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What Does the 1st Day of Music Look Like?

I remember when I was a 1st year teacher (let’s be honest, it may feel like it’s been a million years, but it’s really only been 2) and I was so nervous about the first day of school. I asked people what I was supposed to do the first day, and they said, “Oh, you just teach the rules.”

So I thought, ok, I’ll teach the rules. But I have absolutely no idea what I was doing. I remember my fifth grade class being bored to death because I was talking to them about aaaaaall of the things that they needed to know for the whole year. It took way longer than I thought. My first grade class, on the other hand, got through my whole rules spiel and my lesson in about ten minutes. And I was left with 18 jittery, bouncing first grades and no clue what to do.

Let’s just say that my second set of classes went much better.

Lord, please help those poor Monday classes that get the worst version of every lesson.

Anyway, my second first day of school went much, much smoother. Now that I am in my third year, it went even smoother still.

So today we are going to answer the million dollar question: What does the 1st day of music look like?

And no, I am not going to tell you to teach the rules.

And if you need some help for when you do teach the rules, you can learn more about how to do that in my YouTube video down below.

The 1st day of music class can be really exciting, or really terrifying-- for the teacher I mean! What do you do when the doors close on the 1st day of music and you have 25 1st graders staring at you? Find tips, tricks, and activities for the 1st day of music. Becca's Music Room

1st Day of Music

Unlike what everyone tells you, I now prefer to wait for most of the rules talk until the second day of school. On the 1st day of school, my goal is to have fun, so that students want to come back. If they want to come back, they will behave better.

That being said, there are always a couple of house keeping thing that need to get done on the first day, like fire exits, lining up procedures, etc.

Other than that, I always include a movement activity, usually a name game, and some other easy, low stress activities. You do not want anything too difficult the first day, because even at the same school, you will have new kids who are new to you and maybe new to the way you do music. This year, they change the districts for our schools, so I have 5-6 students who are new to my school in every class. And those fifth graders are looking at me like I am the craziest person in the whole entire world. So, even though I expect them to do things differently than their old teacher, I am trying to make the first few activities easy and low stress.

So what do we do? I am going to put some sample lessons below. Bear in mind that even if you try not to talk too much about house keeping, you still need to, and it still takes a lot of time.

1st Day of School with 4-5

  • Students come in, and I give them their assigned seats. We talk about appropriate ways to sit in the music room.
  • Students line up and go in the hallway, and we “start over”. I make a big deal about pretending that this is the beginning. We go back in and find our seats. This is super important, because it sets the standard for how you expect them to walk into class from now on.
  • Stretches (I always start class with stretches, in every grade)
  • Low-stakes movement activity. I have a few that I like, but this year, I have been using my stick figures. I just hold up the paper, and students match the stick figure. I count to 4 or 8, and then switch. Change tempos throughout. This gets kids moving, feeling phrases, and anticipating.
  • Talk about fire drills, our class point system (which you can read about here), and the behavior management system I am currently using (more about that if it works!). I try to make this brief, but the kids ask a lot of questions while we are on these topics.
  • Get to know you game. I have used Jump In, Jump Out for two years now. It’s easy and fun. I heard about it from another music teacher in my district, but you can read about it here.
  • If we have any more time (depending on how many students want to go during the game), then I teach them the words to a song and have them play the rhythms.
  • That’s all folks!
The 1st day of music class can be really exciting, or really terrifying-- for the teacher I mean! What do you do when the doors close on the 1st day of music and you have 25 1st graders staring at you? Find tips, tricks, and activities for the 1st day of music. Becca's Music Room

1st Day of School 1st Grade

  • Students stay in line. I play a drum and have them match their feet to the drum beat. We march around the room and tiptoe around the room, and I lead them to sit in the back.
  • I give out assigned seats. We talk about how to sit.
  • Stretches
  • Seat finding game: Students get into a circle. I play the drum, and they match their feet to it. We walk around, and when the music stops, they have to find their seat. (This gets some wiggles out, and helps them to remember their seat.)
  • Talk about fire drills, our class point system (which you can read about here), and the behavior management system I am currently using (more about that if it works!). I try to make this brief, but the kids ask a lot of questions while we are on these topics.
  • Song with movement: Next, we always do a song that has movements in it. Usually I sing, and they will eventually join in. This year it is Jim Along Josie (Every time you sing the chorus, you walk. Then you can change it to jump along Josie or stomp along Josie, etc.), and last year we did Walk and Stop.
  • Name game: If there is time, we do a name game (Let’s be honest, with my classes yesterday we did not have time.). I like Name, Name, Same Your Name with the littles (I talk about it here), and this year I’m trying out Hickety Pickety Bumblebee.
  • Wawako: This year, I added a new favorite activity to my set. We went over a son the kids learned last year, Wawako. It is from Mali (in Africa!). It is all about how people should try to be friends, and not fight. I like this to set my intention for the year. There is a clapping game that goes along with it. You can read about it here.
  • Then we line up and that’s all!

So that is the structure of the 1st day of school with my older kids and my younger kids.

On the 2nd day of school, we talk more in depth about what is and is not appropriate in music class, and we do a name game if we did not get to it the first day.

A few things to note:

  • I try to make music as easy and fun as possible that very first day. My main goal is that students WANT to come back to music class.
  • I don’t make older students sing the first day. I know a lot of people do, because they want to establish what is normal in music, but I like to save that for day 2.
  • As far as procedures go, I teach them as they come up, not one at a time. So I teach students how to line up when we line up. I teach them how to gather materials when we need to– even if that is a few days in. This saves time and makes it much more relevant for the students because they need how to do it right now.

So there you have it! That is what I do on the 1st day of school in music class! This can be tricky, especially when a class is late and you have to decide what to leave out, but I try to squeeze it all in.

Want to get free resources? Sign up for the FREE resource library– all you do is put your email in, and you have access to all of the resources in the library (including quizzes, powerpoint, beat charts, rhythm cards, lyric sheets, and more!)– and new resources are added monthly! Sign up here!

Do you have a 1st day of music favorite? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!

The 1st day of music class can be really exciting, or really terrifying-- for the teacher I mean! What do you do when the doors close on the 1st day of music and you have 25 1st graders staring at you? Find tips, tricks, and activities for the 1st day of music. Becca's Music Room
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Introducing Becca’s Music Room Etsy Shop: Resources for music teachers

For almost two years, I started to get frustrated. I would look online for lesson ideas, and I would find hardly anything. I would talk to other music teachers to find that they felt lost, alone, and confused. Now, I knew that I did not have all of the answers (or any answers really), but I decided to take what I did know and start a blog. This blog, in fact, where I could help other music teachers feel less lost, alone, and confused. I hope that the 100 blog post available on this website have helped you find inspiration and advice.

Then, one year go, I decided that I would expand my reach by adding a Teachers Pay Teachers shop. I still had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but I knew that offering products on TPT would help even more music teachers, so that less of them would feel lost, alone, and confused.

