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Flashlight Routines that Teach Form

Flashlight routines in music class can be used to reinforce form and keep students engaged and excited about learning.  This post shares routines for "Cantina Band" by John Williams and "March" from the Nutcracker as well as tips and tricks for using them successfully in your music classroom.

The first time I experienced using flashlights to demonstrate musical form was in a workshop by the talented and genius, Artie Almeida.  I love using them to keep students engaged and my students love them for their novelty.
Flashlight routines in music class can be used to reinforce form and keep students engaged and excited about learning.  This post shares routines for "Cantina Band" by John Williams and "March" from the Nutcracker as well as tips and tricks for using them successfully in your music classroom.
For most flashlight routines that I have used in class I use two or three colors.  I use a large permanent marker and color in the lens. Depending on the marker, you may want to let it dry and then color it again.
Instead of using permanent markers, you could use colored plastic wrap and rubber bands.  I didn't like how often my rubber bands disappeared and turned into weapons, so after a time or two I decided this was not a good choice for me.

Flashlight routines in music class can be used to reinforce form and keep students engaged and excited about learning.  This post shares routines for "Cantina Band" by John Williams and "March" from the Nutcracker as well as tips and tricks for using them successfully in your music classroom.
Flashlights
I chose inexpensive flashlights from the dollar store about bought about 10 more than my largest class because I expected some of them to break easily.  The batteries were pretty expensive, but with the help of a regional grant I was able to get enough to fill every flashlight.  

When using the flashlights sitting down, you get a large light on the ceiling.  It's pretty, but not very distinct or clear if your room isn't completely dark.  In the picture above you can see what it looks like when students are sitting.  In the picture below students were standing.  That produced a smaller, cleaner look to their light and it looked much better when we were all working together.

You could always buy smaller flashlights with a stronger beam to get the same effect.

Flashlight routines in music class can be used to reinforce form and keep students engaged and excited about learning.  This post shares routines for "Cantina Band" by John Williams and "March" from the Nutcracker as well as tips and tricks for using them successfully in your music classroom.

Teaching Form
Before putting flashlights in their hands we listen to the piece of music.  We either follow a listening maps or we listen and create our own listening map.  This gives students the experience they need to be successful when they get the flashlights.

We label each section with a letter name and decide on an action for the flashlight.

Flashlight routines in music class can be used to reinforce form and keep students engaged and excited about learning.  This post shares routines for "Cantina Band" by John Williams and "March" from the Nutcracker as well as tips and tricks for using them successfully in your music classroom.

Flashlight routines in music class can be used to reinforce form and keep students engaged and excited about learning.  This post shares routines for "Cantina Band" by John Williams and "March" from the Nutcracker as well as tips and tricks for using them successfully in your music classroom.

This video is of one of my 5th grade classes and their first attempt at a flashlight routine to "Cantina Band".  This is an unedited, imperfect, completely authentic look at how this works in my classroom.  I love how at section D they are in awe of their own awesomeness!



Flashlight routines in music class can be used to reinforce form and keep students engaged and excited about learning.  This post shares routines for "Cantina Band" by John Williams and "March" from the Nutcracker as well as tips and tricks for using them successfully in your music classroom.

I hope this inspires you to try using flashlights in your classroom.  Do you have any favorite pieces that would work well with flashlights?  I would love to learn about them.  Let me know in the comments.

Flashlight routines in music class can be used to reinforce form and keep students engaged and excited about learning.  This post shares routines for "Cantina Band" by John Williams and "March" from the Nutcracker as well as tips and tricks for using them successfully in your music classroom.


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Dealing with Teacher Burnout

Tips for dealing with teacher burnout.  How do you know you're burning out?  Things NOT to try (but are pretty awesome) and solutions to save your sanity and your school year.

Some days when I’m greeted with an enthusiastic “Good morning!  How are you?”  I just want to growl and say “I’m tired.”  I hate being that person, because would much rather be happy and cheerful.   How about you?  Let’s face it, teaching can be exhausting and burnout can happen to the best of us. How do you avoid burnout?  How do you know if you’re there?  What does burnout look like?  Read on, my weary teacher friends.

How do you know that you’re burning out?

