A Peek at My Week- SPRING BREAK!!!

Today I'm linking up with Mrs. Laffin's Laughings "Peek at My Week Party."

I've linked up with her before and since I haven't done so in a couple weeks (and I'm on spring break this week), I'll share what I've done the past couple of weeks.

My 4th and 5th graders have been knee deep in drilling the treble clef since we start recorders after break.  Side note, I wish I could bring out the recorders all year round: having them available to play for reading skills and working that into my curriculum at a more regular frequency is a goal for next year.  Right now I do a "unit" and to be honest I hate units.  I love teaching on a spiral curriculum and units always seem to break the flow.  But on the other hand, it really is motivating in the final weeks of school.

Back to drilling and killing.  Horrible, right?  Who likes it?!  This year I created the "Treble Clef is Awesome" file and the kids ate it up.  But I always like to keep things fresh and fun.  You spend too much time on something it becomes stagnant.  I get a lot of emails about how I keep my older students engaged and this is key: keep them on their toes, keep the pacing fast and don't give them time to think about anything else.

So, since we had the Facebook Frenzy and I was working on a Lines and Spaces file I decided to extend it to the treble clef.  You see, I'm a manipulative-junky.  In the quest to figure out what I was going to do for the frenzy I ran across these Animal Foam Beads at Oriental Trading:
And then to make matters worse I found these MATCHING animal easter eggs and we ALL know I have a serious addiction to Easter eggs!  But check it out, there are 6 beads that perfectly match 6 eggs, how's a girl to say no?!!!  And better yet, when I bought my eggs they were NOT candy filled, now they're down to having just the candy filled eggs.
So, armed with my beads and eggs I set out and created an interactive word to staff game.  The students work in teams and then from a menu they choose the number of letters in their word:

From there they pick a mystery word:
We played the word to staff game, so they saw a slide like this:
Then they had to spell it on their staves.

We played this two different days.  The first day we played it like this:
I bought this fun "toy" at the beginning of the year, called the Eggspert (google it, you can find them at a bunch of different sites):
Around the room I placed 6 polydots: red, orange, yellow, green, blur & purple.  At each polydot were mini staves (for those cute foam beads) and a basket of my animal Easter Eggs. One dot was elephants, one was lions, one was monkeys, one was giraffes, one was zebras and one was tigers.  Then at each of the "eggs" on the eggspert I put a large staff and writing materials.  Rotating through, one student would come up to the Eggspert from each team.  Starting with the red team (and rotating teams each time), they would pick the number of letters and the mystery word.  The students at the Eggspert wanted to be the first to correctly spell out the word they saw on their staff. They "rang in" on the eggspert when they were done.  If they were correct then their team got as many points as there were letters in the word.  Meanwhile, all the players back at the polydots were also spelling out the word on their mini staves.  This kept everyone engaged and I "kicked it up a notch" at the end by awarding points to teams at the polydots where everyone had correctly spelled the work they saw.



The next lesson there were no large staves.  Instead, I positioned the Eggspert so it was in the middle of all the groups.  The teams sat around their polydot.  The play was essentially the same but they would ring in when everyone in their group had spelled the word on the staff.  To avoid fighting (you know they'll hold you to every technicality) they had to do it "Top Chef" style in that everyone had to have their writing materials down and their hands up:


 One of the benefits of doing it this way was that the stronger "spellers" helped the students who were having a harder time.

 I created tally cards too so that we knew easily which words had already been chosen.


The powerpoint and many other files can be found in my new Treble Clef Bundle: Treble Clef Safari and is on sale for $5 today and tomorrow.

My third graders are practicing ti-tika so they've been playing fun games like "Dic-Dic-Tation" that you can find in Susan Brumfield's book, "Hot Peas and Barley-O"

 (when I have them play this, they do so in small groups.  Once they have played one full game, they sit down and start a second game while the other groups finish their first game.  This keeps all students making music, engaged and thus you don't "loose" them)
They've also been singing the "Jumping Rope Song," "Fire in the Mountain" and "Fed My Horse."  They're working on low la so we've been playing, singing and analysing "Big Fat Bisquit," "Rosie, Darling Rosie" and "Old House," to name a few.

My first and second graders have a concert when we get back from spring break so they've been busy with that.

