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Saturday, December 13, 2014

A Rockin' Christmas and A World of Celebration

Hey!  Wanna take a peek at our Christmas concerts this year? Check out THIS LINK to view them both.    The first concert features 1st and 2nd Graders and was called "A Rockin' Christmas".  The second concert, A World of Celebration, featured music from around the globe.  It was performed by the elementary choir, The Bearytones, and our 5th an 6th grade classes.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What's on my desk?

What's on my desk?  Well, it's concert week.  Double concert week, so some unusual things.  Let's take a peek!
1.  Elsa.  Yep, that's her.  I bought her mostly because my daughter lives and breathes Frozen, but also because I thought she might be fun to put in the lobby where parents will pick up programs.  I don't think I'm going to do that now.  I think everyone will touch her.  I don't want her broken!
2.  Christmas Decorations-leftover from my bulletin board in the hallway.
3.  Folders of  Stuff-papers sorted by days, papers to grades, manipulatives, etc..
4.  Plates-Seriously.  I have a thing for plates.  The red and blue ones with the star are from a patriotic concert that I did.  We used them as practice plates before we got our snowflake plates in.  First graders are doing a plate routine to "Let it Go".  (Thus...the Elsa I was considering.)
5.  Kleenex - Because teaching in an elementary school this time of the year is like swimming in a slime pond of germs.

6.  A Pickle and a Cookie - No.  I am not pregnant, but the art teacher recognized my stress level topping out earlier this week and bought me a Diet Mt. Dew (my favorite!) and a cookie.  The pickle is from our concession stand.  It seemed like a good idea.
7.  Apparently I like to have a variety of drink choices available at all times.  *giggle*
8.  Concert Book - For each concert/performance I create a binder to hold music, seating charts, special parts, etc...  If I lose this, the show will NOT go on.  :-)

  9.  Some Stupid Frog - That was taken away from someone that was flinging it at someone.
10.  A messy stack of papers to take somewhere else.
11.  Phones- My cell phone (I use it as a timer quite often because it can't actually get calls IN the building.) and my school phone.  I am so thankful that I can now call outside numbers on this phone and not just in the building.  Efficiency!
12.  Fan - Okay...I am one big, sweaty woman and after dancing around for half an hour with each class I get a bit warm.  :-)
13.  Miscellaneous Pens - And most of them even WORK!
14.  Poker Chips - We use them for notes on the staff, but today I gave them to students I caught doing something great and let them get a treat from the treat box when we were finished rehearsing.  Fun!
15.  My Computer - It's my stereo, video player, SmartBoard controller, assistant teacher....hero.  :-)
I'm linking my pal, Mrs. Tanenblatt to take a peek at other teacher desks!  Click the link to see more.
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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Bulletin Board Ideas for December

Okay...I know it's already a week into December, but hopefully you'll still be interested in a few ideas for this hectic time of year!  Here are some of my favorite boards for December.


This is a new bulletin board, but quickly becoming one of my favorite!  It uses the lyrics from the "12 Days of Christmas" and some math challenges to inspire students.  Get it here.  This display was created by my pal Jeaneau Julian.  

This is one of the fastest and easiest boards to get up during this busy time of the year.  It features mp3 players with the names of Christmas songs.  Students love to look at it and sing little snippets from each song.  Get it here.

Musical Life...Priceless
Another one of my favorites!  This bulletin board went up pretty fast too.  On the colored slips of paper there are musical items and what they might cost.  For example:  Piano Lessons $15, Recorder $4.95 and so on.  The CDs are just an accent and the jumbo play money serves to draw attention to the board.  The title of the board reads "A Musical Life...PRICELESS".



This is on my hallway board right now!  LOVE how colorful it is and I love that students stop to read it all the time.  Each of the bulbs has a little bit of a music advocacy tidbit like "Good musicians are usually good readers."  After I put the bulbs up I took a piece of chalk and drew the curly lines to make them look like they were all on one big strand.  You can get this board HERE, but it is titled "Let Your Light Shine".

Do you have a favorite December bulletin board?  Link me up in the comments.  I would love to take a peek at your classroom.

