Top TEN Things I Want to do This Summer

Hi everyone!  I'm on SUMMER Vacation!!!  And I slept in for the first time in months this morning!  When I got up, after helping my two kids stop arguing, I noticed that Deanna Jump had a linky party going on her blog and I knew I couldn't pass this one up:

So, here are my top ten, in no particular order:

1.  Spend more time with my family-

I love my kids and husband.  I'm also fortunate enough to have a husband who is also a teacher so we should have lots of family time this summer!!!

2.  Go swimming!!!
I went swimming maybe one time last summer.  That's horrible!!!!  So the goal is to go with the kids swimming a lot more!

3.  Learn to run
I've never been a runner but I need more cardio (I've gained a lot of muscle this past spring with my weight training).

4.  CLEAN and organize

 My poor house has been so neglected!  It needs a MAJOR spring, summer and fall cleaning!  And we have so much junk!  We have all the kids clothes from when they were babies! So, if any of you are local (Boulder County, CO) talk to me, I'll set you up: I've got girl and boy clothes!!

5.  Sleep
I'm so far behind on sleep and the ability to fall asleep has been hard lately.  I think this will help me be a happier mom and a happier person in general!


We've had this vacation planned for a year now.  The kids are so excited!!  We were there 2 years ago, Hannah was 2 and Noah was almost 5.  They had such a good time and this time will be even better!!

7.  Eat more fresh or "real" food:
I'd love to do some type of detox (T.M.I.?) and feel better about my eating habits.

8.  Breath. . . . be present.  So much easier said than done, right?!

9.  Work on concept specific lessons, PDF's and manipulatives

It's been about a year since I've made a concept specific file and I would really like to get these organized so I can use them in my teaching.

10.  Get back to the essence of why I got into teaching music
Sometimes I get too hung up in the politics and logistics of teaching.  I need to remember why I got into teaching: it's the marriage of two of my favorite things, kids and music.  I have always loved working with kids.  In fact, I've only held one job in my life (and that was in college) that did not entail working with kids.  I need to relax, not take myself so seriously and focus on who and what I teach.

Thanks to Deanna Jump for helping me focus on this, what a great way to start the summer!

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

Milestones Worth Celebrating

Today I'm linking up with David Row's "Milestones Worth Celebrating" linky party.  Today is my last day of school with kids and tomorrow is a work day. What a great idea to reflect on the year!

School highlights:
*  The school choir and handbells had three successful concerts and musically they have grown SO much.  I'm especially proud of all the gains my choir students made in their part work.
*  Grade level concerts: the kinders performed a very cute "Spring Sing," 1st grade had a very fun and engaging "Songs we LOVE to Sing" concert, 2nd grade's "Singin' Round the Campfire" concert was exceptionally well received, the 3rd graders "Animal" songs concert was loved by the students and parents, the 4th graders did an awesome job with their "Colorado" concert and the 5th grade concert, "Songs that make you go OOoooooo" concert was especially fun.
* The 5th graders made it VERY far in their sequence, so far that we started learning about modes!
* I had an AMAZING student teacher!
*  My students rewarded me everyday in some small way and reminded me of why I got into teaching in the first place.

Professional highlights, 2013-2014:
* I taught level 2 pedagogy (Kodály) at Colorado State last summer and was asked back to teach analysis in addition to pedagogy this summer.
*  I presented two sessions at the Colorado Music Educators Music Conference in January: one titled Chocolate Covered Broccoli and one "Thrifty Treasures".
*  I made my first milestone on Teachers Pay Teachers and I'm only 21 followers short of 1,000!!!
*  Created a Facebook page for Music a la Abbott and I have over 1,500 followers!
*  I was asked to present this summer at the National Dalcroze Conference in June!!!!
*  Had my blog made over by my amazing friend, Terri Bradford, who I've known since kindergarten!

Personal highlights, 2013-2014:
*  I now am a mommy of a 2nd grader!!!  (although he doesn't call me "mommy" anymore. . . insert broken heart here)
*  My daughter completed her first year of preschool and is WANTING to learn to READ this summer.  Heck, she's sounding words out everywhere we go!
*  I started working with a personal trainer and am in better shape then I was in college.  
*  I conquered my fear of box jumps and (shh!) actually LIKE them!
*  My husband and I made it to see the following shows at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts: Book of Mormon, Alton Brown Live!, Evita, Chicago and once.  We bought season tickets for next year and will be going to 10 shows, including "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" which we're taking our kids to- their first live show!

Thanks again David for hosting this linky party, what a great way to reflect on the school year.  If you're a blogger and would like to join in the party, please click on the image above! :)

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

A Peek At My Week

Hi everyone!  I hope you're doing well.  I'm heading into my last week of school, yikes!  I have two days of teaching (crowd control), then all school field day and then the last day where there's a 5th grade continuation, all school picnic and then the kiddos that don't go home watch a movie in the gym for their "specials time."

