Monday, December 30, 2019

Tuesday Book Club: A Loud Winters Nap - A perfect sound story book!

I am almost done with winter break and will be using two books the week I get back.

Rock What Ya Got for grades 2-4 (Check out my post on RWYG HERE) and A Loud Winter's Nap for K-1.

A Loud Winter's Nap by Katy Hudson is the PERFECT sound story book where students can play instruments right along with the book.  A Tortoise is searching for a place to nap for the winter, but keeps getting woken up by friends making loud noises! There are singing birds, sled-building beavers, and more. 

When I read this book- I will read it straight through once, then read it again pausing to do a movement routine to each animal. (This would be a great idea for a Winter Program for K-1!)

Singing Robin- Rockin' Robin Plate Routine.  I made up a fun routine using plates (two per kid) to follow the form of the song.  We clap, flap, and shake along with the song! 

Ice-Sculpting Rabbit- Bunny Hop.  This dance is the one I remember doing when I was young! We follow the movements from THIS PERFORMANCE.  They love it!

You an also "build Ice Sculptures" to Trepak from The Nutcracker. Pose like an ice sculpter/ sculpture on the accented beats and chisel away at the ice during the A section.  During the B section, I have students brush away excess snow from the sculpture and think about what else their sculpture needs. 

Squirrel snowball fight- Scarf Movement to Waltz of the Snowflakes from The Nutcracker. This is free movement. Students use scarves to act as snowflakes and they toss, arc, and glide around the room.

Sled Building Beaver- Beaver Counting Song- We sing THIS SONG with fun motions as shown in the video.  You could either be the leader OR just have students follow along with the video. Eventually, students can sing along to it all.

Sled-Riding Tortoise- Tortoise Ribbon Routine- I made up a ribbon/scarf routine to Tortoise from Carnival of the Animals following the form of the song. You can see it below.  I also sometimes play a line rider video for this part as well. My students especially love the "Dance of the Line Riders" video by Doodle Chaos with 3 sleds! 

Ice Skating with Friends- Snowflake (Paper Plate) Ice Skating to Winter's Waltz from the Frozen Soundtrack.  I use THIS SONG and give students 2 laminated snowflakes or two paper plates each.  They then "Skate" around the room using their snowflakes/ plates as ice-skates.  This is free movement, but we talk about how skaters are graceful, etc.

The next class, students will be very familiar with the story, so they will be able to easily pick an instrument to go with each loud animal.  Students will then get to play their instrument during the story when their animal is mentioned.

Example instrument: Wood Block/ Temple Blocks for the Ice Sculpting Rabbit.

Enjoy reading this book!

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Tuesday Book Club: The Snowy Day- A program illustrating the book by Ezra Jack Keats

I LOVE December! I love teaching all things snow, nutcracker, and Holiday AND coming up with Winter Programs is so fun. 

This year, my 3rd and 4th grade choir students performed a program musically illustrating the book
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.  This book illustrates all I love about winter so well. It was PERFECT for a program.

I had student narrators read the story and we inserted a fun song every few pages.

Songs we performed:
It's a Marshmallow World
Frosty Weather 
Snowpants from Music K8
Body Percussion to Trepak (Check out this twitter link for a video of the routine!)

Here is a fun Plate Routine I made up as well

Jingle Bell Dash by James Pierpont (I wouldn't use this one anymore, due to learning more about the history of Jingle Bells!) 
In Summer- From Frozen
Winter Walk from Music K8 - We had an awesome 3rd grader play Violin along with this song!

Students seemed to LOVE all of our songs and had so much fun at our show.  What did you do for your Winter Program this year?

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Think Spring- Over in the Meadow Program

It may be December, but I am thinking Spring! I am so excited to be at a school that does Kinder programs and I am even more excited to have put together a program based on the song-tale Over in the Meadow. It is SO CUTE!

This is such an easy and fun program to put together because there are so many versions of the song out there.  I made sure that students were singing lots of animal songs throughout the year and then they got to vote on their favorites to piece the program together.  I had 3rd and 4th grade siblings singing the narration with the kinders chiming in each verse.

