Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Music Around the World- Hannukah and Dreidels

I know I am behind this year, because Hannukah is already over, but I have wanted to for some time to do a dreidel song with my kids to expose them to something from a different culture.

I wrote out the dreidel song made a rhythm and solfa chart for it.

I bought dreidels in a bag of them on Amazon. 

If you are interested in purchasing my Around the world- Israel pack, you can get it HERE.

It includes:

  • Music for “I Have A Little Dreidel
  • Directions on how to play the Dreidel game
  • Fun facts about Hanukkah
  • Solfa and rhythm for the dreidel song
  • A promethean flipchart of the music and 2 more verses plus rhythm/solfa
  • I Have a Little Dreidel song sheet to use with recorder
  • jpeg files of the music and rhythm/solfa so you can make a smart board flipchart
  • An Israel poster with a map and pictures of items from the country

Friday, December 6, 2013

Christmas Activities- what I do in my classes- Including the "Twelve days of Christmas" and "O Christmas Tree" in English and German

We have a Christmas assembly on the last day before vacation. The teachers choose songs for each class to sing, and I assist in helping the kids learn them, as well as the classroom teachers.

Here is what the teachers have chosen-- most of them sing the same song year after year

Kindergarten- "Must Be Santa"
First- "All I've got for Christmas is my Two Front teeth"
Second- "Mele Kalikimaka"
Third- Beach Boys- "Little Saint Nick"
Fourth- I'm gettin' Nuttin' for Christmas
Fifth- "Santa Clause Rock"
Sixth- "Silver Bells" with sign language

Whole School- They asked me this year to do a song with the whole school. I have chosen "the Twelve Days of Christmas" and made a set of visual aides. The kids are loving them. I am going to add motions for each grade to do-- the older grades will do two different verses.

Okay, here is what each grade is doing to the verses:

1st day- Kindergarteners- Arms up to make a tree
2nd day- 3rd grade- making a heart with their hands
3rd day- 2nd grade flapping arms like a hen
4th day-  1st grade- put hands to mouth to show calling
5th day- special ed classes- show a round ring with fingers
6th day- all office staff, principal, aids, PE and library teachers- not sure what they are doing yet
7th day- 6th grade- swimming like a break stroke motion
8th day- 6th grade- milking a cow
9th day- 4th grade girls jump and twirl
10th day- 4th grade boys jump up
11th day- 5th grade- playing recorder motion
12th day- 5th grade- play drums

I had a first grader, who has made it clear he is a science guy and not a music guy, ask me yesterday if I could make the twelve days of Christmas into a coloring book, so I added that as well.

Get them HERE.

I am playing "Old Mother Witch" with new words for Christmas with the younger kids. Get into a circle with one student in the middle, who is the Santa in this version. All kids sing the song and march on the beat in place. At the end of the words "they're all out to play", the student in the middle sings, "are you my reindeer", while pointing to a student. The student sings, "yes ma'am Santa is a girl and yes sir, if it is a boy". The student sings this 3 times, while pointing to different students. The third time, the student says, "no, you jolly old elf" and then runs around the circle while "Santa" chases. The kids love this game. 

On Christmas Day, Santa’s in his sleigh, 
Where are his reindeer, they’re all out to play
Are you my reindeer? Yes, ma'am (s m m, s m, s m)
Are you my reindeer? Yes, ma'am  (s m m, s m, s m)
Are you my reindeer? Yes, ma'am   (s m m, s m, s m)
No, you jolly old elf.  (spoken)


We continue to use bells, but now, with the younger kids, I have the kids use horse finger puppets and some ribbon. One student gallops while another student "rides" the horse by putting a thick ribbon around the "horse" as the reins. I was using this earlier with a Spanish song called "Corre Corre". The kids really love it. I bought cute finger puppet horses from Oriental trading company HERE.


