Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 Favorite Things

As 2018 wraps up, I thought I would write about my favorite things so far this school year.  So many things helped me become a better teacher and person.

Connections- Having lunch with 4th graders on Fridays and sending postcards home to students in any grade when they do something great have been great ways to connect with students at a new school this year.  I love spending time with kids outside of class time to really get to know them.

Tech Tool- What a great website for students to be able to complete a project or reflect on their learning by making a video.  My students (and I) LOVE this website.  Check out my full blogpost on Flipgrid HERE.

General Music Prop- I finally got a stretchy band from Bear Paw Creek and I have no idea why I waited so long! These bands are perfect for movement, form, and working together as a team.

Picture Book- Rock What Ya Got by Samantha Berger.  This is an adorable book. From the amazon description:
                  When a drawing of a little girl comes to life, she boldly declares 
                  that she doesn't want to be erased, or put into a picture that doesn't 
                  feel like her true self. Instead, she decides to speak up in a 
                  powerful way. And she has some words of advice: embrace what 
                  you have, love yourself, and "rock what ya got." 

Stay tuned for the first TUESDAY book club post of the year where I show how I use this book as a great lesson to tie in with The New Year, Resolutions, and more. Get the book from Amazon HERE

Middle Grade Book- The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden.  This book is a must read for any teacher.  Find out more about this book HERE

Praise for this wonderful book:

"With grace and heart and words masterfully woven, The Benefits of Being an Octopus captures the quiet and loud masks of domestic violence. Braden navigates the complexities of choice and power and the meaning of courage. And how sometimes together, we can find our voice and our strength." -- Elly Swartz, author of Finding Perfect and Smart Cookie 

"This wise book knows we can't always keep the people we love safe. But it also knows that courage and compassion can sometimes turn lives around. You will care so fiercely about Zoey -- the octopus-loving, truth-telling young heroine that you'll want to wrap all eight of your own arms around her." -- Anne Nesbet, author of California Book Award winner, Cloud, and Wallfish

"You are seen. You are heard. You are loved." In a perfect world, every child would know these three absolutes. Ann Braden shares this message with her readers in a funny, poignant story about Zoey, her siblings, their mother, and one very special teacher. An octopus might be the most clever creature, but it can't hold a candle (or eight) to Braden's masterfully constructed prose." –– K. A. Holt, author of House Arrest

Professional Development Book- #KidsDeserveIt and Leader In Me.  Both of these books have helped me grow as an educator so much.  Connecting to students and helping them to form habits that will make them amazing leaders. See this post on a little more about each of these books and how I have been using the tools learned in my classroom this year.

Book Used Most When Lesson PlanningFirst Steps in Music by John Feierabend.  This book has been a staple in my kindergarten planning this year.  Being at a new school (and only having taught KDG for one year at my previous school) the workout in this book and the sample lesson plans are amazing! My students love the vocal exploration, echo singing, solo singing, movement and more!

Teacher Shoes- ROTHY'S.  Wow are these shoes perfect for teaching! They have 4 styles- Flat, Point, Loafer, and Sneaker.  They are made from recycled water bottles, are washable, and of course- best of all- so comfortable wearing them to teach all day. I am so happy I discovered this shoe.

Favorite Music Ed Blogs- This is just a list, but these are 3 blogs that I frequently reference!

Organized Chaos
Mrs. Miracles Music Room
Make Moments Matter

Favorite Music Ed Podcasts- Love these podcasts as well! I listen sometimes on my way to work, and definitely during long nights at school (such as conferences).