So, while I don't have that great of a week to link up with this linky party I thought I would anyways:
A special thanks to Mrs. Laffins Laughings for hosting this party!

My kindergartners actually had their Spring Sing and Continuation Program last week so we're playing a lot of games that we'll use at the beginning of next year: Bee Bee Bumble Bee, Cobbler, Cobbler, 1, 2 Buckle My Shoe.  Just to kick things up a notch we're getting out the "big drums" (a.k.a. the tubanos) and playing the beat on the drum head and "the way the words go" on the rim.  I don't usually get these out for these guys so they've been super excited!!

My first graders are also playing a lot of the early second grade games:
Here Comes a Bluebird, Who's That?, Mouse, Mousie, etc.  We've been starting class with this singing game that I learned from Susan Brumfield (it'f Creole from N.O.):

There's a couple ways to play it:
Version 1 (the way my 1st graders are playing it):
Formation: single circle, facing partners.

  1. phrase 1 (first 3 beats + the pick up): shake right hands with partner
  2. phrase 2 : shake partner's left hand
  3. phrase 3: 1st "bonjour mes amis" shake right hands, 2nd "bonjour mes amis" shake left hands, 3rd "bonjour mes amis bonjour" trade places with partner.
  4. phrase 4: slow turn around so that you're facing a new partner.
Version 2 (they'll learn this later in 2nd grade)
Formation: double circle, facing partner (one partner in the inside circle, one in the outside circle)
  1. phrase 1: same as version 1
  2. phrase 2: same as version 1
  3. phrase 3: join hands and complete a full turn with partner, returning to original spot.
  4. phrase 4: slow step to the left, waving goodbye to your partner and facing a new partner.
This has been our opening activity and they have been having a blast with it!

With 2nd grade we're playing lots of singing games that they'll use next year: "Fire on the Mountain", "Rosie, Darling Rosie," etc.  We've played Rhythm Wars so I brought out my Rhythms of the Deep file for them to read.
This is an MP4 file and instead of having them just clap and say the rhythms we're using these wooden fish paddles that I got from Oriental Trading:
I bought these originally to use with the Crawdad song.  Oriental Trading use to have rainbow fish but they don't anymore.  I borrowed the paddles that my good friend and colleague Loretta had use for a concert to play a rhythm pattern on the Crawdad Song when my 3rd graders sang that song at their concert this year.  I didn't think there would be enough of her paddles so I bought the sharks so everyone would have one.  With the Rhythms of the Deep file what we did was play the rhythms that they saw in the MP4 file with a chopstick on the back of the wooden paddle (****NOTE: the ball and string was removed from the paddle!! :) ).  The kids had a great time but now they want me to make files that have "Shark Patterns" so they can play it like poison!

My third graders are, you guessed it, playing games that we'll use next year at the beginning of the year.  So, "I Have Lost the Closet Key", "John Kanaka" are a couple we've done.  We also got out the lummi stick and played this song that I learned from Janet Montgomery during my undergrad at CU Boulder:
There were three basic patterns that I taught them:
  1. floor, click own stick (repeat) ** we talked about playing the stick vertically as opposed to horizontally to the ground.  One creates a bass sound (the vertical playing of the stick) and that's the sound we want.
  2. floor, both (click both stick of partner).  I give them a couple seconds to figure out the logistics of this, as one partner needs to angle their sticks in and one needs to angle their stick out.
  3. floor, right (click right stick with partner's right stick), floor, left
After this I had them take their partner and find another set of partners to work with.  They were given the task of creating their own four beat pattern to perform with the song. They LOVED this! :)

With 4th grade we're playing some songs for 5th grade next year and then with them and 5th grade I'm letting them pick some of their favorites.  They love revisiting this one:

With 5th grade we're playing favorite singing games but we're also playing Music Baseball.

Our Rockies have been doing well and the kids have been really engaged playing the PowerPoint games in this file.

It's hard to believe that summer is almost here!  I do have a lot to do this week with end of the schoool year stuff but I've also got to get ready for my session for the National Dalcroze Conference which is at the end of June and level 2 Kodály at CSU in July.  We're going to Disneyland in about three weeks with the kids and it'd be nice not to have that weighing on my mind. . . yeah, right?! :)

I hope you all have a WONDERFUL week!!!

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

A Linky Party: Ideas for Surviving the End of the School Year

Hi everyone!  And happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there!

I've got 9 days of school left so I thought I'd host another LINKY Party!!!  There are so many talented music teachers out there blogging so I can't wait to read some of their posts about what they do to survive the end of the year.  If you're wanting to link up, please scroll to the bottom of this post (sorry, it's a little long!!!)