A Colleague just introduced a fun ribbon dance to Ding Dong Merrily on High. Here is the info on it:

The music is from the album "The Sweets of May" by Dudley & Jacqueline Laufman. I bought the single track off itunes for .99 (it is titled Ding Dong Merrily on High and lasts 3:36)

This the map out of the Dance. 
  • 2 lines with parners facing eachother (like alabama gal). Each student gets a ribbon--partners have the same color--each partnership alterntes green/red, etc, down the line). Partnerships hold ends of each ribbon. 
  • Assign red ribbons "ones" and green ribbons "twos" 
  • 4 beat intro
  • 1st two sets of 16 beats--twos walk forward and over in 4 steps, and ones step back and under. "Ones" walk forward and over while "twos" step back and under. (Repeats four times)
  • 16 beats: The entire line makes and arch while the head couple sashays down and back (we talked about trying to do this in 8 counts down and back to give more time to the for the next transition)
  • 16 counts: banana peal, head couple makes an arch while the other couples go through. 
  •  New lead couple, repeat
  • The dance repeats 6 times. 


I plan to do some activities with the Nutcracker. In the past, for some of my special ed classes, I have brought in actual steel nutcrackers and nuts to go with the story. They really enjoyed it.

I read a children's nutcracker book and do some fun activities with a couple of the nutcracker songs. TO BE CONTINTUED.


I am doing an around the world theme this year. I am trying to incorporate songs from various areas,
that go with my passports. See my post about my around the world theme HERE.

I took German in high school and was a German Exchange student for a month. I have great memories of learning O Tannenbaum in 4th grade and really want to teach it to my students of all grades. They love learning a new language.

I have made visuals and other things to go with this song and am excited to try them this week. My O Christmas tree pack includes visuals for both English and German, a Germany Christmas fact sheet,

 O Christmas Tree music (German and English)

O Christmas Tree Visual- one page for English Version

Rhythm and Solfa partial page photo

Get your O Christmas Tree Pack HERE.

The Twelve Days of Christmas with the whole school

Every year, right before Christmas, our school has an assembly where every class sings a Christmas song. The classroom teachers choose a song for them to sing. I help a little to teach the songs.

This year, they have asked me to sing one song with the whole school. I remember when my son was a kindergartener in Illinois that his music teacher had them do "the Twelve Days of Christmas" with motions. Each grade did different movements, so that is what we will do this year.

I made visual aids to go with our song and they are a big hit. My husband doesn't  know it yet, but I am going to have him play the piano for us that day. :-)

I had a first grader, who has made it very clear that he is a science guy and not a music guy. Yesterday as we were singing the Twelve Days of Christmas using my visuals, something really perked his interest and he asked me if I had this in a book form. I told him I would make a coloring book,
so here it is.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Fonts, fonts and more fonts

I have come to appreciate creative fonts, and I just bought the most amazing CD's of fonts from DJ Inkers. I am so excited to try them out. If only I had more time. :-0  I will eventually get to it.

Here are some great ones:

DJ INKERS has these on sale for 25% off this weekend. So excited to use them!

Here is their website DJ Inkers.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Ukulele- getting started

Two years ago, I applied for and got a grant for 30 ukulele's for my 6th graders. They have loved them. I love the ukulele because the kids can learn to play an instrument, but they are still singing as well. They can use all of the musical knowledge they have accumulated to sing and play musically.

I start by having them sing the songs before we start. It is difficult to do both at the same time.

I use this book because it has many folk songs with 2 and 3 chords that use the chords that are most useful for a beginner.

I found these large chord cards on the Ukulele in the classroom site. I post them on the wall and made a promethean to project them. Get your cards HERE.

I start by teaching the C chord and G7 and then do a bunch of 2 chord songs. I have found that if you teach them how to read the chord chart, chords are not too hard to figure out. The hard part is getting good at moving back and forth from one chord to the next. Every class period, I start by working on chord changing-- doing 8 beats per chord and then moving to the next. That is the best way to get them to really learn. 

I then teach the F chord and do three chord songs, still reviewing the chord changing and our 2 chord songs. 

As we get closer to the end of the year, I teach them e minor and a minor and for the past two years, about 30 students have accompanied Somewhere Over the Rainbow, the IZ version. I have had auditions since we only have 30 ukulele's. The rest sing. 

