Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Tuesday Book Club- In the Hall of the Mountain King

It's October! It's Fall! It's My Birthday Month!

One of my favorite stories to do in the fall is "In the Hall of the Mountain King".  The version I read is adapted from Henrik Ibsen by Allison Flannery, Illustrated by Vesper Stamper and, of course, includes the music by Edvard Grieg.

When I introduce this story/ song, first I show the doodle chaos video.  Students LOVE this video.  As we are watching I ask them what they notice about the song. Because the movie is kind of funny, I am sure to remind them I want to know what they notice about what they HEAR not what they see.  We talk about dynamics, tempo, orchestration and more in grade level appropriate terms.

After we watch the video, I then read the book.  We have a short conversation about how the story might fit with the music and then, the fun part, we get to act it out.  I read the story again, as students are up and walking through the forest, entering the castle, looking around, and then running from the Mountain King (all to the rhythm of the song).  If it gets to crazy, I tell the students that we need to hide frozen like a statue in an open doorway of the castle and we freeze silently and look side to side to make sure the King doesn't see us.

Students, and I, LOVE this activity and ask for it again and again and again. Have fun!

Get the book HERE

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

No One in the House but Dinah

I thought today that I would share one of my favorite 16th notes/ re songs!

Dinah used to be a song that students didn't like as much, because it was a song that we just sang beautifully. I know these types of songs are important, but as is typical for 3rd and 4th grade, students would always ask what the "game" was. 2 summers ago, however, I took my Orff Level 1 and wrote a super fun orff arrangement to this song and students are loving it!

Because I only see my students 30 minutes at a time (2x a week) I typically add one instrument part each week. I like to let every single student try it out so it can take up about half the period.  They LOVE at the end when we can put all the parts together!

To prepare the orff patterns, we play them "on our bodies" first and match the placement.  For the bass line, we tap our legs- hands together.  For the alto xylophone part, we tap our clavicle- alternating hands, and for the tambourine part we snap.

Each part is slowly layered in over time and students are encouraged to speak the patterns (see the words in the PDF picture) and do the body percussion even when it is not their turn at an instrument. When we put it all together we split into groups and do the same. 

Especially this year, my students are super excited to play and get the patterns correct.  They haven't played their orff instruments much in the past (it's my first year at this school) and it is really fun for me to get to see them improving each time.

Check out the arrangement and try it for yourself!  When you click the link it will make a copy of the pdf arrangement just for you! DINAH ORFF

I also just recently did learn a game for this song (thanks Facebook!).  Students stand in a circle while one closes their eyes in the center.  The teacher then chooses (silently) two students to make a gate the center student can escape from.  The gate students separate a bit and then DO NOT SING when the song starts.  Still with closed eyes, the center student must try to escape from the circle by the end of the song by listening for where there is a gap in the sound.  This game only works if ONLY the gate students do not sing.  My students have been really enjoying this game, and even reluctant singers join in to ensure the game goes off with out a hitch.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Tuesday Book Club: Bom! Went the Bear

Welcome to another Tuesday Book Club! This weeks post is all about Bom! Went the Bear by Nicki Greenberg.

Get the book HERE

From the back of the book:
              Bear loves to play his big bass drum, and march around like he's 
              king of all the land.  It's so much fun that soon he's joined by 
              all manner of animals. But with so many musicians determined
              to perform, is there room for Bear to march to the beat of his 
              own drum?  A joyous celebration of music and play. 

This book is so adorable.  It is great to introduce kids to many animals and instruments. There is a lot of onomatopoeia in the book as well many of our kindergarten comparative words like quick-quick, s-l-o-w, high and low.  At the end it also shows a great example of a decrescendo by repeating the same words over and over but printing them smaller and smaller to give the impression that the animals are playing quieter as they are moving away.  

I have read this book to my K and 1st graders and they loved it.  We are going to be doing vocal explorations with it next class where they echo some instrument sounds or reveal what they think some of the instruments should sound like.  

This book would also be great for a sound story for older students.  There are lots of opportunities to add in different sounds- even if the instrument students choose isn't the exact instrument in the book. It would be a great way for students to be creative to show different musical concepts.  

What are your favorite vocal exploration or sound story books? 

Check out the new Tuesday Book Club tab at the top to see more great ideas for books to read and resources to use in your music room! 

Friday, August 31, 2018

My Favorite "Getting to Know You" Games

Being at a new school this year, I have had to pull out ALL of my favorite "getting to know you" musical games.   Below is a brief description of each!

