School's Out!!!

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind.  I've had 4 concerts, I'm the head of our scheduling and leadership teams and with everything going on I can't get my head above water, AHHH!!

Yesterday was our last day of school for kids and today was mine.  My now first grader has been walking around singing:

School's out, school's out!
Teacher's let the monkeys out!
No more teachers, no more books,
No more teacher's dirty looks!

So, in honor of the end of school I'm throwing a sale at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  EVERYTHING is 15% today through Memorial Day!

I'm going to be doing a lot of working planning for teaching level II Kodály this summer at Colorado State University.  So, expect some lesson plan ideas about 2nd and 3rd grade for the next few weeks!! :)

I hope you all have a GREAT weekend!!!

Angry Birds Rhythm Game

Let me preface this post by saying that I have a son. And let me also say that I have a husband.  Now,  I'm sure you're all familiar with the phrase "men are from Mars, women are from Venus?"  Yep, I agree.  With having a son and a daughter I am more and more aware of this.  My school is also spending some of professional development time on the difference between girl and boys learners.  Really interesting, fascinating and will change the way you teach.  We've had Kelley King in for P.D. this year.  Really great stuff, if you get a chance look it up!

But back to the post.  I'm sure you have kids in your classrooms that either have access to iPads/iPods and/or own one at home.  We have two.  Joy.  Really, they are amazing tools but I have to say that my son and husband are over-the-top with them.  I've had to do many an intervention on them.  It's not fun and it's not pretty.  It's kind of the one thing that I'm dreading about summer.  But I digress.  One of the games you've all heared about is Angry Birds.  In fact, I created a vocal exploration ppt for it.  (download here!!).

Well, since I created that powerpoint I was trying to wrap my brain around how I could bring Angry Birds to life in my classroom.  See, I have a special needs students (one in particular with Asphergers) who LOVES Angry Birds and that little bit of buy in from him can SAVE me in a class period if he's "off."  Well, like all of us do (or not), I was laying in bed the other night, unable to sleep, and it dawned on me how to make this "real".

First of all, I bought these really AWESOME balls on a whim from Oriental Trading (which, sad to report, I can't find any more.  I bought them right before Easter so they must have been seasonal).  I will update this blog post tomorrow with a picture of them.  Basically, they are the size of a handball and have "bird" faces on them.  They came as a set os 6 with two green, two blue & two purple.  The kids loved them and we also used them for vocal exploration (tossing them up and following them as they "flew" and bounced in the room).

Next, I had purchased foam squares for an activity that I saw at a workshop (and that I also have used for music hopscotch, a blog post that's yet to happent).  Using four blocks, I created cubes that were open on two sides.  Then, using my rhythm blocks, my first graders reviewed the rhythm to "All Around the Buttercup":

Then, I would let two kiddos come up at a time.  Just like the Angry Birds game, they had a set number of birds to use: 3.  If, after tossing (UNDERHAND) three birds, they did not knock a block off I let them use their hands to knock one down.   So, as a result, two beats were taken away each time.
 You can see the progression of the blocks being hit off:

 This continued until all blocks, including the two below, were knocked off.  It did take a while, but it was a VERY active and engaging activity and with just under 3 weeks of school left anything that is engaging, active and still practicing/reviewing our grade level concepts is GREAT!

My second graders had a different take on it.  My first graders were very careful to only hit the blocks down.  Now, second graders, have more experience and know that in the "real" Angry Birds game the structures can also be knocked down.  See how they "embraced" that concept below:

I'm sure those of you that follow Teachers Pay Teachers know, but if you're not aware, TpT is hosting a BIG sale on Tuesday and Wednesday this week!  I will take 20% off everything in my store and then TpT will take an additional 8% off!  This is a great time to stock up for next year or get some things to help you out until the end of the school year!  Make sure you enter the code below for that added 8% off!!!

School Recital

Last year I opened a new school in our district.  It was a BUSY year.  And I was able to get a 4/5 choir, two tone-chime choirs (one for 4th grade & one for 5th grade) and a drum ensemble going that met before or after school started.  These groups performed three concerts.  Additionally, each grade level had a concert and I volunteered teaching music to the preschool classes.  So, I slept well, needless to say, with everything that went on.

A few people last year asked about a talent show.  I'm one of those teachers that doesn't enjoy "doing" a talent show.  I hate deeming students as "talented" enough but I also don't enjoy letting anyone and everyone do it. . . if you do, the question often turns to "where's the talent."  And the last time that I did a talent show I ran rehearsals. . . 4 of them.  All the kids showed me their routine, the SAME way at each rehearsal.  The night of the talent show the cute little kindergarten that was dancing to "All the Single Ladies" (see why I cringe. . .) decided to slap her rear-end. . . a move that she had NEVER done in rehearsals.  It was so inappropriate and embarrassing because I had made sure the acts where "clean."

With a new school I figured I had a clean slate.  I didn't HAVE to do a talent show, I had a chance to create a new tradition.  But what?  Then this year it hit me.  What if I did a school "recital?"  Ding, ding, ding, light bulb moment!

Today was the recital and I am VERY pleased with the way it turned out.  The parents and families were very happy and the kids had an opportunity to shine.  And it was so musical.

