Friday, April 22, 2016

Favorite Singing Games

I am linking up today with Elizabeth at Organized Chaos for a linky party with other music teacher bloggers. 
  Here are 18 favorite singing games along with sources and all other info. 
Send me an email at and I will send them your way.
Here are a few examples to get you excited:
My kids love these and beg for them, especially the "slap games" like Ama Llama!

My kids also love Mac 'n Cheese.. it's a camp song but they could play and sing this for HOURS


Monday, April 18, 2016

Ribbon/Scarf/Fan Choreography Made Simple

*Updated 3.9.217

I came across a blog post about using fans and scarves recently and it inspired me to look again at a previous post I had about using Movement Cards I created a couple years ago.  The original post is here.
I have many different kinds of ribbon streamers but all were homemade.  My favorite are made out of dowels and have fishing bobber atttachments (they twirl!) so don't get wrapped around students arms! I have also attached ribbons onto new elastic hairbands, and these work well for going around the wrist, although I prefer the ones on sticks as students have more control "drawing" with them in the air. 
Here is how mine are made:  6 - 7 feet of ribbon works perfectly and will not get tangled!  The silver stick is a yard stick (spray painted silver for the North Skelton Sword Dance).

And here is how the fisher bobber attachments look once placed:

Lots of music can be made into a fan/ribbon/scarf dance, from traditional instrumental folk recordings to classical pieces, from Indian folk to Spanish flamenco music. 

Here is one idea for using a piece with the movement cards:

Tale of Two Villages                                                                             
Source: Music for Creative Dance by Eric Chappelle, Contrast & Continuum, Volume 1,     available from itunes


Formation: Individuals scattered around room

Prepare for movement:

Move only arms to the beat for 8 beats, teacher plays drum for 8 beats

Move only one leg, etc., experiencing various levels of movement (high, middle, low), shapes created with body (circle, triangle, etc.), and ways of moving  (twist, leap, jump, walk, bend, slither, sway, melt,etc.)

A Section:  Non-locomotor movement (stay in place, move body to the beat)

B Section:  Locomotor movement (travel and move body to the beat)

“Notice what your neighbors are doing, try something you see someone else doing”

Discuss words to describe movement, discuss the activity; lead to discovery/labeling of same/different, “A” and “B” sections of music.

Another day use ribbon wands and UPP; half the class has ribbon wands, half the class has UPP.

Ribbon wands will watch as teacher changes shape cards below * on A section (mbira/kalimba playing on recording)

UPP players will improvise on B section (drumming)


Movement Cards:  Right click to save, import into powerpoint or other graphics-friendly program, enlarge, print onto cardstock, laminate and cut apart!

Monday, April 11, 2016

First Year Teacher Flashback

I am linking up with Shelley at Pitch Publications today for a Flashback Linky Party. I will be answering some questions from when dinosaurs roamed the earth... 22 years ago.. Haha!! Well, it was pre-internet and i had records and tapes, people!!!
  1. 1.What subject/age and where were you teaching?
  2. I taught K-6 at two different schools in my home state of Maine; one was 1.5 days a week and the other school was 2.5 days a week the first year. I subbed every monday, which was great experience!
  3. 2.  What was your first classroom like?
  4. The spring before i got the job, the school building was condemned due to some mystery gasses leaking through the floors. We were in a portable school which was brand new and very nice! That was my 2.5 days a week job. The other school o was in a portable that was tiny and smelled and was also used by the art teacher and the band teacher.
  5. 3.  Were you given supplies and materials? I had some instruments at one school, none at the other, and had to beg to get a cheap plastic keyboard (casio) and a boom box. I had records (yes, really!), and I often schlepped instruments back and forth between schools.
  6. 4.  What do you remember about your first day?
  7.  How scared and nervous and excited i was!
  8. 5.  What was the hardest part of your first year?
  9. Having a very seasoned teacher next door who didnt like that the music room was right next door; she would open my door, glare at me and slam my door shut!
  10. 6.  What was the best part of your first year? Being around children and making music with them!  I had never planned to teach elementary music; I was an opera major and planned to perform and/or teach high school chorus as it was more "sophisticated".  Four weeks teaching K-3 in my student teaching forever changed my life!  I love the wee ones (and not so wee! ).  What a blast!!  I also enjoyed meeting the music teacher who taught at a neighboring school and planning with her every week. She and i are still friends even though i am in NC and she is still in Maine.
  11. 7.  What did you discover your first year that you didn’t learn in college or student teaching?
  12. How much minutae can get in the way of teaching and music making. I didnt realize all the paperwork, budget info., written documentation, etc. that is a part of education!
  13. 8. What is one thing you know now that you wish you knew then?
  14. Someone wise once told me to think of teaching as a marathon; find/make/create 4 amazing lessons this year, 4 the next school year, etc. I also wish we had the internet back when i started teaching; the networking on facebook/social media we have access to is amazingly helpful... When i need aomething or have a ? I can post it on facebook and have 5 replies in an hour from teachers all over the world! That would have been incredibly helpful 22 years ago!