I'm going to list four things that I keep in the back of my mind when I think about the end of the year:

  1. Make sure I'm forward planning.  The end of the year is a a lot about review and planting seeds for next year.  I do a lot of review games but I also start singing games that we're going to use in the first month of the next grade level so that I can have the song repetoire in their ears. This one I'm going into greater detail below.
  1. Make sure I'm having fun.  If I get stressed out thinking about grading 5 grades times 550 students that's only going to trickle down into problems in the classroom.  The kids know when you're having a bad day or when you're stressed out.  So, I make sure to be present in my teaching, have fun, challenge the students but laugh and make music.  To avoid feeling overwhelmed with grades I focus on half of one grade level a day.  That's only a little over 50 students, which is easier to tackle then 550 in one sitting!
  1. I check in with my team mates.  If I think I'm stressed about 5 x 550 grades (plus two kinder springs sings) I can only imagine how stressed my pe teacher is with planning the ALL school field day, the librarian with getting all of her inventory of books in BEFORE report cards go home (in our district if a student has any books out they don't get their report card.  Although, now we're on electronic report cards so I think parents cannot access it unless all books are in or paid for).  I find that the more I support them, the more we communicate and help each other the more "even keel" we are as a team.  Plus, surprising your teammates with Starbucks every now and then doesn't just make their day but it give me a warm-fuzzy as well!!
  1. I check in with my classroom teacher friends.  We're all in this boat together and the stronger your support system amoungst your teachers the better the school climate.  The teachers in my school have been testing our kids unrelentlessly.  Not because they want to. They'd rather teach.  But they're required to test so they do. And that means that if, with two weeks left of school, that they have to pull a student out of my class that it's okay.  They NEVER do otherwise.  I'm very lucky that way!

A Little More on FUN Review and Forward planning:
There are a few elements that I take into consideration here.  Number one is mastery of the concepts that the students need to know in order to get to the concepts they need to learn next year.  So, I do a lot of review and we do this through games.

With kindergarten we're doing a lot of beat vs. rhythm games so that way in the first couple months of 1st grade we can present ta  and ti-ti.  One of their favorite is my "Magic Drum".  At the beginning of the kindergarten year I use the "Magic Drum" to cast a spell on their feet and then drum controls their feet.  If I keep a steady beat they walk, if I play a quarter-eighth (6/8 meter) pattern the gallop or skip.  If the drum is played softly they tip toe, if the drum played loudly they stop.  If the drum is played slow they step slowly and if it's played fast they .. . . . well, they run!  It's great fun.  But at the end of the year I'm forward planning, knowing that I'm going to want to get to ta and ti-ti.  So, instead of it being JUST the magic drum, the magic drum now plays either the beat or the rhythm of a chant that they know and their feet must match the drum.  I do choose to use chants rather than songs because it's a little easier.  That being said, I have one kindergarten class that can really handle matching pitch which listening ans responding to the drum so I'll change it up for that class.  Another way to differentiate is to let the kids be the "magicians". That is, they play either the beat or "the way the words go."

My first graders will be doing a lot of review of ta, ti-ti & rest and so-mi.  We'll be playing review games such as this favorite (that I didn't bring out until this coming week to keep them really engaged.  I know that once we do it they'll ask for it at the next lesson, which is the last time that I will see them for this school year.  How awesome to have them WANTING to read and practice rhythmic reading.  Although, if you ask them, they're playing with ligth sabers!)

Some of the forward planning that we'll be doing will be playing games that contain half note and la, in both the s-l-s-m  turn and the s-m-l-s-m turn.  We'll probably go outside and play "We Are Dancing in the Forest".  And we'll play this is a very FUN la game. 

In this game, the students are in two lines, facing each other.  The students in the lines are the "houses."  One student will be assigned to be the "cop".  The cop faces away and one of the "houses" is assigned to be the "robber".  Now, the "cop" can go anywhere": the alley (the area between the two lines in a traditional two line set) is assigned as the street and the area behind the houses (behind the students) are assigned as the "alleys."  We talk about how all neighborhoods use to have alleys, none of them in our area do so we have to define this.  The cop does not know who the robber is until the end of the song. Afte the students sing the song, the robber may only run through the alleys to stay away from the cop (running out of their spot and returning after one full run around all the houses to where they started).  The cop, however, may run both in the alleys and the street. The kids LOVE this.  You can easily transition into a s-m version of "poison" but instead of calling it a "poison" pattern, you call it the "stollen" pattern.  It's great aural practice of so-mi but they're playing a game and having fun!!!

