Saturday, December 29, 2018

New Years - 26 Hours Long?!

Do you know there are 38 different local times in use around the world?  Therefore it takes 26 hours for the New Year to actually be celebrated by all on Earth! 
Did you also know that New Year's is not always January 1?  Chinese New Year is celebrated not by calendar year but by the cycle of the new moon.  Buddhists in Thailand celebrate a three day water festival called Songkran in April.  In the Middle Ages in Europe the new year began on March 25.  The Russian Orthodox Church celebrates the new year on January 14, Persian New Year on March 21, and one Hindu celebration in India occurs in April or May.  Read more here. 
The idea for this lesson came first from my Chinese New Year song called, "Xin Nian Kuai Le".  Check out this post with the song and additional activities to use for January and February to go with Chinese New Year.  My daughter was adopted from China, and so the idea of New Year not occurring on January 1 is not new to me as we celebrate Chinese New Year in our family and also at my school. I began to think of New Year celebrations our students might celebrate and wanted to have something to be inclusive of all students.  This also provides a wonderful opportunity to talk about differences while including everyone in the conversation about culture and celebrations. 

The movement idea I first imagined was something like this, only with dancers lying on sides or kneeling on floor, something simple and synchronized  with clock like movements.
I hope you enjoy, and be sure to drop me a line to let me know what you did with it!
As always, if you want the full pdf of the above, send an email to me at
Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Sugar Plum Fairy Play Along

Yes, I love the Nutcracker. The music, the story, the ballet. All of it. I have many students at my school who dance in the ballet every year and I love introducing this to my kiddos although most of them have heard the music or seen the ballet.
Image result for nutcracker images
To begin this lesson, I teach/review the song and game, "We are Dancing in the Forest". My Kindergarten students learn this and play the game, then are introduced to quarter and eighth notes through iconic then actual notation.  In first grade we review the song, read the notation, and then we are ready for how this plays into ballet.
What, you say? How does that song lead into ballet?  DANCING! We sing the song and students must pretend they are in a forest dancing and by the time the song is finished they must be back in their places. We try this a few times, and then I ask them to do this again and I sing the melody of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Repeat ad nauseum.
Then I show them this through the first musical theme:
Students turn and talk to a neighbor about what they noticed.  They will stand up and start showing what they noticed - it is so cute, they can't help but try out some moves! I put the music on and they try out some of the moves with the music playing - it is so sweet to watch them imitate some of what they have seen!
We discuss the meaning of ballet, that some football players take ballet lessons to work on balance and strength, and then I ask if they would like to meet a ballerina?  Then I show them this:
I really like that the video has male and female dancers and talks about body image and accepting who you are and what you have.
After that we watch and learn about a celesta:

Next I break out the foam snowflakes and trees. The snowflakes I got at Dollar Tree one season and the trees I cut out from craft foam (also from Dollar Tree in the craft aisle). See where this is going yet?  Snowflakes have 2 sounds and will become eighth notes, trees have one sound and will become quarter notes.  I put many patterns on the floor, students clap and say, then I break out the quarter note and eighth note cards and students place these above the snowflakes and eighth notes. 
Then they are ready for this visual.  The theme is incomplete and missing a repeat sign, but my first graders haven't learned that symbol yet and the focus is quarter and eighth note reading. Once we practice saying and clapping the theme, half the class gets triangles to play the them on, the other half dances.  Perform, then switch!  Such a blast!  

Hope you enjoy this one! My kiddos sure did! Happy Holidays!