Billy Billy- This is a longways set game that students LOVE! Students stand across from a partner in a longways set formation.  For the first verse of the song, they connect hands with their partner and shake back and forth.  On the second verse, partner 1 at the top of the set travels down the alley in an interesting way (disco, model walk, etc.) and then staying at the opposite end of the set.  On the third verse, partner 2 travels down the alley copying the movement of partner 1.  Play until all sets of partners have gone.  I love seeing the interesting ways students choose to travel down the alley!

Here's the way we billy billy                           
billy billy, billy billy
Here's the way we billy billy 
all night long 

Step back Sally, 
goin' down the alley
Step back Sally
all night long

Here comes another one, 
Just like the other one, 
Here comes another one, 
all night long. 

Song is swung.  Each line below = one 4 beat phrase.  Solfa pattern is: 
d l s l (change notes each beat)
d l s l
d l s l
m r d

Pass the Beat Around the Room- When I learned this, we just stood in a circle and said "Pass The Beat A-Round The Room z" (each syllable = 1 beat and z=rest).  However, to help me learn names of students, I have been asking them to say their name during the rest instead.  Each student says one syllable of the sentence and it continues around to the left. If a student hesitates or says the wrong word (or name- it happens!) they sit out.  Continue until there is one student left.  If your students are rock stars, you can also replace a word with an action instead.  For example, have students STOMP instead of saying the word "beat". 

Sasha Folk Dance- This dance is in Sashay the Donut and is a favorite. If students love this dance, you could also do Heel and Toe Polka from Chimes of Dunkirk, as they are very similar partner changing dances!

Bump Up Tomato- While this one never says names, like Billy Billy you get to know students personalities. Students sing the song and do the actions while standing in a circle with one person in the middle.  At the end, the student in the middle chooses someone to try and make laugh.  They can do whatever they want WITHOUT TOUCHING each other.  If their target laughs, the target is in the middle for the next round.  If the target keeps a straight face, the original student is in the center for another round.

I Can Keep the Beat- This is a favorite chant which allows children to say their names in a fun way.

I can keep the beat
and I can say your name
sitting next to (Mrs. Church) is
Name *Name* 

The whole class says the chant and then at the end, one person says their name and the rest of the class repeats the name.  You then move around the circle in the same fashion, changing the names as you go.

It's Great to Sing with You- Sung to the tune of "Good Morning" from Singin' in the rain.  If it's morning I still sing good morning, but in the afternoon I just sing Hello.

Good Morning to ____ (name), it's great to sing with you! Good morning, good morning, today! 

Sometimes I sing the 1st phrase multiple times before moving on to the rest of the song to get as many students in as possible. While singing, we tap the beat in various ways on our bodies.  The first few times we sing this song, I have the students sing their name to me and then the whole class sings it again.  Once you know names you could sing their grade, or teachers name (Mrs. Church's Class), etc. This is a great welcome song to use all year!

*** note: these videos are just examples I found on youtube to help illustrate the games for you. ***

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Tuesday Book Club: Summer Reading

Ok... so I know it is Thursday.  The first full week of school is getting away from me! I mentioned in a recent post: New Year, New Beginnings, that I had read a few books that were inspiring me for the new school year and I have since read a few more! Below I will give a brief overview of each book and what I loved most about it.   I will also mention what tips/ideas/chapters hit home, made me reflect, and challenged me as an educator.

The Pepper Effect- Tap into the Magic of Creativity, Collaboration, and Innovation By Sean Gaillard

I liked this book as a music teacher because, if you couldn't tell by the title (my Husband didn't get it...) it ties everything back to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The book goes through how the Beatles flipped the script, stopped touring, and focused on innovation for that album- and how we can apply the same principles to our classrooms. I learned some Beatles history and got some great classroom tips along the way.

After reading this book, I have ideas to be more positive, collaborate, and help students be their best.  First of all, I plan on making Mondays a positive catalyst for the week and starting each school day with a festive atmosphere- never holing myself up in my room, but greeting kids with more than just a "good morning".  Maybe I will play a song, maybe have a puppet, maybe I will give out high-fives or make secret handshakes with students- it will always be changing- but the goal is ensure that everyone feels valued and invited when they come to school.

When it comes to working with colleagues, I loved the keys to collaborate which were summed up in an acronym: LISTEN.  This will be super important this year, as I am brand new to my school and will need to get to know everyone there! "Education is a collaborative and joyful journey. Love your collaborators and demonstrate your belief in them... Belief is the ignition for inspiration and the foundation for dreams."

L= Look for the gifts of other colleagues in the schoolhouse.
I= Invite colleagues to share those gifts with you.
S= Strategize a plan to build and do something wonderful.
T= Take a risk and commit to do something bold and creative.
E= Enjoy the process of collaborating and camaraderie.
N= Now Make It Happen!