With my second graders we're going to be reviewing half-note & do and we'll be using this game to do some of that this week:

Additionally, they did learn re so we'll be using some of the "Swat that Fly" re games to do this.  They LOVE This game.  You can read about it in this post.

My second graders will also be playing a lot of tika-tika games.  We're really close to presenting it but with two lessons left in the year it's pointless to present it.  We'll just continue with those fun games!

My third graders will be practicing low so and ti-tika.  We're going to be doing game that have tika-ti in them and high do in addition to practice games for low so and ti-tika.

For ti-tika review we'll be playing "Slug Bug" as thematically I can tie it in with summer vacations.
It works pretty much like the swat the fly games but I have them play it in smaller groups with everyone having a mini guitar fly swatter that I found on Amazon:

 Here's what the small Slug Bug cards look like:
Forward planning for 3rd grade, this week we'll be playing "John Kanaka," "I Lost the Farmer's Dairy Key" to prepare high do but also play "Our Old Sow" and "Sailing On the Ocean" to review low so.  We'll play "Over the River/Charlie" and "Bubblegum" to prepare tika-ti.

Now, to keep 4th and 5th grade engaged and learning at the end of the year, I do my recorder "unit".  I really wish I could come up with a system that worked for me to have them play the recorders all year round.  But I'm not sure that would lend itself as well to the Recorder "Karate" that I've done in the past.  I mention done in the past because this year I've been working on a "Recorder is AWESOME" file which is Building Block (aka Lego) themed.  I'm LOVING the way it's working but it's become pretty big.  I do have colored levels, and use the same colors as Recorder Karate so I can give them strings for their recorders but we talk a lot about the "building blocks" of a song. Here's an example from "Hot Cross Buns":

**  a little side note: I'm using lower case letters for the form because it's only ONE measure.  If it was a larger section of music then it would warrent an upper case letter.  By 4th and 5th grade they know this and it doesn't throw them off.

I've redone my packets as well, here's a preview (I'm hoping to finish this soon!)

We've playing "Find the Building Block Games" in which cards like this
 are scattered on the floor (like legos are.  If you're a mom you know what I'm talking about!)
I'll either sing or play a pattern and they want to find the card that has that pattern.

We've played Recorder King of the Mountain, which they LOVED:

And this week we'll play an  "I Have/Who Has?" Recorder game: 

Recorders are VERY motivating and the students are dying to come in and test all the time!

We'll also be playing singing games, just like with the other classes.  A really fun one is one that I re-blogged about on "Throw Back Thursday" a couple weeks ago:

Formation:  standing circle, with partners facing each other with and extra player in the middle.

Action:  The song is sung numbers one through twenty while the players clap a steady beat.  At the word "Twenty-one" a partner clapping pattern begins as such: 
Beat one of each measure all players pat both hands on their legs.
Beat two of each measure players clap their own hands.
Beat three of each measure players pat the hands of their partners.
The other action that begins when the text says "twenty-one" is the middle player (the person without a partner) cuts into one of the sets of partners, replacing one of the players who then becomes the new person in the middle.  This action continues throughout the game with the new center person cutting into a new set of partners and taking one of their places and leaving the partnerless person to become the new center person.  This continues until "one-hundred" and the goal is to not be the person in the center without a partner.  

Forward planning with 4th grade, in addition to the recorder we'll be playing games that contain ti  and tom-ti.  Here are two of my favorites:

Formation: double circle, facing a partner
Action: on "Cross town" players cross arms across their chest on the word "cross" and one "town" they pat their legs.  After that they start the pattern clap own hands-clap right hands with partner-clap own hands-clap left hands with a partner.  This repeats until the next "Cross Town."  Once students have mastered the clapping patterns, they rotate to the left every time they sing "cross town."

2.         Black them boots and make them shine, Goodbye, goodbye

            Black them boot and make them shine, Goodbye Liza Jane
            Goin’ down to Cairo, Goodbye, Goodbye
            Goin’ down to Cairo, Goodbye Liza Jane

3.         The old cow died and how I cried, Goodbye, goodbye.
            The old cow died and how I cried, Goodbye Liza Jane.
            Oh, how I loved her, Goodbye, Goodbye
            Oh how I loved her, Goodbye Liza Jane

Formation: single circle with 6-10 couples, 8 preferred
Verse 1:  circle left, single file.  Players may walk or use a shuffle-stamp two step.
Verse 2-end:  grand right and left.

Before I sign off, I wanted to let you know that MANY music teachers will be having a $2 Sale this Tuesday!  All you have to do is search "$2TuesdayMusicFlashSale" and it will bring up all the files that are available for $2.  Most of these files normally range in price from $4-6.  I'm posting a "We Sing, What's Your Super Power" file that will include posters for a bulletin board, handsign charts and solfa ladders!

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
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