You are overwhelmed.  You know there’s a lot to do and you are wondering how you will be able to add one more thing.  Maybe you are thinking that you should compromise your values and expectations just so you can mark things off your to do list.  You may even consider prioritizing but tell yourself it just won’t be enough.

You are anxious.  You’ve got that nagging feeling that you should be doing more.  You may even realize that you actually need to do LESS, but still feel like you could do more and you should do more.

You are tired.  Maybe tired isn’t the best description.  You are exhausted.  Weary.  You sleep, but don’t seem to rest.  It’s the kind of tired that makes you want to crawl in bed at 6:30 and wake up in 3 days.  For me, I know I’m experiencing burnout when I sit down at lunch and daydream about going to bed that night.

You just aren’t any fun.  How long has it been since you laughed?  Really laughed?  Belly laughed?  Maybe you just don’t laugh or smile as much as you used to.  I hate unfunny me!  It makes the days feel longer than usual.

You just aren’t up to daily challenges like you used to be.  You may not feel as creative, patient or enthusiastic as you once did.  You may feel like you have just lost your edge.

You just want to be left alone.  Do you just want to find a big cozy blanket and hide under it?  You may be experiencing burnout if you are craving a place to hide, a place where you aren’t tried and tested and no one will question you.  A place that is just…quiet!

Ways I’ve Tried Dealing with Burnout

Tips for dealing with teacher burnout.  How do you know you're burning out?  Things NOT to try (but are pretty awesome) and solutions to save your sanity and your school year.1.  Look at that teacher or administrator that is really getting on your nerves.   Close one eye and put your pointer finger and thumb in front of your other eye and pretend you are pinching their little heads.  Incredibly satisfying.
2.  Harry and David’s has these magic little bags of happiness called Moose Munch.  Buy. Eat.  Eat some more. Cry when it is gone.  Buy more.  Repeat.
3.  Gallons of Diet Mt. Dew.

I don’t really recommend any of these, but they are things that I have tried!

How to Deal with Burnout 

1.  Get physical.   I know, it’s not what I usually think of when I am tired and stressed, but exercising can give you quiet time, gets your endorphins popping and will make you rest better.  You don’t have to go to the gym either.  Take a walk, dance to a YouTube video with your kids, get a little romantic with your spouse, take a swim or even play a game of ping pong.
2.  Be a list maker.  Sometimes I get stressed because I am trying to remember everything that I need to do and inevitably forget something.  Now, I make a list of things that I need to do and then stop worrying about it.  My lists usually in three parts:  Today, This Week and Sometime.  The Today list includes things that need to be done before I go home.  This week means as soon as I can and the Sometime list is for those great ideas that I want to do, but can’t do right now.  Sometimes I copy things from list to list for weeks until I get to them.  While that might sound crazy, if it is on the list I spend less time thinking about it.
3.  Plan your quiet time.  Schedule a time for a massage or a pedicure.  Plan an afternoon where you have no responsibilities and turn your phone off.  Schedule time to relax.  Make it as much of a priority as you do your tasks at work.  Your family and your students will thank you for it!
4.  Get some rest.   No, really.  Go to bed a little earlier.  End your evening with a hot shower, a favorite drink and perhaps meditation or prayer.  Don’t research online, grade papers, catch up on emails or even make a grocery list.  Just go to bed.
5.  Get to work earlier.  Feeling rushed and stressed can start right away.  Is there a way that you can get to work 15 minutes earlier?  A few minutes of extra time before things get busy and noisy can go a long way in starting your day off feeling prepared and refreshed.  If you can find those minutes in the morning, plan to stay 15 minutes later and get everything ready for the next morning.  (That includes stacking up papers to grade and leaving them there until tomorrow.  Don’t take them home!)

Tips for dealing with teacher burnout.  How do you know you're burning out?  Things NOT to try (but are pretty awesome) and solutions to save your sanity and your school year.

6.  Be thankful.  Sometimes when I am feeling overwhelmed and stressed it helps to count my blessings.  Be thankful for your family, friends and co-workers.  Be thankful for the things that are going right.  Be thankful for the little things like outside recess and no bake cookies for lunch.  Be thankful.  You have the greatest job in the world!