Songs we performed were:

Hello Song
Turtle- Tortoise from Carnival of the Animals- Scarf Routine
Fish- Aquarium from Carnival of the Animals- Finger Light Routine
Robin- Rockin' Robin - the original Bobby Day Recording- Plate Routine
Chipmunk- The Sycamore played by The Canadian Brass- Ribbon Routine
Bee- I'm Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee
Beaver- The Beaver Song (I learned this one in Girl Scouts when I was little but there are many versions online!)
Frog- Frog in the Meadow and On a Log, Mr. Frog
Lizard- The Lizard Song - It can be found on Youtube HERE.  I emailed the composer and got permission to sing the song in our program- he said he never actually wrote it down though.
Duck- Alle Meine Entchen (All the Little Ducklings) - we sang in both English and German!
Rabbit- The Bunny Hop Dance!

We also learned other songs throughout the year that matched other animals commonly in the Over in the Meadow song.  We learned Spider Songs, an Owl Flashlight Routine, another Owl Song, Fox Songs, Bird Songs and more!

The stage was super easy to decorate. I made lots of paper flowers and hung them up- easy peasy. Costumes were also super simple, as kids just wore their spring best!

If you want the routines I used, program templates, packs to teach some of the songs, and more- check out the program on TPT.  Or feel free to just use the ideas mentioned and make up your own! 

Get the program starter pack HERE! There are 4 song packs, 4 routines, programs, and ideas for over 15 animals all included! 

Friday, October 18, 2019

In the Hall of the Mountain King Round-up

One of my favorite stories to do in the fall is "In the Hall of the Mountain King".  There are SO MANY fun activities and videos to go with this song from the Peer Gynt Suite by Edvard Grieg. 

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.

After I 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). I am sure to freeze on all the rests! 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. After I can tell we have calmed down a bit, we start to try to escape again. 

Rhythms- read or follow along with listening maps (Some people do quarter- rest at the end of the phrase and some do half note- so be prepared and make sure it matches what you do!)

Line Rider - This video is so fun, KIDS LOVE IT! Great at the end of a lesson or to introduce the song.

Following are some ways to take this song to the next level! 

Cups!- I love to add cups to anything I can.  For this song I do: 
Clap Clap Tap-Tap Tap
Clap and Pass (z)
Students love how it gets faster and faster and faster! 

Have boomwhackers? Students have so much fun with these play alongs.  They are great for working together, pre-reading of music, and more!

Musication Percussion Playalong- This play along is similar, but uses common un-pitched percussion.  My students like this even more than the boomwhacker one!

While preparing for this post I found some fun movement that mashes Head-Shoulders-Knees-Toes with In the Hall of the Mountain King.  This is perfect for the littles. 

A movement that is a little more complicated for older students can be done scattered or in a circle.  I saw this on Twitter a few years ago and it has become a staple in my room in October. The linked video is of me explaining the movement- but make sure to click and follow Mrs. Holsman [@Mrs_Holsman] on Twitter as I got the idea from her (and she got it from Traci Patterson [@snapclappat])!

Video in Google Drive: Mountain King Movement Explanation
Original tweet I saw:

Trolls Mash Up- Right before the end of the month- it is so fun to learn the the Mountain King theme was sampled in the Trolls Movie! We listen first, and then have a dance party! What are your favorite In the Hall of the Mountain King Activities???

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Waltz of the Flowers- Simple Movement

So I LOVE The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky and use it all year round (with special focus during December).

Most of my lessons have a loose theme (especially in younger grades) to aid in transitions, etc. and last week we were doing Trees, Flowers, Planting, etc.

In this garden themed lesson, at one point we BECAME seeds/ flowers and did some adorable movement to the beginning of Waltz of the Flowers. The movement includes practicing balance, cross-body movement, and form.  The explanation below is meant just as a reminder of motions- I recommend watching the video to really learn it!

Intro: This movement starts out with students as seeds. They start to grow slowing, stretching and swaying during the entire intro of the song.

A Section:
Students lift rt leg, place arms above head to be petals and then "Bloom"
Repeat on left side
Blow in the wind (can they blow in the wind on one leg? I add this as an extra challenge!)

B Section:
Right arm up, left arm up
right arm down, left arm down
"wave" motion
repeat 3x
4th time Last time- right arm up, left arm up, sway arms back and forth.

The 2nd time during the A section I challenge students to "blow in the wind" on only one foot, making sure to let them know that it is ok if it is hard for them!

