Trepak from the Nutcracker

Hi all!! Happy December! Here in Colorado it hasn't felt much like Christmas until last week. It's been unseasonably warm, but we're making up for it now!!

Today I thought I'd blog about a parachute activity that I learn sometime in my teaching that I do with the Trepak/Russian Dance from the Nutcracker

The kids love it and it's great to teach form ABA form and when we use it with the older kids we talk about the bridge from the B to the second A section.

Before we use the parachute we doing some movement in the classroom where they follow me:
A Section:
Beats 1-4: giant leaping jump, straight up
Beats 5-8: another giant leaping jump, straight up (arms up, legs like you're attempting to do the splits in the air.... but you could do "Rock star" jumps or your own take on it)
Beats 9-16: "firecrackers" in your hands, where you start with a fist and explode the fingers out, for 8 counts, the micro beat of the song)

Repeat this, so you perform it a total of 4 times (it'll match what you hear).

"B" section:
"Wacky Jacks" to the beat- this is what my pe teacher calls them, they're like jumping jacks but you put your right arm parallel to the ground and the left arm straight up while the left leg kicks out and the right leg is on the ground then you hop and switch so everything is vice-verse.  This is done for 16 macro beats (big beats, until you hear the "bursts" of the bridge)

Do those BIG jumps on each explosion of sound, so it's two slow jumps, two medium speed jumps and 4 fast speed jumps)

"A" section:
Repeat above but add the wacky jacks at the accelerando at the end and finish with a big, giant jump.

Then we learn the parachute movements, sans the parachute.  This doesn't take long to learn as they're familiar with the music and the motions match really well.

Then we add the parachute (sorry in advance for the poor resolution):

My kids love to add the snowballs or baby grinches from Oriental trading. It's GREAT fun.

If you're looking for a parachute, this is the parachute I use. Simply click on this affiliate link:

I'll be honest that since I'm not teaching right now, my student teacher is soloing and I'm slowly taking back over, we haven't done much with the Nutcracker.

I did, however, make this set of playing cards for the Nutcracker- you can use them for Old Maid and Go Fish and work GREAT in a sub tub or for centers (and were surprisingly fast to print and cut out!)
click on the images for more information

There are colored cards....

And black and white cards
These turned out so well I'll be making a Peter and the Wolf set and a Carnival of the Animals set for my sub tub!!

If you're looking for more Christmas ideas, check out these bundles, three are from this year: 

The Christmas Songs from Around the World has rhythm and melodic games for every melodic and rhythmic element plus song PDF and games for each song.
The 25 Games for Christmas and Beyond is finishing up the 10 games for Christmas and then will have winter and anytime of the year games.
And this is the second year I'm doing a Bursting Christmas Day Bundle- these are things you can use all year, NOT Christmas related at all!

And to celebrate our last week before break, this weekend only my Christmas MEGA set is 75% off!!! That's a savings of over $50!!

I hope you all are having a WONDERFUL December!!

$2 Tuesday!

Hi there everyone!! 
I'm excited to host and present a little surprise for you... a $2Tuesday sale!!!

I had the honor this weekend to present in Lubbock for KET (Kodály Educators of Texas), which is a SUPER big chapter!! I was privileged to be out there two years ago in Lubbock and then last fall (2015) in Denton so when I was asked back to Lubbock I was super excited!!! We spent the day singing and playing music literacy games. I met lots of new people and saw some lovely familiar friends. During the session I presented one of my favorite activities to do with my older students around Thanksgiving and the Holidays and that is Rhythm Fraction Turkeys. You can read more about it here.  I'm always reminded of how open ended this activity is and how great it is to see how students, AND TEACHERS, work together in groups with it.  So, I thought since we had such fun with it this weekend I would make it available to all of you for just $2!  You can grab it here.

And make sure to look below at the other $2 deals and also search TpT for "$2TuesdayMusic"

If you're a music seller on TpT I would love for you to link up. I'm only making 20 spots available, if you miss out this time come back next month as I'd love for you to join me at some point!


