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Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Music Lesson: Piano and Forte with Bears and Mice

While lesson planning, I kept finding all of these songs about bears. And I thought, I should do a bear unit. One of my top ideas was to sing and play the song Grizzly Bear. If you have been around Pinterest or any music blog, you will find people playing and singing Grizzly Bear to teach dynamics. At some point that caused my bear unit to because a piano and forte unit with mice and bears.

Now, you may have read that and thought, “Wait– what?”

Yes. I am teaching my first graders that mice are piano and bears are forte. It gives them a visual to put with the words, and it allows me to tie in all of the bear and mice songs with it!

I did mice and bear songs all week long– we sang:

We did those five songs plus a bunch of other activities– responding to piano and forte on drums, moving our bodies piano and forte to music, and– what I am really going to talk about today– playing instruments piano and forte.

Also read: Beat v. Rhythm with Soul Music

Free Music Lesson: Piano and Forte with bears and mice. This music lesson uses many well-known songs to teach students about piano and forte, relating them to animals. The highlight is having students play instruments in music class piano and forte. Becca's Music Room

 

Mice and Bears for Piano and Forte

  • First, warm up with Hickory Dickory Dock. I like to do some actions with this nursery rhyme. We start on the floor and keep the beat on our legs. On “the mouse ran up”, we pretend our fingers are mice and stand up. For “the clock struck”, open your arms like the hands of a clock. Then we have the “mouse” go back down at the end.
  • Ask the students: “Is a mouse loud or soft? We have a special word for soft. We call it piano. Can you say piano?” I always have them whisper it so that they think of it as being quiet.
  • Then, ask what kind of animals are loud. They will say a bunch or things, but we keep going until I lead them to bears.
  • Next, pick one of the bear songs so sing. I suggest Grizzly Bear, because it has dynamics built into it, so it emphasizes the point.
  • Tell them, “In music we have a special word for loud– forte. Can you say forte?” (side note– there are slides for this dialogue in my Piano and Forte Rhythm cards set)
  • Now onto the instruments! Get some rhythm cards ready. You can make them and put a bear or mouse clip art onto them. Or you could print a picture of a bear and a mouse and just hold them next to the rhythm cards. Or you could just tell them whether to play forte or piano. I have a set of ta-titi-rest rhythm cards in my TPT that I used. They come with both stick notation and regular notation. You can get them here.
  • Next, have students play rhythms on instruments. My go-tos are rhythm sticks and egg shakers. Alternate between piano cards and forte cards.
  • After students play instruments, have them write their own rhythm. You could use the heartbeat charts in my FREE resource library do this. (Sign up here!) Have them draw a mouse or a bear next to their rhythm so that they can choose whether it should be piano or forte.

 

So there we go! This is just one day of my five-lesson-long bear and mouse and piano and forte unit with my first graders. Of course, many of these activities can be used with students older or younger depending on your group, but I used it with first grade.

What are your favorite bear or mouse songs? How could you make this lesson better– maybe with puppets? Let me know in the comments!

And don’t forget to sign up for my FREE RESOURCE LIBRARY. Once you sign up, you will get a password so that you can download any or all of the resources– including the heart beat charts I mentioned in this lesson. Make sure to check your email every other week to hear about any new items going up in the library. If you’re already a member, go to the resource library here.

And you can check our my Piano and Forte rhythm cards here.

Happy teaching!

3-5, Differentiation, Elementary Music, Lessons

Elementary Music Lesson: Treble Clef Dice

Are you looking for a new way to practice the treble clef? I was too. I am always looking for new ways to practice, preferably with little to no set up. This treble clef dice activity checked all of those boxes, and the students loved it.

If you have been reading my blog, then you may have noticed that I am getting more and more into differentiation. Music teachers differentiate all of the time (read about that here), but I am trying to do even better. This was one of the EASIEST ways to differentiate. Ever. Like, so easy.

