Friday, December 31, 2021

Behavior Reboot

 Behavior. Say that word to any teacher this school year and you will get a multitude of responses and emotions including hands thrown up in the air, eye rolls, shaken heads, and sighs of frustration, disappointment, and discouragement.

How many of us are feeling the effects of Covid in our classrooms? Every. Single. One of us. And it isn't their fault - it seems we pressed the "pause" button on child development in March of 2020. You have probably seen the meme about the last time our fourth graders had a normal school year - they were in FIRST grade. Our second graders have NEVER had a normal school year. Once back from Remote Learning students came back into schools that tried to make them sit in desks, work in groups, walk in lines, be present, focused, on task, be around other children, with or without masks, and expect no differences.  Our students have been impacted by all of this in ways we cannot possibly understand. We can understand what we understand, but we need to understand we will never truly understand. We are not children who have been through what our children have been through. 

Students who have never been in a school before. Students who don't know how to lock the door on the bathrooms because they have never been in a public restroom. Students who don't know how to line up, even after 3 months of being in school. Students who don't know how to be around other children or in large groups, or work in a small group. We have probably all seen or know someone who has seen students tearing things off walls, throwing chairs, running out of classrooms, screaming, arguing, or just falling apart.  

They are trying to tell us something. Maybe we need to

That means we have more opportunities to show consistent and positive kindness and love, to set consistent and positive boundaries, to figure out how to love on those "prickly" kids, and to help our students be their best selves. 


It also means to expect the unexpected.

With the winter break it is now time for a Behavior Reboot in 2022.

With each class:

  • Before the class even comes in - are YOU ready? Are your materials close at hand, do you have a backup plan in case the lesson goes sideways? Do you have some pocket songs or books nearby you can sing or read in case that is what the class needs?
  • Are YOU centered and focused? I find that closing the door before the children come in the room and taking a 30 second inventory - closing my eyes, taking 3 deep breaths, setting an intention of positivity, care, and kindness, helps me enormously to feel grounded. 
  • Are YOU prepared to meet the children where they are? If they come in hyped up on sugar are you ready to do the Seven Jumps dance (my next post will be on how I use this dance - it's not the traditional one) or something else to get the wiggles out?  This helps in leading them down the path to where we need for them to be. Doing so is purposeful yet playful, and encourages relational teaching and builds community.
    Enforcing immediate compliance without time to transition into your class is similar to a prison guard trying to re-establish control during a prison riot and can lead to you and the students being at odds.
  • Set clear expectations and boundaries. Then set them again. And again. KEEP those lines drawn. What I say is what I mean and what I mean is what I say. The consequence may be different for different children and that is OK- fair and equal are not the same.  Part of this is knowing your students and being relational. A child who is trying to get away with behavior is not the same as a child who is acting out of anger or frustration. A child with mental health challenges is not the same as a child who is sneaky and manipulative.
  • What is your lesson flow or structure? Children, like adults, thrive with routine and structure. That doesn't mean there is rigidity and inflexibility. Here are some ideas for the first 5 minutes of class. Here are some ideas for the last 5 minutes of class or for when you need an additional quick activity. 
  • When difficult behaviors happen, don't get in a power struggle. Just don't. It doesn't work for you OR the child.
  • Be the investigator - what does this student need? Do they need a chance to feel successful? Do they need to be a helper and turn lights on or off or get things for you in the classroom? Do they need a time out or a time in? Are they overstimulated - Do they need a quick trip to get a drink of water/go to the bathroom? Do they need a side hug or just to be told they are not in trouble or that you care about them? 
  • Remember we teach children. Say it with me. I teach children. I teach tiny humans. Then say, "I teach tiny humans music."  When teachers say, "I teach music" it takes out the human element. We teach music to children, but we teach children first.  
  • If what you are doing isn't working, put on the investigator/experimenter hat and try something different. Talk to classroom teachers to find out what is working for the class or specific children and try, try again. 
  • Also, it's important to say we as teachers are going through a lot. A LOT. A LOT A LOT A LOT. Take your mental health as important as you would a serious physical illness. Take a walk, do yoga, get a massage, cry, play piano, sing, journal, see a counselor, talk to someone, ask for a hug. DO the things you need to and don't feel you have fall on your sword as a teacher - you matter, your life matters, your health matters. Teaching is not more important than you. Prioritize your health and well being. 
Please know I'm always here for you.
Much affection, best always.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Candy! Candy! Rondo

 December is a month full of holidays and is a perfect month to talk about sugar! 