The 2nd time during B section I added some cross-body movement so you can see a slightly more difficult version.  You can do what works for your kids!

Other garden songs/ chants:
Bee Bee Bumble Bee
Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee
Meet Me at the Garden Gate
Down By the Bay (although watermelons are more a patch than a garden)
Engine Engine traveling to a garden
Queen Caroline planting seeds to the heartbeat or tiptoeing through a magic fairy garden

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Tuesday Book Club- Good Night, Firefly

Today's Tuesday Book Club is focused on the book Good Night, Firefly by Gabriel Alborozo.

This is such a sweet book!

Nina's electricity goes out and she captures a firefly to help her see.  As Nina and the firefly play, the firefly's light grows dimmer and dimmer. After trying to help her firefly in a few different ways, Nina realizes what she must do.

When I read this book, we sing one of my favorite Firefly songs every few pages (when she finds the fireflies, when she is reading by the fireflies light, and then at the end a few times as well).

After reading the book, I have students do simple movement to Fireflies by Owl City. This time, I did not use finger lights, as we still are working on movement expectations, but this movement would look awesome in the dark! It is purposefully very simple so it is accessible even to my new kinders.  Unfortunately, the movement video is too large to embed into this post directly, but you can check out the movement here. Feel free to change it up a bit, add in more cross-body motions, turns, or even locomotor movement to make it work for your students.


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Room Tour 2019-2020

A new year is starting! I thought I would share my room set up for the year.  It is very similar to last year, but a few things have been changed, moved or added.

Starting with my desk area, I have it facing the wall this year, so there is more room for instruments and movement! I am rarely at my desk during the day, so having my back to the door isn't a big deal to me. I am also so excited about my new sub-tub! It will make planning for being out so much easier.

Moving around the room from my desk, I have a wall of 2 dry erase boards, as well as a TV that I can hook my computer into.  We face this direction a lot during class for sight-reading songs, interactive review games and more! The bookshelves under the TV house a lot of my movement props like scarves, beanbags, and plates as well as my lycra (which I use as a parachute) and stretchy band.  The piano is also on this wall- which I mostly only use during chorus time. 

The cabinet wall is where I have all my anchor charts hanging, as well as boomwhackers and student writing supplies.  I am a little worried this will get cluttered this year, but I am hoping it will work out. The anchor charts include elements of music as well as the 7 habits as we are a Leader in Me school.  On the end of the cabinets are dry erase boards where I post weekly 'I can' statements for each grade.  In the corner next to the cabinets will be a rest area nook for students to calm down if they are feeling overwhelmed.  There will be a few fidgets as well as a feelings chart. 

On the wall where students enter are my choir folders, my classroom library and one more dry erase board.  I also keep the student dry erase boards and markers over here. The filing cabinets you see in the pictures house choral music as well as some materials that are used less often.  I also keep some project materials on top like cardboard, paper, and more just in case students want to build when they are creating something!

I was so excited this year to be able to add to my Giraffes Can't Dance corner.  I found fabric with the animals so I made new fabric bookshelves to match the painting I already had (gifted to me from a student years ago!)

Also on the same wall is my bulletin boards, which are one of my favorite parts of the room! I have our music class creed (You can get one from Megs Music Room HERE) as well as a pitch reading bulletin board called 'Swingin' Through the Lines and Spaces'  My room has a slight jungle theme with the Giraffes Can't Dance things, and Lion watercolors above the sink, so I pulled out a favorite bulletin board from the past for this space. The flowers are recycled from the Over in the Meadow program I did with Kinders last year- and they are perfect for this space! Under the creed is also a "What I'm Reading" poster where I post the titles of the books I am currently reading to encourage students to read and talk about books!

In the middle is my staff rug, where students sit if we are doing board work, as well as a circle made out of floor decals (yay target dollar spot!)  I am hoping these decals stay long enough that kids get used to how and where to make the circle for games, dances, and more (and if they don't- they were only $5). 

Finally, I have my instrument shelves.  I have most of my instruments on tables or bookshelves and they are set up at all times.  I am so lucky to have a large enough room where we can sing, say, dance and play without having to move a lot of equipment each class.  The barred instruments sit on top the  while the small percussion is in bins on the shelves below. 