For a few months, I have been trying to decide how I can provide more help, and I really wanted to have some physical products. After a lot of thinking, dreaming, prototyping, etc., I finally landing on opening an Etsy shop devoted to providing resources for elementary music teachers.

And today, I am finally announcing that to the world. This Etsy shop has the same name as my blog and my TPT shop. It currently has four products (with a lot of variations), and more will come later as I start to get my groove.

If you prefer video, you can check out the Youtube video blow. If not, keep scrolling!

Ukulele bags for elementary music teachers or music students learning to play ukulele from Becca's Music Room on Etsy. Perfect gift for a music lover!

Etsy Product #1: Ukulele bags

As soon as I knew that I wanted to do something physical, I knew that I wanted to include ukuleles. I came up with a simple ukulele drawstring bag. You can get it in any size ukulele (soprano, alto/concert, tenor, or baritone).

This is a fabric drawstring bag, so it will not protect the instrument if it is sat on or dropped, but it will cover it and help you transport. The drawstrings are long enough that you can actually wear it like a bag on your shoulder (which I am personally excited about, because that means I will not have to carry mine around the school!).

Sheet music print soprano ukulele bag by Becca's Music Room
Baritone ukulele bag with Nautical Navy print and yellow drawstrings. Check it out here.

These bags come in five different patterns, plus any color solid that you would like. You can choose your color and choose your drawstrings, if you would like different ones.

Sheet music print soprano ukulele bag by Becca's Music Room
Sheet Music Print Soprano Bag. Check it out here.

I have carried my ukulele to and from school and all around the school for a year in a very similar bag, and never had any problems with it. Of course, I am careful where I set it, but my ukulele is still in perfect condition.

Sheet music print soprano ukulele bag by Becca's Music Room
Marble print soprano ukulele bag. Check it out here.

Etsy Product #2: Recorder bags

Next up in my Etsy shop is recorder bags. They are drawstring bags, just like the ukulele bags (although obviously much smaller!). They are perfect for sliding your recorder in when you want to make sure your mouthpiece isn’t touching anything, but you need it quickly. It will not take up very much room in your teacher bag, but will keep your recorder germ free. Or as close as you can get when you work at a school.

Also, because these are fabric, you can throw them into the washing machine!

Perfect for prizes or gifts for outstanding teachers.

Etsy Products #3: Eighth note signs for classrooms

The third product is a little bit different– eighth note signs for your music classroom door. For these signs, you will be able to pick your color and your ribbon color. There will be a bow and a loop with the ribbon, so that you can hang it.

I, personally, like to hang mine on my door with a Command hook. Make sure you have the brand name– the off brands stink.

Eighth note custom classroom sign by Becca's Music Room
Eighth note sign here.

Etsy Product #4: Music book tote bag

When I was a kindergartener taking piano lessons, my mom made me a bag for my piano lessons. It wasn’t anything special, but it felt special to me.

As I got older and starting singing and playing the cello, I was increasingly frustrated by the awkward size of the music books (I’m looking at you, Suzuki!) and how difficult it was to find a good bag to keep them.

So I made one. And I put it in my Etsy shop so that you can have one too.

This Music Book Tote bag has one big pocket, for music books, and a small pocket in the front for all of your music essentials– pencils, tuners, rosin, etc. It can also be thrown into the washer.

You can choose your fabric for your bag, and also for the pocket. The fabric for the pocket will be used for the inner liner as well.

Music book tote bag by Becca's Music Room
The fabrics for this tote are “sheet music print” and “blue” Check it out here.

You can check out all of these products in my new Etsy shop, BeccasMusicRoom here. Prints will change every few months, so if you don’t see anything you like now, you can check back for more.

Thank you all for your support and for allowing me to provide resources for you! I work so hard to provide you with quality lessons, ideas, advice, and support.

If you ever need anything, feel free to send me a message on Instagram or on the feedback section of my site.

Happy shopping!

Soprano recorder bags for elementary music teachers or music students learning to play recorder from Becca's Music Room on Etsy. Perfect gift for a music lover!
Self Care

Summer Anxiety: What it is and how teachers can deal with it

I love summer. Like, I really love summer. People talk about getting board during the summer, and I have to say… I do not. I love summer. But do you know what I do not love about summer? The summer anxiety that goes along with it.

Also known as back to school anxiety, summer anxiety is that feeling of dread and terror every time that you think about the upcoming school year. It often includes nightmares about all of the terrible things that can go wrong next year— or that did go wrong last year– and causes stress shopping in the Target Dollar Spot.

For a long time, I thought that I was totally alone in this whole summer anxiety thing. Then one day, of the the administrators made a comment about having back to school nightmares.

I couldn’t believe that other people had this same problem– but I was so glad other people have this problem.

So if you have this problem as well, I want you to know a few things about summer anxiety, and also about how to combat it so that it does not ruin your summer.

If you prefer to watch/listen, then you can check out the video version of this post on my YouTube– I really believe this is an important subject!

Summer Anxiety: what it is and how teachers can deal with it. Are you a teacher suffering from anxiety about the back to school season? Every time you think about the upcoming school year, you feel a pit in your stomach or a sense of dread, you have summer anxiety. Read through what that means and how you can deal with it. Becca's Music Room

What causes summer anxiety?

Summer anxiety is cause by the fear of the unknown– it is as simple as that. New school years bring new students, new teachers, new curriculums, new administrators, new rules, etc. Everything can change over a summer– and you will not know until you return for preplanning in the fall. All of the unknowns cause you to feel stress.

Summer Anxiety is Normal

When we hit one month before preplanning, I started to freak out. I was already starting to have nightmares, and every time I would think about school, I would get a feeling of dread in my stomach.

And when you spend all summer workings on Teachers Pay Teachers, my new teacher-centered Etsy shop, making YouTube videos for teachers, and my new book all about teaching, it is not something that I could get away from. Well, I could, but that would cause me to have far fewer YouTube videos and TPT products, which I would regret once school starts and I get truly busy.

I put a poll out on my Instagram stories (Do you follow me on Instagram? You definitely should!) and almost all of the teachers who answered said that they also felt summer anxiety. This is of course not a super professional study, but it did tell me that two things:

  1. I am not alone.
  2. Other people might need help navigating this.

Summer anxiety does not make you a bad teacher

I would venture to say the opposite– if you are spending part of your summer worrying about the next school year, then you must be a good teacher. One who wants to do her best and make next year as good as possible.

Summer anxiety is all about wanting this year to go well. That may manifest itself in dread (guilty!), but that doesn’t mean that you don’t want to be a teacher, or that you are a bad teacher. It simply means that you know some of the realities of things that can happen in the course of a school year, and that you want to be good.

If you are worried about the school year in the summer, than you are a good teacher. Period.

Summer Anxiety: what it is and how teachers can deal with it. Are you a teacher suffering from anxiety about the back to school season? Every time you think about the upcoming school year, you feel a pit in your stomach or a sense of dread, you have summer anxiety. Read through what that means and how you can deal with it. Becca's Music Room

So what can we do about summer anxiety?

