Linky Party: Five Favorite Pins

Thanks to Aileen Miracle, at Mrs. Miracle's Music Room, for hosting this Linky Party!!!


Here are a few favorite pins of mine (not just from this month):

1.  "Dancing Rings":
I'm so lucky to teach in a district that is comprised of so many Kodály music teachers.  We are such a tight knit group and for the past few years have done a monthly "Make-n-Take" night.  One of the things that we have done are these ribbon rings.  They work so well on concerts and are so easy to make!!  We used shower curtain rings from the Dollar Tree and I found ribbon here

2.  "Who's Next Board:"
This I use mainly for when there's a substitute.  I swore I was going to use it more this year, but with a student teacher I haven't had the chance. My plan this year is when ever there's a turn in a game to use it- that way the kiddos are always given a "fair" chance rather than me or another student deciding who's turn it is.

3.  Googly Solo-Singing Eyes:
I don't know if that's the name, but I would love to make these this year.  So, these are on my "to-do" list.  What I'm going to use them for is solo singing.  John Feierabend sells similar ones in his vocal exploration box, but I thought these would be a fun variation.

4.  "Shake Dem Halloween Bones" PPT:
I LOVE this book!!!  My great friend, Terry Ann, and I found it in our school book fairs my first year teaching, when I taught in Salem, OR.  I made up my own melody for it (I need to write it down), but the kids LOVE it and it's for fun steady beat and for teaching singing vs. speaking voices (I swear, I'll write out my lesson for it!)

5.  Light Sabers
There's directions on the pin of how to use them for Solfege Wars (a John Feierabend idea, but I've never seen it presented.  I have an idea of how it can work).  I use them for the Rhythm Wards files that I created and are available at my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.

I hope you all are having a GREAT week!  My blog is under construction still and I'm missing the my sidebar with my other blog links.  That will be back soon, as will be the addition of my "button" that you can grab if you too are a blogger!

Happy Hump Day!


music a la abbott music education teacher resources teaching elementary kodaly musical concepts teachers pay teachers amy abbott musicalaabbott.com

Going Under for a Make-over

Hi everyone!  My blog is going to be getting a facelift so I won't be able to post for the next few days! :)  I hope you all have a GREAT teaching week!

As soon as I'm able to post again I have some Halloween Target finds to share, as well as some new Halloween Files that I'll let you preview! :)

2-4 Tuesday Linky Party: Two Things I Could NOT Teach Without

Alright, I'm joining another Party!  Lindsay hosts one every Monday and Steph, over at Stay Tuned, hosts one on Tuesdays.  We'll see how well I keep up with these beginning of the week parties! :)

The idea with this party is to post 2-4 ideas that you are using in your classroom this week.  Ummm. . . seeing as how we haven't had school since last Wednesday and we don't get to go back to school until Thursday we're continuing with last week's lessons.  So, I thought I would share two things that I use EVERYDAY in my teaching.

1.  MUSIC ED FONT
I love this product.  I swear up and down by it and it's $25 of the best money that I have ever spent.  EVER.  I use it in all of my PowerPoints, Flashcards, etc.  Once you start using it you just "know" where all the keys are and can type with it on auto-pilot!  Check it out: MusicEd Font.

2.  My Remote Control for my Laptop.
Okay, I got an iPad mini and I love the options of controlling my laptop via the iPad.  I also use a remote app from which I can have all my accompaniment music in my iTunes play via my computer but controlled with my phone for my choir rehearsals.  (Long story told in 4 sentences- my mom taught piano. My mom tried to teach me piano.  My mom and I fought.  I never learned to play piano).  But to control my PowerPoints, I use this:

I love that it has a "black out" function, so it basically doesn't display anything (light, image, etc) from my laptop.  This way I can have a PowerPoint up and ready but it's hidden from the students' view until we go to use it in the lesson.  It forwards and advances slides easily, controls my computer volume and has a laser pointer for easy function.  It also has a built in mouse so I can use my PowerPoints with hyperlinks from where ever I am in the classroom.  I bought mine at Amazon.  Well, technically my mother-in-law bought it for me, it was my Christmas present a few years ago.  I'm sure they have updated and newer models with more bells and whistles, but this reformed my teaching- my pacing is so much quicker not being a slave to turning on/off the LCD Projector, waiting for it to come on or having it on all the time and be a distraction.

