Wednesday, December 31, 2014

14 for 2014!

Today I am linking up with Miss Kindergarten to share my 14 favorite memories from 2014! It was a really amazing year! Stay tuned for resolutions to be posted soon! If not tomorrow than for sure by the 3rd because I need to keep myself occupied on a 4 hour plane ride back home to Ohio.

ONE: Getting engaged to the love of my life. This is technically 2013, but I got to celebrate and plan all of 2014 so I am counting it anyways ;) We to see The Nutcracker last December and when we got back home he had a hand-painted nutcracker sitting on the end table with the ring tied to it.  I LOVE The Nutcracker Ballet and collect them so he could not have proposed in a more perfect way.  It also solidified the Nutcracker themed December wedding I had been thinking about.

TWO: Being a part of MANY awesome community theater productions in the past year. From Les Mis (ensemble), to Bat Boy (Ruthie/ Ned), to Into The Woods (Lucinda), to a world premier of a children's show called "The Jester Prince" (Princess Leona) I had a ton of fun working with great directors, casts and crews.  I'm excited for my first show of 2015- The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and hope to be a part of many more!

THREE: Not only was I able to be in shows, but I also got to see many wonderful performances from community theater productions like Little Shop to operas such as Carmen and ballets, of course including The Nutcracker. I love that I got to experience great art with great people!

FOUR: Being a site-leader for some amazing Christian community service camps held in Cincinnati. Week of Hope is a camp where youth groups come to serve their chosen city in a number of ways- from volunteering at food banks, nursing homes, and boys and girls clubs to city clean-up and dance camps, students learn about Jesus and have a ton of fun serving and meeting new friends from all over the country.  As site-leader I checked in every night to make sure that the college-aged camp leaders were running things smoothly and all campers were happy.  Adam and Chris did an awesome job which made my job super easy :) Learn more about Week of Hope and other GROUP mission trips HERE.

FIVE: Buying a house with my love, very close to where I work, in July. We hope to start a family soon and this house is perfect! We had a lot of fun searching for the one, painting, getting furniture, finding just the right decor, and more to make this house our home.  We still have a lot to do but it is looking and feeling more like "us" every day!

The day we moved in!

SIX: Starting my 6th year of teaching at the best place to work.  I teach grades 1-6 so I can finally say that these students are "all mine".  This will be the first 6th grade group that I will have taught all the way through elementary school and I know I will be a mess at their 6th grade recognition night.  Here's to many more years at "Our Wonderful Wilson School!"

SEVEN: Taking walks with Brad every Sunday to get breakfast.  At our old apartment there were no sidewalks so being able to walk to breakfast is a tradition I hope to continue into the new year!

EIGHT: Attending great workshops from wonderful Ohio Music Educators- from Amy Beegle to Eva Floyd I learned so much and got lots of new ideas for both my general music classes and chorus classes!  I hope to take classes this upcoming summer at CCM to learn even more!  Check out the blog post about Amy Beegle's workshop here- it was amazing! As always it is also fun to meet, learn, and bounce ideas around with the fellow music teachers in my district - we all have such different teaching styles but the same goal and I love our time together :)

NINE: I got a PTA mini grant and was able to purchase a great rug for my classroom. I have already
used it in so many ways! It has musical symbols around the edges and a giant staff in the middle.  I have used it for staff twister, sight reading, symbol search games and more! Not to mention it really helps the little ones make a circle super easily!

TEN: Having my brother SKYPE from California to teach the Special Needs class at my school all about space. He is in an astronomy grad program at Cal-Tech and I hate that he is so far away but it was great to see him interact with some of the students I work with every day.  He SKYPED three times in all during their astronomy unit and taught them all about the Phases of the moon, the life cycle of a star, and the eight planets through stories, games, and crafts. The students had so much fun and he even made the Wilson page of the district Christmas Card!

ELEVEN: In November my school passed a Bond issue which means my 56 year old school building will be rebuilt in the next 3 years along with all other buildings in the district getting a much needed renovation.  I will be so exited to not teach in a modular classroom anymore! Though I love that I can be as loud as I want, whenever I want, the students having to walk outside to get to my room is a
safety concern, not to mention annoying when it is raining/ snowing/ windy, etc.  We have already started planning for the new building and it is going to be amazing!

