My Music Room Set-Up

It's official, I survived the first week of school, lol!  There were a couple times that I didn't think it would happen, just kidding!!!

Today I'm linking up with Aileen Miracle at Mrs. Miracle's Music Room:

I meant to do this post before school but I was waiting for 1 FINAL touch, lol!

This year I decided to go all out in Legos!  Last year I made a couple files that were really successful with my kiddos: "The Treble Clef is AWESOME!" and "The Bass Clef is AWESOME!"  I also have a HUGE work in progress that I've been working on and off on since April called "Recorder is AWESOME".  (I'm really excited about trying to finish this up because my kids were the most successful they've ever been on recorders with some of the new strategies that I tried).  So, I dove right in and I have to attribute my lovely niece Ellie for helping me cut out many little Lego guys to make this possible.  Here she is with the bulletin board outside my classroom (isn't she sweet?!):

When you step into my room this is what it looks like to the right of the doorway:
 Here's a kitty-corner view from the door into the room:
 Here's pretty much across the room from the door.  To the left is my desk and then the "front" of the room where the LCD projector is projected.

Above my desk is NOT Lego's, it's my Bronco area.  Completely NOT musical, but I think it's important to have little aspect of who you are outside of a musician in your classroom.  It allows for the kids to have another connection with you.  I live in Bronco territory and bleed orange and blue.  The bonus of having my Broncos stuff out is that I have that extra connection with most of the boys in my classroom.  If they don't like the Broncos then we always "take friendly bets" on the games.  I also have to have pictures of my two kids and this year I have the sign that says "Amy".  That's a little piece of paper near and dear to my heart that reminds me of the lovely level 2 students I had the honor of working with this summer- they used it in their final skit! :)

Here's the front of the room, my screen is up and you can see that my daughter has been playing here, lol!

These are my MUSIC behavioral reminder signs.  I like to put them low so that they are at kid level:

 To the left of the picture above is a mini-counter that I have. It's awesome and I don't know why I didn't get a picture! But it has drawers that are about 2-5 inches in depth (depending on the drawer, they vary in size), and are about 4 feet by 3 feet.  They are PERFECT for storing teaching posters and manipulatives!  Above that is my "Do I Get It?" board.  This is what I use for students to check their levels of understanding.

To the left of that is a bookcase above which I have two music framed art that my PTO gave me and a picture of the most recent Red Hawk Recital participants.  The Red Hawk Recital is my version of a talent show.
 Here's a better view of the bookcase and that corner to the left of my door:

This is my behavior chart that has since come down. I'm replacing it, you'll see with what later in the post.  
 I love this storage!  The top is filled with all my manipulatives.  Um, yea.  And they don't all fit in there, hence all the stuff up on top.  The bottom is filled with drums, Orff instruments, tone chimes and some file boxes of music (I don't have a file cabinet nor do I have any wall space for one).  While this storage is amazing a kindergartner reminded me last week why I don't like it.  He said, "If this is the music room, where are the instruments?"  Well, we were playing hand drums and those were out but he's right, you walk into a music room and you expect to see all the instruments out!  
 The "back of the classroom"

 Here's a close up of the Instrument Bulletin Board:

 And here's a close up of the "Singing is Awesome" Bulletin Board:

This houses a lot of the non-pitched percussion instruments, some step bells and more manipulatives (and it's not as tidy as usual):

This is my new solfa ladder, it's on the beam between the windows closest to the risers:

And here are some elements of music (music symbols, dynamics and tempos)

Here's what it looks like from a distance:

So, I mentioned that I'm getting rid of my behavior chart.  You know, the main reason I had one was to help my student teacher last year.  I had never had one before.  Truth be told, I always forgot to use it.  This year, I'm going to apply the same principals as my "Do I Get It?" board to this new "Self Check-In" board.  This hasn't been posted up on the wall yet, but here's a peek at the posters, they too will have a banner just like the "Do I Get It?" board.  
 What I like about them is that the students are going to do self-check-ins.  I told them that I already know where they are but it's important for them to know too.  And these will directly transfer to what's expected of their behavior on our report cards.

Now, for the final piece for my room that I was waiting on before I could post. . ..  drum roll please (gosh, I'm a dork).. . .. .. .

Are you ready?!!!

A LEGO chair!!!  lol!!!  I had to.  I thought they would be so fun to use as solo performer seats.  And I have a couple little guys that are on the spectrum that need a chair to sit during class.  I actually have ordered another set that's blue (yes, Bronco colors, lol!)
The kids were so excited to use them last week and my kids (Noah and Hannah) has SUCH fun putting them together.