    An InLinkz Link-up


Thanksgiving Activities

Happy November everyone!!!  As we're entering this week it's hard to believe how little time there is until Thanksgiving. We're lucky in our district that we get the entire week off!  With that said, there are two weeks until break. I have a student teacher right now and I'm kind of bummed because some of my favorite activities are Thanksgiving things!

So to deal with my "withdrawal" from teaching Thanksgiving songs I thought I'd share a few of my favorites!

One of the first songs I ever learned for Thanksgiving I learned during my student teaching from Cindy McCaskill. It's a song called Grinding Corn. I've blogged about it before and you can read that here.  Last year we added a stick passing game and it's really been successful with all the classes I taught it to (and I had FIVE rounds of 2nd grade last year!). Here's a little video:


The other super fun, new thing we did last year was a turkey rhythm race.  I bought inflatable turkey beach balls from Oriental trading. I put one rhythm on each of the turkeys. The class was then divided into four groups. Each group would have a student stand, then race down to grab a turkey, bring it back and the whole class would read the rhythm pattern that the four turkeys created:


Sad note about this: the turkey beach balls have been discontinued at Oriental Trading. Boo!!! But they do have inflatable reindeer so go stock up and do this same activity in December! 

My older kids really like my Turkey Lurkey Football Rhythm Blitz games... it's basically a glorified version of "post office". But the catch is they work as teams.  I like this because it promotes cooperative learning.  Here you can see how they're helping each other out:


Another fun song, that's fun anytime and great for "la" is "Round and Round." The words are:
Round and round the wheel goes round
As it turns the corn is ground.

The students keep singing it over and over, with one student in the center who is the miller. The miller at any point shouts "FLOUR!" When this occurs all students scatter, finding a new partner. They DON'T want to be the miller at the end of the game (well, let's admit it, some of them do... lol)


The other thing that my kids might be doing is playing Rhythm Wars.  Here are my 5th graders playing it (you can also play it with them tapping each other's pool noodle light sabers. I'm currently redoing this set, check it out here.


If you're looking for more songs to teach, that also teach musical concepts check out my two Thanksgiving song bundles.  
This is the set from last year: 

And this is this year's set:

Have a great week everyone!

Concerts... because it was fun

Hi all! Happy almost Halloween!  I *am* planning on doing on better on blogging, it's just been an INSANE fall.  See, in addition to the every day teaching, taking on a student teacher, having a fundraiser going on, three extra curricular music groups, we also moved our concerts to the high school this year.  So, I thought today I would share with you about one of those, and how it went.

The first thing I do when planning a concert is look at the specific class of students I have and what their particular interests are and what would be fun and different to try with them.

Last Tuesday we had TWO concerts, the 4th grade concert (at 6:00 pm) and the 5th grade concert (at 7:00 pm).  For the purpose of this blog I'm going to focus on my 5th graders.

Can I just say that my 5th graders, ever since they were kinders have been blissful.  I have never had a group of students that are so incredibly kind to each other, that you can joke around with and then they get back to business and who are so excited to be with you.  They were our first kinder class when we opened the school and they have grown into 146 amazing 5th graders.

Last spring my technology teacher came to me with the idea to collaborating together on the 5th grade. So... knowing we were moving the concerts to the high school we decided to go for it. Ya know, cause crazy is how we roll!  There are some things that I would do differently but overall it went so well.

We started the concert with Firework (not a favorite of mine because the range is hard and for this particular group they struggle getting up to those high notes.) You can give it a listen:


So for this song they used finger flashlights. (I also have to mention that the man that was suppose to record our concert had an emergency heart surgery so I was able to get videos of  5 of the 10 songs).  I had two student leaders helping me because this group is so large and our goal with this song was to work on expanding our vocal range.