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Tips for dealing with teacher burnout.  How do you know you're burning out?  Things NOT to try (but are pretty awesome) and solutions to save your sanity and your school year.


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Note Value Bowling Music Workstation

Note Value Bowling is a fun music workstation that reinforces note values and causes lots of smile!  Use a toy bowling set and the free Note Value Bowling score sheets to bowl your students over to reading music!

Bowling in music class?  You bet! It may be your students' favorite music workstation!  Read on to find out how to create the fun and functional workstation for your classroom.

Note Value Bowling is a fun music workstation that reinforces note values and causes lots of smile!  Use a toy bowling set and the free Note Value Bowling score sheets to bowl your students over to reading music!

I have several sets of bowling pins at my house.  I know that sounds weird, but I've been working on and then perfecting a bowling workstation for several years.  The set that I used in the pictures is a wooden set.  It is a nice size and weight and the pins make a lovely sound when they fall down.

This set was on sale for 75% off when I picked it up.  Music teacher WIN!  I've picked up some at discount stores and yard sales too.

From experience with Layton Music's Music Yahtzee, I knew that putting a single eighth not or a dotted quarter note would up the difficulty of this game to the point where not all of my students would be able to play and successfully record their score.  I decided to use notes that would not utilize fractions, or their mathematical brothers, decimals.  I used quarter note, barred eighth notes, 4 sixteenth notes, half note, dotted half note and whole note.  I drew one of these on each of the six pins.  I used a permanent marker, but you could also use a paint pen.

Note Value Bowling is a fun music workstation that reinforces note values and causes lots of smile!  Use a toy bowling set and the free Note Value Bowling score sheets to bowl your students over to reading music!

I have a plastic set of pins.  I used a white paint pen and a silver Sharpie to draw on the notes.  They have held up quite well.  Although you could store the pins in their original box or container, I haven't found a set that holds up well.  I buy plastic storage containers and place everything in them.
Note Value Bowling is a fun music workstation that reinforces note values and causes lots of smile!  Use a toy bowling set and the free Note Value Bowling score sheets to bowl your students over to reading music!

Before introducing the game to students I spent some time practicing.  (Turns out I'm a pathetic bowler!)  I experimented with how far apart to place the pins and how far back I needed to stand to roll the boll.  If the pins are too far apart, they won't all fall down even with a perfect throw.  If they are too close together, they will all fall down every time.  I ended up finding the perfect distance for my set of pins and marking their placement with a piece of masking tape,  I also drew the note on the masking tape to help them set up as quickly as possible.

After much experimentation, I decided that my students needed to stand 4 floor tiles away from the pins.  (That's somewhere between 4 and 5 feet.)

If you don't have a bowling set, you can create your own pins with 20 ounce soda or water bottles.  You could even use empty 2-liter bottles.  Spray paint them before drawing the notes on and add about a third of a bottle of beans or sand to steady them.  Small Nerf balls would work great with these DIY pins. 
Note Value Bowling is a fun music workstation that reinforces note values and causes lots of smile!  Use a toy bowling set and the free Note Value Bowling score sheets to bowl your students over to reading music!

To complete the workstation, I include a score sheet on a clipboard and a pencil.  One version of the score sheet contains a "cheat sheet" and shows students the note value of each pin.  The other version does not.  My goal in using this workstation is to reinforce note values, so I don't mind if students use the score sheet with the references.  They still gain practice in adding them all together.

Note Value Bowling is a fun music workstation that reinforces note values and causes lots of smile!  Use a toy bowling set and the free Note Value Bowling score sheets to bowl your students over to reading music!
You can download both of the sheets by clicking on the picture above or by clicking HERE.  I hope that your students enjoy this activity!

Note Value Bowling is a fun music workstation that reinforces note values and causes lots of smile!  Use a toy bowling set and the free Note Value Bowling score sheets to bowl your students over to reading music!


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Christmas Music Workstations

Christmas Music Workstations that are fun, engaging and easy on you are discussed in this blog post.  Puzzles, dabbers, snowballs and ice cube trays can all become awesome centers for the students in your music classroom.

I am thrilled to introduce a few new workstations to my classes this week.  December is such a fun time and I love that I can present such fun ways to assess their skills before winter break and then end of the quarter.  Keep reading for ideas for Christmas music workstations that really work!