All of the "Music is Awesome!!" Bulletin Boards can be found at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Again, thanks to the amazing Aileen Miracle for hosting this linky party!  I hope that you all have an AWESOME start to your year!!!

a Kodaly inspired blog Amy Abbott Colorado music elementary teacher ideas files downloads
music a la abbott music education teacher resources teaching elementary kodaly musical concepts teachers pay teachers amy abbott musicalaabbott.com

Dazzling Discipline

Happy "almost-officially-summer" everyone!!!  We just got back from a family vacation to DISNEYLAND and the beach. It was GREAT fun!
Today I'm linking up with Aileen Miracle's linky party.  She posted last week, but being on vacation I wasn't able to link up until now.  Since I'm late to the party I'm going to try to post some different ideas than the others that I've read. . . . but I'm sure I'll overlap a bit.  So,  here are 5 of my tips for "Dazzling Discipline" in your classroom.
Routines and rituals:  If Disneyland reinforced anything for me it's a child's need for routines and rituals. Don't get me wrong, my kids had a blast but all the razzle, dazzle and excitement of Disneyland was wearing on them.  It was a complete shift from their normal daily routines including meals, sleeping, etc..  This is the same with our children at school.  Kids thrive on knowing what they can expect.  So, classroom routines such as how you enter the room, how you get manipulatives, how you take turns, how you handle the classroom materials & instruments, etc., help establish this in your classroom.  For instance, my students know that when they come to music I will meet them at the door, when we enter the room if I'm singing a song they know that they take over the singing and if I'm singing a song that they don't know then they have one main job, to listen to the song.  They know that as this song is happening we always get into a circle.  Now, when my students sit in a circle we do NOT have a seating chart.  They also know that the routine and ritual is that it's their responsibility to make a good choice as to who they sit next too.  If they don't, on the first warning (a tap on the shoulder) they are given the choice to change seats or change behavior.  If there has to be a second warning I choose their seat.  We do have assigned seats on the risers, and we have rituals for how to get to and from the seats in the circle to the seats on the risers.  This is gone over the first day of music class and reinforced HEAVILY for few music classes.  After a couple of practices of moving from the circle to the seats they "get it". As movement skills are developed students easily go from their assigned seats to different dance formations with minimal instructions.  Again, this is a lot in teaching them how to do it the first couple times.  It's the old theory: "If you teach a man to fish. . . ."  This is just one example of a routine/ritual in my classroom.

Student engagement and Pacing:  I remember my first year of teaching calling my cooperating teacher, desperate for help with my 5th graders.  She said "keep them singing."  Well . .. it's a little more than that and I'll get into that in my #4.  But in the meantime, she was trying to say keep them busy.  Or, keep them making, reading, writing, playing, singing, creating, describing music.  When I have student teachers and we go over their lessons I don't want to just see "what the teacher is doing" in their lesson plans, I want them tell me what the kids are doing too.  For example, if the teacher is singing a new song to the students what are the students suppose to be doing?  Are they listening for rhyming words, listening for details specific to the song, keeping a steady beat, etc.  When I write my own plans every minute of the 45 minutes I see the students is accounted for.