Whenever possible I do like to incorporate art music or a listening/movement activity in the concert.  For this concert we use The Aquarium from "Carnival of the Animals," with most of the movements from John Feierabend's Move It DVD.  They used white gloves and black lights:


We also sang "Catch a Falling Star" and "Epo i Tai Tai" (for Epo i Tai Tai we used PVC pipes with glow in the dark tape and glow sticks to do a stick pattern. One of the 5th graders played Epo i Tai Tai on violin with our tech teacher playing cello as an introduction.  (Note, they also added glow sticks to their bows and instruments... I wish I had a video!!!)  And then we went into Counting Stars:


Another song we did that was really sweet was "Pure Imagination" from Willy Wonka.  One of our grandmothers played piano for us and it was so sweet to see her perform for the first time with her granddaughter.  The tech teacher also had the students program the Spheros so that they could toss them to the macro beat of the song and they would change colors. It was a pretty cool effect, despite them dropping the Sphero a could times (Yikes, those things are loud!  And of course it was the ONLY time they dropped them.)

Then Tracy King blogged about this song, Fireflies. Knowing we were doing a "Glow Show" I knew we just had to do it too.  The kids LOVED it and the parents were just in awe!


Then they went into Ghostbusters (I know, I know... this concert is so NOT Kodály... and that's not a bad thing... because I don't give them musical candy all the time!)


The tech teacher's son actually made the Slimmers... had we more time that would have been a good collaboration with the art teacher.  We originally had them build Slimmers on the 3D printer but they were too small to be seen on stage. Then you'll also see the Spheros... the students had programed them to move in patterns on the stage but the night of the concert we realized we didn't have enough floor space.  So, in the spur of the moment we had to change it on them and they had to manually drive them on the stage.

The highlight of the concert was having the students walk off the stage, picking up a candle flashlight and they walked up the aisles of the auditorium. I was so surprised at how seamlessly this went, provided they had NEVER performed in this space before.  

From the audience they sang "This Little Light of Mine" and it was just tear jerking, there were mom's crying. It was AWESOME!  Really, isn't our goal to make the moms cry at some point (tears of joy, not from any sounds they hear, lol!)

Then, again, the programmed Spheros that, as they faced the stage, started moving forward and gradually turning yellow as they sang "Here Comes the Sun" and they walked onto the stage.  It was awesome, all 146 were on stage by the final verse and it was fun to hear the sound grow and grow as they joined each other to sing the final verse.  I cried... and I don't cry at my kids' concerts...

Were there things that could have gone better? OH YES!  Should I have picked more musically rich songs... maybe... but it was an aesthetic experience that these kiddos were raving about all week. 

I hope you all are having an amazing weekend! Good luck on Halloween Monday! I know I'll need it!

Music Classroom Tour 2016

Happy fall everyone!
I'm a little late to the party here but I'm linking up with Tracy King to show you around my music room:

So, my daughter, who is in first grade at my school helped me come up with my theme of the year, "Just Keep Singing."  She went to theater camp over the summer and came home and said her theater teacher said, "just keep acting, just keep acting" and I thought, hey, we could do that for the music room!!!

So, here is a shot outside my room, coming towards the music room:

Here's a better shot of the bulletin board (before I took down the duplicate poster with the misspelling!! lol!)  I'm a little in love with the fun bulletin board paper that I found at the local teacher store.  When they ran out I was able to buy some from Amazon!

And here's my door!!!  I wish I would have gotten a better picture of the name plate.  My friend, Aileen Miracle, bought a monster one and I fell in love with the under the sea one!
The fun "Join Choir" posters I made on imgflip meme generator and then I uploaded them to Block Posters and it made it into posters that I could piece together!

As you come in my to the left is a book case some posters that parents and families have given me.  We also started doing musicals two years ago and an amazing parent had those framed. (This year we're doing Annie Jr.!)

 Just past the bookshelf is the small counter that I have that's awesome for storing posters and manipulatives. Above that, since it's at the front of my classroom I have y "Do I Get It?" board that the students use to check for understanding.  I also bought a tool case on Amazon to hold misc. things but I have yet to get them labeled yet!

