Friday, January 30, 2015

No Voice? 10 Game ideas for teaching music with little to no talking

Have you ever had to teach with no voice? You know, that situation where you don't feel sick enough to call off and write sub-plans but can't sing to teach new songs and your voice is all raspy- if you have a voice at all?

When I loose my voice, I try to make lessons as normal as possible, just with out a new song (unless I have a great recording). Many of the games listed below we incorporate into class all the time, so it is no problem for students to understand when I have no voice! Students are still responsible for singing- I just give them the pitch on a glockenspiel and they sing without me.  The hard part for me is not talking, but especially my older students are pretty good at reading directions and listening respectfully and carefully when I cannot talk above a whisper.

When I found myself in this situation a few weeks ago and came up with/ pulled out some great ideas that involve little to no talking on the teachers part.  Many of these games worked especially well with older students because they could read the instructions on the board.  The little ones I had to talk a little more- but not much! I have also heard of teachers making signs with common instructions like "Move to a Circle" "Stand Up" "Sit Down" etc. which would be really helpful for the littles!

Many of the games I used were rhythm games- but could definitely be adapted for melody, vocabulary, and more!

1.  Centers/Stations- I have written about stations before- see this POST- and LOVE them, especially when I am not feeling well.  I can just get the students all set up with written directions at each station (and voice recorded directions) and they are ready to go.  Many of the games we do in musical centers or stations they play all the time, so not a lot of clarification is usually needed.  They are so great for review, and for me, one station is always a worksheet so I get some great data for where students are on a specific concept.

2. Write the Room-  Karla Cherwinski has been posting a lot of WRITE THE ROOM products on TPT. Basically it is a rhythm or melody pattern scavenger hunt.  Flash cards (sometimes themed) are hidden around the room and students have a work sheet to fill out where patterns they find have to go in a specific box.  This helps them practice identifying patterns, and writing patterns and notes. Bonus- While it may seem very simple, it is a great assessment tool!

3. Partner Rhythms/ Vocab- Have you ever played the ice-breaker where you have a "Hello, My Name Is" sticker stuck to your back and you have to figure out which celebrity you are and then figure out who your partner is?  I adapted that game to use rhythms/ vocab in music.  For the rhythms, I just had 2 of each rhythm on my name tags.  For Vocab, some had two of the same word and some were musical opposites (such as forte and piano).  First students had to figure out their pattern/ word by either asking "YES" or "NO" questions OR in the case of reading rhythms, asking a friend to clap/ stomp/ snap their pattern (friends were not allowed to just read the pattern out loud- too easy!).  Once students figured out their pattern/ word they had to find their match.  This activity is also great for differentiation- give the music stars harder patterns or new vocab and give those who are struggling simpler patterns or vocab they learned a long time ago.
After everyone had their partner, we were able to write songs (by connecting with other groups), find specific vocab, and more! My students LOVED this game. Click the link to check out my Music Vocab Set on TPT- you can print on a sticker sheet OR just print on paper, laminate and then use tape to stick them to your students backs. Rhythm versions coming soon!

4. Composition Worksheets/ Manipulatives- Give students a specific composition worksheet or manipulative and let them work for a bit.  Beat Strips are great, especially when preparing a concept.  I also have composition worksheets where students are given directions step by step like this Valentines Day one.  Students choose 4 4-beat valentine phrases and write the rhythms in the boxes.  Then they add known solfa.  Some classes I am more specific and say things like the solfa must be stepwise, or they must end on do, or follow a chord progression etc.  After they write their solfa, they come to me and we sing or play it on an instrument together and finally they transfer to the staff.  Only 4 measures- but they are typically really proud of their songs.  A way to differentiate this activity would be to give star students a trickier time-signature than 4/4!  Check out my valentine worksheet HERE (see picture to left for an idea). Composition can be much more simple though, where they use Beat Strips to write fun patterns (either with notes, or in the prep stage, silly words that go with the season).  Even the little ones can do body-percussion composition or classroom instruments composition with worksheets like these.
Picture from
5. Song Sort- I got this idea from one of Aileen Miracles Sub Plans Sets on TPT- Out of the Wild. Students get 10-12 cards with song titles on them and they sort the cards into 2 piles- those with a specific concept, and those without. After they are done they can take all the cards and write a silly story using the song titles (ex. Pretty Little Suzy met up with Dinah and they took an Old Brass Wagon to a farm.  When they got their they saw a Chicken on a Fencepost and they were so surprised... etc.) Aileen has tika-tika in her set but I have made many more because this is a great activity for no voice, stations, and a sub!

