Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Back the The Future...

I am old... Old enough to remember watching Back to the Future in a movie theater as a child!

A group of amazing friends and I were chatting and realized we ALL had a mutual love for all things Back to the Future!  Did you know that Marty did his travels on October 21, 2015?  Where are the flying cars and hoverboards?   We had such a laugh talking about the differences in the BTF world and ours that we decided to come together to offer you an amazing giveaway!  Since tomorrow is October 21, 2015 - we have marked one item to $1.21 (for 1.21 gigawatts) and we are giving away 3 gift cards to TpT!  

First, start HERE and grab the letter at the  the letter at the top of my page - you will want to write this letter down!.  Click on each letter to go to the next store and along the way, follow us, and check out the amazing things everyone has to offer!  Once you have the code, come back here and enter our secret message!  

Then, click HERE to find all the amazing deals going on today only!

Good luck and thanks for all the support you give!

If you're looking for a great activity to try with your own students, please check out my "1, 2, 3, 4" chant.  It's the perfect activity to get your students feeling steady beat, understanding the difference between beat and rhythm, reading simple rhythms and creating rhythm patterns.  

First, we learn the chant.  As we learn it, we work on keeping a steady beat (or macro/micro beat) on our bodies.  As we become more familiar with the chant, we work on clapping and identifying the rhythms within the chant.  We also learn the difference between a steady beat and a rhythm!

As we continue to deepen our understanding of rhythm, we learn that there is rhythm in everything we say and do!  And there is rhythm in our favorite Halloween treats too!  We play with mixing those different treats into rhythm patterns.  We clap and say the rhythms, then we translate (generalize) those rhythms to solfege!  As become more proficient in translating our "treat" rhythms, we then work in small groups to create our own!

This is such a simple chant, but chock full of rich content!  You could work on simple steady beat in one grade level and creating and writing rhythm patterns in another grade level.  And here's the best part... It's $1.21 TODAY ONLY!!!!

Remember the shop hop!  Get those codes and enter them here!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Fall Freebie: Little Ghosty

I've got a fall freebie for you!  Halloween is just a few weeks away.  If you're like me, I am always looking for a fresh song or chant to use in my classroom.  The same old chants and songs can get stale from time to time.

Little Ghosty is a favorite in my classroom.  It's a short, little Dorian tune for your K-1 students.  We use juggling scarves to make our little ghosts.  The students fly their ghosts around them as I sing the song.  At the end of the song, the students blow their ghosts away and sing "go away ghost!"  It's a great tune for getting students to move with free flow and singing a resting tone tonal response.  

If you would like a free copy of the song and lesson, click here!  You can download it for free (including IWB chart and coloring sheet).  If you like the lesson, then please consider checking out my Fall Songs for Little Ones.  Little Ghosty is one of the songs and chants in that collection.  
Click below to hear my first graders singing Little Ghosty!  They're too cute!  

Thanks for stopping by!  Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Children's Literature: Halloween Style

I cannot tell a lie.  I love Fall.  And Halloween.  Not so much for the trick or treating, but because there is so much rich literature and song material that helps teach musical concepts!  I know not everyone can use Halloween songs and stories in their classroom, so I've included some of my favorite fall songs and stories too!
Shake Dem Halloween Bones
This is hands-down our favorite song story of the season.  One of the reasons I love it is that I get to work with my media specialist.  Each character in the story is a character from another well-known children's book.  My media specialist and I coordinate our lessons to encourage our students to become familiar with the characters and their stories.  She pulls all of the storybooks of the other characters and does lessons with the classes.  Although my main focus is always teaching music, I love seeing my children excited about reading too!
My friend, Dr. Heather Shouldice, wrote a tune to accompany the story.  It truly makes the story come to life in a whole new way.  I always start the story using Feierabend's "arioso" before breaking out in song.  It's a great opportunity to model arioso to children.  Dr. Shouldice gave me permission to share her tune.  You can access it here.
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything
Another classroom favorite is The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams.  This story is full of sounds and perfect for instrument and vocal exploration.  I use a variety of unpitched percussion instruments and have students work to match an instrument with the desired sound effect.  It's a fun activity for class or to use in music centers!
I have a great resource for music teachers on TpT to accompany this story.  You can check it out here.

One Little Owl
This book was brought to my attention by my friend Gina Godoy.  The song is part of the Music Together Early Childhood Music series.  I've used the song for years because the structure of the song aligns beautifully with teaching minor tonality and outlining a minor tonic chord.  I ordered the book this summer to use in my classroom.  This is a perfect story for music classrooms that cannot sing/celebrate Halloween songs!

Down by the Farm
This is another classroom favorite - especially with my little ones.  Many of us know the folk song, Down By the Station.  This is a variation of the original folk tune using a fall theme.  

This is the only book in my list that I don't read/sing in class.  When I was a grad student at Temple University, a group of music education students presented a demo music class at a Halloween event.  One of the activities we taught was an adaptation of one of the stories in this book.  A composition student arranged the story as a chant that could be performed as a round.  Click on this link to access a copy of the chant.  It works wonderfully in the classroom and is a great stepping stone to teaching round with children.  I teach it with motions (see below).  