My kinders had the worst case of "Spring break-itis" I've ever seen!  So, the pe teacher and I combined last week and taught dance.  Many of the dances that we did came out of "Rhythmically Moving" by Phyllis Weikart.  If you're not familiar with this resource you should check it out!  It's really a great compilation of dances.  Phyllis Weikart was a pe teacher, so it's presented and lined up in her book a little differently but it's pretty easy to understand once you get the hang of it!

Thanks to Mrs. Laffin's Laughings for hosting the Linky Party!

Transition Tuesday: a mi-re-do transition

Happy Tuesday everyone!!!  So, on Sunday I mentioned that I'm going to be doing "Transition Tuesdays" but I forgot that I would be on utter "I have one week until spring break" mind so I hope I make sense today, lol!

Probably the most common transitions are story transitions.  They are easy to use, especially with those younger kiddos.  I'll tell you, I'll very rarely blog about story transitions.  My opinion: they are over used.  Just ask the level 2s that I had last year.  They used story transitions for every transition and I banned them.  I said if they use one they may only use one in a lesson.  Granted, they're great, they make sense to kids BUT why use a story transition when you can use one that helps you hone in on a melodic, rhythmic, harmonic, formal or expressive musical element that you're working on?  This will not only teach the concept that you're working on but most times increases listening skills, develops musicianship, is a higher level thinking task, may include partwork, etc.

So, the first Transition Tuesday will be one of my favorite transitions for re.  It is not too higher of a  level thinking transition but there is some aural decoding.  

I start with this song/game.  If you don't know it, it's one of my favorites:


**  this song is great for fa (melodic reading with melody only, NO rhythm) and tim-ka.  But in order for me to use it in those grades I need to introduce it younger, when the content of the song is more appropriate.  So, I do it in second and it works well as we're able to extract re in the final measure of the song.

Game: the students are seats in a circle.  I'm on the outside of the circle, with a basket that contains print-out copies of pictures of various things you might find at the Baker's Shop.  I sing the song (unknown/new to the students) while walking around the outside, hopping on the words "hop, hop, hop."  (**note: this is not only because the text tells us to do so but also because this is the part of the song that I'm going to extract and this helps "highlight" that mini-phrase).  At the end, I give the student(s) that I'm behind a picture of a baked good and ask them to go with me to the baker's shop.  This continues until all students have a baked good and are following in one giant line (a.k.a. circle at this point).  To move things along, I'll often times give 2-3 baked goods out at a time.  Having the students sit through 32 hearings (yes, I have 32 2nd graders in a class) is not fair to me vocally but REALLY not fair to them.  You're going to "lose" them if you do 32 repetitions.

Once everyone has sang the song, singing and hopping they sit down.
Side note:   ***I'm big on non-verbal cues.  I taught in a "bilingual" (really, English language aquisition school, you know the different, right?) for 10 years.  Many of the students knew NO English so I became really good at giving physical cues.  They work wonders with my English speakers too and save SO much time.  Why say, "please sit down boys and girls" when you can give a physical cue for it while you begin asking them a question or transitioning into your next area of instruction?  It's a huge time saver and you're not giving them the opportunity to get off task.***
From here I've done this a few ways:

  1. As they are sitting down I say something to the affect that "I'm really interested in the part that goes, 'hop, hop, hop". What happens to our voices?  ("it gets lower").  Then I ask three students to bring up their baked good (remember, they all have one now) and they place them on the board showing the melodic direction of "hop, hop, hop".  I'll tell the students, "Please sing 'hop, hop, hop" when I point to it, give them a starting pitch and off we go.  I'll point for them to sing it and repeat it once so it's "Hop, hop, hop.  Hop, hop, hop."  Then I'll "loo" the third phrase of "Hot Cross Buns" and then point to "hop, hop, hop".  EVERY time I've done this hands shoot into the air and they all know it's "Hot Cross Buns."  From there we go into what ever stage of teaching re that we're in: preparation or practice.
  2. As they are sitting down I sing "Hop, hop, hop.  Hop, hop, hop.  That sounds like a song that we know, Hop, hop, hop."  (**Know is changed from two eighths to a quarter note in the song "Hot Cross Buns").  Of course they know it's and we're off and running into one of the concentration areas of the lesson


I hope you come back every Tuesday for a new transition idea!  If you're looking for specific transition ideas (song specific, concept specific) please leave a note!

Also, if you don't already follow my Teachers Pay Teachers store, please head over and do so!

