an amazing year!! I AM!!!