So, we have established that you are not alone, and that you are a good teacher. But…. we still do not want you to spend the whole summer stressing.

There are plenty of things that you can do in order to decrease the anxiety and help yourself move on. Here are a few ideas:

Accept that you cannot fix everything now.

One of the main causes of summer anxiety is all of the unknowns about the upcoming school year. Want to know the real, scary truth? You cannot fix all of them right now. You will not be able to find out your schedule or your roster until it is time for school to start. And that stinks. But, you need to accept that some things will be unknowns until preplanning. Tell yourself that you can deal with it once school starts, and move on. As best you can, at least.

Focus on the positives.

I don’t know about you, but when I start to feel anxious about the school year, I am thinking about all of the things that went wrong. I am thinking about the one time that a student with autism ran out of the room. Or the one time that there was a child jumping off of the tables (that hold pianos!) and his parents told me, “Well, he’s 6. He has some energy.” (True story, by the way.) Or the time that I had to physically restrain a student who hadn’t taken her medicine because she tried to attack another student in the class, which resulted in me getting hit, kicked, scratched, pinched, and bit (Which, by the way, prompted me to write the post Going Back to Teaching After a Really Rough Day.)

Now, honestly, I do not normally get quite that real in my blog or my YouTube videos or my Instagram. Not because I do not think that I should, but because I know that there are a lot of teachers who read that last paragraph and totally changed their opinion of me. Some people cannot relate, and therefore think that 1. I am crazy or 2. I have no idea how to manage my class. Just so you know, I am not crazy, and I do know how to mange my class. But I have some really difficult children who are in really rough situations, and sometimes they manifest themselves in behaviors such as the ones above.

In this post, I want to be as real as possible, because I know that there are people in similar situations with similar problems who are currently stressing out about those kinds of things. And I want them to be able to know they are not alone. If you read that and think that clearly I have lost my mind, then just count yourself lucky and pray you never have a situation like that.

I do not want to get too deep into this, but may write a whole post about this subject by itself.

Anyway.

When you have really rough things that have happened, it is really hard to stop thinking about them. And you may have a really hard time not dwelling on them and being terrified that they will happen again.

I get that I have been there. You are not alone.

But in order to have less anxiety and stress, try thinking about some of your favorite moments from the last school year. Think about the things that went right, and things that you cannot wait to experience again.

Negativity breeds negativity and positivity breeds positivity. If you think about the positive things, then you will have a much better outlook on the upcoming school year.

A few things that I am reminding myself to look forward to:

  • Having a whole 1st grade class using their singing voices
  • Having students request a song
  • The first performance with my choir
  • A class that goes as planned
  • A student telling me that I am their favorite teacher

Those are just a couple of really amazing things that happened last year, that I am looking forward to and focusing on. The more I focus on them, the less I focus on those bad things that happened.

Start planning.

Now, we established that there are a lot of things you do not have control over and cannot deal with yet. But there are also a lot of things you can do now to feel more prepared and less stressed.

Make some goals: What are some things you want to accomplish this year? What will you do better? Start thinking of ways that you can have your best year yet now. Maybe come up with new routines (check out this post!) or make a plan to get organized (and I have the lesson planning templates for that!).

Planning your curriculum: Start looking for some things you would like to incorporate this year! Now is the best time to pick a couple of fun lessons out. You can peruse Pinterest, or look on blogs (if you teach music, I have tons of free lessons on here that you can check out– you can also gain access to the free resource library by clicking here!)

Plan your classroom: Now, I do not like to spend a lot of money on my classroom, but I do like to buy or make a few little things here and there to help me “nest”. Having a new book or a new rug or a new banner will help you the feel a little more excited and a little bit less stressed for the upcoming year. Check out my classroom tour here.

Also read: Really Specific Classroom Management Strategies

Do you experience summer anxiety? How do you deal with it? Let us know down in the comments!

And don’t forget to sign up for access to the FREE resource library! I send out weekly updates, plus monthly free resources! Sign up here!

Happy teaching!

Summer Anxiety: what it is and how teachers can deal with it. Are you a teacher suffering from anxiety about the back to school season? Every time you think about the upcoming school year, you feel a pit in your stomach or a sense of dread, you have summer anxiety. Read through what that means and how you can deal with it. Becca's Music Room
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Instruments of the Orchestra Four Corners

I don’t quite remember when it hit me, but for a long time I have thought that I wanted to do the game 4 Corners with the instruments of the orchestra. I even put it in my lesson plans a few times and took it out.

Why? Because I couldn’t figure out how to make it academic. If the person is just saying “Woodwind” and all the people in the woodwind section go sit out…. it that actually helping anyone?

Then I figured it out. It was kind of like the epiphany that led to treble clef battleship.

The person should call the instrument name, and all of those students go out. That way, you actually have to think about what instrument family it is in.

So we played this and it has been a HUGE hit! I will explain the best way to play, and then also a no-prep way to play in case you are in a pinch.

I have a product in my TPT shop that I used to help my students play– including posters and instrument cards (in color and black and white). You can get it here!

Also read: Write the Room: An active instruments of the orchestra review

Instrument Four Corners: an active game for instruments of the orchestra. My fourth grade and fifth grade elementary music students loved this game-- and it is so easy to set up and explain-- easy enough that a sub could do it. This is great to review instruments of the orchestra or just have some fun! Becca's Music Room

Instruments of the Orchestra Four Corners

  1. Put up a poster in each corner of the room. Each one will have a different instrument family– woodwind, percussion, strings, and brass. (Posters are included in my product!)
  2. Review with the students what instruments are in each of the families.
  3. Have one student stand at the front of the room. They will hold an envelope or bucket with pieces of paper that have pictures of instruments on them.
  4. The person in the front counts (loudly) to ten with their eyes closed.
  5. While they count, all of the other students need to get into one of the corners. THEY MUST BE IN A CORNER BY 10. If they switch or are still in the middle of the room when the count is finished, they are out.
  6. The person in the front pulls out a picture of an instrument and says the name of the instrument.
  7. Everyone in that instrument family sits down. So if they pulled out trombone, they say trombone, and all of the people in the brass section sit down.
  8. This continues until you have a winner, and then that person is the next counter.

It is seriously so. much. fun.

Now, the first time I played it, I had not thought through all of the best things to do. So I present to you the no-material no-prep-at-all version of this:

  • Write the names of the families on the board to correspond with the corners (so the front left corner will match the family written on the board on the front left.
  • Have a student choose an instrument to say instead of pulling a card out of the bucket.

The biggest reason I added the other parts is time. I found that the student calling the instruments just took sooooo long to come up with one. I don’t know if it is because they couldn’t think of the names or couldn’t decide or what. But. I do know that once I added in the bucket with the pictures of instruments, it went so much smoother.

Also, there was less talk about the person in the front cheating because it was more random– they weren’t picking anymore.