Just a reminder that the 3-day sale at my Teachers Pay Teachers store started today!  Now through Thursday everything is 15% off.  I just uploaded some new Halloween files that I will blog about later this week and I'm working on a Halloween bundle- I LOVE Halloween!  


Make sure to check out the dollar section in your local Target- there are some great finds!  Hannah and I went to three different Targets between last night and this morning, buying erasers!  This will be next Monday's Manipulative Linky Party, hosted by Lindsay and next Tuesday I'll share some ideas for the 2-4 Tuesday Linky Party, hosted by Steph, for Autumn!

Now, head on over to Stay Tuned to see some other great blogs!

Manipulative Monday: PUPPETS!!!!

You'd think with having school cancelled through Wednesday due to the Colorado floods that I'd have more time!  I'm just getting in under the wire for the Manipulative Monday Linky Party!!!

Thanks to Lindsay at "Pursuit of Joyfulness" for hosting this linky party!

I decided that my focus today would be puppets.  ALL of my puppets are at school. . . . where I can't go.  All of the school janitors are basically guarding the doors until the buildings have been deemed safe.  So, I found some images on-line of a couple of my favorite puppets.

I LOVE puppets.  My student teacher couldn't get over how many puppets I have (7 big bins, organized according to size and function).  They are motivating and inspiring.  AND the are great for solo singing.  You give a student a puppet and it's no longer them that is doing the talking or singing- it's the puppet.  It's a great way to get those introverted or shy/hesitate kiddos to come out of their shell.  I've noticed they work GREAT for my students who have autism, it's a great connector for them.  AND don't forget that the older kiddos love them too.  A couple weeks ago after all school movement my 5th graders were checked out during a high concentration portion of my lesson.  I looked down and there was my mouse puppet from Mouse Mousie.  Well, the mouse taught the rest of the lesson.  The next time I saw them the first thing out of their mouths was "can the mouse teach again?"  They remembered the rhythmic element that we were working on because the mouse was a motivator and a connector.  Am I going to use the mouse in every 5th grade lesson now?  Goodness no!  Will I pull out another puppet for them soon?  You betcha!

I'll never forget, it was in my first three years of teaching in Oregon, a colleague reinforced with me how important it is to have a musical connection for everything you do.  For that reason, the majority of my puppets have musical names.

This is Crescendo:
He gets his name for a couple reasons.  The first being that his mouth looks like a crescendo (or decrescendo) marking, from the side.  The other is related to one of his uses.  One of the songs I use him with is "5 Little Monkeys Swinging from the Tree".  On the part that goes, "along came an alligator quiet as can be and snapped that monkey right out of that tree," I find a nature crescendo occurs.  Am I going to label crescendo with my preschoolers?  No.  Kindergarten. . . . maybe?  First grade, yes!

This is Pianissimo:


He is SO soft and cuddly, and so incredibly shy.  He lends himself naturally to being quiet and reserved, hence his name.

This is Accent:
Accent was originally named "Half Note," by my dear friend and colleague who taught in Oregon with me.  Well, the problem was Greg taught pe.  Half Note is one sound on two beats and for me, having his name be Half Note was confusing because it's name would have been two sounds.   When we moved back to Colorado (as not to offend Greg), I renamed him.  His name represents the articulation of a dog's bark.

These were my new find last year:
These are called Puppets on a Stick.  To be honest, I haven changed their names from their original names.

And then my 5th graders last year loved them SO much, that a couple of them bought me the blue fish from the set below:
Me being a puppet hoarder, I had to quickly buy the full set.  The blue one's name is Russell, after the triplets that bought it for me!

Tomorrow is the birthday of my MOST FAVORITE person in the whole world!  My Granny.   Here we are when I was 2:
She passed in 2008.  Noah got to "meet" her (he was 1 when she died) but she never got to meet Hannah, who shares her middle name (Evelyn.  Love Granny but I couldn't name Hannah "Gladys").  She's main reason why I was able to attain a Bachelors and Masters Degree.  From me attending elementary school through my own teaching of elementary school she NEVER missed a single concert of mine (except when I taught in Oregon).  She bought me both my flutes and both of my piccolos.  She also paid for my Kodály training.  But most importantly, she is my hero, one of my best friends and a person that I aspire to be like.  She always paid things forward.  