Christmas Music Workstations that are fun, engaging and easy on you are discussed in this blog post.  Puzzles, dabbers, snowballs and ice cube trays can all become awesome centers for the students in your music classroom.
You probably know from previous blog posts that I am a big fan of Clip-It activities and so are my students.   This set of Christmas Clip-It cards contains both sacred and secular images including Santa, the nativity, the twelve days of Christmas and more.  Students clip the rhythm that matches the syllables in the picture.  I have an answer sheet that I include, but sometimes I just let the students check each other's answers.  Read more about Clip-It games HERE.

Christmas Music Workstations that are fun, engaging and easy on you are discussed in this blog post.  Puzzles, dabbers, snowballs and ice cube trays can all become awesome centers for the students in your music classroom.

I have a set of Christmas Workstations in my store and this Swat the Rhythm game is from that collection.  Students lay down the cards and two students choose a flyswatter.  Another student claps one of the rhythms on the card and the first one to swat the correct rhythm is the winner. FUN!

Christmas Music Workstations that are fun, engaging and easy on you are discussed in this blog post.  Puzzles, dabbers, snowballs and ice cube trays can all become awesome centers for the students in your music classroom.
Also from the Christmas Workstations set is this Frozen Instrument Families word find.  I have found that it helps to mix up the stations so that students are physically active at some and rest and work quietly at others.  This quiet center is a great way to review instrument spellings and instrument families.

Christmas Music Workstations that are fun, engaging and easy on you are discussed in this blog post.  Puzzles, dabbers, snowballs and ice cube trays can all become awesome centers for the students in your music classroom.

Nutcracker activities are also wonderful to include in workstation rotations this time of year.  Although this Rap It, Clap It, Music Match It Set could be used any time of year, it works well in this rotation.  Students match the cards with the number of syllables in each picture and then complete a worksheet to show what they have learned.   You can download it HERE.

Christmas Music Workstations that are fun, engaging and easy on you are discussed in this blog post.  Puzzles, dabbers, snowballs and ice cube trays can all become awesome centers for the students in your music classroom.

Cool Composition is a workstation that I use periodically all year long.  Sometimes we use it to composer, take rhythmic dictation or in this case, decipher the rhythm of a familiar song.  The little cubes are foam cubes from Dollar Tree.  Each side has a 1 beat note/rhythm written on it with a permanent marker.

The ice cube trays are made by Rubbermaid.  I had to look quite some time to find trays with 16 cubes.  This makes the perfect vessel for composing in four-four time.  Most ice trays come in 14 cube size.  I never really knew that until I started teaching music!  

At this station, students are asked to notate the rhythm to "Jingle Bells".

Christmas Music Workstations that are fun, engaging and easy on you are discussed in this blog post.  Puzzles, dabbers, snowballs and ice cube trays can all become awesome centers for the students in your music classroom.

Ornament Puzzlers are the next stop in the Christmas music workstation rotation.  This activity has students put together simple, 2 piece puzzles and then write down the information they have pieced together.  This is a great way to reinforce note values without being to difficult for special learners.  You can get these HERE in my store.


 Christmas Dabber Activities for Music Class

My students LOVE using dabbers and I love how easy and quick assessment can be when they use them!  Check out this Dabber Activities Christmas set for many great print and go worksheets to include at a workstation.  Students tend to go through these quick so you should probably plan to have 2-3 sheets for them to complete.  Learn more about using dabbers in music class in this previous blog post.

Christmas Music Workstations that are fun, engaging and easy on you are discussed in this blog post.  Puzzles, dabbers, snowballs and ice cube trays can all become awesome centers for the students in your music classroom.
Speaking of previous blog posts, you might want to revisit THIS post about my Snowball Scoop center.  It is such a novelty that students hardly realize they are learning!

More ideas for Christmas Workstations:

Like these ideas?  Pin them for later!
Christmas Music Workstations that are fun, engaging and easy on you are discussed in this blog post.  Puzzles, dabbers, snowballs and ice cube trays can all become awesome centers for the students in your music classroom.



