Friday, November 24, 2017

An Easy and Inexpensive Christmas Gift for Coworkers, Neighbors, or Friends


Every year, I try to find something for my close coworkers and a few neighbors that is nice but won't break the bank. I saw this idea at a boutique but it was Thanksgiving/autumn mitts, so I thought I'd look around to find some that are nice for all year. I also used music ribbon and made my own tags to give it a music twist.

Dollar Tree had these nice mitts with great saying on them and they are only $1! You can't beat that! BTW- you can order from dollar tree online if you are willing to get a case of 12 and have it sent to the store close to you for free (home sweet home mitt and the second one in the picture is not on there).


I bought cookie mixes at Walmart. These Betty Crocker mixes are thin enough to easily fit into the mitt. They were $1.82. There were many different kinds.


I got some shredded red and white decorative filler at dollar tree for $1. I just use a small amount in the front of the mitt by the candy for decoration.



I got some small chocolates at Walmart. I will use 5 with each mitt.


Sam's Club has this wonderful ribbon every year (it only cost around $7 for 50 yards!) but you could get ribbon at a good price in many places, such as Costco or Walmart.



I put the cookie mix into the mitt, got some cellophane that I had in my basement for baskets and cut it in half. I just taped the back of the cellophane to make it work. You can get large basket cellophane bags (6  to a pack for $5.99 at Hobby Lobby- Search for "cello basket bags" and don't forget to use a 40% off coupon while you are there!). Just cut them in half to get two out of each bag or just forget the cellophane and put the candies and decorative stuff into your mitt and simplify. I just put the mitt inside the half bag and then folded the cut edge to the back and used some clear tape on the seam. I then tied the ribbon on the top and cut the edges of the ribbon at an angle. 



I made these tags for coworkers and made it different for some close neighbors. EDIT: I just added a third page of tags for friends. Later, I added one for family, in case you need a small gift when visiting your aunt or someone. Just print onto card stock and then cut around the heart. I just taped them onto the front of the cellophane.






The total price for these gifts was less than $5. You can't beat that! Have fun making these and I hope your co-workers and neighbors enjoy! Get the four different pages with 5 on a page tags here. 

If you need gifts for your choir or music students, check out my Music Joke Gift bookmarks you can make and give to your students or they can make for family members!


Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Silent Scream: Playing Fun Games while Keeping Your Sanity


Kids love to play games and they can learn so much from them. They learn social skills and how to follow directions. 

In Kodály teaching, these games help with important teaching concepts. In the song, "We are Dancing in the Forest", students can practice sol, mi, and la. They can practice the rhythms of ti-ti (two eighth notes) and ta (a quarter note). They can learn to read music and can play these songs on the recorder or on the ukulele. 



We play this game by having my person of the day choose a helper. He or she are the wolves (I like using two to make the game go faster). They stand on one side of the room in my designated wolf den. The other students sing and dance while singing the song until the "wolf are you coming?" part. They then stop and cup their hands around their mouth while singing. 

The wolves then either sing, "yes, we are coming" or "no, we're not coming". If they sing, "no we're not coming", the other students sing back, "why aren't you coming?". The wolves then sing back a reason. It might be, "we are brushing our teeth" or "we are cooking dinner". If they say yes, then they both tag the students. When students are tagged, they go lay down in the wolf's den. I also make the rule that if they run into the wolf's den, they are automatically dead, to keep the kids who are dead safe. The game ends when all of the kids are "dead". I like to remind the "dead" kids in my best "Disney pirate" voice that "Dead men tell no tales" because they can't talk.  

If you want to add tons of fun vocabulary and movement to this song, while the students stay in place, check out my "We are Dancing in the Forest" Song and Literacy Pack. 

Games are so fun and students love them, but if your students get too wild or out of control, they can drive you crazy and make students unhappy or even injure them. That is why it is so important to have rules and procedures in place to help students play safely and within structure. 


The Silent Scream


Students love the silent scream and it keeps my sanity.  I believe it helps them to be less crazy in their games too. I start this in Kindergarten. Kids are always amused by it. I just tell them that I don't like screaming and I want them to do a silent scream. I demonstrate it while acting like I am screaming and I wave my hands in the air but make no noise. It takes them a little practice to get good at it, but they really enjoy it. 