What is your favorite part of your room??? 

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Tuesday Book Club - The Nutcracker, A Pop-Up Book

It's exactly 6 months til Christmas Ya'll!

This summer, I came across this AMAZING Nutcracker Pop-Up Book by Jenni Fleetwood and Illustrated by Phillida Gili. The Nutcracker is my favorite and this book will be my new go-to for telling the story to my classes.

WOW. That is all I can say.  I was literally gasping every single page.  The pop-ups and illustrations are multi-layered and perfect. Every time I look at the book I find more to be excited about. The story is also just-right for kids. It tells the story in a beautiful way without being super long winded or leaving out important parts.

The Nutcracker and Mouse King actually fight! 

The Dancers move! 

I cannot wait to use this in my classroom this upcoming year. Check it out!

Friday, May 31, 2019

Summer 5's

School is out for the Summer! I had a great first year at Liberty Union and I am excited to get time for rest, family, and fun this summer.  I know I will come back to LU feeling refreshed and ready to go next school year.  I thought I would share my summer to-do list in a fun way.  My Summer 5s! 5 lists of 5 things each that I hope to do/read/complete this summer.

Classroom Organization 5
1. Make new fabric shelves for my classroom- DONE!

2. Complete Year-Plans for next year
3. Add more of a Jungle Theme to my Classroom for next year (we are the Lions!)
4. Catalog my Classroom Library- I am using the BookOrganizer App and it is awesome!
5. Organize the REST Area Better (bean bag, pillows, etc)  I made one pillow cover to match the above shelves and bought this awesome pillow. I am still looking for more fun things!

Professional Development Books 
1. Teach Like Finland - Timothy D. Walker
2. Troublemakers - Carla Shalaby
3. The Teaching Text - Douglas J. Robertson
4. Compassionate Music Teaching - Karin S. Hendricks
5. Go See the Principal - Gerry Brooks

1. Update Back-2-School Stack Products- DONE!

2. Over in the Meadow Program Starter Pack
3. More Vocal Exploration Files- Sloths, Summer, Fireflies, and more!
4. More Hello My Name Is games (treble and bass clef matching!)
5. Carnival of the Animals Movement Bundle!

Family 5
1. Columbus Zoo
2. Cosi Science Center
3. Music Classes for my kids (mommy and me!)
4. Watch an Outdoor Movie
5. Take a mini-vacation with my husband to NYC

Ice Cream 5
1. Jeni's
2. Graeters
3. Shaffner's
4. Make our own
5. Ice-Cream Truck

What are your goals for the summer? (Don't feel bad if they are just to rest and rejuvenate- I will be doing PLENTY of that!)

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Tuesday Book Club - Vocal Exploration Books

I just wanted to quickly share 3 great books that I use for Vocal Explorations in K and 1.

1. SAY ZOOP! by HervĂ© Tullet
This book is amazing.  Each page has another fun thing to say.  The pictures correspond with the words, and sometimes even encourage you to get louder/ quieter or higher/ lower depending on how the picture is drawn.  For this one, I pick a section at a time because it is quite long. Students love the silly words! 

              Make some noise! Shout "OH!" Whisper "oh!" 
              Say "Zoop"? Yes! "Zoop!" "Zoop!" "Zoop!" 
              The newest book from HervĂ© Tullet magically 
              responds with bursts of color and moving shapes, 
              empowering children by letting their imaginations 
              liberate and direct each page's reaction.

2. The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak
This book is another great one with silly words.  I have the students repeat some of the silly things after me while reading the book. They LOVE all the silly noises and sounds- especially hearing me say them!

             You might think a book with no pictures seems boring 
             and serious. Except . . . here’s how books work. 
             Everything written on the page has to be said by the 
             person reading it aloud. Even if the words say . . .

             BLORK. Or BLUURF.

             Even if the words are a preposterous song about eating 
             ants for breakfast, or just a list of astonishingly goofy 
             sounds like BLAGGITY BLAGGITY and GLIBBITY GLOBBITY.

             Cleverly irreverent and irresistibly silly, 
             The Book with No Pictures is one that kids will beg to hear 
             again and again. (And parents will be happy to oblige.)

