Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Make Someone Else's Trash Your Classroom Treasure

Every year at the end of the year, there is this huge purging of things in my school for various reasons. Some teachers are retiring. Some are moving. Some teachers are cleaning out old files.  For whatever reason, there are things left on tables, free for whoever wants them. Every year, I find treasures among their trash-- things that will help me to teach. 

The librarian gets rid of books each year to make way for the new ones. I found one I have used for years to calm kids at the end of a class after a game and before the teacher returns. We use our voice to make the wind sounds. It is short but the kids love the silly ending when the things that have blown up in the air fall back in the wrong places. Click on the book to go to it.

I found another wonderful book about composers. Everyone knows that Beethoven went deaf, but there are so many other fun facts in this book about the composers than we already know. I am excited to tell my students more fun facts to get them excited about music. Click on the book to go to it.

I found some soft math (I am assuming) foam manipulatives that are the exact size to use on a felt staff. A kind neighbor of mine sewed lines on my staffs, but you could use sharpie marker to do the same thing. (I would use a light color of felt if you use a sharpie) My felt staff is 18 inches x 8 1/2 inches. The lines are 1 1/4 inches apart. You could use a die cut machine to cut felt circles if you can't find something else. The kids love using these to make the songs we sing. I can sing a song and have them figure out the notes in solfa (solfege) or I can sing the solfa (solfege) to them or even sing the notes names for older students. Once a student has made the song I have sung and shown me, I let them create their own song. A bonus for using these foam circles is that they are red on one side and white on the other so you could have the students put red ones for the ti-ti's (eighth notes) and the white ones for the ta's (quarter notes). This is a big hit and I love that each student is actively learning!

I found flashlights in the discarded pile this year. There is so much you can do with flashlights. I had a western theme one year where my person of the day wore a western coat and a cowboy hat. We started the year with a "campfire" singing folk songs from the west and I used flashlights to make my campfire. You can use flashlights to make a light show during a classical piece of music while the kids listen. 

Music K-8 has an idea for using flashlights to assess student learning on an ostinato pattern. On their website, it says:

"To assess that students are able to follow a simple melodic pattern, I use a fun flashlight game. The music piece the students studied was one we learned by rote on the xylophone, and it had an ostinato part that started and stopped throughout the recording. I made an extra large wall version of the ostinato pattern. I had student #1 from the circle sit in a chair in front of the wall pattern. Then, I turned out the lights and started the music. When student #1's part came in, they quickly turned on the flashlight and followed the pattern on the beat. When student #1's ostinato part stopped, they hopped out of the chair, turned off the flashlight, and handed it to student #2 (who was already in the chair and ready to start when their part came back in). We continued around the circle until everyone had a turn. The students had a great time!"

There are so many ways you could use flashlights for form if you put different colored cellophane over the edge and you have the A section turn on and dance the flashlight during one part, the B section turn on and dance the flashlight during their part. 

Another treasure I found was a US map. Whenever I sing a song or talk about a part of the world, I always turn to the map so kids can learn about the world around them. They are fascinated by places around the world. I keep a world map up at all times in the back of my classroom and kids often look at it and discuss different parts of the world as they are lining up, but I love the idea of having a US map too since we sing many US folk songs. One thing I especially love about this map is that it shows the mountains in the US. Since I live right by mountains, that is fascinating to me and to the kids. I took my map home last night to take a picture and my husband was also fascinated by the mountain ranges. 

Last year, I found one of those blue word strip hanging charts. I used it to put my daily Learning targets in. I have grade level cards printed and have laminated word strips to fit each pocket. I use a dry erase marker for writing my targets. I hang it on my back board. It works well. Check out my blog post about learning targets and get my free reusable exit cards here.

Finally, I found these cubes, that I assume are used for math, and remembered the post Aileen Miracle just did about using solfa cubes for your students. There are so many things you can do with this, but go to Aileen's post to read a wonderful list here!

I would love to hear about treasures you have found among the things discarded at your school! Happy hunting!

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