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

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

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.