Make Moments Matter
Music Teacher Coffee Talk
The Music Room

Looking ahead to 2019 I already have many books on my list like: Troublemakers by Carla Shalaby, The Teaching Text (You're Welcome) by Douglas J. Robertson, and The Whispers by Greg Howard.  I also have many workshops and conferences to look forward to- like the National Kodaly Conference in Columbus, Ohio and participating in the Link Up Concert with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and my 3rd Grades. When it comes to self-care and doing things for me, rather than my students, I look forward to performing again- reprising my high school role of Miss Jones in H2$ and most importantly, spending tons of time with my awesome family- Brad, Henry and Hazel. Stay tuned this week to see more about my teaching resolutions for this upcoming year, my #oneword, and more! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The Best Gift of All

No, it's not what you think.  I just wanted to write a short post saying how thankful I am for this wonderful job! Being a music teacher is seriously the best.  Students are wonderful (most days) and we get to sing, dance, and fill students with JOY all while teaching them how to create, perform, and respond to music.

December is a time when teachers as a whole can start to feel run-down and burnt out.  Especially music teachers, with programs, personal performances, and of course family holiday celebrations. However, seeing the smiles on faces when we are paper-plate ice-skating, or seeing the Russian Dance from the Nutcracker for the first time (all those high jumps!), or playing the jingle bells reminds me why I do what I do.

So when you are frustrated this holiday season, and loosing patience either with students or your own family, just pause and think of the smiles, little notes, and hugs, and remember the reason why you became a music teacher in the first place.

Have a great Holiday Season!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Tuesday Book Club- Where, Oh Where, is Santa Claus??

This is a short post today, highlighting one a favorite winter books that I use for movement exploration in K and 1! -

First I read the book while students listen and identify movement words (clip-clop, hip-hop, shake, etc.)

Next, I read the book again and we act it out!  Each page has a non-locomotor movement, and then the last couplet of the page, we use a locomotor movement to find a new spot in the room.  We gallop, hop, shake, bear crawl, push and pull, kick our feet, and more with this fun book.

The Locomotor movements for each page are:
Clip-Clop ~ Gallop
Hip-Hop ~ Hop
Flip-Flop ~ Seal Walk (using just arms, drag legs behind you).  If your room isn't big enough OR your students can't handle the seal walk, you can also have them pretend their arms are flippers and walk upright to a new spot.
Pit-Pat ~ Tip toe (like you are walking quick and light on snow)
Thump-Bump ~ Bear Crawl (Crawl with out your knees touching the floor)

During the "Look, Where? See? There!" page I have students sit, so that on the next page, where Santa's feet are flailing, they can kick their feet up in the air like described.  We then stand and HEAVE HO (push and pull) and finally gallop one more time back to our seats as Santa and the reindeer go WHOOSH, AWAY!

Get the book HERE

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Themed Winter Lessons for the Littles

I LOVE winter lessons.  The Nutcracker is my favorite (see my Nutcracker post HERE) but really I love all things winter.  This year, being at a new school my winter lessons for K + 1 all have a mini theme that continues our curriculum but is still super fun and relates to the festive season (you will see that the Nutcracker is incorporated into almost all of them though)  Each 30 minutes lesson, similar to first steps, has a vocal warm-up/ exploration time, simple songs, a winter song tale, an instrument or  movement (sometimes movement exploration, sometimes beat keeping movement, sometimes an action song, etc.).

One of my favorite themes from this year was BELLS!

First we say Engine, Engine into the room (my K and 1 do this EVERY class) and I pull out my sleigh bells and tell them we are taking the train to the North Pole.  We say it two times while I play the bells and then have a seat.

Vocal Exploration- Students repeat after me making bell sounds and then some of them get to be the leader.

Jingle Bell Rock- We love to put the folk dance Rural Felicity from Sashay the Donut to this song! It fits wonderfully! 

Carol of the Bells- Next we watch Carol of the Bells by Pentatonix and discuss this other fun Holiday Bell song.  Every time we are preparing for movement, we watch and listen to the song first- sometimes I then change the version and have them notice what is different- sometimes it is the exact same song. 

Next, we get out the ribbon wands and move our bodies to the Transiberian Orchestra version of Carol of the Bells.  I always show the synced Christmas Lights video during this, as well.  I am hoping to get a video of my routine up soon- stay tuned! 

