Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Listening Activities for Spring

Here are two of my favorite listening activities for Spring (one for K-2 and one for 3-5):

The first goes with "Flight of the Bumblebee" and I've used it with 1st grade (I think it would work K-2).  They are also working on the song "Bee Bee" (you can find a powerpoint lesson for this song here):

I like to use this video below (obviously for visual effect - kiddos love checking this out and they are very observant, such as "blue is the low pitch"  "the large shapes are longer sounds" etc):

First, I have the students listen quietly and try to decide what the song might be about (they can follow along to the video).
After the first listening, I ask them to discuss what they think it is about with their partner.  Then, we discuss as a class and I label it as "flight of the bumblebee" (I have a bee mask that I believe I found at Michael's and I put that on - hilarious).
For the second listening, I ask them questions about the dynamic level and tempo.  We discuss this also.
On the third listening, I select three "flowers" (I have them hold stuffed flowers that I believe they currently have at Target or you can buy them from Oriental Trading).  My 1st graders totally know all about bees and we pause here to talk about them and how flowers and bees relate to one another.  The students watch as I "fly" around the room (flapping short wings) and then "pollinate" (fly to a flower and hover by them).
So the rules for the kiddos are:
* no sounds so we can listen to the music and teacher instructions
* bees must "fly" when they hear the teacher say "fly" and "pollinate" as soon as they here "pollinate"
* never pick the same flower twice (we only do this for about 60 sec of the song or so) so that no flower feels left out
* bees can fly quickly but they cannot run - we don't want anyone getting hurt
On repetitions:
* choose new flowers who must say a fact about bees or discuss something they heard in the song
* use new versions of the song as they play (we really like this one:)

Listening and Movement Lesson: “Minute in A Major” by Boccherini

BACKGROUND INFO (write on board for students to see - I include his picture also)
Composer: Luigi Boccherini
Dates: 1743-1805
Title: Minuet in A Major from String Quartet in E, Op 13 No 5
Fact 1: Boccherini played the cello.
Fact 2: Boccherini wrote lots of string quartets.
Fact 3: Boccherini was born in Italy but spent most of his life in Spain.

CONCEPTS/VOCABULARY (write on vocab cards - see picture below for example)
3/4 meter
String Family

(I like this version):

1.      Discuss the facts about Boccherini (write on the board with his picture posted).
2.      Listen to the song – have students keep only the downbeat pulse – as they listen show the major and minor vocab cards (at the appropriate time) and discuss the string family (specifically what members make up the string quartet)
3.      Listen again – ask the students “do you feel that the beats are grouped in twos or threes” (stand and move if needed) – once the question has been answered, keep the 3/4 pulse (alternating places for each measure - we lightly tap top of hand then near elbow)
4.      Create a large circle (without scarves) and complete the following movement:
a.      A section: Walk clockwise around the circle stepping on the downbeat only, beginning with the left foot (on repeat go counter-clockwise)
b.      B section: stand and face middle of the circle – spread arms upward twice and downward twice
c.       Complete entire form of the song: AABABA
5.      Discuss the term “anacrusis” – pointing out to the students that the music began before we moved to the first downbeat
6.      Try the same movement with scarves (weaving in to the circle " in, two, three" and then out "out two three" with whatever arm is facing outside of the circle)
7.      Discuss the form of the music (students decode this) then write on board
8.      Move in small circles (four small circles around hula-hoops works best) and perform the movement in small groups (if scarf color and hula-hoop color match, awesome - if the students wear the same color as the scarf and hula-hoop - you've got a program dance on your hands)

Extension: They can fill out a listening recommendation such as this one below (you can find out more about this worksheet by clicking on the picture below)

I hope you find these ideas helpful - give them a try :)

Monday, March 3, 2014

Captain, Go Sidetrack Your Train

Here's a rhythm activity I'm planning to use with my 5th graders (we're working on recorder and syncopa):

The students create their own rhythms and then improvise a melody on E-G-A-B on the recorder.  This creates a "B" section for the orffestration and movement we use with the song:

In this download at my TPT store, you'll find the printables you see above, lots of tempo vocabulary word printables, thorough slides for teaching the song, movement game instructions, full orffestrations, and 3 mini-lessons (with explicit instructions).  Check it out!

Sunday, February 9, 2014


In the past I've struggled with explaining "syncopa".  I mean, sure the kids understand what to call it and they understand the short-long-short feeling of it, but do they really understand all the components and how they indeed last two beats?  Yikes!

So, this is a silly way I've created to explain it (I can't get the picture to not go sideways, sorry! - and of course, being the Kodaly person I am, the students have already experienced the feel of syncopa, they were prepared, it just hadn't been presented yet):
First, I lay-out the quarter note heart and eighth note pair heart.  I ask the students, "Which heart has one sound on a beat?" (quarter note)  and "Which heart has two sounds on a beat?" (eighth note pair).  "How many beats do you see now?" (two) and "How many sounds do we have?" (three)  "Well, one day the quarter note was hanging out with his friends the eighth note pair.  The eighth note pair always went somewhere together - they were best friends - BFFs.  In fact, the quarter note had never seen them apart.  Today, however, as he approached, he heard the eighth note pair arguing.  It seemed they had grown tired of hanging out all the time and need a little break from each other.  They were getting pretty upset (at this point I take out the pink heart with the eighth notes, separate or "break" it, and put the quarter note in between them), so the quarter note decided to get in the middle of their argument to try to help them out."  Then I ask the students "How many beats do we see?" (two)  "How many sounds do we see?" (three)  "Where does the longest sound occur?" (in the middle)  We chant it saying "ti-ta-ti" and do a pat-clap-pat body percussion with it.  Then, I say "The quarter note helped the eighth note pair realize that they need a little bit of a break from each other.  The three of them walked around in this order and decided that they liked this arrangement.  Maybe they could stay this way and become something else all together?"  (At this point I bring out the syn-co-pa hearts).  "Look, its a new rhythm called syn-co-pa!"  We chant syn-co-pa and use pat-clap-pat.  Then I ask "How many beats make-up syncopa?" (two)  "How many sounds make up syncopa?" (three)  "Where do the short and long sounds occur?" (short-long-short).  "How many eighth notes make up syn-co-pa?" (two)  "How many quarter note are in syncopa?" (one)