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Monday, December 1, 2014

Nutcracker Nuttiness: Resources for Teaching the Nutcracker Ballet

It’s here!  It’s here!  It’s time to study the Nutcracker in music class!  My kiddos seem to think I’m just a little nutty about this classic ballet.  Some years in music class every class watches the complete Nutcracker.  Other years some classes watch portions and do other activities.  It seems that I’ve collected quite a few activities over the years and found several new ones I hope to incorporate this year.
Last year I created a bulletin board that focused on some vocabulary from the ballet.  This board is seasonal and uses beautiful clipart to present the information.  I like to leave this up as a resource during December.  Get it here.
This year students are working with listening glyphs.  I’ve created a set of Nutcracker Listening Glyphs that highlight some of the pieces the students hear while watching the ballet.  With Kindergarten and First Graders, we actively listen to a piece.  Active listening means we point at a listening map, move to the music, raise our hands when we hear parts that are the same or different and so on.  Then I pass out the glyphs and we go through them step by step.  With older students they are able to listen and answer a few questions about the piece and then complete the glyphs on their own.  Get it here.
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Nutcracker-Listening-Glyphs-1562925 http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Nutcracker-Listening-Glyphs-1562925 http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Nutcracker-Listening-Glyphs-1562925
Here are a few other resources from friends of mine that you’ll want to grab:
Nutcracker Note Taking by Sally Utley from Sally’s Sea of Songs
In this kit, Sally sets students up for success by providing a framework for taking notes while watching or listening to the Nutcracker.   My upper elementary students can always use practice in note taking and this would be a great way to do it. 
Nutcracker Scavenger Hunt by Ginny Capps from Ginny’s MusicSpace
Oh my goodness!  This is such a great idea.  Although I love to review with my students, they really get restless just sitting down and going through worksheets and notes.  Ginny has created a clever way to review the Nutcracker AND get moving.  In this scavenger hunt students are given a sheet to record their answers that contains clues.  All around the room you place the colorful card with pictures of things like a ballerina, Tchaikovsky, pointe shoes, etc…  Students take their clues and search the room for their answers.
Rhythm Basketball: Nutcracker Edition by Shelley Tomich from Pitch Publications
FUN!  In this fun activity students “play along” to music from the Nutcracker with basketballs!  I can’t wait to try this out with my 4th, 5th and 6th graders.  Shelley has instructions for use, written lesson plans and PowerPoints to guide students through playing simple rhythm patterns to March, Trepak and the overture.
Visuals and Activities for the Nutcracker by Aileen Miracle
Wow.  This is such a comprehensive collection of activities for studying the Nutcracker!  Aileen actually has 2 sets of visuals and activities.  See the first one here and the additional one here.  In these sets you’ll find instructional presentations, rhythm activities including play-alongs, an ostinato activity, and more.  There are coloring sheets, activities for form, bulletin board visuals and lots more.  I love that there are so many options to choose from in these collections.  I could easily use these with my K-6 students.  As a teacher that has taught K-6, PK-8 and K-12 I really appreciate the thoughtful way that these activities were designed.
Nutcracker Mini-bundle of Play-Alongs and More by TonyaLeJuene
In this delightful set you’ll find play-alongs, activities for teaching form and some vocal explorations.  I just can’t wait to use her movement activities for “March” from the Nutcracker.  The kids love moving and the fact that they’ll be exploring form at the same time thrills me.  They'll be stomping and patting and learning.  Love!  This is definitely a set to add to your Nutcracker repertoire.
The Nutcracker Story Review Koosh Ball Game by Karla Cherwinkski of C Major Learning
This is such a clever activity!  I don’t know about you, but my kids love games where they get to be physically active.  They are going to LOVE tossing a koosh ball at the SmartBoard!  This game is a review of the story of The Nutcracker by Vladimir Vagin.  To play the game you open the interactive PDF (which is a seriously cool way to set this up) and find a collage of Nutcracker clipart.  Toss a koosh ball and depending on where it touches, a questions opens.  Fun!  I must admit that I have loved these little toys ever since the Rosie O’Donnell Show.  J
I Spy the Nutcracker by Jennifer Foxx of Foxx Piano StudioResources
My kiddos love to play games and I love to be sneaky and use games to reinforce what we are learning about.  This I Spy game can be played as one whole group, with individual students or in teams.  Using the Nutcracker theme students draw a card and are asked to find that symbol on the page that is displayed.   I think that the way she has set this up would make it easy to use in centers too.  I think I may add it to my December workstations after we’ve used this as a whole group. 
Composer Activities-Tchaikovsky by Joyce Moore of JoyfulMusic
This product is a goldmine of cross curricular awesomeness.  This curriculum integration tool incorporates history, math and writing activities into your music lessons.  There’s an Orff arrangement included as well as for instruments and voices.  The lyrics are pretty catchy, so prepare to go around singing it for the rest of the day!  I love how accessible all of the activities are and that there are practical ideas for using them in your classroom.
The Nutcracker MEGA Bundle by Katie Robertson of Cowgirl Compositions
Oh.my.goodness.  There are so many amazing things in this bundle that I am just not sure where to start.  This set includes 8 pieces from the Nutcracker with worksheets, animated listening maps, play alongs, assessments (that are quick and easy to do!), history and social studies connections, fun facts, a composer bio and...I'm probably forgetting some of the awesomeness.  I love the rhythm composition sheets that are included.  I also love how practical and useable each activity is during this crazy busy time of the year.
I hope you've enjoyed perusing some of my favorite activities or teaching the Nutcracker.  Feel free to comment below with some of your favorites! 
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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Rockin' Resources