Instrument Four Corners: an active game for instruments of the orchestra. My fourth grade and fifth grade elementary music students loved this game-- and it is so easy to set up and explain-- easy enough that a sub could do it. This is great to review instruments of the orchestra or just have some fun! Becca's Music Room

Instruments of the orchestra four corners was a huge hit with my students– especially during testing and the end of the year! It made review so much more fun. Don’t forget to pick up the family posters and instrument cards from my TPT shop! Get them here!

Going to have a sub? Check out my instruments of the orchestra print and go sub plans here!

Want to get free resources? Sign up for the FREE resource library– all you do is put your email in, and you have access to all of the resources in the library (including quizzes, powerpoint, beat charts, rhythm cards, lyric sheets, and more!)– and new resources are added monthly! Sign up here!

Have you ever tried anything like four corners? Let me know how it went in the comments!

Happy teaching!

Instrument Four Corners: an active game for instruments of the orchestra. My fourth grade and fifth grade elementary music students loved this game-- and it is so easy to set up and explain-- easy enough that a sub could do it. This is great to review instruments of the orchestra or just have some fun! Becca's Music Room
3-5, Elementary Music, Games, K-2, Lessons

Lesson Ideas for Ickle Ockle

Have you heard of the song Ickle Ockle? It is a really fun folk song… with like 20 different versions of it in cyberspace. I have seen it as Bickle Bockle, with do, without do, different wording…. yeah.

But, no matter how you sing it, it is a really fun folk song and my students really liked it.

I used it with second and third grade to introduce do. If you do it without do, you can use it with even younger students…. It’s really up to you!

Here is the most reliable version that I have found.

In my TPT product, I have slightly different wording, because I went with what was in my textbook series.

However you sing it, it is really fun. And thanks to testing, I have now been able to do about a million different activities with this one song… So, I hope you enjoy the ones down below:

Lesson ideas for Ickle Ockle: a song for ta rest or do. This ocean themed folk song has a really fun singing game-- and many other activities to use with it in your elementary music class! Becca's Music Room

Ickle Ockle Game

First and foremost, we have to talk about the game. Full disclosure, I have not had a chance to play the game (yet!) because I have been in classrooms without enough space… but I have hopes for next week!

To play the game, everyone gets with a partner (except the person in the middle, who I call the shark). They walk with their partner in a circle. Everyone sings. At the end of the song, Everyone has to find a new partner, and whoever is without a partner goes to the middle.

So. Much. Fun.

Flashcard Walk

I use Ickle Ockle to review sol, la, and mi and also introduce do. So we do this activity twice– first for sol, la, and mi, and second to include do.

I put flashcards all over the floor (I use the fish shaped ones from the Ickle Ockle pack on TPT). Students sing and walk to the steady beat. When the song stops, they stop. Whatever fish the are closest to, they sing. Then they go back to singing and walking.

Super fun– and it gets some of the wiggles out!

You can get sol-la-mi flashcards here or sol-mi-la-do flashcards here.

Flashcard Partner Walk

This is very similar to the last one.

Students hold a flashcard. As they sing the song, they walk around the room. When the song stops, they turn to the closest person and sing their flashcard. Then they go back to singing and walking.

Side note: To avoid having anyone crying because they didn’t have a partner, I tell them that if they are really far away from the other students, they can just read their own– but only once. This makes the activity waaaay less stressful.

Also read: Fun and Engaging Activities for Flashcards

Lesson ideas for Ickle Ockle: a song for ta rest or do. This ocean themed folk song has a really fun singing game-- and many other activities to use with it in your elementary music class! Becca's Music Room

Put it in Order

I love doing this as a review!

Write the rhythm or the melody on cards. Have students get into small groups and arrange the cards in the correct order!

(PS– Melody cards that match the music are included in my product!)

Worksheets

Wow, writing that feels like the fun is going away. Activity sheet? Does that sound less taboo?

Anyway, I promise, worksheets can be fun. No matter what people say.

I used three different ones with my students this week. First, we wrote the rhythm to the song under the words. Then we did a coloring sheet, where they had to match the solfege pattern to the notes on the staff (it was really a quiz, but they didn’t know that…), and then we created our own pattern and created a fish habitat with crayons!

Does that seem boring? No.

This is one of the activity sheets we used. Students matched the solfege pattern to the notes on the staff. When they found the right one, they colored it the correct color! This is in my Ickle Ockle TPT product. (Becca’s Music Room)

Coloring

Annnnd…. You could just do a fish themed coloring sheet or have students draw fish scenes. This is extra great if you are in their classrooms one day or if you have a sub.

Pair it with Aquarium

If you have read this post about creative movement with scarves, this post about Bizet scarf routine, this one about Blue Skies (AKA jazz), this one about Irish music, or pretty much any other lesson on this blog, you may have figured out that I looove listening lessons. I think that students have the ability to appreciate all different kinds of music, if we just give them the tools to be able to do so.

So when I was looking for an activity to accompany Ickle Ockle, so course I picked Aquarium from Saint-Saen’s Carnival of the Animals.

Now, there are a million different things that you could do with a listening lesson, but I chose to give them a piece of paper and have them draw what the music sounds like.

Between this activity, the fish coloring in, and the composition, I have all sorts of student work to put in the hallway!

Instruments

And of course, you can play instruments. Steady beat, playing an accompaniment (or the melody!) on xylophones… etc. I like to use my ocean drums and castanets (because they look like clams!).

Also read: Breezes are Blowing

Have you use the song Ickle Ockle in your classroom? What activity did you use? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!

Lesson ideas for Ickle Ockle: a song for ta rest or do. This ocean themed folk song has a really fun singing game-- and many other activities to use with it in your elementary music class! Becca's Music Room
3-5, Elementary Music, Lessons

Write the Room: An active instruments review

Ever since the huge push on teachers having data based instruction, I have felt the pressure of pretests. I am pretty good with grouping students (see here!) based on data from assignments, but I still have a hard time giving kids true pretests– I mean, giving them a test they are basically supposed to fail? How is that fair? Or good for their self esteem?

Most of the time I cheat, and I wait until I have taught for a day before I give them the pretest. That way it gives me a more accurate view of what’s going on, and not everyone fails.

But I also hate giving assessments all. the. time. So I have gotten very creative with ways to do assessments without the kids realizing they are being assessed (you can read all about that here!).

Enter: Write the Room.

I had read about write the room activities, but I was much too terrified to try them (my kids are not the most well behaved…), but I decided to try anyway. I decided to use it as a pretest for instruments of the orchestra– because that is something I knew students had talked about the previous year, so it wasn’t completely new, but I didn’t know how much they remembered.

It was great– I got an accurate picture of who knew their stuff and what areas were the weakest, and they got to move around and talk and not know they were being assessed!

In this article, I will talk about what a write the room activity is, how to set it up, annnnnd how to make this happen if you are at a school full of “bad kids”. (Please notice the quotes around that.)

I do have a TPT product that will facilitate this activity– it’s basically print and go– which you can purchase here. You can do this activity without the product if you have instrument posters as well. But seriously, who doesn’t love a print and go activity?

