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Music Workstations: Snowball Scoop

Music Workstations:  Snowball Scoop

Recently I've come across a few very sturdy Styrofoam coolers.  With just a little bit of imagination and a bunch of ping pong balls, it has become a rhythm workstation!

For this workstation I used:
-a Styrofoam cooler (although other coolers or containers would work)
-4 pairs of gloves (I found some for about $1 each.  I got four because that is the optimal workstation size for me.)
-some plastic spoons (plus extra because sometimes kids do weird things like put them in their mouth or scratch their head with them and that weirds out other kids...and well...just have some extras.)
-lots of ping pong or other small white plastic balls (You could use a variety of sizes if you wanted.).
-4 containers marked 1, 2, 3 and 4.  I used some little tubs, but I think that small buckets with shovels (instead of spoons) would be fun for this activity.

With a permanent marker, draw notes on each ping pong ball.  I did some single notes and then I did some rhythm patterns so that students would have to add them up to place them in the correct bin.  As I created these I placed the balls in the bin so that I would have a fairly even amount in each one.  To do this I had to duplicate the smaller values which is fine.

I know.  I know.  At this point, you've figured out everything but the gloves, right?  They are there to "highly motivate" students.  Yep.  They are the novelty.  The "Weird" that kids love.  I tell kids that it makes it a little trickier to scoop the snowballs (which I'm pretty sure is not the truth) and that they help them get into the spirit of the activity.

After you have the balls labelled, dump them into the cooler and mix them up a bit.  This makes a delightful sound!

Place the gloves, spoons, bins and the directions near the cooler and your workstation is ready to go.  For some classes that need a reference sheet of note values I include THIS one by Sara Bibee.

There are many variations of Snowball Scoop that would be valuable.  I think I may make a set for instrument families and have students sort instrument names into their appropriate family bin.  This would also work for pitches but those might be a bit trickier to draw on the ping pong balls.

I hope you enjoy this activity with your students!  Be sure to check out my other ideas for centers or workstations in other blog posts.  Music Centers

Black History Month in Music Class

Looking for a few new ideas to try to celebrate Black History Month in Music Class?  Try some of these ideas for decorating and planning engaging musical lesson plans.

You probably know that I'm a big fan of decorating with a theme.  One of my favorite bulletin boards for February is "All That Jazz" and it features some amazing contributors to the world of jazz.  I like the black and white pictures paired with the colorful backgrounds.  Popular jazz musicians like Duke Ellington, Bessie Smith, Charlie Parker, Jelly Roll Morton and more are highlighted.  Get it HERE.

 Jazz Musicians Bulletin Board

 Jazz Musicians Bulletin Board

Listen, Learn and Love
Although I try to incorporate a wide variety of listening experiences through out the year I always worry that it isn't diverse enough.  I love taking a little extra time to explore the music of some famous African Americans.  If you've been reading my blog, you know that I am a BIG fan of listening glyphs.
Listening glyphs allow students to demonstrate their musical understanding in such a fun way that they may not even care that it is an assessment!  I love this set of Black History Listening Glyphs.  Not only do they contain ways to assess students' understanding of what they hear, they also have a short description of the musician.  I think this helps students connect with the artist and it is a great tool to help them retell what's going on in music class when they get home.  

 Black History Month Listening Glyphs - Will Smith
What's different about these glyphs is that a variety of genres are represented.  Jazz, blues, rock and roll, hip hop, pop and opera are all represented in this set.  

 Black History Month Listening Glyphs - Nat King Cole    Black History Month Listening Glyphs - Aretha Franklin

 Black History Month Listening GLyphs - Queen Latifah     Black History Month Listening Glyphs - Michael Jackson

Mix it Up
I love this Jazz Mixer presented by Smithsonian Folkways.  Although I would present this on my Smartboard, it would also work on iPads or laptops as part of a workstations rotation.