Wooo HooOOooo!  Tomorrow begins a two day site wide sale at Teachers Pay Teachers.  I love a good deal and I love to find rockin’ resources for my classroom.  I’ve already started filling my cart with some goodies!  Today I’m linking up with my pal Amy Abbott at Music a la Abbott to share some awesome resources that you may be interested in putting in your cyber cart.
First, one of my own.  In college I was a chorus member in our production of Amahl and the Night Visitors.  I loved the story and loved the music.  I’m not a big opera fan, but this story and the music really captured me.  I have found that this operetta is totally accessible to my 2nd-6th grade students.  When I taught 7th-12th grades I used this with great success, but was hesitant when I decided to use it with 2nd graders while we learned about opera.  They loved it!
Okay...they giggled a bit and several times asked what was being sung, but it was DEFINITELY a positive response. 
Amahl and the Night Visitors is an opera by Gian Carlo Menotti. This story is great for students of all ages and is a wonderful introduction to opera. I have taught K-12, K-8 and now K-6 so I designed this kit for the K-8 or K-12 music teacher so the activities span a large age range. This kit includes:

1. Viewing guide (questions and short answers) for upper grades. Easily usable through junior high. Answer key included. The questions focus on what is happening in the story rather than musical components (like duets, recitative, etc...).
2. Viewing guide for lower grades (draw the scenes).
3. Color sheet with a brief description of the opera.
4. Amahl and Me venn diagram.
5. Writing prompt for upper grades.
6. Writing/drawing prompt for lower grades.
7. About Amahl and the Night Visitors reading passage with questions (upper grades) with answer key.

I use this opera 2nd grade through 8th grade in December or January, but it can be used at any time of the year.  Get it here.
A rockin’ resource that I have had my eyes on for a while is David Row’s Favorite Carols Bundle.  This was actually designed as a set of bulletin boards, but I think I’m going to use it as an instructional presentation during December.  Each set contains some history on the piece, some fun facts and terminology and lyrics and notation.  I love that this wonderful product is going to engage my students and save me lots of time!

I’m also looking forward to purchasing Fromthe Pond’s Numbers 1 to 10 Numbers Worksheets.  This is actually a purchase that I will use at home.  My daughter is 3, but loves to do “work”.  I think this looks perfect for some counting fun.

The sale on Teachers Pay Teachers begins Monday, December 1st and runs through Tuesday, December 2nd.  Most items in my store will be 20% off.  Use the code TPTCYBER to save 10% on EVERYTHING.  Items marked at 20% off will be 20% off with the use of this code.  WOW!
Check out the Rockin’ Resources Linky Party for more resources to rock your classroom.
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Friday, November 21, 2014

Five for Friday

Woooo hooo!  It's Friday!  I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching on this fabulous Friday.

1  A Shocking Realization
I have a FULL day of school on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  Holy moly!  It has been on the calendar the entire school year but for whatever reason I didn't realize it.  It was shocking.  It was sad.  Most schools in our area have a half day on that Wednesday and some of you lucky ducks have the whole week off!
I'm trying not to grumble too much.  Unlike other schools in the area, my district was off Monday and Tuesday of this week for deer season.  :-)

2  It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
Okay...maybe it is, but in music classrooms everywhere it has SOUNDED like Christmas since the first part of October.  I learned a long time ago that some songs will sour to my ears during concert rehearsals and that I will never ever again be able to enjoy them.  Songs that have made this list in the last 20 years include "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer", "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and "Everlasting Fruitcake".  I am also irrationally annoyed by that barking dog version of "Jingle Bells".