Other great versions to watch and listen to are the Lindsey Stirling version, as well as just the classic carol. 

Finally, I read There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bell! - I sing this story to help calm our bodies after the ribbon routine. 

Here are some more themes I have done this year with a list of ideas!

Winter Wonderland Vocal Explorations - you can get them HERE 

Snowflakes song- with glockenspiels to beat.  Some students can be snowflakes with their bodies while others are playing if you do not have enough instruments for all.  You can also have students experiment and figure out which instruments in your room they think sound like gently falling snow the most. The song I use came from the Game Plan Curriculum, but you could use any snow song you like!
Watch the Waltz of the Snowflakes from the Nutcracker
Scarf movement to Waltz of the Snowflakes from The Nutcracker 
Frosty the Snowman Book to calm our bodies

In another snow lesson, I do lots of things with laminated cut out snowflakes.  We sing our snowflake song again, but this time do mirroring with a partner having a snowflake in each hand. We also use the snowflakes as Ice-Skates for skating to the Skaters Waltz and for my Plate Routine to the Russian Dance from the Nutcracker (see a video of this routine HERE).  I am thinking of making a new plate routine to a song like Suzy Snowflake or Let it Snow for this lesson next year.

I love lessons on SNOW because they are not related to any holiday and are just fun musical activities to get us moving, singing, and playing instruments. 

Nutcracker Vocal Exploration Lines- there are a few on TPT which you can get HERE
Watch The Story of the Nutcracker in Less than 5 Minutes - I LOVE this version because students get an abridged version of the story, but still see dances!

Stretchy Band Routine to the MARCH (show the form!) - I got this idea from twitter :)
     A section - march in a circle
     B section- 4 slow steps in then 4 slow steps out (2x)
     C section- T calls a color and the students holding that color run and switch places
Watch the Russian Dance- I love the version below! My boys are always so impressed!

"Decorate the Room" To Russian Dance.  We "throw decorations" on all the accents, hang ornaments and lights, and more! I just tell a story to fit the music as we are doing it. Kids love it- especially "throwing lots of glitter" during the bridge :) 

Dreidle Song- If you have time, learn how to play the game! 
"Ice Skating" on Plates to Waltz of the Flowers from the Nutcracker, or the Skaters Waltz
Russian Dance from the Nutcracker- Plate Routine - see a video of this routine HERE
OR Chinese/ Tea Dance from the Nutcracker- Ribbon Routine

This year I also made a Winter Holidays Around The World Choice Board for my students.  It features Kwanzaa, Las Posadas, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Diwali, and more! Students get to learn about the holidays, hear stories (like a few of those below), and hear/ learn music connected to the holidays.  Students have been loving it this year!  I especially love this Nina's World Episode because it gives the basics of Diwali, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa in a wonderful way! 

It's Hanukkah! It's a time to celebrate family and enjoy festive traditions. As Rachel and her parents prepare the house, grandparents, cousins, and friends travel from near and far to sing and tell stories. Together, they will light candles, play games, and eat scrumptuous holiday foods... and, of course, dance the Hanukkah Hop. The stamping, the hopping, and the bim-bim-bopping is sure to go on all night!

'Twas Nochebuena- A Christmas Story in English and Spanish - 

’Twas Nochebuena and all through our casa

every creature was kneading tamale masa...

It’s Christmas Eve, and you’re invited to a Nochebuena celebration! Follow a family as they prepare to host a night filled with laughter, love, and Latino tradition. Make tasty tamales and hang colorful adornos (decorations) on the walls. Gather to sing festive canciones (songs) while sipping champurrado (hot chocolate). After the midnight feast has been served and the last gifts have been unwrapped, it’s time to cheer, “Feliz Navidad and to all a good night!”

Use this post for more information on Winter Holidays around the World!

What are your favorite Winter Themes??