 Just past that is the front of the room, where I have my M-U-S-I-C behavior expections and all the things we'll use for class (well, most...)

I absolutely love this locker that I got from Poppin last year. I have some diabetic students so their supplies are in the closed side ad the other side is for some sub things. I also have these book boxes that I use for keeping things I need for each class handy.

To the right of my board are my schedule cards. Three of our grade levels are on a 5 day rotation (yes, a FIVE day rotation, it stinks) and three are on a 4 day rotation (not much better).

Because of this I have two sets of schedule cards.  I got these from Aileen Miracle and they have been my SAVING grace staying organized with my classes this year!

I attached them with rings at the top and then I have all 5/4 days attached at the top so everyday I just flip it over.  I have them attached with brads, to keep down on the bulkiness but you could also laminate them all together too.

 From the front of the room we come around to my desk area and where the doc camera is:

 And here's my personal space where I have my family pics. I am a big Broncos fan and I love having the "Broncos Drive" sign up to show my fanage but also to make that connection with students.  It's amazing how a small thing like that helps open up conversations with some of my students (specifically some of the harder to reach boys!)

I have a wall that is all windows so the space between them is used to put some musical symbols signs:

And some of that space is used for my hand sign ladder:

That brings us around to the back of the room and the bulletin board in the back. I love having the singing posters up in the back as it helps remind the students of singing technique. And then the instrument posters are handy when we refer to instrumentation of listening examples:

The wall you have not seen is all cabinets and I'll be honest, they're pretty plain and I think that's a good thing. I don't want to over stimulate the students and I've got plenty on my walls.

But one the way out there is my Self-Check in board and my objectives board:

The self-check-in works okay but this year I'm starting to use the Magic 1-2-3 to reinforce what other teachers in my building are doing. We're having a tougher time with behaviors this year as a school and  I really hope this will help.

Now, if I'm going to truly do a classroom tour I have to show you the most important part of my classroom.... the students:
 Here they are singing and playing with our guest, Donald Garrett. We were so lucky that he came to visit and the kids had a BLAST!

If you're interested in my "Just Keep Singing Set" you can find it here.

Thanks so much to Tracy King for hosting this classroom tour!


Games and Activites in the Music Room {BTS Blog Hop}

 Hi everyone!!!  I bet a lot of you are back to school already or headed there in the next few weeks (or, if you're in Australia you've been in the thick of it for a while!!!)

As we're getting ready for back to school, a group of my music teacher friends and I are doing a blog hop of Back to School topics!!  The Hop starts (and was organized by) Aileen Miracle of Mrs. Miracle's Music room so make sure to make it through all 6 stops!

The hop includes six posts and I'm lucky number 6!!  Let's talk games and activities!!!

If you have followed my blog for a while you know that I use a lot of games in my classroom. They are a great way to establish classroom dynamics, teach students how to work cooperatively in the music room and to get to know the students.  

Before we get started, today we're going to narrow our focus on two specifics within the very broad spectrum of games:  singing games/activities and music literacy games/activities

#1 Singing Games
Fore mentioned was that "games" is a very broad spectrum and that I was narrowing it down to two areas.... well.... within those two areas are many subcategories!!! 

Greeting Songs with games:
With back to school singing games it's important to choose some games were all students have an equal part in the music making.  This helps establish the community tone that you want: that all students are important contributors to the music classroom.  These are the types of games/activities that I will start every class with for the rest of the year (I would go into how with older grades sometimes this might be with a round, etc., but that lends itself to another blog post!)