3. Hoppity Skip Little Chick by Jo Brown
A great little story, with super fun pictures. I read each page and then have students follow the path of the animals (represented by dotted lines in the book) with their voices.  We make the animal sounds, too! This one is perfect for Spring!

                While Little Chick's Mom keeps her eggs warm, 
                Little Chick is sent out to play with all of his
                barnyard friends, and when he returns home at 
                the end of the day, he gets the best surprise ever
                --new brothers and sisters!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Upper Elementary Music Concept Project

My fourth graders have just completed an awesome project on BIG musical concepts. It was a two part group project explaining a chosen concept like Dynamics, Tempo, Harmony, Lyrics, Mood, etc.

Part one was a Flipgrid video explaining their concept. Students had to research facts and information about their concept and put it together in a short "music minute" video a la Meg's Music Room on youtube. Students gave information like definitions, abbreviations, and examples in the songs in their videos. Most videos had at least 5 facts or informational tid-bits.  If you have never used flipgrid, see THIS POST for more info. See below for Meg's Music Room Music Minute on Dynamics.

After students were done researching their concept/ making their video they had to come up with an activity to PRACTICE that concept as part two. Most groups were able to come up with something on their own, but if students were stuck I had them search "Music Class Activities to Teach..." We had so many great activities - question wheels, kahoots, rhythm reading with instruments, dynamics flashcards, mood worksheets, lyrics mad-libs (more on this one in another post- I loved it so much!), lyrics tag and more!

To present the projects, students showed their flipgrid videos to the class to give info on their topic, and then taught their activity as further practice to solidify the knowledge learned in the video.  Groups had to practice explaining the directions, plan for questions classmates might have, and really break down their activities so all understood. They had so much fun being the teacher!

I loved seeing the students personalities and creativity come out through this project. Students were building, using computers to create, drawing, writing, and more.  The best part was watching them work together teach/ learn from their classmates.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Tuesday Book Club- Amy's Brass Band

For this Tuesday Book Club I am so excited to be featuring my Phi Beta Sister as a Guest Blogger. Amy wrote an awesome music book about Brass Bands. The book will be released April 8th, 2019 and is currently available worldwide for presale on Amazon. If you prefer to shop directly from the publisher, you can purchase it through Bookbaby at Until April 30th, 2019, enter the code “Tuesday” at checkout to get 20% off when you purchase the book. Check out the story about why she wrote the book below.

Hi everyone! I’m Amy Schumaker Bliss and I’m honored to be contributing to the Tuesday Book Club blog. I was asked write a guest blog post about a new book I wrote called, “Amy’s Brass Band.” I wrote the book because I found a big gaping hole in children’s literature. You see, when my son Simon was born, tons of people gave him books about music since I’m a musician. When I looked at them, I noticed one thing they all had in common: they were all introducing the orchestra. While the orchestra is certainly a very important part of our culture, I as a euphonium player don’t frequently play in the ensemble. My instrument wasn’t in a single book and neither was the tenor horn I gave him to play with while I practiced. While I don’t usually play in orchestras, I occasionally play in a professional wind ensemble in the area and I play regularly in a championship brass band called Atlantic Brass Band. I also help conduct a youth brass band (middle school through high school) and a university-level brass band at Rowan University. I’ve written scholarly articles on the subject and even travel around the US sometimes to work with other brass bands. Most of my professional work is connected to the brass band ensemble in some way, so I started searching for a brass band children’s book. I wanted my son to grow up knowing what I do professionally. I looked everywhere. I even posted to Facebook groups asking if anyone remembers a children’s book introducing the brass band. Not a single person could ever remember a children’s book ever existing on the subject. So…I decided to write one.

I had no clue what I was doing at first, but I figured it out quickly! I started by contacting a friend that I had met in an online mom’s group I had started before my son was born. Allie Geddert is an excellent graphic designer, illustrator, and children’s boutique clothing store owner. She gave me some drawing samples and when we settled on a style we liked, we got to work. I took a ton of photos of my own brass band to send to her and she did a great job of bringing them to life as characters. We worked in our spare time because at the time, we both had little babies. We worked almost exclusively in google docs, passing work between the two of us during late night work sessions once our babies had gone to bed.