This brings me to pacing.  I have 45 minute classes.  This is a LONG time for a 6 year old.  I vary my lessons with areas of concentration and relaxation.  Now, either of those areas if extended too long will lead to management problems.  I remember working daycare in high school  The general rule of thumb was when giving a time out to a child, you give one minute for each year they are old.  I use the same rule of thumb in lesson planning.  The activities with my first graders last no longer than 6 minutes, that's as long as they'll stay focused on something- especially those areas of concentration.  This doesn't mean that I MAKE my areas of concentration last for 11-12 minutes with my older kids, but I do make sure I don't go over that for my 5th graders.  Now, for those areas of relaxation, I try to gage the students' rate of excitement.  It's good to end an activity right before the height of the excitement.  I want to hear them moan that we're ending an activity.  It's much better than them groaning because we "have to do it again." :)
Transitions:  This is related a lot to pacing and planning.  I love transitions and there are many ways to make seamless transitions between activities: stories, melodic or rhythmic patterns, partner songs (the first song partnering with the next one), ostinatos, song morphs, etc.  The number of different ways to transition is an unending as your song literature choices.  The main thing is to make a smooth connection from one activity to the next so that the students don't even know that a change has occurred.  Easy, right ;)  lol!  These take a lot of practice but are well worth the time spent working on making them smooth and will help your students stay engaged throughout the entire lesson.
Modalities of learning:  Without going all the way onto my soapbox, I feel like kids today are tactile and kinesthetically deprived.  I see this with my own two kids: they want to play on the iPad all the time and would if I would let them (which they don't!).  There has been a huge technology shift in our society and traditional play has changed. Because of this, a lot of kids aren't having their sensory needs meet.  So, we then expect them to "sit and sing" and "keep their hand to themselves"?  No. So many of our kids need to move; they learn through moving.  So many of our kids (I would go so far as to say all of our kids) need to manipulate things with their fingers and learn this way.  Some kids hear and remember.  Some kids look and learn. So in lesson planning I try to make sure I have a variety of activities that meet the needs of music students to meet their aural, visual, kinesthetic and tactile needs.
Is the lesson interesting to YOU?:  This one is a biggie for me.  If I don't like my lesson plan I won't be able to sell it to my students.  Point blank.  Here's an example: Some teachers use the same song material every year to teach the same concepts.  There are some songs that I use every year but I'll be honest, I change it up.  If not, I get bored.  And if I get bored, the students will be bored.  Kids have a 6th sense and can know when you don't buy into something.  Ever try teaching a song that was brand new to you that you weren't exactly sure of?  Didn't go as well as a tried and true song I bet.  One summer in my Kodaly training with Jill Trinka she said she had to let a song "simmer" with her for at least 6 months before she could "own" it.  I think there's a lot of truth to that, especially with folk music.  not only are you learning the notation but you're also learning the stylistic traits of the song.

I hope that some of this helps!  I've got vacation brain so I hope that it makes sense!  Don't forget to go check out all the other fabulous blogs that linked up with Aileen!


a Kodaly inspired blog Amy Abbott Colorado music elementary teacher ideas files downloads
music a la abbott music education teacher resources teaching elementary kodaly musical concepts teachers pay teachers amy abbott musicalaabbott.com

Perfect Poolside Planning- Concert Planning

I'm so excited to be participating in Lindsay Jervis's Blog Hop called Perfect Poolside Planning!  (Just a note: the hop will officially be ready on Saturday.  If you try to hop through today (Friday) all the links might not be ready yet.)


All the participants are taking on a different element of planning pertaining to teaching music and I have concert planning!  I love planning concerts.  If you notice, I didn't say program planning.  I've got to give you a little background here.

When I started teaching I used those super cute, predone musicals that had speaking parts.  The parents loved them, the kids liked them and I was okay with them.    Now, before I go on, I don't want you to think that I'm going to start bashing pre-made musicals or if you do things differently I don't think what you do is right or wrong.  I'm just going to state where I am in my teaching and what I do.  That's the beauty, we all do things differently and there's no "right or wrong."

I struggled with the pre-made musicals and here's why: I felt that I was spending more time teaching speaking parts and less time teaching music.  When I started teaching I saw my students for an hour a week. Then when I started teaching in my current district I was seeing the students on a 3-day rotation, where the students have music for 45 minutes every 3rd day.  At my current school, as we've grown, some classes are now on a 4 day rotation (music for 45 minutes every 4th day).  Next year?  My 3rd and 1st graders will be on a 5 day rotation.  That means the kids will have music 45 minutes once a week.  I can't rationalize spending time teaching speaking parts, I want my students making music.

So, for MANY years now I've been doing concerts instead of programs.  There are not speaking parts.  And the parents don't complain, in fact they love them.  Again, I'm not right and someone else is wrong.  If you do speaking parts I'm in no way saying that's wrong, I just don't do them.

Okay, now that I have that "out in the open," here's what I think of when planning a concert:

  • A theme.  Yep, I don't do a pre-done musical but I do like having a theme that ties the song literature all together.  Often times I will also look at the grade level curriculum that the classroom teachers are working on to see if there's anything I can piggy back on.  For instance, my 2nd graders study weather systems so I did a rain themed concert one year.  The 4th graders study Colorado history so I DO use some Colorado songs that were written by a retired CO music teacher.
  • Song literature that fits the theme.
  • Song literature that practices known rhythmic or melodic concepts
  • Song literature that I will use for preparation of unknown rhythmic or melodic concepts
  • Part work: I like to have at least one song in which kids are singing harmony with each other. .. 2nd-5th grades.  SOMETIMES even in 1st grade.
  • Instrument work: I like to have one song that the kids accompany themselves on with Orff Instruments.
  • Piano: I have a number of students that play piano and at ALMOST every concert I have a student accompanist.  Granted, the accompaniment is sometimes very simple, but they love it and the parents love to see a student accompany the kids.
  • Solos: I do like to have at least one song that has singing solos.
Let me walk you through a concert that I'm working on right now.