I love using this song at the beginning of the year for my 1st and 2nd graders, it's a great little greeting song called "Good Morning" that I learned from Susan Brumfield (who learned it from Jim Ryan):

Here are my 2nd graders singing it the first day of school (just last week)... the lyrics were changed on them as they had music in the morning last year and now they have it in the afternoon. There are also some kiddos who were in one of the first grade classes last year that LOVED this song and added their own little fancy turns by swinging their partner, so you'll see a few of them try to do that with their new partners:

One of my other favorite first day of school greeting songs is Bonjour Mis Amis, also learned from Susan Brumfield.  Usually, students would have learned this the year before, but if not it's fast and easy to teach if you're new to your teaching position. (It's very similar to "Bow Wow Wow" but has a twist of a double circle, which makes it more challenging!  And also more appropriate for late second grade/early third grade.)

Here are my third graders singing it for the first time this year:

Name Game Songs:
There are many, many name game songs and I actually compiled a few of them in my Back to School Set.   This one is not in that set, but I learned it from my former student teacher, Charlie Matthews, who I'm sure learned it from Bonnie Jacobi:

My 5th graders learned it yesterday, so here they are:

Games with a "solo" part:
This is another go-to for my 4th and 5th graders, called Going to Kentucky or "Round de doo Bop", either way I learned it from the Amidons and it's GREAT to get your older students moving and active and it's a fun way to break the ice! (BTW, this is my first activity of the lesson for these grades too!)  The other nice thing is that the "solo" isn't a singing solo but a simple "stand in the middle, turn and point to someone" solo.

Here are my 5th graders singing this in their first lesson:

Games that will be used to review:
Now, this game is a FAVORITE of my kids and I like it because there is so much that you can teach with this little composed song:  Apple Tree!!! Here are my 3rd graders playing the game:

From here, we went into singing the song with body signs:

And then we went into reviewing the solfa and singing it from the staff notation:

This brings us to:
#2 Music Literacy Games

I love having a variety of literacy games from lesson to lesson. Games in which the students prepare or practice rhythmic and melodic elements.  Part of my rationale for doing music reading "game style" is the infrequency at which I see my students. I basically see all my classes once a week for 45 minutes. So in my planning for back to school I know I need to make the most of each minute. The games allow for the students to have a memorable moment related to music literacy and I have found have helped greatly with retention.  Sometimes my games are reading only, but most times there is an extension in which the students have something tangible that they do in regards to the reading and writing.  This really makes it more concrete for the students.

This year I have used the "Read it and Write it" Games from my Back to School Songs and Games set and it's been great for transcription practice and review.

The students have a menu to choose from that reviews a rhythm or melody, in this case a melody:

Then, using the dry erase boards the students transcribed the patterns they saw:

For my early finishers I had them transpose the pattern into a different position on the staff and for my really advanced students I changed the staff placement for each pattern, as they waited for other students to finish.

One of the games that I'm really excited to use with my third graders next week is Tanya LeJeune's Skip Step Leap or Repeat game:

This game is perfect for reviewing interval relationships, especially since we're reviewing do-mi-so-la. In the game the students see two notes and they have to decide are the notes a repeat (the same), a step, skip or a leap away from each other:

I also teach a before school handbell group and this is a bass clef game from Elaine Ford of Mrs. Ford's Melodies that I am super excited about called Bitty Bugs.  

There are three games. One is a "swatting" game that has a picture of bugs with letter names.  You show the students a pitch on the bass clef and they have to swat the bug with the corresponding name.  Another is a matching game. You have bug cards, like this:

and then there are flower cards with the staff notation and you match the bug to the flower.
The third game is GREAT for assessment and I will be using as part of my "audition" for the hand bell choirs.  The students get a set of cards like this:

And then there are answer pages, in which the students write the letter names of the cards:

This will give me a nice little assessment of who knows bass clef and who doesn't.  I'll be honest, with seeing my kiddos once a week we usually don't get to bass clef notation.  This will help me know who I can put on those bells.

You can find more singing games, teaching PDFs and review games in my Back to School set:

Again, thanks to Aileen for hosting thie blog hop. If you "jumped in the hop" here, make sure to go here to see all the other amazing posts!!!

I hope you all have a fabulous start to your school year!

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