TWELVE: My bachelorette party, while not wild and crazy, was a super fun night.  It started with a scavenger hunt at a mall in Columbus.  The hung began with my brother handing me a clue in the car and then we met up with sisters and friends at each stop for a small gift and a clue to the next location.  Most of the locations had some significance to me: the American Girl Doll store- I loved my Molly Doll, Cheryl's Cookies- Cheryl gave a (horrible) speech at my college graduation, Barnes and Noble- I've always loved to read, Crate and Barrel- Brad and I were registered there and more. We ended up at an Irish Pub for dinner and then went ice skating and finally to Jennie's Ice Cream and a local bar for a night cap to end the night. It was so much fun- even while I felt silly running through the mall in a tutu and crown. :)

THIRTEEN: On December 28 I got married to one pretty cool guy. We had a beautiful day with many joys, laughs, (good) cries, family, and friends.  I got to wear the dress my paternal grandma wore 65 years ago when she married my grandpa  and we said our vows in the same church my parents got married in.  I also found a mink shawl in the maternal grandmothers attic and wore her cameo necklace that my mother also wore.  Some favorite moments include:

The first look with my Grandma Jo before the service.  I have wanted to wear her dress since I was little and it as really special to have her be one of the first to see me and for our AMAZING photographer to capture the moment

Crying down the aisle but getting though my vows while still being able to speak

Sitting and stepping on my veil at the same time so when I sat down for the speeches I couldn't sit up all the way and there was 5 minutes of laughing and trying to figure out how it was stuck

The dance with my dad- it was a little fast but super fun (we danced to Teach Your Children Well by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young)

Brad missing my mouth and dropping the cake down my dress

Brad trying to dip me and both of us crashing to the floor instead

Of course, getting to marry and start a new chapter with my favorite guy :)

The view from the Hotel on Day 1
The view from the Hotel on Day 2
FOURTEEN: Traveling to Sedona, AZ for the honeymoon.  Day one was beautiful! We got to hike and sample some great local food.  Day two... We are getting 6-11 inches of snow!  The guy at the art gallery we visited said he hasn't seen snow like this in the 15 years he has been here! We are making the most of it though- playing words with friends, as well as getting pizza, coffee, and art (I love for my souvenirs to be art as I don't grow out of them and can display my memories at home- I have art from Africa, Utah, Hungary, and now Sedona). We are also taking lots of pictures of the breathtaking views that aren't normally covered in snow.  Hopefully we can get to the Grand Canyon on Friday and do some more hiking if the weather clears up!

What are some of your favorite memories of 2014???  Share below or if you are a blogger be sure to visit the original post and link up!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tuesday Book Club- Holiday Books

Welcome to the Tuesday Book Club!  I will be posting the 2nd Tuesday of every month  with a favorite Story book to read or sing.   There are so many great books out there that students (and teachers) love! If you are a blogger feel free to link up and share your favorite book to read/ sing to your students by following the directions at the end of the post. The linky party will always be open until the end of the month.

I just thought I would share few sentances about my favorite books to read/ sing during the Winter Holiday. 

Hanukkah Hop- By Erica Silverman with Illustrations by Steven D'Amico:  I got this at the book fair this year and it tells the story of a girl who is super excited to celebrate Hanukkah with her family.  I love this book because it hits all the major points of the Hanukkah story (Maccabees, Oil Lasting for 8 days) and ways the Holiday is celebrated (Dreidle game with Gelt, Menorah, Klezmer Band, etc.) without being too daunting for little ones.  I tend to sing it- making up a melody as I go along.  I do always sing the refrain similar to the melody of Bim-Bam, Biddy Biddy Bam because the words remind me of it.  

The Nutcracker Ballet- By Vladimir Vagin  This is one of my favorite story versions of The Nutcracker.  It is not too long but tells the story beautifully.  The students love the page with the Mouse King who has 7 Heads and the flowers dancing.  This one this year also happened to have a lot of 2nd grade vocabulary which was fun.  (Hue, Delicate, etc.)   

The Elves and the Shoemaker- This one I usually make a sound story too and we sing Cobbler Cobbler every time the Shoemaker is mentioned, play the beat on hand drums when the shoes are being made, and play jingle bells when the elves are mentioned.  Any time the Shoemaker and his wife go to sleep we also yawn.  This version has really beautiful paintings.  

Click the link below to link up and join in the Linky-party fun and share your favorite holiday books to sing or read to your class! When you Click, you will be automatically redirected to a page where you will paste in a link to your own post. Don't forget to save the picture at the top of this blog post and insert it into your own post with a link back to this page!  

Note: I am still working on my Nutcracker "Can You Hear It" Files- I am having some technical difficulties with the sound, but a Power Point Version will be posted soon for s-m, l-s-m, and d-m-s-l and hopefully d-r-m-s-l as well! 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Favorite Nutcracker Activities for December- Trepak, March, and More!

I LOVE the music from The Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky!  December is one of my favorite times of year in music class because I can listen to The Nutcracker all month and do so many fun activities with the various songs. It also gives me an excuse to buy more Nutcrackers for my collection. 

(This year December is also extra special because I am getting married!  My fiancĂ© proposed with a Nutcracker after seeing The Nutcracker last year, so it is only fitting we are having a Nutcracker themed wedding complete with the Pas-De-Deux played as the recessional AND a "Land of Sweets" Table at the reception.)

Here are some of my favorite ideas for the Songs from the Nutcracker.  Some are my ideas, many are shared.  If they are shared, I have done my best to provide a link to the original idea. 

