An Animal Themed 3rd Grade Concert

I've had a request to blog about my CMEA sessions, as well as how I organize all my manipulatives (and there are a lot).  I assure you those are coming, however, I was at home with two sick kids yesterday and today (however, today they're better and I'm feeling sick, UGH!).

So, since I have been feeling self guilt about not blogging and have been struggling with an original idea for a blog post I thought I'd talk about what's on my mind: concert planning.  My third graders have a concert in March and my 1st graders and 2nd graders each have a concert in April, in addition to two more choir & handbell concerts.  (Thank goodness I plan my 4th and 5th grades in the fall, other wise it leads to a crazy, busy spring!)

My third graders have been asking me since the beginning of the school year about when they'd start their concert music.  They CAN'T wait to start, which we did last week.  Now, I see them on a four day rotation (which is basically once a week) so that doesn't leave me much time.  However, I have  a very flexible technology teacher who is going to allow me to have her classes three days a week for four weeks.  This means that three times a week I'll have double classes.  And they'll always come with the same class so when we work on the last two songs mentioned in this post they'll be learning the same part as their partner-class.

Now, I'll admit that I usually do one or two "novelty" songs per concert.  Songs that they kids adore and are songs that they've heard or are excited about.  These are my "bait and hook."  They've been DYING to sing "Roar" and "What Does the Fox Say."  Well, knowing that I really want good literature but you also want students to feel ownership of their concert, I agreed.  (All you Kodály teachers don't bash me, please!)  We've changed the register of some of those two songs and transposed them from their original keys (although "What Does the Fox Say" wasn't too badly pitched and I love that some of those fox sounds are getting my 3rd graders into a very nice head voice).   So, after I agreed I challenged them to think of a "theme,"  something that would tie those songs into other songs and without hesitation they said "animals."

When planning concert repertoire for a grade level concert, I've already mentioned that I'll include a "novelty" piece but there are some other things that I look for:
  • How can what they are learning in the classroom by supplemented and enhanced by the concert repertoire?
  • How can instruments be added?
  • Is there a chance for soloists?
  • How is part work incorporated?
  • How's the variety of tempos and tone from song to song?
  • How will the song appeal to them and the audience?
  • These are all in addition to looking at the range, age appropriateness, etc.

The rest of the concert I want to tie into concepts that we're working on in class.  Well, we all know there are a gazillion animals songs to choose from.  So, here's what we're going to sing:
  • "Who Killed Cock Robin" (perfect for low la in third grade)
  • "Frog Went A-Courtin'" (nice ti-tika and tika-ti's in there), and we'll have some solo singing on the verses. (this is two fold: it gives an opportunity for soloists and cuts down on the amount of lyrics students have to memorize)
  • "Crawdad Song" in which we're going to use fish paddles, similar to these to perform the rhythmic pattern "ti-ti tika-tika ti-ti ta" at the end of each phrase.  The ball is cut off they'll use chop sticks on the back to make the fish look like their "jumping" when they play them (this idea is stolen from my good friend, Loretta!)
  • "Why Doesn't My Goose", we'll sing it with a bordon on Orff Instruments and as a round.
  • "The Fox Went Out On a Chilly Night", and a student will accompany on piano.  I do have a lot of piano players so I try to have at least one try to accompany one song per concert.  We simplify the piano part and it's a lot of fun for them to have that chance to show what they've been learning in their private lessons.

There are two more songs that I really want to challenge them with. Next year they'll be able to join the before school choir and this is a really musically strong class so we're going to do two choral octaves.  

The first is "The Tale of Two Toads":
I first learned this when the West Salem's Honor Choir did it when I was teaching in Oregon.  It's super fun, provides opportunity for tone-color and mood and is very accessible for them.  If you don't know it, it's about two toads who get stuck in a bowl of cream.  One was a pessimist and one was an optimist.  The pessimist gives up, while the optimist swims around and around, turning the cream into butter and hops right out of the bowl.

The other I wasn't sure what I was getting when I ordered it.  I LOVE the "Tailor and the Mouse" so I was excited when I found this at JW Pepper:

It's very accessible to them.  It doesn't go through all the verses but the parts are counter parts so they'll be easy to put together.  And the kids are so excited to be reading from a choral score!