And if your students are well behaved enough, this would be super fun for a sub. My kids act like they have no sense when there is a sub, so I do not do that.

Annnyway…. Check out this write the room activity!

Write the Room: an active instruments of the orchestra review.. or pretest! PLUS tips on how to make this work with your "bad classes" GREAT for elementary music class! Becca's Music Room

What is a Write the Room Activity?

Write the Room activities are super fun. Basically, you put questions on paper and hang them around the room. Students walk around and write the answers on their paper. It is much more fun than a worksheet though, because they have to get up and move around.

How do I do a Write the Room Activity?

It is so simple to set up a write the room activity! From now on, I am going to talk specifically about an instruments of the orchestra write the room activity, since that is the name of the post.

You will need a few things:

First, put up instrument posters. I used six different posters– I have these that every elementary music class ever seems to have. I posted them around the room, and put a number above each one. I used the numbers out my Write the Room Activity on TPT.

The recording sheet can say whatever you want, but I wanted to assess instrument recognition as well as family recognition. I had students write the name of the instrument they saw and then they circled the family that it was in.

I feel like there should be more steps… but that’s pretty much it.

All you need is to make the recording sheets, or just buy the recording sheets. And that’s it.

Write the Room: an active instruments of the orchestra review.. or pretest! PLUS tips on how to make this work with your "bad classes" GREAT for elementary music class! Becca's Music Room
Recording sheet from my TPT product. There are a few available, but this is the one I used.

Classroom Management for Write the Room Activities

The first time I heard about this sort of activity, my first thought was, “My students cannot handle that.”

But you know what? Most of them can, when prepped well enough. One of my goals this year was to incorporate more group and partner work and moving out of our seats. All of those things make me very uncomfortable. But the more we do them, the better they are at it.

So here are some quick tips for making this activity a little less chaotic:

  • Set the boundaries. Tell students what they are and are not allowed to do– Where can the go? How fast can they go? Can they touch anything?
  • I told students they could work in a group, with a partner, or by themselves. This meant that they got to pick one of those, but no one was left out of a group.
  • Have something to do afterwards. Some kids will get done sooner than others, and you don’t want them causing problems. I set out one of my Kaboom games (the treble clef one, you can get here, or you can get an instruments of the orchestra kaboom to stay on the same standard) for students to play once they were finished. This gives them incentive to want to finish quickly and also kept them occupied. You could also do a word search or another instrument worksheet out of one of my instrument sub plans.
  • Emphasize how they should treat people. Before we start, we review the rules and talk about each of them. I specifically say that we are not hitting people, pushing people, calling people names, or saying anything rude– even if that person is not your favorite person ever. This may seem overkill, but when we get down to the details, I have a lot less problems.
  • Set a timer. The first time we did this activity, it took 20 minutes. The second time, I set a 5 minute timer, and everyone finished in 5 minutes. It was like magic.
Write the Room: an active instruments of the orchestra review.. or pretest! PLUS tips on how to make this work with your "bad classes" GREAT for elementary music class! Becca's Music Room

Are you convinced yet? Write the room is a super fun activity– and gives you very important data for when you start differentiating with centers! You could do this with anything– instruments, treble clef, solfege, history, anything that you need students to remember. I plan to do a lot more of these next year, especially at the beginning of the year as a review. (Yes, I am at the point in the year where I am already thinking about next year’s lessons…. When is summer again?)

So go try this out in your classroom– you will not be disappointed!

If you are interesting in saving yourself some time, you can get my write the room activity here. You can literally just print, tape to the walls, and go! My favorite kind of product.

Want to get free resources? Sign up for the FREE resource library– all you do is put your email in, and you have access to all of the resources in the library (including quizzes, powerpoint, beat charts, rhythm cards, lyric sheets, and more!)– and new resources are added monthly! Sign up here!

Have you ever done a write the room activity? What are your tips? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!

Write the Room: an active instruments of the orchestra review.. or pretest! PLUS tips on how to make this work with your "bad classes" GREAT for elementary music class! Becca's Music Room
3-5, Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Fun and Engaging Activities for Flashcards

Think flashcards can’t be fun? Think again! I use flashcards in my elementary music classroom all of the time to help students get engaged in music literacy. By using them different ways and mixing them up, I am able to help students stay engaged and become more musically literate.

These flashcard activities will work whether you are working on rhythm or melody or instruments of the orchestra or whatever.

So here we go, for some of the easiest, most fun, no prep literacy activities.

Note: For every activity, I start by having the students read the flashcards while I hold them in the front to make sure that they know what it is asking of them.

Need some flashcards? You can check out flashcards for recorder, melody, solfege, rhythm, treble clef, bass clef, alto clef, etc here!

Also, you can get a FREE set of Level 1 rhythms (ta, titi, and rest) in my free resource library. They are available in both stick notation and regular notation. Not a member yet? Just sign up here to get access to monthly downloads! You will get two emails and a free resource every month!

Also read: Favorite Activities for Piano and Forte

Engaging Flashcard Activities to promote music literacy, and a FREE set of rhythm flashcards! Different ways to use flashcards to engage your students while teaching them about rhythm and solfege in elementary music. Becca's Music Room

Flashcard Walk

Spread flashcards all over the ground. You can have them going in a specific pattern or formation, or just spread all over the ground. Have students sing a song or listen to recorded music and walk. When the music stops, they turn to the nearest flashcard on the ground and read it– out loud, all together. They go back to singing and moving.

This works especially great if you can match the flashcards to the song, like in my Ickle Ockle lesson. This lesson includes fish flashcards, so students sing about fish and then find a fish.

Partner Walk

This is similar to the last one (and I sometimes use that one to prepare this one!).

Give every student a flashcard. Have them sing one of your songs (or even just play a song). When the song goes off, they turn (so their feet down’t move) the nearest partner and read that person’s flashcard. The song starts again, and they walk again.

You could make this really structured with concentric circles of having only half of the students moving if that would make your classroom less chaotic. Or they could just walk all over the place.

Note: I always tell them that if they are not near a partner at the end of the song, they should just read their own flashcard. This helps avoid students crying because all the partners were taken and helps avoid students running across the room to get a partner.

Student Choice

Often to preface one of the other activities, I like to have students pick a flashcard to do. This may be part of our review. I will have one student come to the front and hold up a flashcard. We will sing whatever song we have been working on, then read that flashcard. Then sing and another student will come up and pick a flashcard.

This works especially great with call and response songs like Charlie Over the Ocean. The person who was at the front got to call and have the students respond. Then they would read the card. Mine especially loved it because I used the flashcards from this product and they had different ocean animals in it, which we inserted into the song!

Hot Potato

This is one of those activities that I came up with and was not sure the students would like. But they loved it.

Put a bunch of flashcards into a regular manila envelope. Have student pass the envelope to the beat of a song. (I know there is a hot potato song, but I don’t know it. So we use recorded music and use this as a little singing break.) When the song stops, the person holding it has to pull out a card and read it.

And then you can stand by with your handy dandy clipboard and write down grades! Win win!