 By adjusting the sliders, students can focus on one instrument or mix their own variations.  Three songs are available for student experimentation: "Bill Bailey", "St. Louis Blues" and "When the Saints Go Marchin' In".  Clicking on the instruments brings up a brief description and clicking on Timeline pulls up a fabulous timeline of artists and events that shaped jazz music.

Sing Me a Story, Read Me a Song
There are SO many great books to use to celebrate the rich musical heritage of our great nation.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Follow the Drinking Gourd
Read it.  Sing it.  Put it in your reading workstation because kids will want to read it again and again.

Max Found Two Sticks
Wow!  Love this book!  I give students drum sticks or chopsticks (much quieter and a novelty for the students).  As we read through the story they will imitate the sounds that Max's sticks make with their own.  Often we will warm up by echo playing rhythms.

Love this story of Dizzy Gillespie.  If you can, get the audio file to go with it.  LOVE it!

Charlie Parker Played Be Bop
Love this story!  I read it to 1st graders and we add the "be bop, be bop" with the story.  Later we will sing "Scat Like That" by Greg and Steve.  So much fun!

I hope that these ideas will inspire you to try something new during Black History Month!

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Wrapping Paper to the Rescue

Wrapping Paper to the Rescue

I am a paper lover.  I am a scrapbooker and a teacher and I love paper.  Pretty paper.  Basic paper.  Scented paper.  Folder paper.  Bulletin board paper.  Wrapping paper.  I love paper.

I buy wrapping paper all year round.  I TELL my husband it is for a future bulletin board, but *sigh* it might just be because I have an addiction to paper!  LOL.  In all seriousness, this is a great time of year to stock up on wrapping paper.  You can wait until the after Christmas sales, but for true paper hoarders...err...I mean....lovers you may want to start now.  The best selection is available before the week before Christmas.

What to Look For
I like to use wrapping paper for snowy bulletin board themes in January and February.  So paper with snowflakes that are not in typical red and green themes work really well.  I pick up paper at Walmart, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, Hallmark and Target so most of what you will see in this post were purchased at one of those places.  I can't guarantee that they will be there, but perhaps it will inspire you to think outside the box.

There are usually snowflake papers is silver and purple too.  These work really well in January and February.

I also look for paper with themes that might work outside the season.  Look closely to make sure there aren't little Christmas trees or menorahs in the background.  Make sure that if there is text that it doesn't speak to a holiday.  I love this candy themed paper.  I'm thinking it might work well with bulletin boards like:
Mrs. King's Class is Sweet
Sweet Success:  Look Who Knows Their Multiplication Facts!
How Sweet it Is to Be in Second Grade

I also look for bundles of paper where at least one of the rolls of paper can be used for bulletin boards.  In this set (currently at Walmart) I love the red, white and blue roll.  It would look great with a number of patriotic bulletin boards like:
Patriotic Songs (which has some writing prompts that would look nice on a board too)

Most of this wrapping paper can be found all year around.  Chevrons, polka dots and stripes can be used not only on bulletin boards but to cover your filing cabinets or the front of your desk.

Around here, camo is a way of life.  This unusual wrapping paper might be fun for next fall.  Create bulletin boards with titles like:
Hunting for Adverbs
Context Clue Hunters
Finding Time Signatures
It would also be great for displaying a variety science projects and nature displays.

Why Use Wrapping Paper?
1.  It is a brilliant pop of color and interest.  This is great if you are using a rather simple display or hanging up student work.
2.  It is inexpensive.
3.  It is easy to cut, fold and manipulate.

And look...if you buy too much and don't want it all, let me know and I'll send you my shipping address!

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Christmas Wish List for Music Teachers

Teachers Pay Teachers site wide sale is almost here!  On Monday, November 30th through Tuesday, December 1st you'll have an opportunity to save save SAVE!  You get 10% off of EVERYTHING by using the promo code SMILE when you check out.  Most of my store will be on sale and you'll save 28% total on tons of great resources for your classroom. Go wishlist some things now so you'll be ready!