I'd love to know what are some of your ideas around grade level concert planning!  Please share in the comments! :)

Have a GREAT Friday tomorrow!
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Conferences, Free-For-Alls and Sales, OH MY!

I'm currently at the Colorado State Music teachers conference.  I presented this morning a session called "Chocolate Covered Broccoli", regarding painless assessments.  It's my second year in a row presenting as CMEA and is always so much fun.  But conferences are fun: I love seeing colleagues and friends that teach in different areas of the state, seeing "old" college professors and friends and getting new ideas.  

I'm off to a couple more things and hope to blog on some thought about the conference but wanted to let you all know about the Facebook Free-For-All that is happening this weekend.  Many different grade level teachers are participating as well as some music teacher, including myself and Aileen Miracle.  You can start at my Facebook page and then follow link back to the master "map".  


My product for the Free-For-All is a re file (pentatonic) for the "Winter Games".
I also have made files for all the other melodic elements, and those will be in my TpT store soon, but grab this one while it's free.  It's a really large file that includes MANY flashcards, a relay race (written in both stick and staff notation)


and 8 different "sports" with game directions.

Two of the sports have interactive PowerPoints.  The first is a Figure Skating PowerPoint, in which teams try to complete as many different jumps as possible.  The higher the number of rotations in the jump, the more melodic patterns the students have to correctly read to earn that jump.

Here's the menu slide:
 And here's a sample of the jump slides:


The other is a downhill skiing game in which students try to earn seconds off of the time.  This can be played with multiple teams or just two teams, depending on what your objectives are.

Here's the menu slide:

And a sample slide:

All of these files, plus the rhythmic versions of them can be found in my Teachers Pay Teachers store:

Melodic files:

  1. so-mi
  2. la
  3. do 
  4. re (mi-re-do only)
  5. re (pentatonic)
  6. low la
  7. low so
  8. high do
  9. fa
  10. ti
Rhythmic files:


I hope you all are having a GREAT week!

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Snowball Fight in the Music Room!!!

New Year's Resolution: starting blogging more like I did last year. Um.. . . . that's not going so well for me!!!  I can give you excuses but I'm not going to.  But I will tell you one: I'm presenting at the Colorado State Music Educators conferences this week so if any of you Colorado friends are going I have two sessions: one on Thursday at 11:30 and one on Friday at 3:00.  I hope you can make it!!!

Around Christmas I purchased some plush snowballs from Oriental Trading.  Unfortunately, like a lot of Oriental Trading's products, it must have been seasonal as I can't find them on their site anymore.  

I've used them a lot in the music room with almost every grade.  With the younger grades and with choir we used them for vocal exploration and warming up our voices.  I toss the ball up and as the ball rises and falls they make their voices follow the snow ball.  I've also tossed it to students and they follow it with their voices.

Before winter break, with first grade, I used them as solo singing incentives.  Once they echoed me in an echo song they got a snowball out of the bin.  They hung onto it as they went back to their seats on the rises.  Then, we got out the rhythm blocks that I made for tika-tika, but I used only the rhythms they know: ta & ti-ti.  I wrote a mystery song from the fall ("Miss White") with the blocks.  They read it a few times from the blocks:


Then some individual students who were at the "top of the chart" (from my Behavior Charts File) got to throw snowballs at the blocks.  They students had to remember and perform the rhythm that was written on the blocks before another snowball could be thrown.

After a few repetitions, they all threw their snowballs that they had earned at the wall and said the who chant on rhythm from memory. They loved it!


I've been using the balls with 4th and 5th grade since Winter Vacation for melodic decoding.  Working in sets of 4, they receive a stack of 14 cards.  I sing a pattern (we started out with me singing the patterns on solfége, then we moved to me singing it on "loo" and finally, now I'm playing the patterns on the piano).  Every group must work cooperatively to find the card that matches the performed pattern.  I give each group ONE chance to answer and we go over that this is a group effort so please check with all your teammates before you raise a card because the first card I see counts as their answer.  If their group is correct, the earn a snowball.  

