Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Ideas to Start the Year Off Right

Thank you to Pixel Garden Designs for the Digital Paper!

Alright Ya'll.  I am ITCHING to get back into the classroom.  I have loved being off with my kiddos since Spring Break but I am ready to be back singing, dancing, and playing instruments with students! My kids are ready to be Liberty Union Lions, too! Aren't they cute?
Being at a new school, I have to adjust my normal welcome back activities.  My students won't know me and my teaching style, and I won't know anything about them or what they already know and love about music.  I am hoping to learn as much as possible through some easy activities, in addition to setting expectations, so that we can start the year off on the right (dancing) foot.

I have a few ideas that I am playing around with and I will update with what I chose and how things went.  Some non-negotiables for the first lesson are: Seating Charts.  I LOVE this Organized Chaos post where she talk about leading each student to their seat and using their names to make a personal connection- rather than just reading names from a list. I will also be sure to go over procedures- disguised as fun activities- such as moving to new spaces in the room, expectations on how to take care of ourselves, others and the music room etc.  These will be practiced more and unpacked the whole first month of school so students are really clear on how we can work together to make music awesome.

Other things that I am thinking about for the first few lessons for my older kids (2-4) are:

Scavenger Hunt: Students will move around the room to find where things are, talk to me about themselves, and share what they already know about music.  Students will have 10 minutes to complete as many of the challenges as they can. Get an editable scavenger hunt google doc HERE. (Note: it will prompt you to make a copy so you have your own in your drive with out accidentally changing mine.) 

Folk Dancing: I want to get the kids up and moving with an easy dance.  This will also help us practice how to move about the room and possibly choose partners, depending on the dances chosen.  Pata Pata and Sasha are on the top of my list right now.  When we do Sasha, I plan on doing it 2x and during  the 2nd time pausing after each partner switch to answer silly questions.  I also love the singing game "Billy Billy" which is an easy introduction to a long-ways set, working with partners, and being silly!

Flipgrid Intro: Have you used Flipgrid? LOVE IT (and it is free now for everyone now)! I will be making a grid for each grade and students will be able to make a short intro video about themselves with fun facts, cool things they did over the summer, or anything else they want their peers and me to know about them! I will be making videos myself too- so the kids can learn more about me :)

7 Habits Songs: My new school is a Leader in Me School.  To help myself learn more about the 7 habits, I want to have the kids work in groups to make a short song or rap about one of the habits and how they use it in their school. 

Class Jobs: Again, connecting to Leader In Me, we will be choosing/assigning class jobs within the first month of school.  Students will be paper-passer-outers, sub helpers, materials masters, technology gurus, compliment givers, light switch operators, nurse buddies and more.  Students will have the same job for at least a quarter, if not longer. Everyone will be part of a team!

Name Games: I plan on doing a name game each class for a few weeks to really start to put faces with names.  Some of my favorites are Jump In-Jump Out and Play your Name (students "play and say" their name using body percussion and then the class echos.  We try to see how many we can string together before people mess up or forget!)

Back-to-School Stack: This is one of my favorite review games! There are 2 versions- one is great for centers- students match a musical symbol, to its name, to its definition. The other one is great to get kids up and moving to share what they know- the teacher puts the symbols on the board and splits the students into teams. A music symbol is called or a definition read and students have to race to the board and hit the correct symbol first. So fun! These games can also be done with instrument families, or even rhythms and/or solfege patterns!

I will also have a 5th grade class at the middle school and I am still learning what that will be but many of the above activities will still apply! As for the little ones, I always have students meet me at the door and we enter saying "Engine Engine No. 9"  The first week I tell a long story about a train ride- going up and down hills, into caves, etc. so students really learn the words to the chant and we end up in a circle.  We then do a name game, talk about expectations briefly and get assigned seats.  Sometimes this is all we have time for! If there is still time left, we do a game of freeze dance or follow the leader (first class- I am the leader and students mirror me but as the school year progresses students become leaders, too!).

I hope these ideas help you as you prepare to go back to school. Share one of your favorite back-to-school activities below!

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