Also read: Tick Tock Song for ta/titi and sol/mi/la

Engaging Flashcard Activities to promote music literacy, and a FREE set of rhythm flashcards! Different ways to use flashcards to engage your students while teaching them about rhythm and solfege in elementary music. Becca's Music Room

Feed the Monster

I found this game on a teaching website talking about using it for literacy centers, but it works so well for music too! I use it with K-2 grade and they think it is so silly.

Get a brown paper bag and cut a hole in the middle of the front to be the mouth of your monster. Add eyes and anything else you want to make it look monster like.

Have students read the flashcard, and if it is right, they get to feed it to the monster!

Matching and Sorting

Matching is one of the only things on the list that is better for melody than anything else.

You can have students use erasers or bingo chips to match the melody from a card (such as the sol-la-mi cards) onto the treble clef. For an added challenge, you could give them cards with just the letters or solfege and have them create the melody on the treble clef.

Sorting is really great for things like instruments of the orchestra. You could sort them into the instrument families by having them put the flashcards in piles or in boxes. You could use these-– then you could also play the game!

Creating Long Pieces

This is one of my students’ favorite centers activities. I will just give them a box full of flashcards for whatever we are working on, and they use them to create their own pieces by stringing 4 or 8 of them together and then reading them. So simple and so fun. Also works well in partners.

Put Flashcards in Order

Just like with my lesson Ickle Ockle, I love to have students create the order of the song. I will make or buy flashcards that match the song, and have them figure out what part goes where. Sometimes we do this as a whole class, and sometimes as small groups. It is great to review if you have already been working on the song for a few classes!

Kaboom

You didn’t think I would leave this one out, did you?

Kaboom is one of my students’ FAVORITE games. They will seriously beg me to play it on free days.

Students sit in a circle. They take turns pulling flashcards out of an envelope or box or whatever is convenient. If they say it correctly, they keep it. If not, they put it back. If they get one that says Kaboom!, then they have to put all of their cards back.

So it literally never ends.

You can check it out here.

FREE set of level 1 rhythm cards here! Perfect for teaching kindergarten, first grade or second grade. Available in stick notation and regular notation to accommodate Koday, Orff, Dalcroze, and Music Learning Theory inspired teachers! Becca's Music Room

So there you go! 9 engaging flashcard activities. I only intended to write about 4 or 5, but once I got started, I just kept thinking of other ideas!

Don’t forget to join the FREE resource library to get the FREE level 1 black and white rhythm cards. You can sign up here. Need some other flashcards? I have watercolor rhythm flashcards, black and white, solfege, recorder, etc in my TPT shop. Check them out here.

Also read: It’s Raining and Que Llueva: Songs for easy improvisation

What are some flashcard activities that you use with your students? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Teaching!

Engaging Flashcard Activities to promote music literacy, and a FREE set of rhythm flashcards! Different ways to use flashcards to engage your students while teaching them about rhythm and solfege in elementary music. Becca's Music Room
3-5, Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Elementary Music Lesson: Breezes are Blowing

Breezes are Blowing is a Luiseno Indian Rain song that I used with my second and third graders. The rhythms are very simple, but the melody is a bit complex for those grades– it includes low la, do, re, sol, and la– but it was really great to talk about form and improvisation, so that’s what we did! But we know that it is good for students to sing and hear songs even if they cannot correctly notate them immediately.

This lesson talks about aba form, and adds an improvised part to create ABA as well. Students play instruments, sing, create rhythms, improvise, and more!

I paired this with The Syncopated Clock scarf activity from Artie Alemida’s book Parachutes and Ribbons and Scarves, Oh My! You could also use a piece with a matching form (or an AABA form) like Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks. (You can read a form lesson about that here!)

This lesson does involve a bit of teacher-made resources to facilitate the students’ improvisation, but you can get the product in my TPT shop that has everything in it! It has a powerpoint (stick notation and regular notation), worksheets, rhythm cards, etc. You can definitely do the lesson without it, or you can check it out here.

Want to get free resources? Sign up for the FREE resource library– all you do is put your email in, and you have access to all of the resources in the library (including quizzes, powerpoint, beat charts, rhythm cards, lyric sheets, and more!)– and new resources are added monthly! Sign up here!

Breezes are Blowing: Elementary music lesson for second grade and third grade to teach low la, aba form, and improvisation-- using a Native American folk song! Becca's Music Room


Breezes are Blowing

Teach students the song Breezes are Blowing by rote.

Breezes are Blowing: Elementary music lesson for second grade and third grade to teach low la, aba form, and improvisation-- using a Native American folk song! Becca's Music Room

Ask the students, what two parts are the same? Which part is different? Then ask, “If I label the first line a, and the second line b, what should I call the last line?” Inevitably, someone will say c. So… then explain, “The third line is actually a, because it is the same as the first. If something is the same as another line, they get the same letter.

Next, have students come up with movements for each part of the song. Tell them that the two a sections have to have the same movement, and b should be different. You can do this individually or in small groups depending on what you prefer.

After they have some up with their actions, sing the song through twice and just have everyone do their own actions at the same time. (Alternatively, you could have students do them individually and perform for each other if you have the time.)

Breezes are Blowing: Elementary music lesson for second grade and third grade to teach low la, aba form, and improvisation-- using a Native American folk song! Becca's Music Room

Have students brainstorm (or have some cards ready, like the ones in the Breezes are Blowing product on TPT) words that relate to breezes and rain. This could be umbrella, thunderstorm, gust, raindrops, etc.

Once you have decided on the words, figure out what rhythms the words have. You could write this on the board, or have it ahead of time if you want to save some time.

Model for the students how to string together the rhythms you just came up with to improvise a new rhythm. Have them repeat back to you the ones you say, then allow students to do create their own rhythms.

Also Read: Bizet Scarf Routine

Breezes are Blowing: Elementary music lesson for second grade and third grade to teach low la, aba form, and improvisation-- using a Native American folk song! Becca's Music Room

Tell the students that the song Breezes are Blowing is going to be A, and they will get to make up the B section by using different words from the board. Practice that a few times.

Write ostinatos on the board for the students to practice. We used four. Our rhythms went with the words breezes blowing all around, rain drop rain drop, ocean, and sh….. We practice each one with just body percussion together.

Next, I handed out the instruments. I started with just two instruments and ostinatos to accompany Breezes are Blowing, and added the other two once they were successful with the first. Our “orffestration” looked like this:

  • Breezes blowing all around: castanets
  • Rain drop rain drop: egg shakers
  • Ocean: guiros
  • Sh: rainsticks (ocean drums would work too!)
Breezes are Blowing: Elementary music lesson for second grade and third grade to teach low la, aba form, and improvisation-- using a Native American folk song! Becca's Music Room

I started one group first, and then added the second group in until everyone was playing. Then I sang the song. Some of the students joined in immediately, but for some students, that was a bit much for them to get all at once. So if they are not singing the first few times, that’s ok. It’s a lot to think about. They will get there (although you may have to remind them).