One other thing that really hit home,especially as I start at LU-T, is being intentional about taking moments away from the grind.  Sean Gaillard calls it "Here Comes the Sun" Space. As he says "An intentional move to gather time for renewal can stir inspiration in the most unexpected ways." I will be making a Here Comes the Sun poster (or buying one...) and making at least one plan a week time to just renew and connect with students and colleagues.

As for concrete classroom ideas aside from tips on collaborating, innovating, and hearing student voices- one thing really jumped out at me: "Flip your classroom into an Escape Room DESIGNED BY STUDENTS" (Emphasis added by me).  I have seen many teachers do escape rooms in their classroom, but I haven't seen students creating these escapes.  I plan on having my older students next year show mastery of certain units or vocabulary by creating an escape room for another class in the same grade to solve.  Students will work in teams to create parts of the escape and they will be combined into one big challenge for other classes to solve. I am SO EXCITED for this project!

Remember: "One teacher's words can set a life-changing course for a student to take bold, giant, steps towards building a dynamic future." 

The next PD book I read was Unleash Talent by Kara Knollmeyer.

This book was all about finding your T-3 (passions, skills and personality traits) and helping other staff members and students find theirs as well so the whole school can work together to be a positive, awesome environment where everyone can learn and grow!

I LOVED that each chapter was summarized with a "bottom line", journal prompts, and discussion questions that made it really easy to go deeper and really think about what was presented. I basically ended up highlighting quotes many of the chapters so I will just put a few here so you can get an idea of what the book is like and how it will work for you. Some of these I want to print and hang by my desk as daily reminders!

"Talent is not realized overnight but tended and nurtured day after day"
"We must understand that commitment, desire, and drive are not mutually exclusive. All three must work together to create true success."
"Contentment without desire and drive would keep us in a static state of 'good enough'"
"When passion is present, it spreads like wildfire to everyone who sees it"
"Courage is the willingness to step forward even as you are struggling with fear into what lies ahead. Your authentic self is more powerful than any monster living inside your head trying to hold you back."
"We need people who are trying to change the world for the better. And when you are trying to change the world, you do not do ordinary things."
"A compliment is verbal sunshine"
"Any day could be the day you and I were made for. Each day is our opportunity to live our destiny"
"Cookie Cutters are for cookies! Or in other words BE YOU!"
"Feedback does not need a meeting place. It needs a vulnerable space and someone to truly listen"
"Allow others to talk and look for that little spark of light that shows up in their eyes when something they are truly passionate about shines through. That right there is their life's purpose..."
"As educators, the more we share our talents, the more we empower others to share theirs"
"No. The sky is not the limit. It is only the beginning. Lift off."
5 Characteristics of People Who Inspire Others: 1. heart of a servant  2. Brave  3. Accepting of Others  4. Tenacious  5. Vulnerable

In addition to these great quotes, there were a few specific practices I plan on implementing asap.

Gratitude notes- The author states that when she is down she writes gratitude notes to those who inspire her with their love, actions, and talents and I can not wait to start this in my new school and daily life.  I love that she turns negative feelings into positive with this simple thing.

Observations- Another thing mentioned a lot in the book is observing fellow teachers and allowing them to observe you.  I made this "Observe Me" poster that links to a google form (I got the idea from twitter...) so any time colleagues or parents want to observe me they can give me direct feedback that I can constantly refer to.  I am so excited to see how this works.

Questions to ask- What is the history of the school? How can I help honor that history? What is unique about each staff member? How can I get to know who they are? how can I better understand the varied perspectives of members of the school and see where each person is coming from?

I also plan on reading the following 3 books VERY soon:

The Teaching Text (Your Welcome)


Play it from the Heart

Did you read any awesome books this summer? Need more ideas to easily insert positivity, creativity, and just plain old fun into your room? Check out my FREE 30 day Happy Teacher Challenge! I love to do this challenge year round.  There are ideas for: Classroom Fun (classroom fun can be extended all week), Classroom Organization, Reflection/ Self Care, Professional Development, and Random Acts of Kindness

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Room Tour 2018

I have had this painting in my room for years. It was a gift from a student who was redoing their bedroom to be "less babyish"- but I LOVE this painting and don't think it is babyish at all! My students love that it matches the last page of the book Giraffes Can't Dance.

This was my inspiration for my "Swingin' Through the Jungle- Music Room Decor" set for the year.  I am so excited to hang it some of it up in my BRAND NEW CLASSROOM. It goes perfectly with our mascot- the Lions- and I am mixing this Jungle Decor with some awesome watercolor prints and labels for decor that will last.

This set features everything you need to decorate your music room- from rules, to posters, to a fun bulletin board. You can also get a lot of things separately if you want to do what I did and mix and match themes.