Other Rules and Procedures

At my past three schools, I have found it very useful to remind the students of the rules every time we play a game. I ask them to remind me of the rules. It only takes a minute but makes a huge difference. If students do not follow the rules, I stop the game and remind them again. It is rare that I have to stop a game. 

Rules for tag or running games

1. Don't run like crazy people
2. Watch where you are going
3. Tag gently if we are playing a game of tag
4. Be a good sport. If you are out, go out.
5. Don't use others as shields. 

Ways to keep kids from running like crazy people

1. Run on your heels- it really slows them down
2. Choose different ways to move during the game, such as "we are tiptoeing in the forest" or "we are crawling in the forest".

That one class

Every once in a while, I have that one class that makes playing games difficult. Last year, I had one class like that. I made a rule that if anyone got hurt (I had kids who seemed to always cry like they were hurt), the game would stop. That seemed to cure this class. There was a time for them where they were not allowed to play games, but not being allowed to play games cured them. 

More Fun games

Sandra Hendrickson, of Sing, Play, Create, has written a fun post about some benefits of playing games. Be sure to go read her great blog post! 



I hope that some of these ideas help you to be able to play fun games with your students while keeping your sanity! I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments! 


Thursday, October 26, 2017

Finding the Strong Beat


In Kindergarten, 1st,, and 2nd grade, I work on helping students feel the steady beat and the strong beat. We do the beat on our laps, saying beat is steady to various songs.

A favorite song for learning the strong beat is called "Frog in the Middle”. We pat our laps on the strong beat. It is challenging from some students not to tap the rhythm (the way the words go). The green frogs represent the strong beat.




I love to read a fun frog book, such as "Frog on a log” to get the kids thinking about frogs. I love how this book rhymes too. (Affiliate links included)


I then get out a fun frog puppet and have him jump on my hand on the strong beat and on the students’ hands.



I found these fun frogs to jump on at the dollar store last year. They have been a great way for kids to learn to jump on the strong beat, especially at the end of the song when they sing, “can’t catch me”. Instead of keeping a steady beat and only jumping on “can’t and me”, some kids want to jump on the rhythm “can’t catch me”. 



Having students Jump on my eight frogs helps students to really feel the strong beat. For students who find this challenging, I walk along beside them and clap on the beat. I have the rest of the class keep the beat on their laps at the same time as singing.

Once every student has done the strong beat on the 8 frogs (about 6-8 each time the students come), we form a circle having students face the same direction. I put my person of the day in the middle to act as the frog. Students jump on the strong beat. On the last word, the frog catches someone, who then becomes the new frog.

I could jump in the circle with the kids or on the outside of the circle, but to save my sanity and energy, especially since I am usually learning this with 1st grade and reviewing it with 2nd grade, I hold my hand up in the air flat while the other hand with my puppet jumps on it like a frog to the steady beat. It helps the students to see what they should be doing. I also find students who are “getting it” and point them out, complimenting them on their steady strong beat.

You probably won’t be able to find these cool flat frogs I found at the dollar store right now, so I have made some you can print and laminate for your students. Find them at the end of this post. 


I did find some cool spider ones yesterday at the dollar store. You can often find other similar pieces at the dollar tree. Just change your rhythm and words to fit the song. For the spider pieces I found, we will sing, “spider in the middle, spider in the sea, spider in the middle, can’t catch me!” This will be so fun for Halloween!





I just got these today (November 11th 2017) at the dollar store. They have these felt like pieces (about 1-2 feet tall) all of the time! I bought 8 of each and plan to have a strong beat canon with them. 



We could also derive the rhythm of each one. We could then compare and sort the rhythms that are alike. 

In case you can't afford to buy any of those fun dollar store pieces or can never find them, I have made some other fun ones to use in different seasons or even with different songs. You could obviously make enough for your whole class if you wanted to. Grab these for FREE in my Teachers Pay Teachers store with directions on using this song for strong beat. 