9.  Where did you draw most of your lesson plan inspiration from?
 I wrote a lot of lessons, used the standard classroom music books (and didn't like them), and went to every workshop i could.
10.  Is there anything you taught your first year that you still teach now?
I never teach the same thing the same way twice. I still do my "knees a knees a pizza pie" (see here) warm ups with my wee ones but have changed them a lot over the years!

Well , that's my flashback!  Newbies and first year teachers, have faith and confidence and remember to always put what's best for the children first! 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Ain't Gonna Paint No More Book and Johnny Paints with 5 Brushes Song

I am linking up with elizabeth at Caldwell Organized Chaos today for a linky party.
Being a crafty, creative kind of person I have dabbled in many art/crafty activities; jewelry making, rug braiding, weaving, painting, quilting, etc.  I love the liquid nature of paints and the vibrancy of pure colors.  Better yet, I love when colors melt into one another, creating swirls, patterns, dots, and drips.
 Today I am sharing one of my favorite spring lessons that would work well for younger students; I use this mostly with Kindergarten and first grades.

First, I tell them the story of John, who really wanted to be a carpenter. So he bought a hammer and some tools and started making things.  Sing "Johnny Works with One Hammer", all the way to "five hammers" as in the video below.
Then, I tell them John decided he needed a different kind of job, he enjoyed working with hammers but he really wanted to be a ..... PAINTER!  He got so excited he went out and got brushes and paints and began to paint.  Sing "Johnny paints with one paintbrush"... move one hand in a swishy up and down pattern, then just like the first song, add a "brush" each time.  
Next, I tell the students that John's mom came home and found him painting all over the floor, ceiling, carpets and she was not happy.  Read/sing/show the book, "I Ain't Gonna Paint No More" by Karen Beaumont.  
Available here from
Then we perform the activity that goes with Trepak from Lynn Kleiner's  "Kids Can Listen, Kids Can Move.  WONDERFUL resource! There is a throwing and smearing of paint activity to accompany Trepak from the Nutcracker on page 18. Available  here from West Music.

 As a final activity, we go to a museum!  Well..... in a way. We sing, "Let's make a statue shape" to the tune of the Farmer in the Dell and at the end of the song everyone makes a statue shape and holds very still while I "visit the museum". Of course I make funny comments like, "Wow, that statue is a moving sculpture.. I didn't know they had those.  I don't like those very much!   They freak me out!".  The kiddos giggle, but get the point; no moving.  We sing again and I tour the museum making various comments.  Then I tell them the sculptures in the next museum are partnered.  Sing, they figure out how to connect with a partner, etc.  From there we create sculptures with groups of 3, then 4, etc. until we have a whole class sculpture. It's a great time to talk about levels of movement; high, medium, low, and for them to work through the problem of creating movement while being connected to another person.