I am in love with this room! It is so big and beautiful! The most utilized space for me will (I think) be the cabinet storage.  The first set of cabinets is less-often used instruments, the second set is all my manipulatives, the third is classroom supplies and then I also have space for cleaning supplies, magazine subscriptions and more.  On the cabinet doors I decided to put these little dry erase boards to write my daily objectives, as well as some great reference pictures for some musical symbols, dynamics, and notes.  Get the reference pictures HERE.

Above the sink I put my "gallery wall" of great music quotes and lion pictures. Get the beautiful quotes HERE. I think this just gives that huge area a fun look without being super busy or distracting. 

Moving around the room I have my piano (with a new light-board on top- I am so excited to use it!) as well as my staff dry erase board, my TV- which I can cast my computer to, and my movement prop storage in that small bookshelf. I have my bean bags, ribbon wands, and scarves all easy access right there!

Along the back of the room I have my desk as well as commonly used instruments on the small shelves with the orff instruments set up and ready to go on top.  We have a small collection right now, but I am hoping to expand our orffestra in the next few year.  Hanging on the windows are instrument flags from David Row at Make Moments Matter.

The last wall is my bulletin board space as well as my blank dry erase board.  My bulletin board right now is split into 2 sections- "What I'm Reading" where I will share my favorite books with students, and then "What to Listen For in Music" which you can get HERE from Rhythm and Bloom. I also have note magnets as well as a solfege ladder ready to go on the dry erase board for any time I need to reference it throughout the year.  The solfege signs are held together with rings and I can flip unknown syllables around when I need to.

My school is a Seven Habits school so I have the habits posted in various places around the room.  My favorite habits set is this clean black. Love it!

Also in the corner, I have a small rest area with more to be added soon.  Right now, hanging on the cabinets are some calming strategies and I have a worksheet printed out on top of the filing cabinets for students to fill out when they are in the rest area needing a break from class.

I hope you loved this room tour and got some great ideas for your own room! I tried to make it fun and colorful without being TOO overwhelming. I may add a labeled grand staff somewhere as well as a joke of the week to the black and red bulletin board, but I want to get to know my students first. I hope you have a great school year!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Tuesday Book Club- Night Time Stories Part II

I have written about favorite lullaby books before (find that post HERE) but I have since found more that I absolutely LOVE! Below are 3 night-time stories that have become staples in my room.

La La La: A Story of Hope
Written by Kate DiCamillo and Illustrated by Jaime Kim

I got my copy of La La La last year at the book fair and immediately had to incorporate it into a lesson. This is a "wordless" picture book (eventually it says "la la la") that is so beautiful!

“La la la . . . la.” A little girl stands alone and sings, but hears no response. Gathering her courage and her curiosity, she skips farther out into the world, singing away to the trees and the pond and the reeds — but no song comes back to her. Day passes into night, and the girl dares to venture into the darkness toward the light of the moon, becoming more insistent in her singing, climbing as high as she can, but still there is silence in return. Dejected, she falls asleep on the ground, only to be awakened by an amazing sound. . . . She has been heard. At last.  ~ From the book description on Amazon

I love to pair this book with Clair de Lune by Debussy.  The swells in the music fit almost perfectly with page turns and the song really enhances the story, allowing kids to better understand the emotion behind the (almost) wordless book.  I have had aides crying when doing this activity and kids are always so quiet, just taking in the story and connecting with the little girl.  This is a great activity to end a class, especially on a "crazy" day (parties, field day, etc.) because it really helps to calm and center the kids before they go to another class or head home. 

Goodnight Moon
Written by Margaret Wise Brown and Illustrated by Clement Hurd

This book is a children's classic and it has now been set to music by Eric Whitacre! You can purchase on itunes or other music services, or even listen for free on Spotify! My plan for this gorgeous setting is to first listen while looking at the book and then do an exploratory movement mirroring activity with finger lights (while the classroom lights are off).  You could also use scarves in cool colors to get the floaty feel of the piece.

Hush Little Alien 
Written and Illustrated by Daniel Kirk

This one is one of my 2 year old son's favorite night time books.  Sung to the tune of Hush Little Baby, this is a funny take on if an alien dad was singing the song to his child.

As a bonus- this is my favorite version of Hush Little Baby: It is a super cute version illustrated by Marla Frazee and my children and students both love it!

What fun Night-Time stories to you love to read in your room?? Leave a comment or a link below!

Other Tuesday Book Club posts:
Senor Don Gato
Can You Hear It?
More Night Time Stories
Holiday Books
Farm Folk Songs
Folk Song Stories
John Lithgow Books
There Was an Old Woman Books
Music Teacher from the Black Lagoon and Other 1st Grade Tales
Do You Do A Didgeridoo?

*click the pictures of the book covers to go straight to Amazon to buy these awesome books. They are NOT affiliate links.*