6. Kooshball Games- These are also explained in the stations post.  On the board is many shapes all linked to patterns (sometimes circles, but more fun ones are popping up on TPT all the time!).  Students toss a koosh or beanbag at the board and a rhythm or song pattern should pop up for students to read or sing. (The file pictured was shared with me in Grad School- so if it is yours let me know and I can credit you.  I love them!)

7. SMARTboard ID Games- Games like "Can You Hear It" where students touch an icon on the SB and a pattern plays.  On the screen are 3 choices for students match the sounds they hear to their visual representation.  If they pick the right answer,  a congrats screen pops and the class can move on. If the answer is wrong,  a try again screen appears and students can go back.

8. Folk Dances- Especially for groups that already know many folk dance moves and positions, they could practice known dances or learn a knew one with just written signs like "Peel the Banana (or Orange)" "Elbow Swing" "Grand Right and Left" "1st Pair Sashay Down the Alley" etc.  It would also be fun to have the students use the signs to make up their own "Folk Dance".

9. Group Movement Work- Have students make up their own folk dance (see above), or simple movement to a song.  Sometimes I have mine make up moves to the form (rhythmic OR melodic) or have them demonstrate the lyrics, or phrases.  We did this recently with "Who Has Seen The Wind" and the movement came out great! Students were able to choose form or lyrics and then the class had to say which it was when they were presenting.

10. KAHOOT- or another quiz game- I recently posted about a great website I just found out about- where a teacher can make a quiz (or use on already made) and students use their own device (phone, ipad, computer- whatever is available in your school) and it works like restaurant trivia.  A question appears on the main screen and the choices pop up on the individual devices.  Students have a certain amount of time to answer and results are shown after each question.  To learn more- be sure to read my post on it HERE.

What do you do when you don't have a voice??  Sound off in the comments below!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Kahoot- a great review game for assessment or just that extra 5 minutes

Every month at our school staff meetings we have what is called a "Tech Slam" and teachers can share great "techy" things that they are doing in their classrooms.  Our wonderful gifted teacher shared KAHOOT with us this past week.  If you love plickers- you will love this website :)

Kahoot is an online quiz game similar to trivia at a  restaurant.  (The website calls it a "Game based blended learning and classroom response system" which uses a lot of buzz words- great for convincing admin you need devices to be able play!) Teachers can make their own multiple choice quizzes or choose a public quiz. Then the students sign into the quiz using a given code on their personal device (computer, phone, tablet, etc). Once everyone is signed in, questions will appear on the HOME computer (the teachers) and students answer on their own device. The actual choices do not appear on the students devices- just colors and shapes the correspond with what is on the main screen.  This can be tricky the first time (check out the picture below to see what it looks like)

The maker of the quiz can choose the time limit for each question- the default is 30 seconds.  After the time on each question runs out, a screen pops up that shows who got the question right and the point totals for the game thus far before moving on to the next question.

If you just have 5 minutes at the end of the class and you have enough devices in your room you can pull up a public quiz and have the students take it.

If you are more prepared and just want a fun new way to assess or review, teachers can make their own private quizzes and save them.  You can even add pictures or video! Another one of the best features is that not only can you see the results during the quiz, but the final results can be downloaded into an excel spreadsheet for ease in enter grades into your gradebook- just make sure you know your students usernames! I keep a file of each class.

I do not have devices in my room at all times, but if I plan ahead I can have students bring laptops or tablets from their classroom and we are all set.  For this reason, I will probably reserve the game for 5th and 6th grade only- until I get that class set of I-Pads I have been wanting ( my dreams)!

I made a tempo vs dynamics quiz that you can check out.  There are also many other fun music quizzes already made up.  Mine is pretty simple- no pictures or video- but gives you a basic idea of how the game works.