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Music Workstations for Fall


Music workstation ideas for fall include playing instruments, pumpkin matching games, candy corn puzzles and more! High engagement, active learning, high level conversations and smiles are all part of these centers for October and November in music class.
I LOVE workstations!  If you are a frequent reader, you probably have read many of my posts about centers.  If you are just getting started using workstations in your music classroom check out these three posts:
Music workstation ideas for fall include playing instruments, pumpkin matching games, candy corn puzzles and more! High engagement, active learning, high level conversations and smiles are all part of these centers for October and November in music class.
This year I am teaching in a room that is much smaller than the rooms I have been in for the last 20 years or so.  Centers still work perfectly!  This is a picture of some of my groups working on centers this fall.

Music workstation ideas for fall include playing instruments, pumpkin matching games, candy corn puzzles and more! High engagement, active learning, high level conversations and smiles are all part of these centers for October and November in music class.
Candy Corn Puzzles
At this workstation, students put together candy corn puzzles as a group.  Once they have assembled the candy corns they fill out a simple chart.  This set is the dynamics set so they are recording the symbol, the Italian term and the definition.  You can find these sets in my store:  Dynamics  /  Notes and Rests  /   Recorders    /   Symbols

Music workstation ideas for fall include playing instruments, pumpkin matching games, candy corn puzzles and more! High engagement, active learning, high level conversations and smiles are all part of these centers for October and November in music class.
For some centers I put down a large throw rug.  Students can sit on it or do their activity on it.  Sometimes using the rug just helps define the space you have designated for the workstation.


Music workstation ideas for fall include playing instruments, pumpkin matching games, candy corn puzzles and more! High engagement, active learning, high level conversations and smiles are all part of these centers for October and November in music class.

Clip-It Rhythms
At this workstation, students say/clap the name of the picture on the card.  They decide with rhythm matches the syllables of the picture and clip-it.  Each set comes with an answer sheet, but most groups use peer checking successfully.

Music workstation ideas for fall include playing instruments, pumpkin matching games, candy corn puzzles and more! High engagement, active learning, high level conversations and smiles are all part of these centers for October and November in music class.
Jazzy Jack-O-Lanterns
This is actually a bulletin board set that I have used for many years.  See it HERE.  At this station, students get a blank pumpkin and must use only music symbols to create a face on it.  I have sometimes just provided blank paper, but students seem to take so much time drawing their pumpkin that they don't get to using the music symbols.  A blank template gives them more time for that.

Music workstation ideas for fall include playing instruments, pumpkin matching games, candy corn puzzles and more! High engagement, active learning, high level conversations and smiles are all part of these centers for October and November in music class.
You can get the bulletin board HERE.  It doesn't come with a blank template, but you can find one online or in a bulletin board book you may already have on your shelf.


Music workstation ideas for fall include playing instruments, pumpkin matching games, candy corn puzzles and more! High engagement, active learning, high level conversations and smiles are all part of these centers for October and November in music class.
Pumpkin Patterns
I found these packs of foam pumpkins at the dollar store about five years ago.  I've seen similar ones at Hobby Lobby and Joann's that might work.  On the back of each pumpkin I drew a four beat rhythm and on another pumpkin the exact same rhythm.  Essentially, this is a memory game.  Students turn over a pumpkin, clap the rhythm they see and then try to find its match.  If they get it right, they keep the match and if they don't they turn them back over and it is someone else's turn.

Music workstation ideas for fall include playing instruments, pumpkin matching games, candy corn puzzles and more! High engagement, active learning, high level conversations and smiles are all part of these centers for October and November in music class.
Reading Station
I love to incorporate a reading station during workstation days.  I include books that we may have used for classroom activities, books about musicians and instruments, songs made into books and biographies.  Some of my favorites for October and November are:
Blowin' in the Wind by Bob Dylan
There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat by Lucille Colandro
There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves by Lucille Colandro
What Does the Fox Say by Svain Nyhus
Pete the Cat Five Little Pumpkins by James Dean
Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert
The Itsy Bitsy Pumpkin by Sonali Fry
The Spooky Wheels on the Bus by Elizabeth Mills
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams
Dem Bones by Bob Barner


Music workstation ideas for fall include playing instruments, pumpkin matching games, candy corn puzzles and more! High engagement, active learning, high level conversations and smiles are all part of these centers for October and November in music class.
Rhythm Stick Reading
If at all possible, I like to include a workstation that includes singing or playing an instrument.  This  was the first time my 3rd graders had worked at centers and I wanted to choose something with which they could have immediate success.  The rhythms in this file are easy.  It includes ta, titi and sh.  Actually, the notes aren't used.  Icons of rhythm sticks are used instead.
Music workstation ideas for fall include playing instruments, pumpkin matching games, candy corn puzzles and more! High engagement, active learning, high level conversations and smiles are all part of these centers for October and November in music class.

