Thursday, December 18, 2014

Snowflake Ballerinas!

What better to conclude our Nutcracker unit in 2nd grade than these beautiful Snowflake Ballerinas? I am always looking for novel and interactive ways to teach major works like The Nutcracker Ballet so when I found this on Pinterest, I was so excited!

My students really enjoyed watching the Dance of the Snowflakes while creating these precious ballerinas. Even the boys really got into it! We talked a little bit about tu-tus and pointe shoes as they were creating. It was a great way to keep energetic hands busy as we survive these last few days of school before Christmas break. ;)

A few helpful tips if you want to try this in your classroom:
- For some students that have a harder time with fine motor skills, I went ahead and folded the paper for them and let them cut out the shapes. It saved them some time and frustration.
- I recommend using something like a tray to catch the snowflake scraps. Otherwise, it takes FOREVER to clean up. I figured that one out pretty quickly. ;)
- If they can handle it, you can even have the kids move their ballerinas to the music. My students discovered that they float very nicely if tossed up gently.

You can find the directions and print-out here. Enjoy!

Here are my 2nd graders hard at work:

After they finished cutting out their snowflake, they had a chance to add some designs and color on their ballerina. Many enjoyed adding a face as well.


I love how this student drew a bun on the back. :)

So. Much. Fun!  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from HSES! :)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Turkey Carols

Fourth graders have been creating Turkey Carols!

First, we talked about the words "tune" and "lyrics."

Next, we had a "Turkey Carol" sing-along as we looked at some examples. Then, students got with small groups and began to create their own. They picked a topic, chose a tune, and then got to work creating their own lyrics.

Finally they edited and wrote a final draft...

And performed them for the class:

Alabama Gal

Alabama Gal... what a fun song! Our fifth graders have really enjoyed learning this piece. After we learned the 4 verses, we added a fun line dance!

I also used this song to talk a little with them about syncopation.

Then, I challenged the students to figure out the melody to the song on their own. They worked with a partner and after being given the starting pitch, they were off! Once they discovered the melody and had a chance to practice, we created a performance including some dancers.

Great job, fifth graders! :)

Here is an Orff accompaniment that we might try after Thanksgiving break written by one of my favs, Deanna Stark. She has some GREAT free resources on her website:

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

More Rhythm Centers

First graders have been working on basic rhythm patterns using quarter notes, eighth notes, and quarter rests. They have really enjoyed these rhythm centers to help them practice and review.

1) Koosh Rhythms - Students take turns tossing the koosh ball at the board. When they hit a circle, a rhythm will pop up and they have to read that rhythm correctly to their team. You can download this game here.

2) Rhythm Bingo - I have the students take turns calling out the rhythms. That way I can assess their rhythm reading and identification. When they get 5 in a row, they call out, "Bingo" and the students check their answers.

3) Rhythm Caterpillar - I got this idea from Mrs. King's Music Class blog. Students roll the dice to determine which circle to put on the caterpillars' body. Once the body is filled in, students choose an instrument and play the rhythm together. This center is designed to exposed students to 8 beat patterns.

4) Musical Groceries - First, students work together to figure out the rhythm of each food item. Then students pick 4 foods and place one on each plate. Students then have to perform the food names with their appropriate rhythm. Here are some other "Musical Groceries" ideas.

5) Busted Rhythm Game - Students take turns pulling out popsicle sticks and reading the rhythms to their team. If they get the rhythm correct, they get to keep the stick. When someone pulls out a "Busted" stick that person has to put all of their collected sticks back in the container. The game continues until all the sticks are pulled and the one with the most sticks is the winner.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

It Rained on Anne

Second graders at HSES are really enjoying our study of Italian musical terms. They love learning the vocabulary of "real musicians!" ;) This lesson about fermatas is one I learned from my mentor teacher years ago and it has become a favorite!

First, I teach the students the following poem. After they are comfortable, I like to add a simple steady beat (pat, clap). After the students can perform the poem well, I ask them to listen as I change something. I read the poem again, this time adding a long pause on the word, "huge." The students then perform with me.

I introduce the fermata symbol and definition and have the students practice drawing the symbol in the air. We perform the poem again, this time drawing the fermata in the air on the word, "huge." We then move the fermata to different words in the poem and perform the fermatas.

Next, I have the students get into small groups and experiment with the fermata on a variety of words. Once they have their poem like they want it, they practice it together. This gives them a chance to practice drawing the fermata as well as discover where fermatas might naturally fit in a piece.

Each group then performs for the class and the other students have to locate the words that had a fermata. The students pick volunteers to come to the board and put the symbols in the correct place.

At this point, we typically discuss how there are not usually many fermatas in a song and how some songs don't have any at all. The students enjoy looking through their music book to find songs that utilize a fermata. I usually follow up with another one of my favorite lessons, Shoo Fly!

There is also a great Orff lesson using the song, "It Rained on Anne," in Konnie Saliba's book, "A Musical Adventure." You can check it out here.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Boomwhacker Compositions

Excuse our noise... musicians at work! :)

After reviewing rhythm patterns at the beginning of the year, 3rd grade classes began working on layering rhythm patterns together. This is one of the more difficult skills that they will work on so I like to start early. By playing contrasting patterns together, students have to show proficiency in steady beat and rhythm counting. After lots of practice, and doing class layering activities like this, the students got into groups and began working on their own composition projects!

I always love it when people come into the music room while students are collaborating with instruments. They always say, "How in the world do you stand this noise??" It does get a little noisy but it is so neat to watch the groups collaborate and come up with great ideas together. I guess it is a sound only a music teacher could love. haha! ;) Here's a little sample of their group practice sessions:

To give the students a little inspiration, I like to show a few examples before they start their projects. Here are a few that I found on YouTube of a group of music teachers demonstrating their own Boomwhacker group creations:

Afterwards, the groups watched a video of their performance and then did a group self-assessment. I used Shannon's idea from "Music Room Magic" to create the rubric. They rated themselves on the following categories:
1. Did everyone know their part? Was everyone involved?
2. Did the rhythms fit together? Was their a consistent steady beat?
3. Was the form clear the audience?
4. Did the piece flow? Did you keep going no matter what?

Update: After many requests, I have decided to share my Boomwhacker Project Worksheet! Click here if you'd like to download a copy. :)