(Yes, you and your students have to make a user name- but only once and it's free!  Some students even choose to take public quizzes at home and try to beat people from all over the world)

Have fun!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tuesday Book Club - Farm Folk-Song Books

Hope everyone is having a great January! I don't know what it is, but every January I am always ready for spring and summer to just be here already so I like to read books that take place outside with nice weather! Today, for the January Tuesday Book Club, I thought I would focus on Farm Folk-Song Books.  If you have a blog- be sure to link-up!  Directions are at the end of the post :)

3 of my favorites are:

The Farmer in the Dell- Illustrated by John O'Brian

This is a really cute version of the song we all know.  In this book the Farmer falls down into the dell and each verse is adding another person or animal to the chain to pull him out.  There is his wife, the nurse, a child, a dog, a cat, a rat, and of course the cheese.  Per usual, the Cheese stands alone and in this case is reluctant to help get the farmer out of his predicament but eventually he gets in and the farmer is saved! Your students will love the twist at the end too (when the farmer is celebrating being saved and he falls into the dell again!)  This is one that students want me to read over and over.

Bill Grogan's Goat- Adapted by Mary Ann Hoberman and Illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott

Another one of my favorites! This one is a favorite of a lot of people- adults and students included.  My mom just asked me about it recently because she was on a hike with a former Oberlin Music Professor and he told her to make sure I have it in my collection because it is the best! It tells the story of a goat who eats a farmers shirts so the farmer gets mad and ties him to a railroad track.  Luckily, the goat is able to cough up the shirts to flag down the train.  He gets on board and all sorts of hilarity ensues with many other fun farm animals.

Fiddle-I-Fee- by Will Hillenbrand

Again the familiar tune is set to wonderful pictures.  In this story, as taken from the book jacket: "The farmer and his wife are too intent on preparing for the birth of their new baby to notice anything unusual.  It seems that their animals moo and quack and neigh as they always did.  But late at night, by the magic of the moonlight, something extraordinary happens..."  I love this version because not only are the illustrations great, but the kids love to guess what animal comes next (there is always a clue!) and sing along!

I would love for you to link up and write a post about your own favorite book to read or sing and how you incorporate it into your classroom.  It can be a farm book- or not! Even one of the many other versions of the folk-songs above :)   There are so many great books out there! If you don't have your own blog, feel free to comment on your favorites as well!

To link up: Copy the Tuesday Book Club picture from the top of the post and put it at the top of your blog post.  Be sure to link the picture back to this post!   Once your post is written and published, click the link below and copy the url where asked and then you are all set!  The link-up will be open til January 31, 2015- but of course you can comment after that!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Years Resolutions Link-up

For this post I am linking up with Mrs. Miracles Music Room to share my New Years Resolutions for 2015!

PERSONAL: Focus on making my first year of marriage the best it can be.  From cooking more (I really don't enjoy cooking but it just makes sense seeing as I get home from school at 4:30 and he doesn't get home til 7 and it saves money too!), to just showing Brad how I love him in small ways I want this to be the most awesome year in our relationship yet. 

PROFESSIONAL: I really want to take some Kodaly in the Chorus Classroom classes this summer and hopefully also get my Orff Level 1 certification.  I also really want to attend many more workshops than I normally do- starting with OMEA in early February and going from there! There are so many great Orff and Kodaly work shops around me and I do not go to nearly enough!

CLASSROOM: Track data better! I have so many things that I use as assessments- from Rhythm Football, to SMARTboard games, to worksheets, to just plain old observation and more but I am not great at being sure to mark down everything in my grade book.  I use Idoceo and have been great with 1st grade this school year, but I really need to be better in ALL grades! It's not that I don't write anything down, but I could definitely write more!

BLOG/TPT: I really hope to blog more AND make many more TPT products this year. I have about 35 followers on TPT right now but I hope with the addition of new melody and rhythm products as well as some interactive listening games and new themes for products already being sold (such as my Musical Terms Matching game which you can get HERE for Autumn or HERE for Winter) I can really help my store to grow.  Hopefully Brad will be up to drawing some clipart as well.  He has started a lot, but finished none :)  My store is 20% off through Jan 3, 2015 in celebration of the New Year/ My honeymoon so be sure to check it out! :)

JUST FOR ME: Start working out again! I am the type of person who works out a lot for a while, then gets busy and totally stops.  I had a trainer in 2014 and loved it- but with the new house, it just got too expensive.  Hopefully I can start again- either swimming or exercise classes like Zumba, TRX, or pure barre and loose some of my excess weight and just be healthier!

Here is to a Happy and Healthy 2015 full of lots of Love, Laughter, and Music!