Grinding Corn

Well, it's November (well, tomorrow is November) and Thanksgiving is just three weeks away!!!  I can't believe it!!!

Here is one of my all-time favorite songs to do at this time of year.  I learned the version from Cindy McCaskill (it's my favorite) but I've heard other versions of it:

I use this song to talk with my 1st graders about how different things were at the first Thanksgiving: they had no electricity (No T.V.?!!!  No computers?!!!), no cars, no streets, etc.  And everyone was expected to "pitch in" and help with chores.  I actually have real stones that I use for this song and they keep a steady beat while pretending to "grind" corn. . . and we bring in real corn so they can see all the different colors of corn.

I have created a PowerPoint that I use for this song and we use various slides from it, depending on what we are preparing or practicing in that specific grade level.

In first grade, we use the following slides to read and keep the beat to the song:

I bring this song back in 2nd and 3rd grade as a familiar song from which they will read and practice or prepare new rhythmic and melodic elements.

In 2nd grade, we are practicing half note so we read the song and practice the rhythms from these slides:

We then replace the iconic rhythm with symbolic notes:

And finally we replace the tied quarter notes with notated half notes:

In 3rd grade, we are prepating la,.  We will read the song from the following slides.  We draw attention to the unknown note and it's critical attributes: that it is lower then do and it's a skip below do:

Later, after la, is presented we will come back to this song and read it from the following slides:

I hope you all "survived" Halloween!!!  And Happy November 1st!!

A Final Halloween Treat

Happy Halloween everyone!!!  As you can tell from my previous posts, I LOVE Halloween!!  And with about two weeks of school left until our Thanksgiving break I'll be posting some of my favorite songs for November soon.

Here's a simple, final (for the 2012 year) Halloween treat for you.  It's an old nursery rhyme that I learned from Jill Trinka and can be found in her book, John the Rabbit.  It's absolutely fabulous for vocal exploration and when done right with the kids, especially the first time, is so much fun. . . it's got a great "scare" at the end!!!

Here it is (spoken freely, with much varying vocal exploration):

Hinx, Minx, the old witch winks.
The fat begins to fry. . .. . tssss. . . .
There's nobody home. . . .
 But mother. . . . . 
Father. . . . . 
And I. . . . . . . 

When I say it, I say it very quietly in a higher, "scratchy-witch-like" voice.  It's sad very rubato.  I have the pitch go up on the end of "Mother", "Father" and then go down in pitch on "And I."  

It's fun with the 1st and 2nd graders to use this also for instrument exploration.  We'll add a triangle after the word wink, the vibraslap on the tsssss, and the slap stick on BOO!!!  I'm not going to tell you what else we add. . .. let your kids figure it out!!! :)

Have a GREAT Halloween!!!

Black Cat Extension Activities

A couple weeks ago I blogged about the song, "Black Cat".  Well, my first graders are in full-fledged-quarter rest preparation so we will be using this song and PowerPoint this week in class.

Just to review, here's the song:

 Here's the PowerPoint from which they will be singing and reading the song:

With this slide they will be asked to keep a steady beat while singing the song:

With the next two slides they will sing the song while clapping the rhythm.  We will draw attention to the symbols that are not cats and derive that these "magic/sparkle" symbols represent beats with no sound.

We will the replace the iconic representation with the rhythm symbols that we know, which are ta and ti-ti, and read them using those rhythmic duration syllables.

In the following lesson, working in pairs, they will use two beat charts to create the first phrase of the song, like this:
I found the little black-cat erasers at Target this year.  I feel like I've been their spokes-person lately, but they had a lot of good finds lately.  (thanks Tanya!!!)  And if you talk with your kiddos about the form of the song on the day you use the PowerPoint, you can derive that every phrase is the same AND that they can use the two beat charts above four times to "read" and track the entire song.

After we present rest (even though it will be after Halloween), we will come back to the song and read the rhythm using the following two slides:

The PDF of this song wil be added to my Halloween File, to be posted to my Teachers Pay Teachers store in October, 2013.

Pumpkin, Pumpkin Extension Activity

At the end of September I blogged about the song Pumpkin, Pumpkin.  This song is great on so many levels.  It's got the mixer dance that I blogged about that I love to use as an opening activity for lessons as it gets the kids interacting with each other and building community.  (This works well for grades 1-3!).  It uses the pentatonic scale so it's accessible to read melodically for my third graders, who are always practicing reading pentatonic songs (as we prepare other rhythmic and melodic elements).  AND it uses the rhythm that I first present in third grade: tika-tika.  