This year, I plan to have the students also sing "The Cup song" with Rootbeer instead of whiskey used in it. Some students will do the actual cup game while other play the ukulele and everyone sings. I am going to have all of the students do hand clapping to it as well.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Ukulele- a Christmas book for beginners and anyone

I met Ryan Taylor in a Kodaly certification class. I was thinking about getting a grant for Ukulele's and was intrigued by his carrying of his ukulele everywhere he went. Surprisingly, I got a grant for $1350 to buy 30 ukulele's for my 6th graders. I went to Ryan's ukulele class to get some good tips. I really enjoyed it for a year and probably would have continued, but I am having to take 2 years of CMI math training at my school, which is taking up an extraordinary amount of time. After this year, it will be over, so I can probably join again.

I am excited to be going to a free ukulele workshop on Saturday with Ryan to check out his book. I'll report back. This wonderful review makes me very excited about it:

Review of Ryan Taylor's ukulele book.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Japanese weather Telling Game Song

My third graders have been loving the Japanese Weather telling song and game. I love connecting the songs with a book and this is what makes it work well. I read them the book and they are entranced by this simple but lovely true story about a young girl in Japan who gets some new clogs and ruins them while playing the Japanese weather telling game. I love that she although she tries to trick her mom, she feels bad about it and promises herself she will never try to trick her mother again. It is win/win when there is a good message, a lovely song, AND a fun activity! 

I had a Japanese student who brought his own pair of "Geta" last year and the kids were so fascinated with it. The thing that has made this successful besides the book is using an eraser to play the weather telling game, as suggested by one of my colleagues. That way my clogs don't get ruined. The kids love it. 

This year, I went on and bought my own pair of Japanese clogs. It just brings the song and story to life to see a real pair. Mine are even red. They are used, but it doesn't matter. It helps the kids to imagine that they were used to play the Japanese weather telling game. The kids LOVE them and love passing them around to see if they match their size. I have two lines of students to make it go faster. We tally the snow, rain, and good weather on the white board. 

To play the game,  I use an eraser because I don't want to ruin my clogs that I bought. The kids put it on the top of their foot and kick it in the air. If it lands right side up, the next day's weather will be sunny. If it lands on its side, it will be rain. If it lands upside down, it will be snow. The kids at my school have really enjoyed this. I have done it in third grade, but you could do it in other grades too.

Grab this FREE full Japanese Weather Telling Song and Activity HERE. 

If you like songs and activities from around the world, check out my many other packs HERE. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

In the Hall of the Mountain King by Edvard Grieg

I play the song, "In the Hall of the Mountain King" around Halloween. We talk about the pattern:

ti-ti ti-ti ti-ti ta,
ti-ti ta, ti-ti ta,
ti-ti ti-ti ti-ti ti-ti
ti-ti ti-ti ta rest

The students listen the first time and count how many times they hear the pattern. The next time, we count together. Then we dance to the music, trying to be sure we model what is happening in the music.

I just found a wonderful book to read to my students to really help them understand the story:

Thanksgiving Activities

I try to do at least one day of Thanksgiving activities for the kids. I will add to this in the next week.

Here is the list I choose from:

Cherry Pie song (younger)

Quilla Bung (I always do this for every grade)- a folk tale from the Singing Sack book

Twas the Night before Thanksgiving- a fun rhyming book

Old Turkey Dan 
(Play the game and sing the tune of Old Mother Witch)

Old Turkey Dan

Fell in a pan

Jumped out and ran away from Old farmer Dan

Are you my friend

Yes, ma’am (repeat 3 times)
No you mean old farmer 

Skim, Skim, Skim (I make butter with the first graders, but you could do this with other ages too)- See previous post for this song.

This is a Pumpkin Happy Poem- the Kindergarteners love it. Teach rhyming and emotions.

The Turkey Song- Lyrics coming (all ages love this)

Here is a screen shot of the solfa and one of the rest of the lyrics.