I mentioned that my 3rd graders will have music ONE time a week (did you hear that?  It was the sound of my heart breaking. . . ugh.  This is my class that sang a two part octavo last year on their second grade concert and did a beautiful job with it.  Do you know how much I was wanting to do with them. . . . maybe I still can but that's really going to depend on amazing lesson planning. . .which you'll read about next on Aileen's blog.)  Sorry for the tangent.  Back to 3rd grade. First I picked a theme.  Their concert is the end of January.  (Yeah, forgot to mention that the first thing I do is set concert dates.  You'll see in my download that I have a check list for you and that's my first thing!)  I was wanting to do "Songs from the Heart" in February but due to Parent/Teacher Conferences I couldn't.  So, last week of January it is and I'm keeping the theme. 

I'm not completely done, but here's what I've got so far:
Yes, I usually do 9-10 songs on a concert. But, with no speaking parts I've got to have music to fill in, lol!

So, it might be hard to read off the worksheet. Here's the songs and any skills/concepts or other notes about the songs:
  1. Lazy John- I LOVE this song: 
      
    it's great because I can bring it back the following year in 4th grade for fa, it has solo singing parts AND there's "acting out" parts.  There is a boy and a girl solo.  The girl asks the boy to marry her.  Every time he has an excuse, he doesn't have socks to wear; he doesn't have a shirt to wear; he doesn't have pants to wear, etc.  Then the girl "runs out and gets it".  And every time the girl runs to get something that the boy needs to wear he put it on. I like to have the kids use my dad's old red suit.  It's super cute to see this little 3rd grader getting dressed up in an adult suit but further more, it's a great "seed" for a fa song.
  2. There's a Little Wheel a Turnin'- this has an Orff accompaniment
  3. Pourquoi- there's multiple verses so this is good for memory work.  I might also be able to add some visual effects to it with scarves on the different colors (maybe each class having a different color and being a different set of birds)
  4. Deaf Woman's Courtship- this is too sweet and they will sing it at the beginning of the school year to review do so I won't really have to "teach" this song for the concert.  By the way, with this concert, I have all the boys on one side of the stage and the girls on the other.  So, when the old man asks the woman to marry her all the boys (on stage left) get down on one knee.  Visually  it's very cute.
  5. There's a Hole in the Bucket- this will be a review song because we sang it for fun at the end of this year.
  6. Shoo My Love- I have an octavo for this so we'll do part work.
  7. Mail Myself to You- this is a "novelty" song in that there's not so much purpose behind it on selection because of concept or skill but chosen because it's fun to sing.
  8. Love Somebody- they'll learn this in the fall for tika-tika.  Again, it's nice to have some songs that you bring back and it saves concert prep time.
  9. The Riddle Song- this will be great when we learn about so pentatonic.  It's really a beautiful, slower song and we might be able to work on a dulcimer accompaniment with it.
  10. Love Me Do (maybe?)  or another song. I'd love to think of another one that will work into the curriculum either as a practice or prep song.  I know there's one out there! :)
From there, I scope out how many lessons it will take to prep for the concert and what I want to get done at each lesson for the concert but also allow time for teaching and other work.

You can download my worksheets by clicking here.  A special thanks to Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs for the font and frames! :)


Now, lucky you! You get to hope over to Aileen's blog for some awesome lesson planning tips!  Just click on this image:

Thank you so much to Lindsay for hosting this blog hop!  I hope you enjoy the hop!


a Kodaly inspired blog Amy Abbott Colorado music elementary teacher ideas files downloads
music a la abbott music education teacher resources teaching elementary kodaly musical concepts teachers pay teachers amy abbott musicalaabbott.com

Let's Talk About Books, Linky

Now, ya'll don't faint with me blogging two days in a row, lol! This hasn't happened for a while! One of my goals this summer is to make sure I blog more often.

When I saw Deanna Jump over at Mrs. Jump's Classroom was doing a book Linky I had to jump on!
 I've blogged about books in the music classroom and this is one of my favorites.  It is out of print but you can buy it on Amazon. .. . and the kids will LOVE you for it!