Rhythm sticks are also a nice instrument to start with because they are not particularly loud and annoying.  With a classroom full of learners in a small space, this is important!  They did a great job and demonstrated a great deal of self control.

You can find the Rhythm Stick Reading set HERE.  You might also like the one for several different rhythm instruments, maracas, tambourines, hand drums, triangles or cowbells.



Music workstation ideas for fall include playing instruments, pumpkin matching games, candy corn puzzles and more! High engagement, active learning, high level conversations and smiles are all part of these centers for October and November in music class.
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Books You Need in Your Music Classroom - Upper Elementary List


Picture books and chapter books for the music classroom are essentials.  Explore this list of books appropriate for upper elementary that cover instruments, composers, careers, history and more.
I love incorporating books into my music lessons and I am adamant that I have a classroom library of books that teach about music history, explore music genres and dance, serve as a reference and more.  This year I moved to a new classroom that had NO music classroom library.  None.  Zilch.  Since I use a reading station in almost of my workstation rotations, I new I had to do something.

I have my own library of books that I've purchased during the last 20 years, so I had a few things to start with but soon realized most of my books were for primary aged students.  I'm currently teaching 3rd, 4th and 5th graders and most of the books that I had were for Kindergarten through 2nd grades.

Off to Amazon I went!  I would love to say that I researched for hours and consulted a stack of teacher resources, but I already had a wishlist a mile long for this age group!   Below you'll find a list of the books I have in my library that are appropriate for upper elementary classes.  

This list is not even CLOSE to being comprehensive.  There are hundreds of books that I could add to this list and more being published every year.  This list may be a good starting point for you if you are building a library for your music classroom.
Picture books and chapter books for the music classroom are essentials.  Explore this list of books appropriate for upper elementary that cover instruments, composers, careers, history and more.
Charlie Parker Played Be Bop      Chris Raschka
Leaf Man             Lois Ehlert
Max Found Two Sticks   Brian Pinkney
Thump Thump Rat-a-Tat-Tat       Gene Baer
Abiyoyo               Pete Seeger, illus by Michael Hays
The Music Teacher from the Black Lagoon            Mike Thaler
We All Went on Safari:  A Counting Journey through Tanzania     Laurie Krebs and Julia Cairns
Chalk     Bill Thomson  (This book is GREAT for introducing opera.  Students sing an improvised story to this book.)
M is for Music    Kathleen Krull

Dance
Dictionary of Dance         Liz Murphy
My Many Colored Days   Dr. Suess
The Story of the Nutcracker Ballet   Deborah Hautzig

Sing the Book
America the Beautiful    Scholastic

Blowin' in the Wind         Bob Dylan, illus John J. Muth
Don't Laugh at Me           Steve Seskin and Allen Shamblin
Froggie Went a-Courtin'                Iza Trapani
Grandma's Feather Bed     Christopher Canyon (lyrics by John Denver)
Puff the Magic Dragon      Peter Yarrow, Lenny Lipton
Senor Don Gato     illustrated by John Manders
Take Me Home, Country Roads     Christopher Canyon (lyrics by John Denver)
Take Me Out of the Bathtub and Other Silly Dilly Songs  Alan Katz
There Was a Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow        Lucille Colandro
There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat      Lucille Colandro
There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bell     Lucille Colandro
There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly       Simms Taback
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Shell  Lucille Colandro
What a Wonderful World             Tip Hopbood
Possum Come a-Knockin'             Nancy Van Laan

