Friday, October 26, 2018

Monsters Love Underpants

There is nothing funnier than saying the word, "underpants" to children.  It is hysterical.  Giggles galore! If you have been on my blog before, you know I love giggles, in face, when my publisher asked me to name my site for my books, I had to get "smile" in there- it is! 

I love this collection of books by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort- SO funny - if you haven't seen them, hop over to Amazon to see them! Monsters, Aliens, Dinosaurs, Pirates, It is a nice way to finish the craziness of Halloween without being too "Halloween-y". Of course, as the theme is monsters (and aliens, etc.) in underwear, these children's books are good for any time of the year! 
A couple years ago in the Dollar Spot at Target they had some really wonderful heavy-duty chipboard underwear games.  These were perfect for creating rhythms on one side with words!  I have included a few cards with colors, shapes, and lines for you to begin the process as the underwear pieces are no longer available.
There is so much you could do with the rhythms once they have been created - transfer the rhythms to F and D in the d minor pentatonic scale being used, transfer to unpitched percussion, small groups could create non-locomotor or locomotor movement to illustrate their shape and pathway! Possibilities abound! If you would like the pdf, please send me an email at
Happy Fall!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Skin and Bones - Spiraling Through the Years

Skin and Bones has to be one of my students all-time favorite songs. It is so full of possibilities for drama, movement, instrument play, recorders, etc.  It is also a very spooky song but does not mention "Halloween".  This is the perfect song to use all those spooky sound effects on - the gongs, spring drums, vibraslaps, wind tubes, etc.
This music is from Beths Notes- such a wonderful site.

Drue Bullington is a widely respected Orff clinician and teacher.  I have had him as a clinician at workshops several times and he is wonderful. The instrument brand, Studio 49, sponsors an amazing blog called "Teaching with Orff".  Great lessons there, from creative and talented teachers who use the Orff Approach.  Whether or not you use the Orff Approach, you can still use these lessons. Recently I received in my email box a HUGE lesson post on how to use Skin and Bones from first grade through the upper grades each year. I love songs like this - ones that you can use each year but add concepts and skills that spiral in complexity, touching upon concepts previously learned and adding new, age-appropriate skills that further develop students musicality. 
The lessons are complete with wonderful graphics and pictures to clearly demonstrate the "how" and the process of how to teach the song at each age and grade level.
The first part of the free lesson is here.   Once you have printed that off, you can go on to the second part here. 
Amy Abbott also has a wonderful activity using solfege to prepare low la here. 
If you dare, try to have your oldest kids watch this version of Skin and Bones - warning, the ending is SCARY!!

When my students perform this, with instruments, some students as "trees" with black scarves over their heads, etc., (we go all out for this one with lots of crazy props!), we ask the classroom teacher to come to pick students up a few minutes before the end of the class.  Once they come in, I already have one student hiding in a closet behind the door. We turn the lights off, dress the teacher up like the old lady - scarf on head, cane, apron, the whole nine yards, and the teacher wanders around the room while singing, then as we get closer to the end of the song, "She went to the closet to get a broom.." I direct the teacher towards the door, then at the end of the song, "Boo", the student jumps out of the closet and scares the teacher!  The class, of course, goes crazy, and the teacher is either truly scared or, as my teachers have been through this before, they act scared and the kids really love it.  Last year I had a fourth grade teacher who had forgotten as she was on medical leave the previous year, and she got so scared she literally fell on her bottom, which was hilarious as she was laughing so hard and the kids were dying.  I don't know if she ever got that group back on track the rest of the school day! 
I also have lyric slides available, send me an email at  for the full pdf of the lyric slides.  They look like this:


Thursday, October 18, 2018


This is the perfect time of year for creepy crawly spiders! Just this morning I had a pretty BIG one in my music room while a class of  kindergarteners were there.. oh my! They saw it and pointed it out then of course wanted me to rescue it and send it out the door. Thankfully I have a door leading to an outside area and so we rescued a spider today in music class. The kids were so proud of themselves! If you haven't seen this post about my Creepy Crawly Spiders song, check it out. Very accessible for first graders and kindies. My first graders study bats and spiders and with Halloween just around the corner this is the perfect time to bring out all the bats and spiders songs.
The Spider Kept on Spinning song from Lynn Kleiners Jungle Book pairs beautifully with the book, The Very Busy Spider.

Create quarter and eighth note rhythms with spider, pumpkin, and bat cut outs- Dollar Tree and Wal Mart often have the foam ones this time of year - perfect for creating 4 and 8 beat rhythms as B sections to go with "Trick or Treat, I'm so sweet, may I have something good to eat".  (My nicer version of the trick or treat song). 
My kiddos a couple years ago with foam pumpkins and ghost cut outs playing a game. See the full post here. 

I also like to do movement activities around spiders and my students are always fascinated by this video:

After some purposeful and creative movement exploration around the ideas of spiders spinning, waiting, eating, and hopping, we need some quiet body time, and turn our hands into spiders to sing, "Spider on the Floor".  Artie Almeida has wonderful verses to go with this and a visual - free, here.  The last verse, is of course, pure Artie, with the spider on the tush afraid of being smushed. The kids love it. We practice with hands first, moving it from floor to leg to thigh, etc., then I pass out plastic spider rings they get to take home (BIG HIT!!) and we sing again and they get very creative about how to put the spider on their body part - the rule is they can't touch the spider or the body part. It really makes them work on movement and balance and stillness.  
Hope you enjoy some of these!  Do you have a favorite spider tune?  

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Favorite Halloween Posts

I was thinking today of all my previous posts and wanted to share a few old and "older" posts for Halloween fun!  Several activities do not mention Halloween overtly, but have more subtle overtones for those of you that can't have a lesson with "Halloween". 
I seem to gravitate towards books at Halloween!  There are so many wonderful books to use! 
Nightsong Check out the song and activity here.

Romping Monsters, Stomping Monsters. Click here for this super fun one! 
In the Hall of the Mountain King. Check out the post here for a HUGE list of activities- not only books! 
Rhythm Dictation with Quarter Notes and Eighth Notes - this is so much fun! The first slide in every pairing of slides has the words only- teachers speak the rhythm and students write it, then the 2nd slide has the rhythm. Great for assessment and self-assessment. 
Pass the Pumpkin is always a HUGE hit with my kiddos!  

Creepy Crawly Spiders is an original song where the students make a spiders web out of yarn and keep the beat with the created web! 

Looking for more?  Check out all my Halloween posts here.
Happy Fall y'all! :)