Here are a few things you might want to wishlist:
 Musicals MEGA Growing Bundle

1.  Musicals MEGA PACK - A Growing Bundle
I love musicals!  I've been wanting to take the things that I use with musicals in my class and turn them into something prettier I can share with you all.  Finally this massive project is underway.  This MEGA PACK is actually a growing bundle.  It will contain no less than 10 musicals (each set is about 28-40 pages) and already has a couple of bonus products that you might like.  At first this was going to be finished in December, but now I think that it will be an endless bundle and that I will continue to add to it as I add more musical packs to my store.  Each time I add one, the price goes up so it is best to grab it now to save.  Right now there are seven musicals included.  Don't miss out!

 Amahl and the Night Visitors by The Bulletin Board Lady

In December, I often have 2 grade levels preparing for a performance in addition to my after school choir.  It is such a busy time!  I often plan for some classes to watch Amahl and the Night Visitors.  I love this operetta and find it is a GREAT way to introduce students to opera.  We watch the video with the viewing guide that is included and then do several of the writing activities.  This works great with a sub too and I usually have a few days that I'm traveling with performing groups in December and need one.
3.  Christmas Music Listening Glyphs
If you loved my John Williams Listening Glyphs, Armed Services (and other patriotic music) Listening Glyphs or Nutcracker Listening Glyphs, you'll love this seasonal set that features 10 different classic Christmas songs.  Okay...and one from Pentatonix and The Brian Setzer Orchestera because my students LOVE those!   There are 10 different glyphs in 4 versions so that you can choose what will work best with your students.  Learn more HERE.

Okay...now for a couple of things on my wishlist:
Amy Abbott's Songs for the Holidays, Winter and Beyond.  Holy moly!  This is such a great bundle and I can't believe how much is included!!!  She includes so much with her resources and I'm excited to crack it open and take a look.

Lindsay Jervis' Christmas Rhythm Composition set.  This is hot off the presses and contains worksheets, rubrics and a lesson plans.  Uhm...awesome!  I think this will work really great in centers and with the lesson plan included I could leave it for a sub too.

I'm linking up with Lindsay from the Kodaly Inspired Classroom to share wishlists.  Click HERE to see more!
 WIshlist LInky
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I Wish I May, I Wish I Buy

 Music Exit Tickets BUNDLE
I am such a fan of exit tickets.  I struggled for a long time coming up with assessment ideas that were quick and easy for the tiny amount of time I got to spend with students each week.  I didn't want to take half of my class time or more to "test" them and listening to them sing or play an instrument during workstation time didn't always work into my plans.

I started with just scraps of paper and a question on the board.  When I made a "pretty" set of exit tickets to use I noticed what an improvement I got from students.  Their responses were longer and better.  YES!
This product is one of my best sellers and has been wishlisted more than any other item in my store.  In the bundle you get exit tickets that cover notes and rests, instruments, treble clef pitch names, bass clef pitch names, Peter and the Wolf and dynamics, symbols and musical opposites as well as a set of general exit tickets that can be used for any subject and in any classroom.  Take a look HERE.

 Music Workstations MEGA Bundle
If you are a regular reader of my blog you know that I incorporate workstations a great deal in my classroom with students in grades K-6.  I do them about one out of every four class periods (unless we are preparing for a concert).  This MEGA BUNDLE contains 16 different workstations (for varying age levels), tips for using workstations and some student self-assessment sheets.  I have used every single workstation included in this bundle and my kiddos LOVE them!

 Writing Prompts with a Music Theme
WRITE ON!  Of course we write in music class!  This best selling set includes 30 different writing prompts with a music theme.  I have used these prompts with 4th through 8th grades with great success.  Many buyers love that these make quick and easy plans to leave for a sub too!  Grab it HERE.

Monday and Tuesday you can grab these items at a bigger discount by using the code SMILE when you check out.  Take a look at my store and wishlist some of your favorites now so that shopping is quick and easy on Monday!
 Shop at the Bulletin Board Lady's store!