Rowan University's Director of Bands Modeling a Conductor Stance

Illustration of Conductor
We decided early on that we wanted to feature a good amount of diversity among the brass band members. Classical music certainly lacks in this area and we wanted wanted every child to be able to see him or herself playing in a musical ensemble, whether it is a brass band, wind band, or orchestra. I also contacted Boobs and Brass (, an all female brass band that raises money for breast cancer research and Brass For Africa (, a charity that operates primarily in Uganda, to get permission to use their likenesses for the project. This helped us to increase the visibility of such worthy endeavors while depicting members of an all-African brass band and an all woman brass band.

Photo of a Brass Band
Illustrator Sketch

Final Illustration in book
The book discusses a basic overview of the history of the brass band, the instruments of the brass band, and the purposes of the ensemble. It is primarily written for early to mid-elementary school age and would be perfect for an elementary school general music classroom. The book could be developed into a whole class with some youtube performances of some top brass bands and videos of soloists on different instruments. Eventually, I’d like to create a supplemental website with educational videos and make a classroom brass band instrument poster. All in good time, though, I suppose.

The book will be released April 8th, 2019 and is currently available worldwide for presale on Amazon. If you prefer to shop directly from the publisher, you can purchase it through Bookbaby at Until April 30th, 2019, enter the code “Tuesday” at checkout to get 20% off when you purchase the book. I sincerely hope that you enjoy my book. It has brought me great joy writing it. Nothing beat the feeling of bring the books home for the first time and giving the first one to my now toddler son. He sat down, opened the book, leafed through the pages until he saw the drawing of a euphonium, pointed to it, and said, “Mommy!”

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Folk Dance Collaboration with PE

Ya'll- My March has been SO FUN!

Grades 2-4 have been doing an awesome folk dance unit where we combine Music and PE and dance together in the gym.  Students (well, most of them) are LOVING it! We have danced a little in general music, but it was neat to be able to focus entirely on dancing- especially right before testing season starts. We are in our 3rd week now and our plan for the unit was as follows:

Week 1- Dances in Longways Sets
Week 2- Circle Dances
Week 3- Square Dances for 2-3 and Tinikling for 4th

For warm-ups each day we did a popular line dance or scatter mixer and those seemed to be favorites.  We did: Cha Cha Slide, Cupid Shuffle, Electric Slide, Sasha, Macarena, and more!

All of the folk dances we did come from the New England Dancing Masters Books. Each week- Monday was terms/ figures that students needed to know for the type of dances for the week, and then Tuesday-Friday was learning new dances each day (though sometimes a dance took 2 days to master)!

Next year, I want to be able to add Sicilian Circle Dances, as well as Contra Dances- Especially for the older grades.

Through our unit, students were able to master many of the common folk dance steps and figures like:
Casting Off
Two- Hand Turn
Elbow Swing
Right and Left Grand
Allemande Left and Right
Right Hand Star
Left Hand Star
and many more!

Dances in Longways Sets: 
Chimes of Dunkirk
Alabama Gal
Sweets of May
Kings and Queens

Circle Dances: 
Heel and Toe Polka
Lucky Seven

Square Dance: 
Simple Square

A few phrases I found that really helped when teaching/ learning were:

Connect Hands (instead of HOLD hands)- for some reason, lots of kids are ok with connecting, but not holding.

Face Your Way - When teaching circle dances, students were given identifiers *a bracelet or not* and then all partners with a bracelet faced one way, while those without faced the other.  Instead of having to say bracelet face right, while non face left, we just say "face your way" after explaining which way each group should start or stay.

Out of the Longways sets, Circle, and Square Dances- it seemed students like the Longways set dances the most.  They were the most requested when time was left after we completed the goals for the day.  We found that learning Longways Sets and Circle Dances first really helped with square dancing because we already knew many of the different steps and just had to figure them out in a new formation.

We plan on doing the same unit next year, but with slightly different dances for each grade (this year was both mine and the PE teachers first year at this school- so this was a new experience for ALL).  We also hope to coordinate a Family Folk Dance Night in conjunction with our schools Arts Night that happens in April to bring families in on the fun. What are your favorite folk dances?

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Writing in the Music Room | An Easy Sub-Plan!

Do your principals ever ask you how you incorporate writing in the music room? Are you ever in a rush for easy sub-plans that ANYONE can implement? One of my new favorite activities is great for both!