I like to use syncopa around Valentine's day because of the heart analogy (the hearts are currently available at Target in the $1 section) and because there are so many cute Valentine's Day songs that use syncopa.  I found this song at  Amy Abbott's blog last year.  Here's how I plan to have my students dictate the rhythm this year:

The students can see that "syn-co-pa" doesn't fall exactly on the beats like the quarter note and half note do.

Rhythm PIzzas

My 3rd grade students are currently learning about fractions in their math classes.  I thought that this might be a way to help them with this topic while teaching music.  This would be really cute paired with "Pizza, Pizza Daddy-O".
In the past I had students create their own pizzas and I'm thinking they could do this also, but this time we'll cut out the slices and do some addition/subtraction problems together (such as - a half note plus a quarter note plus two eighth notes) to create rhythms to read and perform.

Students can also play the rhythms on orff instruments while other students move to them (they love this and I usually use tubano drums set up in a circle with the "dancers" in the middle):
Whole Note: step once and stretch out body
Half Note: hop twice
Quarter Note: walk four steps
Eighth Note: jog eight steps
Sixteenth Notes: tip-toe run for 16 steps (this is our favorite)
 ****A student could hold up a pizza so the others know what to move/play***

Lots of ideas swirling around but I would appreciate your suggestions on how to incorporate fractions.  I've seen some cool ideas with legos too ;)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Recorder Interactive Notebook Stuff

My older students will be beginning our recorder unit within the next few weeks.  I'm especially excited to work with my 5th graders.  This is their 3rd year playing recorder and they are such great little musicians.

Here are a few things I'm working on for them.  I'll put these materials up on TPT around mid-to-late February, once I finish all the accompanying powerpoints.  I'm having to create new materials for my little smarties.  Most of these pages will be placed in their interactive notebooks so they can monitor and track their progress and have all the resources they need.  I also include a recorder fingering chart and a page with all the pitches on the treble clef labeled.  Note: A few items are nearly verbatim from the Recorder Karate curriculum (the Recorder Basics and Recorder Rubric), so those won't be included in my TPT store but if you purchase the bundle, I'll send them via email for free.

First, there is the recorder basics sheet.  Most of my 5th graders mastered this years ago, but it doesn't hurt to review or to show the new ones what is expected.  The students must earn my initials next to each criteria before they can begin testing for their belts.

Next is a basic overview of the songs and prizes attached to them:
From there, the students are asked to choose a goal.  Some need my help so that they choose an attainable goal.  Goal-reachers will be recognized with a picture on the recorder bulletin board and their names in a drawing to win a sopranino recorder (I hold a drawing for all the black belts to win one also, so this will be a way to reward those that may have been working very hard but weren't quite skilled enough to reach black belt).
The students can color in their progress after they play for me.  I'll grade them based on this rubric:
After a student progresses through the black belt, I have advanced music they can use:
And here's a copy of what their music looks like up until black belt.  Now, by 5th grade, most students can go straight to the bottom of the page (with the music on the staff) and in fact, I encourage them to do so and require most of them to pass off their music this way.  However, having the music broken into these smaller chunks help my SPED and new students progress along fairly well.  It is also especially helpful for my 3rd graders, who are all new recorder players.
Here's a little history of the recorder foldable I'm going to have the students use.  They'll be allowed to work in pairs to complete this, using a print-out with information about the history of the recorder on it:
Let's get to honking, hahaha!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Groundhog Day and a Sale

Hello everyone!  I don't know about you but I had such a busy busy December!  I'm excited to get back to blogging.

I'm starting this year off with the first of many coming freebies (most will be either recorder-based or applicable for older students).  My 4th and 5th graders are really ready for some more challenging music, especially on the recorder so I'll need to create the resources for them.

This file, based on Groundhog Day, is what I'll use as a warm-up/practice activity with my older students.  Instructions are included in the file, but let me know if you need any help.   I'll be posting a E-G-A-B and D-E-G-A-B version of this later today.  Click the picture to download.

I'm also having a 20% OFF SALE at my TPT STORE.  Check it out and stock up for the new year.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Penguins on the Staff

My kinders are learning about the lines and spaces of the music staff (we're past the whole -higher/lower, two lines, three lines, sort of prep stuff).  I have a really cute activity for lines and spaces that involve stars that I'll post about later.

For now, here's an idea that I've used with past week:

The large staff is a painted shower-curtain (easy and surprisingly durable).

The penguins are little figures I made and then cut out and laminated (also pretty durable).

To play, I move the penguins off the staff and tell the students a blizzard has happened.  We wave our hands up and down while making a "whoo" sound (like the wind blowing).

Then, we sing this (to the tune of "I'm a little teapot")

I'm a little penguin on the staff
Watch me waddle and try not to laugh
Can you please help me find my place
On a line or on a space

While we're singing, I choose a student to put each penguin (one by one, so we sing 5 times for the lines and 4 times for the space) on the correct place.