Picture books and chapter books for the music classroom are essentials.  Explore this list of books appropriate for upper elementary that cover instruments, composers, careers, history and more.
 Biography and Careers in Music
Some of these books are chapter books, so students may only get to read a portion of the book during workstation rotations.  My room is used as a bus room and so students also have the opportunity to read during bus room.  I do not lend my books out, but if something is quite popular I let our school librarian know.
Who Is Dolly Parton?      True Kelley
Who Was Elvis Presley? Geoff Edgers
Who was Michael Jackson? Megan Stine
Who Were the Beatles?  Geoff Edgers
There are more titles in this series that you might like.  Elton John and Bruce Springsteen are a few more musicians you can find.
Picture books and chapter books for the music classroom are essentials.  Explore this list of books appropriate for upper elementary that cover instruments, composers, careers, history and more.
Marvin Makes Music      Jim Madsen
When the Beat was Born:  DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop        Laban Carrick Hill
 
Picture books and chapter books for the music classroom are essentials.  Explore this list of books appropriate for upper elementary that cover instruments, composers, careers, history and more.
Composers
Aaron Copland (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers)         Mike Venezia
Duke Ellington (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers)          Mike Venezia
George Gershwin (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers)   Mike Venezia
George Handel (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers)        Mike Venezia
I, Vivaldi               Janice Shefelman
Johann Sebastian Bach (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers)         Mike Venezia
John Philip Sousa (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers)    Mike Venezia
Ludwig van Beethoven (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers)         Mike Venezia
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart         Mike Venezia
Young Mozart    Rachel Isadora
Famous Composers Reference Book      Usborne

Picture books and chapter books for the music classroom are essentials.  Explore this list of books appropriate for upper elementary that cover instruments, composers, careers, history and more.
Patriotic
I teach a "Star-Spangled Banner" unit and like to have a few books on hand for students who finish early.  These are a couple of my favorites.
By the Dawn's Early Light, The Story of the Star-Spangled Banner    Steven Kroll
Can You Sing "The Star-Spangled Banner"?          Martha E.H. Rustad

History
Do Re Mi:  If You Can Read This Thank Guido A'rezzo       Susan Roth
Everyday History: Song and Dance           John Malam
The Rock and Roll Alphabet         Jeffrey Schwartz
V is for von Trapp:  A Musical Family Alphabet    William Anderson
We Shall Overcome:  The Story of a Song              Debbie Levy
When Marian Sang          Pam Munoz Ryan
Before John Was a Giant              Carole Boston Weatherford
John Henry         Julius Lester, illus Jerry Pinkney

Instruments
I Know a Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Cello        Barabara S. Garriel
Lemony Snicket The Composer is Dead  Nathaniel Stookey
M is for Melody                Kathy-jo Wargin
Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo John Lithgow
The Remarkable Farkle McBride       John Lithgow
Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin       Lloyd Moss
Moses Goes to a Concert             Isaac Millman

Getting Your Library Ready
Picture books and chapter books for the music classroom are essentials.  Explore this list of books appropriate for upper elementary that cover instruments, composers, careers, history and more.

Every teacher has to find what works best for them, but here are some things that I do to keep my classroom library in good shape:
1.  I put my name on the inside of the front cover, on the back cover and inside the book.  I use a permanent marker and a paint pen on books with a dark cover.
2.  Some of the books have CDs inside of them.  I prefer to keep the CDs in the book, so I tape them in and write "Do not remove." in permanent marker in an obvious place.  I must admit that this works great for every class except Kindergarten.  *giggle*  They rip the CD out and bring it to me so it doesn't get broken.  
3.  I usually keep my library on a shelf, but you could use milk crates, a rolling cart or even a book bag if you were only going to use them during workstations.

I hope that this list is helpful and would love to hear other suggestions for books to add to my library.  Leave the title of your favorites for upper elementary classes in the comments.  If you liked these ideas, pin this post for later!
Picture books and chapter books for the music classroom are essentials.  Explore this list of books appropriate for upper elementary that cover instruments, composers, careers, history and more.

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Clip It Clothespin Activities for Music Class


Assessments in music class are quick and painless with clothespin activities.  Learn how to use these fun activities to assess students’ rhythmic understanding in this blog post.  Tips for organizing the supplies in your classroom are also included as well as links to download the sets.

I have a confession.  As a teacher who only sees her students once a week for 50 minutes I struggle with assessment.  When 500 students file in and out of your classroom each week it is hard to plan and carryout meaningful assessments.  I would much rather be joyfully making music than testing.  