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Thanksgiving Ideas for Music Class

I've never been one of THOSE teachers.  You know, the ones that get the whole week of Thanksgiving off.  I'm always there until Wednesday at 1:15.  A couple of years we got Wednesday off completely and one year Monday was a snow day, but...yeah...I'm always teaching until the last minute before Thanksgiving.

Here are a few quick and painless ideas for getting through those three days or whatever time you'll be putting in.

Get your kiddos moving!
Probably my favorite movement activity involves putting on some awesome music and using these Thanksgiving Creative Movement Posters to let students create their own moves.  The kids love it because it is silly and let's them move around.  I love it because it is easy, can last as long as I want and really gets their creative juices flowing.   What you do is start some music (I like "Grandma's Feather Bed" by John Denver this time of year for this activity, but almost anything will work.), show them a card and give them 10-25 seconds to create a move that they think the card describes.  Here are few examples:
 Thanksgiving Creative Movement by Tracy King Thanksgiving Creative Movement by Tracy King Thanksgiving Creative Movement by Tracy King

What is a pumpkin roll?  What does "shake your tail feather" really mean?  Can you really tap dance in moccasins?  Who knows!  What fun it is to let their creativity express itself through dance!  This set also includes a freeze dance version.  I have several of these sets in my store.  These work really well with the Thanksgiving theme:  Food Fight Creative Movement    Everyday Creative Movement and Partners and Groups Creative Movement.

This is also a fun way to get kids moving.  Disco turkey moves always make me smile!

I also love some coloring options for kids during this short, but crazy week at school.
 Thanksgiving Color by Note by Tracy King
This Thanksgiving set includes pictures that require students to identify notes.  Actually, there are two levels.  One is for younger students and asks them to just find the note in the picture and color it.  The other version (same pictures) gives the symbol name and the color and students must find the symbol in the picture.  This is better for older students.  I'll put on some music while students work and it is an easy and peaceful lesson.

I'm also a BIG fan of workstations.  In addition to the Candy Corn puzzles, Xylophone Composing Station and iPad Station, I'm adding Music Clip-It.
Students look at a Thanksgiving themed picture and use a clothespin to clip the match.  Students match the number of syllables in the picture to the rhythms. I don't know what makes this so fun, but kids LOVE using clothes pins!

I hope this post gives you a few great ideas for being thankful and having fun in your classroom during the week before Thanksgiving.  I am so thankful for YOU!  Have a great holiday!

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Classroom Management - The Big Three

In my last post we discussed rules and I shared my rules and a rhyme that help with classroom management.  Be sure to read that post to catch up with our discussion.  This week we are going to talk about the three elements that I think are the backbone of good classroom management:  consistency, routine and organization.

If you’ve been teaching for very long, you know that being “organized” looks different in each classroom.  In my music classroom organized means there’s a place for everything, but that doesn’t always mean that everything is in that place.  In my music classroom I have an organized plan for seating students, getting supplies, returning papers, etc. but that doesn’t look like what it does in a regular classroom setting.  The week before concert time my room looks like a sparkly, rainbow unicorn just threw up all over every corner of the room.  It does NOT look organized, but…well… it is!  The apple and banana costumes are hanging on the back wall.  The glittered letter posters are stacked on the piano.  Coffee can drums and stacked neatly near the windows and extra copies of lyrics and lines are in folders clipped to the walls.  Everything is organized for functionality, not necessarily for beauty.

I can’t teach you the intricacies of organizing your supplies or your classroom.  Everyone’s needs are different.  My advice is to take some time to think about how things work in your classroom and arrange them accordingly.  Have a plan for everything. Make lists.  Be proactive.

 Just as it is important for everything to have a place, everything you want students to do in your classroom needs a protocol or routine.  How do you want students to find a seat?  Teach them how to do it.  Practice it.  (I recommend a seating chart for all classes, but that’s more for being consistent.)  How will your kiddos get supplies?  Teach them. Practice it.  How will they line up?  Teach them.  Practice it.