My fourth graders came up with the idea to put the snowballs on the cards that they have earned so they remember which patterns have been sung already:


Here's an example of a student showing me her group's card.  I do challenge them to have different students show me the answer each time.

I allot an amount of time for this activity: usually 6-7 minutes.  Once I see that every group has enough cards for everyone in their group to have at least one snow ball, or when there are no snowballs left, I collect all the teams' cards and they get 15 seconds to have a snowball fight.  Bonus points go to the team that helps clean up snowballs and are back in their seats first.  They really love it, even though, for me, there's nothing musical about throwing snowball!!! They do work really hard to earn those snowball!

I also use these cards for a relay race!  If you're interest in the cards, I sell them, along with flashcards and 6 other game directions for how the relay and flashcards can be used at my Teachers Pay Teachers store for the following melodic elements:

  1. so-mi
  2. la
  3. do
  4. re (mi-re-do patterns only)
  5. re (pentatonic)
  6. low la
  7. low so
  8. high do
  9. fa 
  10. ti 
  11. BUNDLE
Speaking of my TpT store, I'm currently running a give away!  If you follow me on Facebook you know that my team, the Broncos, are going to the Super Bowl!!!  So, for every $7 you spend in my store between now and tomorrow night, you're entered in the drawing for $24 of FREE product from my store!  All you have to do is email me, once you've made your purchase, with your TpT user name!


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One, Two, Three O'Leary

Yes, I have not fallen off the face of the earth, lol!  I hope you all had a wonderful December!  Things are back in full swing in Erie but I wanted to share a song that my 5th graders started before winter break.  They're reading songs with ti now.  I'm so excited!  I've not gotten this far in the Kodály sequence before!  The school I was at before was a "bilingual" school (I've blogged about this before) and there was such a gap that we could never "get to it."  With this being my 3rd year at Red Hawk I've been able to "catch-up" my students and get them where I'd like them to be in the sequence.  With them reading ti at this point in the school year I'm hoping that we can start to get into altered tones before the end of the year!

Okay, I took a tangent, but here's a song that my mom actually told me about that can be found in "Singing Games and Rhymes for Middle Years", which is published by the National Youth Choirs of Scotland.  I can't find nor do I have a primary source for the song
I can't find nor do I have a primary source for the song.  But, I'm using it with my kids regardless because it contains ti  in a pattern that they haven't practiced as much.

Here the song:

The game is super fun and the kids LOVE it:
Formation: lines of 6-7 students, all facing "forward" in the line.
Action:  The first person of each line has a playground ball.  On the first beat of the song they bounce the ball.  On the second beat they catch the ball.  On beats 3-4 they pass it over their head to the person standing behind them.  That student takes the ball and repeats the pattern of bounce-catch-over head (2 beats for this action).  This repeats through the end of the song, for a total of 4 times through the pattern for the entire song.  The student who has the ball at the end of the song runs to the end of the line.  All the students in their line spread their legs and the student with the ball rolls the ball through the legs of their teammates.  The first team who rolls their ball through all their team members' legs "wins."

I have added that between rounds of play they have 10 seconds to shuffle their line.  If you don't do this, only the first 4 people in line get to bounce the ball and only the back people get to roll the ball.

Here are some pictures from one of my 5th grade classes playing the game:

First person is bouncing and catching the ball:

The ball is passed overhead


The second person bounced and caught the ball and is now passing it over head:

The last person (the 5th in line) got the ball at the end of the song, ran to the back and rolled the ball up between their team members' legs:


On my to-do list is to create a PowerPoint for them to practice reading this song.  It's quickly become a class favorite!

I wanted to let you all know about a collaborative Kodály blog that I'm taking part in!!!  Aileen Miracle, Lindsay Jervis and I started talking about it around Thanksgiving and are now getting it up and running (in huge part to Aileen's work, thanks Aileen!!!)  It's called Kodály Corner and will consist of blog posts from 8 different Kodály teachers from across the nation.  

Aileen has started us off with our first post and will be posting again this weekend.  There will be two blog posts weekly in which we will take turns sharing different teaching ideas and strategies.  Please head over to Kodály Corner to check it out!!

I hope you all have a GREAT week!!!

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