***NEW IDEA ALERT*** Check out this AMAZING pop-up Nutcracker Book by Jenni Fleetwood and Illustrated by Phillida Gili.  It is the most wonderful pop-up book I have ever encountered.  It is perfect for kids with multi-layered illustrations that feature pull tabs, lift the flap, pop-ups and more.

Dont have a book? This is a GREAT, but short, synopsis on Youtube from the South Georgia Ballet. 

OK, now check out these ADORABLE felt masks I got from ETSY for the photobooth at my wedding/ classroom.  They are a little more expensive than I would normally spend using my own money for my classroom, but I just couldn't pass them up. I plan on letting kids wear them when pointing to the heartbeat at the SmartBoard, when demonstrating an activity with me (esp. the beat swords), and maybe even when acting out certain scenes of the show. 

Trepak Plate Routine:  This one I actually came up with this past Thanksgiving because my 3 year old cousin handed out plates and demanded we bang them together and sing.  I went through all my Thanksgiving/ turkey songs (Shoo Turkey, There was an Old Woman who Swallowed a Pie, Over the River and Through the Woods, No More Pie, etc.) and he still wasn't ready to be done, so I launched into the Russian Dance and had the whole family following my impromptu plate routine.

Watch the video to get a better idea of how the plate routine looks :)  I apologize for the false start at the beginning! 

Here is a Basketball Routine to Trepak as well: 

Trepak Cup Game:  This one I found on Pinterest and I love it (especially spinning the cups on their sides for the Bridge- so fun and great reinforcement for whole note if you are showing the graphic for the students).  Thanks Eric!

Be sure to also check out this blogpost from Kelly Reily that she wrote last year about Nutcracker Cup Games she did in her classroom- each class made up their own to the March- SO fun!

Now, Cups and plates can be tricky for the littlest of kiddos so for my 1st graders I use a great activity from Lynn Kleiner for Trepak where the kids are "painting their house." On the accents they are splattering the paint and then they get to rub it around, make special designs, or think about their creation during the other sections of the music.  Get more detailed info and other great listening activities by getting her awesome book: Kids Can Listen, Kids Can Move!

March Beat Swords: This year I plan on using "Beat Swords" (Cut in half pool noodles) where students march to the beat, tap their swords to the beat, or sneak around (like when Fritz sneaks up on Clara to steal the nutcracker from Her).  I got this idea from Mrs. Kings Music Room and adapted it to fit with the Nutcracker March.   My first graders have just named the beat and this will be perfect for reinforcement (I don't see them in Kindergarten).

A Section: March 16 beat, Tap sword with Partner 16 beats  (2x) (tap the tips of the swords together)
B Section: March around a partner
C Section: Fast Tiptoe around the room 

Waltz of the Flowers- Simple Movement for the littles! 
Check out this fun video with simple movement to the beginning of Waltz of the Flowers. My kiddos LOVE to practice balancing on one foot! 

For other great Nutcracker Based Active Listening Ideas check out this book: Nutcracker Suite Active Listening Strategies.   It includes Lesson plans and ideas for 8 of the most popular Nutcracker Songs as well as Reproducible Activity sheets on things like The Story of the Nutcracker, The Life of Tchaikovsky, the History of some of the instruments used, the History of the Suite, etc.

In addition to listening to the songs, I also, (of course) love to share the story of the Nutcracker with my students.  The older students watch a short video every class to get them to the room so all through December it will be clips of various scenes from The Nutcracker. (I teach in a modular classroom and some students used to like to take their time getting to me so I start the 2-3 min video when class should start and they are getting to me much quicker now!) There are so many great listening maps and short clips on youtube! One of my favorites is "The Nutcracker in less than 5 minutes"  It hits on all of the important plot points and fun dances, but doesn't take class times to show!

Various versions as story books have made it into my collection over the years and just yesterday, I downloaded an app for my Ipad which has beautiful pictures called "The Nutcracker Musical Story Book". I got it for free on a special, but it is only 2.99 normally.  The homescreen is a pretty Christmas Scene and you click on ornaments to get to the various scenes if you do not want to watch the whole thing in order.  Act I is on one tree, Act II on the other.  I can't wait to show some scenes to my students because the artwork is incredible.  

Want to teach more about Tchaikovsky?? There are a lot of great ideas on TPT, but one of my favorites is the Facetime with Composers Series by Music Man of Steel.  My students LOVE these silly videos! Get them here:Facetime with Tchaikovsky

Want a great listening map or play along video? There are so many great ones on Youtube- but these are my favorites. 

Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy Playalong: 

March Listening Map: 

Dance of the Line Riders: 

Trepak Dancers from SYTYCD: 

Don't forget to also check out Kodaly Corner-  Karla from C Major Learning just posted a great Nutcracker Post as well!

There are so many great ideas on pinterest as well- I made a Nutcracker Pinterest board you can check out here! There are listening maps, movement activities, lesson plans, printables, and more.  New stuff will be added as I find it as well!

Enjoy! It truly is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year! Share your favorite Nutcracker Activities below!