In her honor, everything in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store will be 15%, tomorrow through Thursday (September 17-19).  I just recently posted a couple of new vocal exploration files.  
  1. Autumn Vocal Exploration Bundle
  2. Vocal Exploration Cards for Halloween
  3. Animated Vocal Exploration PowerPoint for Halloween
  4. Halloween Vocal Exploration, Bundled Set

I am working a Halloween bundle, that I'm really excited about.

Tomorrow is the 2-4 Linky Party.  I hope to attend, but with no school (still until Thursday) I'm hosting another 6 year old boy at my house.  We'll see if anything is standing by the afternoon, lol!

Happy teaching!

"I Have/Who Has?": Grand Staff Edition

I don't know if any of you live in Colorado, but the town I live in (Erie) and the surrounding areas have been plummeted with rain the past few days.  In the past 24 hours we've gotten 6 inches of rain!  There are roads collapsing, the local high school was flooding and without power last night during their back to school night.  So, as a result, we don't have school today!  

Totally unrelated to the post which I'm going to write, but my kids (who, with a day off from school were up at 4:30) are watching a short cartoon for a morning break so I thought I'd blog.

I posted a last month about my "I Have/Who Has?" Instrument Edition and "I Have/Who Has?" Musical Symbols and Signs Edition.  A lot of teachers in my district teach on the rotating keyboard lab and I teach a tone-chime unit.  In both of these, the students learn to read off both the Bass and Treble clefs (a.k.a. the Grand Staff).  So, I thought this would be a great way to practice those note names!


There are three different versions of the game.  In the first version, the note is labeled in both the question and the answer, like this:


In the second set, the question is written out (labeled) but the answer is not so this is a better assessment of the student's knowledge of note placement on the staff:


And in the third set, neither the answer or question is labeled:


Click here to find this on my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

I hope you all are drier than I, lol! :)

2-4 Tuesday: 4 Books I COULD NOT Teach WITH OUT!

I'm sorry to report that a stomach bug kept me out of the Linky Party hosted by Lindsay over at Pursuit of Joyfulness yesterday!  The Abbott house has been hit hard.  My husband and daughter had it two weeks ago and I've had it since Friday.  It goes in waves, here's hoping I'm on the mend!

I did get in under the wire to join the Linky Party that Steph at Stay Tuned is hosting today.  Please check out her site for more participating sites!


I've mentioned before, so pardon my redundancy, that I did my Kodály levels at Portland State in the later(er) 90's with Susan Brumfield and Jill Trinka.  It was seeing Jill present at the Colorado Music Educators Conference when I was in college that sparked my interest in Kodály.  She is an brilliant presenter and musician.  More over, she's an amazing teacher and mentor!  Her 4 collections are used almost daily in my teaching!

Volume 1: My Little Rooster
You have to listen to the title song, it's much different then the version she sings for John Feierabend's Music in Preschool collection.  If you've listened to Jean Ritchie's version (that you can download from iTunes), it's that version.  This collection made me fall in love with "Miss Julie Ann Johnson."  Once you listen to Jill sing it, be sure to check out the Lead Belly version too!


Volume 2:  LOVE "Dillan Bay".  You MUST listen to this one, if not for your kids, for your own enjoyment. " Pretty Polly" is very dark and again, Jean Ritchie sings a similar version, but it's gorgeous regardless of the morbid text.  Her version of "Frog Went a Courtin'" holds a special place in my heart- it was my son's favorite son when he was one and when we took Jill out to dinner when he was a baby she sang it to him in the car.  I will never forget the expression on his face, simply priceless!


Volume 3: This has one of my FAVORITE play parties of all time: "I Want to Be a Farmer."  SO much fun!  Some "can't live without" songs in this volume: "The Keeper", "The Hobo's Lullaby", "The Riddle Song" (This if my FAVORITE version of this song. . . EVER).  And then she shows off her amazing strings skills on "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring" and "Simple Gifts".


Volume 4: This is the very first book of Jill's that I bought.  I've used  her version of "It Rained a Mist" on my second grade concert a couple years ago and the kiddos played tone-chimes with it.  They LOVE "Naughty Kitty Cat" (I always sing her ending).  My 5th graders right now are playing and singing "Going Down to Cairo" from her book.