This is an International Candy Rondo idea focusing on first American candies and then involving the students in an exploration of international candies. Thanks to my friend Tammy for creating this idea- she created this as a Project-Based Learning activity with her students so you could easily have your students research a cultures candy and/or treats. 

Click here to make a copy of the google slides. 


Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Let's Talk Turkey

 If you haven't caught my LIVE on facebook yet, go check out all the past videos at

Today I talked turkey. Yes, you read that right. I shared several of my favorites, many from my Sing a Song, Play a Game book and here are some pictures from the google slide you can get HERE. Please note this will force you to create a copy. :) 

Last year I posted about the rhyme, Mabel, Mabel and using this to play with meters of 2/4, 6/8, and 5/4 - which is SO much fun and a good challenge for older students!  
Click on the first picture for the original post:

Lastly, Pass Me the Turkey is a fun song with a CUP GAME! Check it out by clicking on the first picture to go to the original post. 

Happy Thanksgiving! I am so thankful to all of you who have been reading and following along- we are almost at 1.5 MILLION VIEWS!!! I can't believe it!  Who knew 12 years ago that I would still be blogging and publishing, editing, presenting, etc.  Certainly not me. Be open to all the world offers, friends. You never know where life is going to take you. Blessings!

Monday, October 18, 2021

Monster Trouble/ In the Hall of the Mountain King

 Monsters, Monsters, how much do I love thee?

Younger Children

I love using In the Hall of the Mountain King but with little ones I do this activity. It is a fun activity using locomotor movement and a modified melody. 

Older Students

 If you have the book, In the Hall of the Mountain King, I start this lesson by reading the book.

Decode the rhythm. 
See previous posts for additional ideas.

Create Music "Trolls" or "Troll Kings" or "Monsters":
Here is my example:
Step by step directions:

Some of my students creations:

Next, we learn this speech piece and perform it by opening the monster (high), closing it (low), turning around for "monster everywhere" and moving it side to side quickly for "fast" and slow for "slow", then running in place for "go go go". 
Then we perform the speech piece with the book, Monster Trouble, every 3-4 pages. SO MUCH FUN!

Vegetable Creations and Monster's Don't Eat Broccoli

 If you have been on my blog before, you know my love of cute, adorable monsters!  

I have so many monster books, as you can see here!

Monster's Don't Eat Broccoli is a very cute book with a visual "twist" at the end. The kids love the illustrations and they always make me giggle, too! 

I have several ways I use this book in the music room, here are two:

Song with Book:

Read book, sing song every time "Fum, Foe, Fie, Fee" appear. 


Print the 2-beat vegetable building blocks found here. Here are a few to show what they look like:

Small groups create elemental forms using ABAB (each letter is one 2-beat building brick), ABBA, AABB, AAAB, or ABCA.  Practice performing with body percussion, transfer to barred instruments set up in C pentatonic. 

Could be performed in rondo form:

A: Song

B: Group 1 performs improvisation using their 16-beat rhythm.

A: Song

C: Group 2 performs improvisation


Rhythmic Speech and Body Percussion

Here are a few slides to show what this looks like. Click here for the link. 


Friday, October 8, 2021

Musical Monster Fun!

 I enjoy the costumes, trick or treating, and the silly, playful fun of Halloween. I have leaned more towards monsters in the past several years as they aren't really Halloween and can be use any time of year. 

On my Patreon site there are SEVERAL posts using children's lit, songs, games, speech pieces, solo singing activities, etc. This is one recent massive post, with 3 embedded videos!  Here is a pic of some of the things from that one post: 

Past Posts:

Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Hispanic Heritage Month Part 2

 There are so many wonderful songs to sing, books to read, and music to listen, dance, and play along with! 

This is a fabulous video made by Nickelodeon about well-known icons, artists, musicians, and heroes! 

Check out this post from 2020! Lots of great resources including children's literature!

Here is Part 1! 

Here are a few more favorites:

El juego chirimbolo - sheet music from Beth's Notes here.

Dos y dos son cuatro from the Holy Names University site.

Por aqui paso un caballo from my Hands to Hands book. The first version is more traditional and played with a partner. Version 2 is for a group of four.

Try this version for a *little* more fun! 

En le calle ventricuatro from Hands to Hands.

This lesson on Tito Puente, complete with moveable building blocks using elemental forms is a Patreon exclusive - for less than the cost of your monthly coffee - resources, webinars, children's literature resources, videos, etc. More and more is added every month - come join the community! 
Hope you enjoy all of these! Happy Hispanic and LatinX Heritage Month!