3.  Shake Ya' Tailfeather
This week I've been dancing and frolicking with my classes using these Thanksgiving Creative Movement cards with my classes.  They are great for brain breaks and really show me how creative my kiddos are! I've used them with Kindergarten through Fourth grades and wow!  Such fun!

4.  The Bearytones ROCK!
I have a choir of 70 4th, 5th and 6th graders.  This is such a talented group of kiddos!  They are working on "Medieval Gloria", "Dona Nobis Pacem" and several other pieces that are challenging and they are doing a fabulous job!  So excited to hear their improvement every week.  I'm finding that on every choir day I spend every single free minute preparing for them.  Typing and copying reminder letters, prepping the music and planning the rehearsal are just a few of the things that take up that time.  I am amazed at the choral directors that deal with groups this size (and bigger) every single day.  Their organization skills must be superb!

5.  Thankful
A few things I'm thankful for:  my awesome family, my fabulous job, my fabulous other job, homemade beef jerky, great ideas, tubanos, PowerPoint, that funny woman at McDonalds that always acts like she knows me and you-my blog reader. 

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Songs of the Month

Once upon a time I nearly had a music teacher breakdown.  It wasn’t because of the increasingly difficult amount of paperwork, the political takeover of education or even challenging students.  One April I looked back at the number of songs my kids had learned in a year and was flabbergasted by how FEW there were for some grade levels.  One grade had only learned 15 songs (that included songs for two concerts).  Now, they had composed, improvised, explored, played keyboards and more but they didn’t sing too much more than that.  YIKES!
It was then and there that I devised a plan to remedy that.  There is such a wealth of folk songs, seasonal songs and more that I could not allow this to happen again.  I sat down and devised a plan for Song of the Week.
My plan was to introduce a song (folk song, patriotic, children’s tune, MK8 favorite, camp song, etc…) every week.  I knew that it would be a little tricky because at that time I was teaching Preschool through 8th grades.  I decided that some classes would just “experience” the song.  Some weeks that meant that PK-2 used the song as a way to keep steady beat and/or explore movement or form.  Some weeks that meant that 7th and 8th Graders used that song to identify pitch names, add rhythmic ostinatos or sang it as a warm-up. 
I used a rainy day to compose a list of songs that I might like to use and I sketched a few bulletin board possibilities.  I wanted to create a display so that when we had a few minutes at the end of class we could pick some of our favorite songs of the week to sing.  Here are a few that I've tried over the years.

When I started song of the week I saw my classes for 30 minutes twice a week.  When my schedule changed to see my kiddos just once a week for 50 minutes, I needed a new plan.  I would sometimes go a couple of weeks without seeing a group (especially if they saw me on Fridays).  So, Song of the Week became Song of the Month.  This worked well because students could sing or “experience” the song a few times that month.  They were still getting about 10 “bonus” songs every year and I was thrilled that my whole school new many classics!
Some Ideas for Songs of the Month
Star-Spangled Banner (every August, every class)
She’ll Be Comin’ Around the Mountain
The Apple Song (MK8)
My Aunt Came Back
Wheels on the Bus
I Love the Mountains
Eight Legs (MK8)
There’s a Spider on the Floor
Grandma’s Feather Bed
Pumpkin March (MK8)
Over the River and Through the Woods
Mashed Potatoes (MK8)
Jingle Bells
Something patriotic for Veteran’s Day
We Wish You a Merry Christmas
Christmas Makes Me Sing (MK8)
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Frosty the Snowman
Mary Had a Baby
Joy to the World
Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow
My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean
Oh What a Beautiful Morning
What a Wonderful World
Let Me Call You Sweetheart
Follow the Drinking Gourd
Wade in the Water
Peace Like a River
Music Alone Shall Live
I’ve Got Rhythm
Music is Always There (MK8)
Over the Rainbow
Danny Boy
Old Irish Blessing (MK8)
Red River Valley
Take Me Home, Country Roads
You are My Sunshine
The Bunny Hop
You Make Me Smile (MK8)
This Land is Your Land
Oh Susanna
Home on the Range
Cat Came Back
American Tears
I know that some of these songs seem random.  *shrugging*  They may be chosen for the month based on a holiday or theme or may just be songs I like doing around that time of the year.  That’s the beauty of Songs of the Month.
Do you do Songs of the Week/Month?  What are your favorites?  Let me know in the comments.
This year I am using this bulletin board to record our Songs of the Month.  I’m just writing the name of the song(s) on each sheet with a dry erase marker.  I’ve laminated them so I can save them and use them for something else if I want.  You can snag them here.
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