I have experimented with different routines in my classroom for lesson time.  I often plan the same sequence of events for the first 5 minutes of class.  This is how my K-2 classes start:

1. Sing a good morning song.
2.  Attendance with a purpose.  (This means that I will have them clap one of the three rhythms I have on the board, answer a question on the board or sing an answer.  I may sing “Good morning, Joey!” (sol mi mi, sol mi) and Joey echoes back “Good morning, Mrs. King”.)
3.  Songs We Know (2-4 short songs that we know well)
4.  Beat or Rhythm activity. 

This works well for me and students know what to expect.  Experiment with ways to create a routine with your classes.  This is often a time that I assess students ability to match pitch, keep a steady beat or read rhythmic notation.  I just note it as I am taking attendance.  Done!

Routines like this won’t work every class period (Hello, fire drill.) but you may find that having one helps your students behave better and helps you focus more. 

This one is tough.  I’ve been teaching for twenty years and every year I feel like I’m trying out something new.  There are still ways to be consistent even when trying out a new strategy or philosophy in your classroom.  What I have learned those is quite simple.  Never, ever create a rule that you are not willing to enforce every time.  EVERY TIME.

Let me say that again and put it in another paragraph because it is that important.  Don’t make a rule that you are not willing to enforce every single time it is broken.  It is the key to being consistent in your classroom.  It is also the key to not going stark raving mad in your classroom.  

It’s fine to let kids know that when you are teaching, lecturing or conducting that they should not be out of their seats to sharpen their pencils.  It is a general expectation.  For me, it falls under classroom rule 2, respect others.  I know teachers that take 5 minutes off of recess each time a student does this.  Seriously?  Isn’t that exhausting?  For music teachers with limited class time with students, how do you keep up with that and enforce it?  Bleh.

It’s okay to let students know that you expect them to be quiet when leaving the music room, but having a rule that says “If you talk in the hall, you get this specific punishment.” might be more work than you have considered.  Are you willing to discipline every single time someone talks in the hall every single day the same way for every single student?  Overwhelming.

When considering classroom management and how to be consistent, you need to be realistic.  Some things are a matter of safety, other things are a matter of sanity.  Choose wisely or your sanity may not be safe!  Consistency is one of the reasons I have only three broad classroom rules.  See them here.  Create rules that focus on creating a safe, functional learning environment. 

So how does all of this play out in my classroom?  Let’s go back to little Joey who finished up his echo singing and has now moved on to annoying his neighbor by putting his finger in her ear.

Me (stopping what we are doing and staring quietly but intensely at Joey for a full ten seconds): Joey, you are not being respectful of Mariah’s personal space.  Stop. 

I continue with my awesome, well-prepared, practically perfect lesson plan.  Joey continues.

Me (stopping, staring quietly and intensely again):  Joey, please move back to the empty carpet square on the back row.  I’m very disappointed that you are being disrespectful to your neighbors.  If you are not going to be respectful so the rest of can learn you may have to leave music class.  I would hate that.
Back to my awesome, well-prepared, practically perfect lesson plan.  I’m being consistent by reminding Joey and the rest of the class of our rules and that we have them so that everyone has a chance to learn.  I’m also using my very best, no-nonsense, I-mean-business voice.  It can be very convincing!

Me:  It is time to get crayons, paper, clipboard and return to our carpet square.  Please say “Crayons, paper, clipboard, carpet.”  (Students repeat and are reminded of the procedure they have been taught for getting supplies.)  Back row, you may go.  Joey, can we talk at my desk while your row gets started?
While I direct each row to get supplies and get back to the carpet square, Joey stands by my desk and we chat about what is going on.   This part doesn’t always go well, but it does let me know if Joey needs to leave class, if he can be separated and still complete his work or if he can go back to his regular seat.

The keys to good classroom management and good discipline are being consistent, having routines and being organized.  Plan, prepare and put stuff in a place that makes sense.  That’s organization.  Teach them what you want them to do, how you want them to do it and then do it.  Create a routine or a rhythm for how learning activities flow in your classroom.  Make rules that you can follow through on.  Do it every time.  Every single time.  That’s being consistent.  You can do it!

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