Over the River and Through the Woods (Sing the  book and then have kids play bells to it)

Ho Ho Watanay- Iroquois song

Shoo Turkey Shoo- Lyrics coming

Sorry. I love this one, but haven't had time to get the music on here.

Saturday, November 2, 2013


My favorite mentor teacher, Julianna Barker Gylseth, taught me a song and activity for first grade that we do every year. The kids love it. We work on this song in November and right before Thanksgiving, we make butter by putting heavy whipping cream into a mason jar and shake it as we pass it in a circle while singing one verse per student until it gets into a clump (mostly solid). We then have the kids wash hands and take turns buttering their rolls. They sit down and eat them. 

We talk about where butter comes from and how it used to be made. The dasher was the wooden thing that was put into the churn to make the butter. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween Costumes

I tried last year and this year, to dress up in something that is related to music. Last year, I was the Farmer in the Dell. It was a big hit, even among the kids. Many of the older kids even "got" it. I redid this recently (2014) to be updated with commercial clipart art so I can put it in my store, but added child sized pieces and a self checking key so you can use it in a center after you teach it to the kids and use the pieces for a costume. Get it HERE.


This year, I am going to be the Old Lady who swallowed the fly. I found a plain apron, bought an old lady wig for about $7 and a pair of glasses with no glass in them for $1 at the Halloween store. I made some visuals and safety pinned them to the apron. Not bad, although my husband is a bit freaked out about the old lady wig. Haha.

Get visuals (Old Lady head plus tons of stuff added) to use on a magnet board, on sticks or on your costume HERE.

Another costume my students loved is "Old Mother Witch". They LOVE the old mother with game and we use variations for every holiday. I wore a witch costume with a big penny. Huge hit. I made a pack for it that includes:

1. The Song and game pieces for "Old Mother Witch".
2. Costume pieces for "Old Mother Witch".
3. Song and game for "Witch, Witch", a variation.
4. Lyrics for variations of "Old Mother Witch" for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day, St Patrick's Day, and Easter.
5. Coloring pages to match each lyric page.
6. Powerpoint with a colorful page with song lyrics for all plus a page of the music with lyrics for each song.

Find lots of fun "Old Mother Witch" stuff here

Have a wonderful Halloween!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


I have had some fun costumes that are major winners with the kids. Make them easily yourself or get my pieces to use. For Farmer in the Dell, I just wore jeans, a plaid shirt, and a straw famer hat.

For the old lady who swallowed the fly, I bought an inexpensive old lady wig at the party store and found a plain apron at Costco.

I have used the poem "This is a pumpkin Happy for years with old worn out visuals. I just made some new ones and excited to use them with my kindergarteners. I teach about rhyming and emotions with this song.

It has 5 visuals, one for each line of the poem. Cut them out, laminate them, and put craft sticks on. Show them to the students while showing the emotion on your face. Let kids be leaders while they use them and lead the class in the poem as well.

**I just added a small reader, coloring book, and a larger reader.

You can get it HERE.

A fun song to sing at Halloween is "Skin and Bones". All of the students love it and it so fun to introduce to the kindergarteners who love getting surprised at the end of the song. My favorite mentor teacher mentioned that she was interested in using the song for sequencing, and it got my mind going. I am always trying to find ways to bring literacy into my lessons, and this was a natural way to do it. 

I made a promethean board flipchart for using with the group, as well as separate cards that small groups could put in order. I am excited to use it next week. The music is included, as well as .png files, for making a Smartboard chart.

I have them with and without words

Get it HERE.

Some favorite Halloween books:

I made a set of pieces and words to use with the Little Old Lady Who wasn't afraid of anything. 

Get it HERE.

This is a delightful rhyming book.

I have also used a song for 5 little pumpkins for years. I have the kids do the motions and even roll away at the end. I recently made these visuals and added many math and literacy activities.

Get it Here

Eyeball Bingo is a big hit with the older kids and a great review of rhythm.

Get it Here

I just finished a Roll and Cover Musical Halloween activity. It would be great fun and would also work great for a susbstitute.

Get it Here