What I've discovered is so stinkin' easy that I wish I would have known about it twenty years ago!  My secret assessment weapon?  Clothespins.

Assessments in music class are quick and painless with clothespin activities.  Learn how to use these fun activities to assess students’ rhythmic understanding in this blog post.  Tips for organizing the supplies in your classroom are also included as well as links to download the sets.
Yep.  Clothespins.  I usually place these Clip It sets in my workstations rotation.  I include a sheet for students to use and check themselves.  The Clip It sets are quite easy to put together.

Assessments in music class are quick and painless with clothespin activities.  Learn how to use these fun activities to assess students’ rhythmic understanding in this blog post.  Tips for organizing the supplies in your classroom are also included as well as links to download the sets.

I laminate each sheet as a whole on my personal laminator.  Then I cut then out.  This saves me lots of extra cutting time and gives them a sturdy finish.

Assessments in music class are quick and painless with clothespin activities.  Learn how to use these fun activities to assess students’ rhythmic understanding in this blog post.  Tips for organizing the supplies in your classroom are also included as well as links to download the sets.

I keep a basket (or two) of clothespins for activities like this.  I used to buy pretty colored ones, but have discovered that no one fights over the ugly, wooden ones.  

Assessments in music class are quick and painless with clothespin activities.  Learn how to use these fun activities to assess students’ rhythmic understanding in this blog post.  Tips for organizing the supplies in your classroom are also included as well as links to download the sets.
Students take a card and say the name of the object or person pictured.  Then they identify the rhythm pattern that most closely matches the syllables in the word and clip it.  Students can use the enclosed answer sheet to check their answers.  

If I am using this as an assessment activity, I'll walk around the room and take notes.  I usually use a 4 point scale for this kind of activity.  The scoring guide looks something like this:
4-consistently displays evidence of mastering the skill
3-displays evidence that the skill is mastered most of the time
2-displays evidence that the skill is still being learned and practiced
1-displays evidence that the skill is not mastered
It is also possible for a student to get a zero for this activity.  If they refuse to do anything, there is no evidence so there are no points awarded.

Assessments in music class are quick and painless with clothespin activities.  Learn how to use these fun activities to assess students’ rhythmic understanding in this blog post.  Tips for organizing the supplies in your classroom are also included as well as links to download the sets.
The cards in these sets are about a fourth of a page.  They fit PERFECTLY into photo boxes!  I printed out a little label for mine and then sorted the cards into individual boxes.  Each themed set is in a different box.

Assessments in music class are quick and painless with clothespin activities.  Learn how to use these fun activities to assess students’ rhythmic understanding in this blog post.  Tips for organizing the supplies in your classroom are also included as well as links to download the sets.
I keep the answer sheets in a folder near this box.  Sometimes I don't include the answer sheet and ask students to check each other.  These boxes are inexpensive.  You can find them HERE.  (Not an affiliate link.)
Assessments in music class are quick and painless with clothespin activities.  Learn how to use these fun activities to assess students’ rhythmic understanding in this blog post.  Tips for organizing the supplies in your classroom are also included as well as links to download the sets.

I printed the cover page of each set at 25% and used it to label the individual boxes.  I can pull out one set to use as a station during our workstation rotations or I can pull them all out and have students work in small groups.

Here are some sets that you might find handy.  Click each picture to learn more.  The Presidents Edition includes sixteenth notes and eighth note/16th note combinations.  The others are mostly quarter notes, barred eighth notes and quarter rests.

 Clip It Presidents Edition   Clip It Instruments Edition
 Clip It Camping Edition   Clip It Careers Edition   Clip It Animals Edition   Clip It Christmas Edition    Clip It Thanksgiving Edition

I hope that you'll enjoy these activities as much as I do!  I love the simplicity and I love the way a simple clothespin can keep students SO engaged.  It's almost like magic!
 Clip It Animals Edition
This picture is from Clip It Animals Edition.


Assessments in music class are quick and painless with clothespin activities.  Learn how to use these fun activities to assess students’ rhythmic understanding in this blog post.  Tips for organizing the supplies in your classroom are also included as well as links to download the sets.

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