Three little ghosts (hold up 3 fingers)
Eating buttered toast (pretend to eat a sandwich)
Sitting on posts (one hand is a fist, other hand with three fingers rests on top of the fist)
They had butter on their fists (point to your fist)
Running down their wrists (point to your wrist)
Butter on their sheet (point to your body)
Running down their feet (point to feet)
What slobs!  (hands out to sides)
Let me know some of your favorite children's books you use in your classroom!  Leave me a comment below!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Beginning to End: Kindergarten

This summer, I wrote a blog post called "The Curious Case of the Quiet Kindergarten" which received a lot of interest and feedback.  You can read the original post here.   In the post, I wrote that I don't allow my Kindergarten students to sing for the first six weeks of school.  Instead of singing, we learn skills such as listening, audiating, moving, and following directions that serve us well when we do begin to sing.

As this school year began, I started the first day of Kindergarten music in the same way.  My students learned how to sit in music class, how to do "musical stretches," how to move and freeze, how to listen, and most importantly, how to audiate.  Below is real footage of the first day of Kindergarten music class.

I know not everyone agreed with me on this practice.  I took that to heart and really reflected on my practice.  As a teacher and the mother of a little one, I read a lot of educational research.  I remember reading not too long ago an article that addressed the "Word Gap" in preschool students.  You can read the entire article here, but to summarize the article, it states preschool students who hear and engage in rich vocabulary in the home were more successful in reading and school in general.  Vocabulary development equated to overall success in school.

It made me think about music vocabulary and the impact this may have on music development.  Do students who hear and engage in music vocabulary (musical patterns) experience greater success in music and music reading later in life?  It makes sense that the same could be true musically.  It supports the idea of giving our youngest students opportunities to listen, to audiate and eventually sing simple tonal and rhythm patterns.  In doing so, we are building our students' musical vocabulary.

The NAEYC outlined ideas to help develop a child's vocabulary during the preschool years.  I adapted the list to reflect ways we can do the same musically for our youngest students.
  • Use lots of folk songs in lots of tonalities!  Stretch yourself and your students to listen to and learn songs beyond major and minor!  There are beautiful folk tunes in dorian, mixolydian and lydian.  There are lots of resources out there with songs in other tonalities too.  The reason behind this is simply: we learn not from things that are the same, rather from things that are different.  You don't need to explain that a song is in another tonality for a child to know it is different.  Simply sing it for them and let them experience it.
  • Use inflection while chanting or talking to your students.  As music teachers, we spend a lot of time exploring and labeling the ways our voices work.  Speaking, singing, whisper, playground voices abound in the music room! Include inflection in your exploration as well.  It  serves as a readiness to communicate expression and dynamics in music.
  • Sing for children, not with them.  I'm a bit of a stickler about this.  Sing for your students, but do not sing with them.  We know a phenomena called "split-second imitation" often occurs the music room.  This happens most often when we sing with children.  Find strategies and techniques to help teach songs to children and develop their ability to sing as an ensemble.  Even in Kindergarten, the minute my students can sing a song, I go right to chord root harmonies.  By not singing with your students, you help them to become independent musicians.
  • Use lots of poetry and nursery rhymes in your instruction!  There is such richness in language, meter, and rhythm within the nursery rhymes of our culture.  Extend rhymes & poems with rhythm pattern instruction.  Nursery rhymes provide musical context (meter) and the pattern instruction helps build a child's music vocabulary. 
  • Interact with your children musically.  So often we limit our musical interactions to echoing.  Invite your students to improvise musically.  Instead of singing a same pattern, ask them to sing a different pattern.  Instead of YOU always giving the pattern to be echoed, have the student give you a pattern to echo!  Can you imagine how boring like would be if we only echoed one another in conversation?  Why do we promote that musically?  Be different!  Encourage improvisation in the music room!
  • Give students opportunities to simply listen or audiate.  Some methods use "inner hearing." Don't let the practice of audiation be an afterthought in the music room.  Make it a priority in each and every lesson.  Walk into any classroom and you'll see teachers reading to their students.  In doing so, students have opportunities to listen to fluent reading, inflection, wonder about context and content, make inferences and predictions about the story they are listening to.  Can that happen musically?  Absolutely!  In music, fluency is all about phrasing.  Context is the tonality or meter being presented.  Content has to do with the kinds of melodic patterns they are hearing.  Inferences and predictions happen when students predict musically what will happen next!  Is it the end of the song, or is another phrase going to occur?  Did the song end on the pitch I thought it would, or did it end on something unusual?  We have to guide students how to listen to music and audiation is a wonderful way to nurture that skill.
Check back in the coming weeks to find out what we do next!  If you are looking for some resources with songs in different tonalities - check out my Songs for Little Ones Series on TeachersPayTeachers.  Lots of great songs and chants for each season.  Each set comes with coloring sheets and Interactive White Board Charts.