Here's how it worked:

A couple months ago I sent out an announcement in the school newsletter that this year would be the "First Annual Red Hawk Recital."   The specifics were this: it is an event that provides an opportunity for students taking private music lessons to perform for each other.  The most important part of that sentence is "taking private music lessons."  (While I did allow one student to perform who didn't but that's because Grandma taught her how to play Für Elise, which was played with amazing technique and accuracy.)

Then three weeks ago I sent home a letter in every one's Thursday folder.  This recaped what the event was: an opportunity for students taking private lessons to perform for each other.  Then, the bottom half of the letter was a permission slip that was signed by both the parent AND the private lesson teacher stating the student's name, what piece they have prepared to play, the composer, the instrument.  The best part was I wasn't judging who was allowed to participate.  Instead, I was relying on the judgement of the private lesson teacher to pick a piece that their student had prepared to play.

The students showed up, full of nerves (like everyone one does at a recital) but SO excited to share what they had prepared.  We had mostly piano players, but a few violin players, some vocalists, a couple guitar players and a bass player.  It was so much fun to hear them.  And then afterwards we had a reception.

The best part is it was such easy planning on my part AND the students were SO successful!!!  Just an idea I thought I'd share!

Have a GREAT Saturday everyone!

Music Baseball

I love baseball.  Wait, I love the atmosphere of baseball.  The game itself is pretty slow. . . although I love the strategy behind it.  But for me, when I think about baseball, I think of all the stories that I was told about my Gramps who played for the Louisville Miners. I think of going to the opening home-day game of the Colorado Rockies with my dad and brother (just over 20 years ago in the OLD Mile High Stadium).  I think of taking my son, when he was 10 months old, to his first baseball game at Wrigley field.  But mainly, I think of an entire crowd of strangers getting up and singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" together at the 7th inning stretch.  Really, any sport that stands up and sings in the middle of the game is A-OK for me! 

There's a few way's that I've played music baseball over the years but I've never been truly happy with it until now.  I feel like this past year I've really been able to focus on differentiation and challenging my students individually and this game provides a lot of opportunities for that.

 All the pages are linked to the main field page.
Students can work as one team and have individual “at-bats” or they can be divided into teams and go to bat together as a team (You can buy real bases in the Dollar tree or borrow your pe teachers bases, they can select team players to be the “runners” and stand on the bases)  You can also keep tally of points.
Teams or individuals can choose which type of “hit” they want to go for: a single (first base), double (second base), triple (third base) or home run.
Simply click on the desired “hit”.  

From there you can go sequentially through the order of bases on that slide.  If you get through all 14 selections, simply start over.  It’s good practice either way.
Once the pitch is shown, the player gets three chances to get it right.  If after three chances the player or team does not perform the pattern correctly they have “struck out.”
You can keep track of outs or you can take turns with both teams being up to bat at the same time (this way will help the engagement level of both teams be higher than if they take turns for the whole team to bat and get three outs.)

 As you go along, the patterns get longer/harder:

Now, here's the part of the game that really is open to differentiation.  You have pitching and batting cards that you print out and use instead of the PowerPoint.  This really opens the game up to MANY possibilities:
1.The easiest way is for the teacher to “pitch”.  That is, the teacher reads a pitch card and the team must find the corresponding or matching batting card from the cards.
2.The next level of difficulty is for one team to pitch (that is, they all read the pitching card together) and the other team find the batting card that matches.
3.The next level of difficulty is to have one team pitch ( as in #2) and the team use staff or rhythm cards to derive the pattern on the staff or on beat strips.  The use of these strips really aides those kiddos that are visual and kinesthetic learners.
4.The next level, the same as #3, but the pitcher and batter work as individuals instead of as a team.
5.Next, one team pitch (as in #2) but only clapping the rhythm or singing the melody on a neutral syllable.   The other team aurally derives and performs the pattern back on rhythm syllables or solfége.
6.Finally, an individual performs the pitching card (as in #5) and an individual derives and performs the pattern back on rhythm syllables or solfége.

Here's an example of a triple pitching cards (two cards are printed on a page):

 And the matching batting cards: (these are written out in F-do and G-do)
And here's a home run pitching cards:
 And the matching batting cards.
I labeled this as "Game 1" so when I go to use it with my 2nd graders in the fall they won't think it's a first grade game, although it will be reviewing my first grade concepts. 

I can also use the cards as flashcards!

*** Coming soon:
Music Baseball, level 2 (contains concepts above plus halfnote, tika-tika, do & re)
Music Baseball, level 3 (contains concepts above plus ti-tika/ti-tiri, tika-ti/tiri-ti, low la & low so)
Music Baseball, level 4 (contains concepts above plus syncopa (ti-ta-ti), tom-ti (dotted quarter-eighth), high do & fa)
Music Baseball, level 5 (contains above plus tom-ti, tim-ka & ti)

I'm hoping to start posting more songs and ideas to use that aren't posted or linked to my Teachers Pay Teachers store!!!  But speaking of that, next week on May 7 & 8 there will be a BIG sale on TpT!!!  I'll give you more details about that this weekend!

If you're in CO, aren't you tired of the snow?!!  If you're not in CO, PLEASE send us wishes for spring weather!!!  I'm tired of the snow, lol!!!

Happy Wednesday! 
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