After your students get the accompaniment down, then you can have them improvise a B section to go with their song.

And to take it one step further, you can have students write down their favorite B section they tried before they leave.

Also read: It’s Raining and Que Llueva

So there it is! This lesson was spread over a few different days (I feel like I always say that…) I used the product from my TPT shop to show all of the rhythms, the improvisation, the words, and for the worksheets my students used at the end to write down their favorite B section. You can feel free to check it out here!

What process do you use to teach improvisation? Let me know in the comments!

Happy teaching!

Breezes are Blowing: Elementary music lesson for second grade and third grade to teach low la, aba form, and improvisation-- using a Native American folk song! Becca's Music Room
Differentiation, Elementary Music

Super Simple Differentiation through Music Centers

I know, I know, differentiation is a nasty word. And centers– depending on your view– can be right up there with it.

I hear about centers and differentiation in meetings all the time, so you probably do too. And you either think 1.) That’s not for me, I’m the music teacher OR 2.) Cool! Let’s try it.

Thankfully for you, I am the second kind of person.

And through some serious trial and error, I have figured out ways to differentiate while using centers in my elementary music classroom in super easy ways. Because when we teach 650 students or more, we don’t need to make things more complicated than they already are.

If you missed my previous differentiation posts, be sure to go back and check them out! In this one, we talk all about differentiation that music teachers naturally do, and how to be more intentional with those things to help your students succeed. In the more recent one, we talked about how to separate students into groups (which is super relevant here!) and the three types of differentiation.

Super Simple Differentiation through Music Centers. Looking for a way to help students who are struggling with rhythm? Or push students who are ahead of the rest? This differentiation guides helps you find easy ways to makes your elementary music lessons more or less complex to accommodate a variety of learners! Becca's Music Room

There are four main ways that you can differentiate with centers– make it harder, provide scaffolding, tiered activities, and teacher led groups. And no, these are not official terms. They are Becca terms.

Make it Harder

This is not an official term, since I am pretty sure that I just came up with that. I do not know of an official term, but if you know of one, please let me know.

Sometimes in centers, I will use progressive tasks– they start easy and get harder. Students who are struggling can focus stay on the easy task as long as they want, an students who are ahead can breeze through the first task and go into the second one.

This is really great for you, because you don’t have to sort out different activities for different students– they will be able to do what is best for them.

Ideas for Make it Harder:

  • Task cards with increasing difficulty
  • Playing rhythms from rhythm cards— start with an easier set or cards and get harder
  • Treble Clef dice activity— students start with one of the easier version and go to a harder one (my kids love these activities!)
  • Have students pull slips of paper with letters on it out of a cup and put bingo chips onto a treble clef. The first set can be just one letter, and the second set could be words or measures that go with a song you are working on.
  • Have students play melodies on xylophones. They can go through cards with just letters first, then notes on the treble clef. They can use melody cards like these.

Provide Scaffolding

Scaffolding encompasses many different things. We as music teachers tend to think of scaffolding mostly as spiraling curriculum so that students have an easy transition from one concept to another. But it also means providing supports to help students with an activity– think graphic organizers or extra tools.

Of all the differentiation, I am probably the worst at this one, even though it is probably the easiest one.

Some ideas of scaffolds or extra help include:

  • Providing heartbeat charts for students creating rhythms instead of a measure card (There are heartbeat charts in the free resource library– sign up for access to it here! If you already have access, then you can click the tab at the top of the page and download them!)
  • If students are researching, you could give a graphic organizer with some of the parts already filled in.
  • Providing answer keys in an envelope so students can check their work (more about that below…)
  • Providing pictures along with words on matching cards or activities like these.
  • Providing extra help from the teacher

A word about answer keys… I got this suggestion from a training. As soon as the lady said to provide answer keys, we all lost a little bit of respect. “But they will just look at the answers!” Someone said. Her response? “When you have the students do another activity or have them come for small group time, you will see if they know the material or not. If they cheat but they learn the material, who really wins?”

Since then, I’ve been providing treble clefs and rhythm value charts and things like that inside of envelopes for students to reference. I want them to be able to get to work quickly– and also get it right. If they are just matching random things (especially with my matching games!) that don’t go together– they are not learning. I’d rather them use the answer key to help them learn it correctly.

I see it like when I am doing a puzzle, and I look at the picture on the box as I am doing it. It’s not telling me how to do it, it’s just helping me out.

Super Simple Differentiation through Music Centers. Looking for a way to help students who are struggling with rhythm? Or push students who are ahead of the rest? This differentiation guides helps you find easy ways to makes your elementary music lessons more or less complex to accommodate a variety of learners! Becca's Music Room

Tiered Activities

We talked a lot about tiered activities in the last differentiation post, and also in this post about my favorite treble clef activity.

Tiered activities basically means that some activities are harder than others. This is really great in centers because you have students in different groups, so you are able to split up the activities in different stations.

A few ideas for tiered activities in centers:

  • Have one set of students play rhythms from flashcards and have the other set make up their own rhythms to play. (You could use these and these.)
  • If working on treble clef, one set of students can identify one note while the others find words (such as egg) on the treble clef. You can check that out in my TPT product here.
  • Have some students matching notes on the staff while others match notes and staff and recorder fingerings. Or have the second group write notes onto the staff because that is more difficult than matching.
  • Have both groups play a game like Kaboom!, but give one group more difficult rhythms. (You can get levels 1 and 2 in my TPT)
  • Have students create measures of rhythms with words. (Kind of like in this or this) You can give the lower group only one beat rhythms to manipulate and the higher group one beat and two or three beat rhythms. They will have to work harder to make sure they have the correct amount of beats in the measure.
  • When playing instruments, you can tier up by having staff notation and tier down by having just the letters or the letters inside of the note heads.
  • Have one group finding all of the letters in words on the treble clef and the other group coming up with their own words (like BAG or EGG or FADE) to put onto the treble clef like on this.
  • Have students play hands together instead of alternating hands on the xylophones.

The possibilities are truly endless once you start thinking through it. Remember, you do not have to come up with 50 different activities. You just have to find a way to make one activity more simple or more complex.

Teacher Led Groups

This is my person favorite way to do my differentiation– through groups led by me.

If you have read my post about setting up centers, you will know that I have six groups and three activities. One of those activities is always at the “teacher station” AKA my front carpet.

What we do changes every time. This is usually the instrument group (I do not trust my students enough to put instruments in any other station!). At this station, I usually have two or three different tiered activities we can do that are easy. The group that needs the most help gets the most help. The highest group gets almost no help at all.

Having these groups has truly changed my life. I love it. I love it because you can be really hands on with the kids, and you get to know them better because of it. I always take an observation grade during this time, and it is so much easier to grade 6 kids at a time than 32. And the kids always tell me that that was their favorite station.

As far as differentiation, sometimes we do different activities, but most of the time I just give different amounts of help/structure to each group. And yes, more or less help does count as differentiation.

Also, the teacher group is usually my instrument group, because I want them to play instruments but don’t trust the kids to use instruments in other stations.