I hope you enjoy working on the strong beat! Get my FREE Strong Beat pack here. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Drumming Up Fitness Made Easy


I see different kinds of fitness drumming all over youtube. I wanted to do a fitness class using more traditional music, rather than all of the pop music. If you look at some of the published programs out there, they are very expensive and there is no traditional music used. I have done a lot of research and figured out a way to make it work for very little money. I do it as a before school program from 7:30-8:15. It is tricky because I pick up the kids from the front door and then we go to the before school lady's office to pick up the equipment. I used a rolling crate to move the lunch totes and the kids have to carry their own balls. If one student isn't there, we don't have enough balls, although I have solved that problem somewhat by carrying one ball on top of my lunch totes and keeping a couple of balls in my portable. I give the kids on time tickets that accumulate toward prizes if they get there within the first 5 minutes. I just started that and think it will help get them there on time. 


Drumsticks

Drumsticks are REALLY expensive and if you read about most of the less expensive ones, they break easily. I found a pinterest idea for wrapping PVC pipes. I actually had PVC pipe already cut in my new classroom. 

Make your own by buying 1 inch PVC pipe from your hardware store, such as Home Depot or Lowes. Cut them to about a foot. I believe those stores will cut them for you if you ask. Buy electrical tape from those stores in whatever colors you want. I bought it in blue and yellow, our school colors. Wrap them in stripes. They are very durable. After a month of using them, they are still in perfect condition and the kids are so busy, they don't have time to pull the tape off. 


A Platform for the Balls

It is pretty inexpensive to buy Walmart tubs that my school uses for lunch totes. You can get a set of 8 for about $50. They are wide enough that it keeps the balls stable. Get them online here or just go to the store and buy them.


Balls

Balls are very inexpensive from amazon.com. They cost around $11 each. This one is a good, sturdy ball. You might find some less expensive ones. You can get various sizes of balls. Get this one here.  (affiliate link)


Uniform

You could just use black pants and a t-shirt of the same color- even a school shirt all the same color. You could also look online for a shirt that works. I have decided to just have the kids wear black pants with the school shirt the school already sells. 


Storage of Equipment

The one challenge of doing this program is how to store the equipment. In our school, the before school lady puts the balls in her office space. I have a couple in my room behind my desk. The lunch totes stack nicely as well. 

We also talked about either using balls from one of the teachers who uses them for flexible seating or buying the balls with before/after school money and then offering them to a teacher to use in his/her classroom. For our program for now, we don't have that many that storing in her office is a problem, but we will see going forward. I was new to this school and the program is new so we have a small class for now. 


How to teach it

I started out writing down movements and trying to read them but just doing it with a video works the best. There are little to no classical music videos out there so I have worked to find music to work with. A music teacher friend of mine bought the full (very expensive program) of one company. Her advice after doing their program is that all you really need are the videos. FYI.

Warm up

I found a great video for a good warmup that the kids love. 


Classical Music

I found this one using the Can Can that inspired me. We are doing this one, which the kids love. You can go into youtube setting to change the video to a slower tempo for learning. 


Christmas Music

I also found this video that is traditional Christmas music. We, of course, won't use the video. I wish I could find the music this is based on, since it is cut off at the beginning. We do this one at 75% speed so it is easier to do. Full speed is just too fast for us. I have also added more jumping on particular places to make it more physical. It is a great workout when you do that. 



Here are a few of my students (with parent permission to be on video) doing a few of these moves. I normally do it with them but I was video taping. 



Creating Our Own Routine

Finally, I searched far and wide to find this great music to make our own routine. The first thing I did was to analyze the form of the music. 


Here is the form of it:



My kids made up the moves for this. I am pretty proud of what they've come up with. Here is a link to our December assembly performance. 


I just heard the soundtrack from the Trolls movie. In the Hall of the Mountain King from it would be another great piece of music for a routine. Maybe I'll use it next semester! 

EDIT: Lindsay Stirling's Dance from the final would make a great Drumming up fitness piece! 





Have fun drumming up fitness!


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Teach Eighth and Two Sixteenth Rhythm in a Way They'll Never Forget!


I love teaching rhythms through games. It makes it so easy to learn! The students love singing a song and playing a game and can so easily translate into a new rhythm. We play a game that makes learning the eighth and two sixteenths as well as two sixteenths and and eighth patterns so easy to remember.