Also check out her new DVD that she just made.  And all of her CDs that she and John Feierabend collaborated on are amazing!

Hope you all had a GREAT Tuesday!

"Behavior Files"

I hope that you all are enjoying a wonderful weekend!!  

This has been such an incredibly busy start to the school year.   It's all I can do to "kind of" come up for air every now and then.  And I mentioned that I have a student teacher right now.  She's doing an AMAZING job.  So well, in fact, that she soloed yesterday afternoon when I was sent home sick. 

On of the challenges that all teachers face, new or seasoned, is classroom management.  It's a tricky thing to master and once you think you have a handle on it, you either change schools, get new students in your classroom, there changes in student's home lives that happen, etc. and all of these things can easily rock the boat.

I've always been a firm believer in making the most of each minute and in turn, not giving students a chance to be off task.  I keep the pacing quick, the transitions smooth and there's not any down time as everything needed for the lesson is out and ready and I'm thinking of the next activity as the students doing the previous one.  For a general rule, we don't spend any more than 5 minutes on a game or activity (this is not a do or die rule.  Some things simply take longer.  You've passed out paper and pencils to first graders, haven't you?  lol!)  But truth be told, you want to end an activity with them wanting more ("ah!  I didn't get a turn yet!" "please can't we play it again" to which I reply, "well, you'll have to come back to music again, huh?!").  You want to keep them thirsty.  

This does work well. . . . . most of the time.  Planning engaging activities that keeps students interested at varying ability levels is key to keeping students engaged.  Pacing and sequencing are key, as are transition activities.  But if you're looking at differentiation, you must also realize that this applies to teachers.  A novice teacher is not going to have the skill set or experience to think of all the different activities and ways to challenge all the learners all the while teaching in a whole group setting.  And let's face it, even experienced teachers have this problem time to time, right?  That's why we're all constantly redefining, tweaking, self-reflecting and problem-solving our pedagogy.  That's what teachers do.

Long-story short, I've been flirting with the idea of a behavior chart in my room.  Not just to have one, but to help the students make the connection that behavioral expectations aren't just for their general ed. classroom, but everywhere in our school.  Even the music room.  You see, most of my teachers use a clip chart.  With my student teacher needing a more concrete form a classroom management, I developed a chart system for us to use.  I wanted it to reflect their classroom charts (green=good to go, yellow=warning, red=note home.  There's also the possibility to go up the chart) but I also wanted it to reinforce musical learning.  So, I made it connected to the lines off the Treble Clef Staff.

There are actually three sets available at my TpT store:
  1. Polka dot themed
  2. Peace themed
  3. Chevron themed

Here's some explanation, using the polka dot file:






My first graders have also been struggling with bathroom issues.  You see, we have them as the last class of the day and we dismiss them.  So, the bus riders were having a hard time "holding it" in music and on the bus.  Since the first grade teachers wouldn't move their specials time ahead 5 minutes we had to get creative.  Using the charts from their behavior chart, when the sign is on go they may use the bathroom, but only one boy and one girl can go at a time.  The first class did really well with this.  In the second class, we had a few "hawks" that just watched the door and raced to the sign when someone returned.  Not so well. . . we'll see how it goes next week with that class.


Since I was on a roll, I thought I'd dress up my hand sign posters.  There are six sets: red, orange, green, blue, purple and black & white.  And I made a full page and a half-page version of all of them.  Here are some samples:











And then I made another 6 sets, these without the solfa.  (These come in half size, too!)





Then I have "Music Room Expectations" posters.  I have had these up in my room for over a year.  Mine are actually with a keyboard border and printed on multicolored paper (see this post to see them):





There are positive reinforcement cards.  One in which you can write the students name and the "amazing" thing they were caught doing:

And one in which you don't write their name.  These come in red, orange, green, blue, purple and keyboard border:

There are solo performance awards.  I've seen this done where it's "I sang a solo in music today".  I have some really introverted students and by making this "I performed by myself today" I can give those to my hesitant kiddos for whom playing the xylophone by them self is a big deal.

And here are some "________ performed a solo in music today" awards:

With the good comes the bad.  Here are the notes home that I made.  "I hit a few wrong notes in music today."  I write in what happened and sign it then the parent and student must fill in the "what could I have done differently?" part:


Here are some samples from the Chevron file:






 And some samples from the peace file:





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