Some ideas for teacher-led station:

  • Rhythm review: low group can review each rhythm, medium group can play rhythms or do dictation, and the high group can use rhythms cards to create their own rhythms
  • Recorder practice: Allow students to practice on their own while you assist and assess.
  • Xylophones: I like to give students cards with letters to play first, and if they finish that, they continue with cards that have notes on the staff.
  • Have students figure out the rhythm or melody from a song you have been working on (Like in my Ickle Ockle lesson)

So those are the main ways to differentiate through centers! I promise, it sounds like more work than it actually is. If you can get students pretest and sorted into groups, you have done almost all of the work. Just add in one or two of these differentiating techniques, and you will see a difference.

How do you differentiate during centers? Let us know in the comments!

Want to get access to exclusive FREE content? Sign up for the free resource library! Once you sign up, you’ll receive the password to the library, and you will be able to download monthly freebies to help you teach elementary music! Sign up here!

Happy teaching!

Super Simple Differentiation through Music Centers. Looking for a way to help students who are struggling with rhythm? Or push students who are ahead of the rest? This differentiation guides helps you find easy ways to makes your elementary music lessons more or less complex to accommodate a variety of learners! Becca's Music Room
3-5, Books, Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

I Know a Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Cello

Most music teachers include lots of books in their elementary music classes. I see this all the time on social media, in trainings, and in classrooms. But can I admit something to you? When I was first starting out, I felt like i was very unclear as to HOW to go about incorporating books. Like– what do you actually do with them? (And don’t say read them.)

A while later, and I am (finally!) starting to get the hang of using books in my normal classroom life. So if you are thinking, “I want to use books but I don’t know how!” Then this post is for you.

One book that I did not struggle with incorporating is the book I Know a Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Cello— a title which will from here on out be shortened, because wow that is long. I got this book from my mentor teacher during student teaching and I love it. It is based off of the There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly books, but everything the shy fellow swallows is an instrument!

Seriously, I love it.

And so do the kids.

So I figured it is the perfect book to introduce to you. Here are a few different ways that you can use this book in your classroom– some of them you could incorporate tomorrow.

If you don’t already have the book, you can get it here for cheap!

Also read: Game and Lesson for Brown Bear, Brown Bear What do you See?

5 Ways to Use I Know a Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Cello in the elementary music classroom. Want to incorporate more books into your music lessons but don't know how? Check out these ways to use my favorite book to teach instruments of the orchestra, singing, and more! Becca's Music Room

Acting it Out

This is one of my personal favorites.

As you read the book, have students look at the pictures of each of the instruments. Have them mime with their hands how to play the instruments. So every time you say cymbals, students can pretend to hit cymbals together in their hands. When you say cello, they can hold one hand up and use the other to play the imaginary bow.

This gets the students involved in the story annnnd the added bonus is that they are now thinking about how each instrument is played rather than “Oh a cello is some kind of instrument I’ve never heard of before.”

Speaking of which….

Show and Tell

For instrument show and tell, you can read the book and then have students look at pictures or posters for each instrument and talk about how it is played.

If you have any of these instruments (and, btw, you can get a fancy silver kazoo on Amazon for cheap here), bring them in! I love to bring in my cello and show the students what it looks like and how it is played. They are always super amazed (and impressed by my Mary Had a Little Lamb rendition).

Oh course, you probably don’t own a cello AND a harp AND a saxophone AND a flute AND cymbals AND all of the other things, but if you have one of them, it is still going to make a huge difference for the students.

And again. Kazoo.

5 Ways to Use I Know a Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Cello in the elementary music classroom. Want to incorporate more books into your music lessons but don't know how? Check out these ways to use my favorite book to teach instruments of the orchestra, singing, and more! Becca's Music Room

Introduction to Instrument Families

This is what I used for my students this year, and it worked really well. I taught 2nd and 3rd grade about the instrument families. Later on, we read this book. While reading the book, I stopped at each instrument and had the students tell me what family that instrument belonged to. If they were correct, then they got to go to the board and put the picture of the instrument onto the section of the board.

For example, after the shy fellow swallowed the cello, I asked, “What instrument family is the cello in?” Athena says, “Oh it’s in the string family!” Athena walks up to the board, finds the cello, and puts it in the section of the board labelled “strings”.

5 Ways to Use I Know a Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Cello in the elementary music classroom. Want to incorporate more books into your music lessons but don't know how? Check out these ways to use my favorite book to teach instruments of the orchestra, singing, and more! Becca's Music Room

By the way, Athena is my dog, not one of my students. She is sitting next to me while I write this, so I thought I would include her.

A few days later, I have the student do pretty much the same activity but on a printed worksheet. Students write or draw the names of each of the instruments in the boxes that correlate with that instrument’s family.

If you are interested in the worksheet, instrument posters, or in the cut outs of the instruments or any of those things, you can get them all in my TPT product here!

5 Ways to Use I Know a Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Cello in the elementary music classroom. Want to incorporate more books into your music lessons but don't know how? Check out these ways to use my favorite book to teach instruments of the orchestra, singing, and more! Becca's Music Room

Singing

Did you know that there is a song that goes with the There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly books? There is!

Here is the best video I can find that has the melody, although we did it much faster than this.

I use the original book at the beginning of the year with my kinders to show the students the difference between singing voice and talking voice (read about that lesson here!). So I read it one day and I sing it another day.

Then if we read any variation like There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bell (or a clover!) or I Know a Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Cello, the students can sing along with it the first time!

Instrument Playing

This one is a little bit trickier, but cumulative songs like this are fun to use with instruments. You assign each instrument a word in the song, and every time the word comes, you have a student play that instrument.

Parts of this book would be perfect, and others would take more creativity. Cymbals and a bell would be easy to come by, but finding an alternative to a cello or harp that won’t confuse the students would be more challenging.

Although, it would be a perfect time to pull out all of the autoharps in my closet that I don’t know what to do with…

If you have done this before or have a good idea for which instruments to use in your classroom, let me know in the comments!

Also read: The Tick Tock Song (sol/mi and ta/titi)

5 Ways to Use I Know a Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Cello in the elementary music classroom. Want to incorporate more books into your music lessons but don't know how? Check out these ways to use my favorite book to teach instruments of the orchestra, singing, and more! Becca's Music Room

So there are 5 ways to use I Know a Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Cello in your elementary music classroom! If you need the book, you can check it out here. If you are interested in the product on TPT so you can have more resources (many of which are really great for subs!), you can check that out here.

And don’t forget to sign up for the FREE resource library– all you do is put your email in, and you have access to all of the resources in the library (including quizzes, powerpoint, beat charts, lyric sheets, and more!)– and new resources are added monthly! Sign up here!

How would you use I Know a Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Cello in your classroom? Which was your favorite idea? Or do you have another idea? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!

5 Ways to Use I Know a Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Cello in the elementary music classroom. Want to incorporate more books into your music lessons but don't know how? Check out these ways to use my favorite book to teach instruments of the orchestra, singing, and more! Becca's Music Room