A FUN GAME FOR LEARNING RHYTHM

Sailing on the Ocean is a great game for introducing these rhythms.

Here is the original song from the Holy Names University collection:



2. Got me a pretty girl, stay all day (3x)
     We don’t care what the others say.

3. Eight in a boat and it won’t go round. (3x)

     You can leave the pretty girl you just found.


Here are the directions for the song, again from the Holy names collection:


Game Directions 

Formation: single circle with four boys in the center.

Action: 1. Players in the outside circle join hands and circle clockwise while the boys in the center face toward the outer circle. Join hands and circle counterclockwise.

2. All players drop hands and both circles walk counterclockwise; each boy in the center chooses from the outer circle the girl nearest him and walks beside her until the end of the verse.


3. Each boy puts his partner on his right and all 8 join hands in the inner circle and move counterclockwise, while the other circle moves clockwise. On the word "leave" the boy leaves his partner in the center and goes to the outer circle. the game is repeated with the girls in the center and the words are changed by substituting "handsome boy" for the "pretty girl". 


Source: Elizabeth Coffman, Anna, Illinois


Lyrics Variation

In our district, we have changed it to make it more generic. Here are our lyrics:

Sailing on the ocean, the tide rolls high.
Sailing on the ocean, the tide rolls high.
Sailing on the ocean, the tide rolls high.
You can catch a great big fish, by and by.

Caught me a great big fish, stay all day.
Caught me a great big fish, stay all day.
Caught me a great big fish, stay all day.
We don't care what the others say.

Four in a boat and it won't turn round.
Four in a boat and it won't turn round.
Four in a boat and it won't turn round.
You can lose that great big fish you just found.

Word changes made by Jerry Jaccard




We do it a bit differently in my class. Here is our variation in directions.

Directions Variation

1. One circle walks counterclockwise with one student walking the opposite direction around the inside of the circle. That student stops at the end of the verse by a student, who the becomes the "fish for the next verse.
2. The new "fish" walks counterclockwise and stops at the end of the verse by the first "fish". 
3. Both of the first two "fishes" do motorboat for the third verse. 

Motor boat is where both student face each other holding hands with their feet close together and close to each other. They lean back as they shuffle their feet quickly and go in a circle. I challenge the students to be careful to not "fling" the other student on the floor, especially if one is bigger than the other. The students love doing motorboat. 

The next time students start over, there are two "fishes" and they catch two new ones. The third time you start the game over, you would have 8 "fish". The kids would continue to do motorboat in pairs. By the end, I have "all in the boat and it won't go round". 

Variation told to me by Julianna Gylseth

Reading the Rhythm for the first time

After we have played the game, we read the rhythm. We discover that we already know ti-ti (two eighths) and that we already know tiki-tiki (four sixteenths). They are able to then take that knowledge to figure out what this new rhythm is called. We then read our new found rhythm and they are all so proud of themselves- that they can read a rhythm that only the big kids know. 




Playing the Rhythm Game


Play the following rhythm game. Line up groups of student along one side of your room. I usually have about 7 groups of 3 or 4 kids. Each group has the 8 measures of Sailing on the Ocean cards. I have them turn them over and “mix them up like crazy”. They choose a “leader” of their group. When I say “go”, they put the cards in order and then the leader runs up to me and as each group gets done, their leader runs up to me and gets in line. Once the leader is in line, the group can no longer change their rhythm. 


2 of the 8 measures of rhythm

I will check the rhythm of the group whose leader is first.
If that group is correct, they win. If they are not 
correct, I ask them to go back and fix it. This song is 
repetitive, but you would be surprised how often, 
especially when they first learn the rhythm how they
are not careful about the tiki-ti’s and the ti-tiki’s so they mix them up. 

I will leave the rhythm page up on my promethean board when they are first starting to play this game with a song. Once they get better at this, I take away the “cheat” sheet so they can really think through the rhythm. 

I will give a tiny eraser to the members of the team who wins. Once a team wins, they can win again but they will not get a prize. They are just thrilled if they get it first. 

My kids love this active way of practicing their new rhythm and it helps them to remember how to read this rhythm every time. 

Check out some other fun rhythm activities:


Halloween Drumming or 18 other drumming packs