Just to review, here's the song:

Here's a new activity that I tried this year with my 3rd graders and it was very successful.   At the Dollar Tree I found foam pumpkins.  On each pumpkin I wrote one phrase of the song and I made 9 sets (this allows the students to work in groups of 2-3).  I scattered the pumpkins all over the floor:

Their directions were to get into sets of 2-3 and sit along the perimeter of the room (classroom teachers love, reinforcing that math vocabulary, you know!).  Once everyone was seated, they were told that they had to gather pumpkins to create the solfa and rhythm for Pumpkin Pumpkin.  They were given one important rule: their group may only have four pumpkins in their possession at a time.  And I modeled this; for instance if Sally has 4 pumpkins how many pumpkins can John and Michael have?  Zero.  If Sally has 2 pumpkins and Michael has pumpkins, how many pumpkins can John have?  Zero.  If Sally has one pumpkin and Michael have one pumpkin, how many pumpkins can John have?  Two.)  I explained that if the four pumpkins they gather did not create the song, they would need to put the pumpkin(s) they don't need back into the "pumpkin patch" and get a different pumpkin.

Here's a couple pictures of the end result:

 I'm really happy with it for a few reasons:
  1. it got them working in small groups (2-3)
  2. it got them up and moving.  Let's face it, as Halloween gets closer, the candy-anticipation gets high and these kids need to get up and move!
  3. It challenged their problem solving skills.
  4. it was a great assessment, not only for rhythm (they were reading the song in small groups) but also for assessing the pentatone (the 2nd and 4th cards are the same rhythm, but not the same solfa)
We're off to a "Trunk or Treat" this afternoon, have a GREAT Pre-Halloween weekend everyone! :)

Let's Hide The Pumpkin

This is a fun singing game to do with your kinders.  I learned it from Lamar Robertson and it can be found in the book that he co-authored with Ann Eisen, An American Methodology.  This is a must have for your teaching library and worth EVERY penny!!  If you don't have it put it on your Christmas/Hanukkah/Birthday list!!

Here's the song:

Action:  One student is blindfolded and one student is given a small pumpkin.  The class sings the first line all together.  The blindfolded student sings the second line, "Who has the pumpkin, who has the pumpkin?" and the student with the pumpkin answers, "I have the pumpkin, I have the pumpkin."  The student in the center then has three guesses as to who has the pumpkin.

In the past I used a real pumpkin, you know those itty-bitty pumpkins that they have for decoration.  But Target was THE place to get Halloween manipulatives this year (che!  They had these pumpkin erasers that I used for the game this year:

Now, I mentioned Target was THE place for Halloween manipulatives this year: they also has skeleton, black cat and ghost erasers.  My son is one of my kindergartners and it's funny how much I learn from him.  Well, one morning this week he found the skeletons and started singing "Let's hide the skeleton, let's hide the skeleton."  So, this week we changed it up and switched the words.  You could EASILY adapt this to work with any "theme or subject" you are doing.  Here are a few ideas:
November: use a small turkey
December: a jingle bell
January: a snow flake
February: a Valentine
March: a shamrock
April: a rain drop
May: a flower
The possibilities are endless!!

Back to the pumpkin erasers, what a great find!  We also used them in third grade as a fun, different way to write rhythms that include tika-tika.  

A "different" way to write the same rhythm:

Up, Down

Here's another one of my favorites for 1st and 2nd grade to sing and play around Halloween. . .that isn't necessarily "Halloween."

Here it is:

Formation: children are seated, scattered.  They are "houses" and the spaces between them are the "streets".
Action:  One student is chosen to be "it".  Now, I don't actually have my Granny's nightgown but I have my old robe that my Granny made for me and my students LOVE to wear it if they are "it."  The "it" person acts out the song and can pretend to scar the "dog" or "cat" that is on the front porch of a house.  The person they end up behind on the end of the song becomes the new "it."  There is absolutely no point to the game, but the kids love it.  

I am preparing rest for 1st grade so we add instruments on the rest.  Specifically  on the rests that have a "boo" we play the vibraslap (really, who doesn't love to play the vibraslap?).  For the other rests we ply finger cymbals, but you can use any instrument of your choice.  With my second graders we are practicing so-mi and are preparing la (Oh, I wish I saw them more often then ever fourth day!), so this works nicely for this as we perform body signs (I use touching head for so, touching shoulders for mi and hands slightly above the head for la.  This really helps with the physical preparation for la.  Remember, you can use what ever body signs work for you, as long as you're consistent.)

I hope you all are having a good week!  Tomorrow is a double header concert for me (4th grade's is "Of Thee I Sing" (all patriotic) and 5th grade's is "Songs of Hope and Inspiration"), wish me luck, lol! :)

Old Abram Brown

Here's a round that fun to do with your upper grades.  It's great because it contains ti, which is a melodic element that I focus on in 5th grade.  It's "eerie" without being Halloween based, so if you have students that don't celebrate Halloween this will work for you.

Here's the round:

I took four levels of Kodály at Portland State.  But when I did my masters at Colorado State University (with a Kodály emphasis) not all of my credits transfered and I took levels II and III (again: with Sue Liethold-Bowcock and Ann Eisen).  During choir at level II @ CSU Ginger Littleton used a choral arrangement of "Old Abram Brown" that was essentially the round, with ths coda (tag) at the end:

The kids love this round.  AND it works great on concerts!
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