For this activity, I read/ sing/ teach a folk song and then have students write the back-story based on the mood of the song. I typically do it 1x with my students, and then they are ready when a sub is asked to do it later in the year.  After having about 15 min to write or think of their stories, I always love to have a few share.  Some students have even taken their thoughts home and continued their story and made it into a book! So fun!

2 great examples:
I Got A Letter this Mornin', Oh Yes!  - After we learn the song (it's great for syncopation and whole note) I have the students discuss the mood of the piece and then write letters based on the mood. This song while there are not a lot of words, is often called "creepy", "scary", "uneasy" or "sad" by a lot of the students due to the minor mode.  Their letters can be to a real person OR a fake person.  I have had students write to the moon, made-up friends, or friends who were home sick. We are sure to have correct punctuation and all the components of a letter in our writing.

She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain - For this one I show a video (see below) of the song and then have the students answer the questions: Who is SHE?  Where is she coming from? and WHY? Is it is good reason she is 'comin' round', or bad?  Students need to listen and hear text clues from all the verses to determine their stories and what motivated the character to "come round the mountain". I like using the plain lyric video so students don't feel like they are stuck within a certain setting or look.

Little ones can also do a version of this activity- where they write only 1 or 2 sentences and then illustrate their thoughts.  For example, with doggie doggie, have students think about "Who really did steal the bone and why?" Was it another dog? Was it a different animal? Was it a human?

Other song ideas:
Dinah- Why is Dinah the only one in the house?
Great Big House- Why is the house full of pie?
Who's That Tapping at My Window? - Who is tapping at the window? Why?

What other song ideas and guiding questions could be used? Write your ideas below!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Tuesday Book Club- The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors

Today's Tuesday Book Club is The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt. What an adorable book! This hilarious book gives you background information on how the game Rock Paper Scissors came to be. It is fiction of course, and oh so fun to read. After reading the story, there are so many ways you can incorporate Rock-Paper-Scissors into your classroom! 

Sei-Sei-Sei, from Japan, is one of my favorite songs to play this game. All children start with a partner and are standing on a large piece of paper.  At the end of the song- on HOI!- students choose Rock, Paper, or Scissors.  Which ever child looses folds their paper in half. If there is a tie- BOTH students fold their paper.  All students then find a new partner.  Once a student has folded their paper 4x they are OUT.  Continue play until you have a winner for the class! 

Also- Have you seen this video?
In my class, winners keep hopping trying to get through the course, and those who loose Rock-Paper-Scissors have to read a rhythm or solfege card before they get back in line.  The game ends when either someone has gotten all the way through the course OR all students have attempted and read a rhythm at least 1x. 

Another fun idea is Rock-Paper-Scissors composing. 
Disclaimer: I saw this idea on Facebook and fleshed it out, and am sharing my version.  Thank you to Shauna Slemp in the Elementary Music Educators Group for originally posting this awesome idea! She did it to have students record BAG recorder.

I did BAG recorder with my 5th graders and my 2nd Graders are working on DO right now. After reading the book we composed some So-mi-do songs using rock paper scissors.

Students got into pairs and played the game.  If Scissors won (or both students chose scissors) a SO was added to their song.  Paper = Mi, and Rock = Do.   I had students play 8 times for an 8 beat song of all quarter notes.  Check out this awesome student work!

You could also choose to have students first write a rhythm using known concepts, and then use the R-P-S to add the solfege, or as Shauna did add the notes B-A-G.  Working on a new rhythm concept such as tika-tika (beamed 16th notes)? Have students write a rhythm pattern where Quarter Note= Rock, Beamed Eighth Notes= Paper, and Beamed 16th Notes= Scissors (a rest could be when there is a tie.)

I have included 3 simple worksheets below that you can either print OR project to play as a class. They are super basic but get the job done :) Click HERE to access the google doc. When you click the link ,you will be prompted with a screen that asks if you would like to make a copy of the doc.  Click yes and you will be good to go! You can edit your copy, or just print a page as is, but you won't have to worry about messing up the original!

In addition to the activities listed above, you can talk to students about how Rock, Paper, Scissors is a great strategy to solve a conflict.  Partners can't agree? Play RPS.  Unsure of who got to the line first? Play RPS to see who gets to be in front, etc. etc.

Go Forth and Play RPS!