 Of course, it's an older book. I adore the style of the pictures and love the soft, warm colors.  When I sing and show this book to my preschoolers they are the most calm you'll ever see a group of 3-4 year olds!  And because I'm a music teacher, of course this book is a song! :)



Here's Almeida Riddle's version of the song:

2.         What’ll it take to buy it with?
3.         We’ll take daddy’s featherbed.
4.         Where would our daddy sleep.
5.         He could sleep in the puppy’s bed.
6.         Where will the puppy sleep.
7.         Sleep in the piggy’s bed.
8.         Where will the piggy sleep?
9.         Sleep in the horse’s bed.
10.       Where will the horse sleep?
11.       Graze out on our front lawn.
12.       Where will the children play?
13.       They can swing on the garden gate.
14.       Yes, and get a spankin’ too.



But in the book, the verses are different.  In John Feierabend's book, "First Step in Music, Preschool and Beyond", you can find this version but I wish I had a better secondary source for you.

The book starts with 'Liza Lou seeing a doll on a peddlers cart and comes to ask her mama to buy it for her.  Like th Almeida Riddle version, the first thing she tells her mama to do is sell daddy's feather bed. But then this displaces Daddy. As the story continues on, the kitty, sister, grandma, chickens and piggies are displaced.  Even poor grandma needs to find a new place to sleep.  And in the end, Liza falls asleep on her mama's lap, dreamin' about a china doll.  Very sweet. And if you want to hear an amazing performance of it, listen to Jill Trinka sing it!

Pedagogically, this is a GREAT song for teaching ti-tika.  My good friend Tanya has an amazing SMARTboard recource for this.  This in on my bucket list of things to make in a PowerPoint.   Here's a link to Tanya's file:


Happy Tuesday!

a Kodaly inspired blog Amy Abbott Colorado music elementary teacher ideas files downloads
music a la abbott music education teacher resources teaching elementary kodaly musical concepts teachers pay teachers amy abbott musicalaabbott.com

End of the Year Organization. . . always a work in progress

I'm a little late to the party, but I'm linking up with Tracy from Mrs. King's Music Class:
I'm going to lay it on the line, this is not as tidy or as organized as I usually am at the end of the year and is a little like showing you all my underwear drawer, lol!  (Although, you REALLY don't want to see that right now!)  I feel like some things are organized and then some elements of organization are always a work in progress.  So, nothing in my room is ground breaking when it comes to organization, but that's okay!

I have A LOT of storage in my room, especially in comparison to the school I was at prior to Red Hawk.  At the previous school I had an orange cabinet, a book shelf, an industrial storage shelf and  a closet.  

Here at Red Hawk I have all that storage space in just on corner.  My daughter is in the photo here that's one reason why the pics aren't as tidy as I'd like them to be, the other is the mess that's up above.  One thing that I'm hoping to invest in are some storage boxes for up above so they don't look so cluttered. And then there's the pool noodles that have been waiting a year to be made into pool noodle ponies!

On my shelves, I love the plastic shoe boxes that you can get at Target, Walmart or the Dollar tree.  My flashcards, rhythm cards, manipulatives, etc fit in there perfectly. I don't have ANY filing cabinets, nor are there any empty walls in my room to put them against so I use the file crates to put things in , you can see some of them in disarray below. Again, some organization and some work in progress.

To the left of where Hannah was are a lot of my non-pitched percussion instruments.  I love open topped boxes for storage for these.  I can easily grab a box and have the instruments ready to go for class.

Across the room from that corner is this:
 The bottom of the cabinets houses my bigger instruments and more of my files:

(I'm embarrassed to say my bars are off my Orff instruments. . . )



The top cabinets look messier than they are.  In front is everything that comes out onto a table or counter top during the school year: pencil cups, hot water kettle, etc.  Behind the things that come out are my boxes full of stuffed animals and puppets.  I have A LOT of stuffed animals and puppets. ..  17 years of teaching will do that to you.  Well, maybe. ;)

 And in the opposite corner of the room from the corner storage area is this:

 The drawers are built into the wall and can't move from where they are. At first I didn't like it but that's the front of the classroom and is perfect for me to put my lesson plan book on and easily glance at it when I'm teaching.

Thanks Tracy for the blog party!  I  hope you all are having a wonderful Sunday!


a Kodaly inspired blog Amy Abbott Colorado music elementary teacher ideas files downloads
music a la abbott music education teacher resources teaching elementary kodaly musical concepts teachers pay teachers amy abbott musicalaabbott.com
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