Happy Tuesday!

"Treble Clef is AWESOME!!!"

Happy Friday everyone!!!  So, I guess some of you lucky friends are starting spring break!!  I hope you have fun, I know I have three more weeks until spring break.  AND SO much to do before then!!

My 4th and 5th graders read off the treble clef all year but before I start recorders I do a lot more focus around the treble clef.  Last year I made a few files, including "Be a Staff Detective",  for teaching and reinforcing the treble clef.  It worked really well but I'll be honest, I'm a little MADD (music form of ADD) in that I get bored using the same thing every year and like to have some different ways of teaching concepts throughout the years.

When my son insisted we all go to the Lego movie it sparked some ideas of new ways to teach things and I'm really happy with the first product.  If you read my blog you know that I've blogged about using Legos before in relationship to solfa and half steps.  I've been meaning to blog about how I used them in tim-ka preparation.  So, this is the first of a series of files for "BUILDING" music literacy and it's called: "The Treble Clef is Awesome!"

These past two weeks my students and I reviewed the basics of the treble clef through a PDF in the file called "introduction to the treble clef".  Then, working individually but also with a lot of peer help and teacher input, we practiced writing with Legos on the staff.  Side note: I've noticed since I've used the Lego file this year a lot less students are confused about the numbering of the lines and spaces.  We talked about that, like building legos, you always start at the bottom of the staff and go upwards with numbers and figuring out the names of the lines and spaces.  (I've always had those kiddos that remember "Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge" but always start from the top line.  This really helped alleviate some of this confusion.)

We started by me showing them a word slide:

Then they wrote it on their own staff.  Their jobs were to also check their work with a neighbor.

And then we checked our work as a class by switching over to the document camera to check our work:

The other thing I really liked about using the Legos for notation is how much it helped the space and line placement.  This is what we'd like it to look like, with the line notes centered on a line and the space notes filling up the space.

With the students I told them to imagine that if their Lego was transparent that, for a line note, the line would go right between the two raised circles on the Lego.  And that if it was a space note, the line would not cross through the Lego.  I made these two slides (the one above and below) to demonstrate and this type of activity will soon be included in my "Lines and Spaces are AWESOME" file:

This week we went on to playing a word to staff game as a class in which they were divided into two teams.  From there, one team would pick the number of letters in the word they would like to try for (and points are equal to the number of letters in the word):

Then they would choose from one of 6 builders:
 And that would pull up a word, such as this:
 Both teams were expected to write the word out on the staff.  The team who's turn it is gets to answer first but if they are wrong, and the other team has correctly spelled the word out on their floor staff then they can steal the points.

Now, for some reason, this year the kids in 5th grade are very competitive so I've added red points.  Red points are added when I hear someone being negative on a team and are deducted at the end of the game.

Additionally, my students are doing time tests each time they come to music.  They all start on a 90 second test.  When they pass they go on to 60 seconds and from there they go on to 30 seconds.

Organizational wise, all the students have a "folder" (it's a 12x18 piece of construction paper that's folded in half and has their name on it).  Each class is a different color and I keep 4th grade in one file box and 5th grade in another box:

Inside of their folder there is a tally sheet on which they write a goal for themselves (this is a goal for the month of March.  Some students want to try to pass the 90 second test where as some want to race me (which is what happens if they pass the 30 second test)).  The tally sheet has four columns: one for the date, one labeled "90", one labeled "60" and one labeled "30".  If they are on the 90 second test then they fill in the date and put their score in the "90" column.  If they are on "60" then they fill in the date and their score on the "60" column:

There are many more treble clef activities that we are going to do and they all can be found in my "Treble Clef is Awesome" file.  Here's a little preview of some of the games, worksheets, assessments, matching games and 8 interactive PowerPoints that are available in the set:



Coming soon is are:
"Bass Clef is Awesome!!"
"Lines and Spaces are Awesome!!"
"Solfége is Awesome!!" (which will be a set of handsign charts, tone ladders, etc.)
"Melody is Awesome!!" files that will have interactive PowerPoints

My goal before the start of the 2014-2015 year is to have a "Music is Awesome" set that can be used as a bulletin board and a school year theme.

And I'll also be working on concept files, similar to my ta ti-ti and so-mi files. Phew, my work is cut out for me! :)

I hope you all have an AMAZING Friday!!!
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