I have seen a ton of classroom activities where students could roll a die to practice a skill, and I really wanted to do one as well. So I downloaded some dice clip art and made a few different worksheets so that it can be differentiated.

So, you can go download some clipart, or you can purchase my product off of TPT here.

In my product, there are 6 pages. One is just lines. One is just spaces. One has lines and spaces. One has words that students can spell (like ace, bag, etc). One allows students to make their own words with the letters from A-G. The last one is blank.

You can get some cheap dice at the Dollar Tree, or on Amazon like these.

Also read: DIY Music Manipulative: Treble Clef Battleship

Treble Clef Dice Activity + free treble clef quiz. Looking for a fun way to practice the treble clef in you elementary music room? This dice activity is engaging, fun, and differentiated, plus students get to practice the treble clef. Becca's Music Room

Treble Clef Dice Activity

For this lesson, I gave a really quick pretest the week before. This allowed me to separate students into groups. You can get a FREE treble clef quiz in my free resource library. If you have not signed up for access to the library, then you can sign up here.

Once I had graded the quizzes, I split the class into categories. I do this very simply. Just put an X, a -, and a check mark. I usually just do this on a scrap of paper or an extra long sticky note like these.

Split the number of questions into the number of groups you are making. For this lesson I did students who got all 10 correct, 6-9 correct, and 1-5 correct. Yes, I know this isn’t even, but I wanted to give something different to kids who had 100%.

It seems like a lot of work, but once the pretest is graded it only takes a few seconds to split them up.

Treble Clef Dice Activity + free treble clef quiz. Looking for a fun way to practice the treble clef in you elementary music room? This dice activity is engaging, fun, and differentiated, plus students get to practice the treble clef. Becca's Music Room
Here is an example of how I do student groups. If I am actually putting them into groups, then I will still make this chart first, then separate them.

 

Then we did our dice activity. In these activities, the students roll a die. Each number coordinates with a letter on their recording sheet. On the sheet, they will record answers. They write the letter on the line and then put a whole note or solid dot on the treble clef.

I used three different recording sheets to differentiate. You could just use two, but I went with three. What did they get?

  • X got the sheet with both lines and spaces but only one letter.
  • — got the sheet with words for them to find on the treble clef. They had to practice putting the notes in the right order, which was a bit of a struggle for some of them.
  • Students who got 100% on the pretest got a worksheet where they had to come up with words using the letters A-G and then put notes on the treble clef to correspond with them.

Once they were finished, students turned in the sheets and went to get their recorder.

Also read: Assessment without “Assessment”

Treble Clef Dice Activity + free treble clef quiz. Looking for a fun way to practice the treble clef in you elementary music room? This dice activity is engaging, fun, and differentiated, plus students get to practice the treble clef. Becca's Music Room

 

So that’s it! It is really not complicated when you try to explain it. I hope that you found the piece on differentiation helpful. I feel like it is one of those things that sounds intimidating, but it’s really not– it’s all about giving kids what they need to succeed.

To help you, you can get a FREE treble clef quiz in my free resource library. If you have not signed up for access to the free resource library, then you Sign up here.

You’ll get the password to the resource library, plus I will send updates once every other week.

Get my version of the treble clef dice activity here.

And let us know in the comments what your favorite treble clef activity is!

Happy teaching!

 

Treble Clef Dice Activity + free treble clef quiz. Looking for a fun way to practice the treble clef in you elementary music room? This dice activity is engaging, fun, and differentiated, plus students get to practice the treble clef. Becca's Music Room

 

FREE treble clef quiz for elementary music, beginning band, choir, or music theory class. Just sign up for the free resource library! Becca's Music Room

Uncategorized

Easy Self Care Tips for Teachers

Let’s level here: October was difficult for me. I am not entirely sure what it was, but it just felt like a struggle every. Single. Day. That doesn’t mean that every day was bad, but it means I had to be super intentional about getting things done and having the right mindset. I had to be really intentional about my self care. And there were still some day where it just wasn’t happening.

Yup, Becca, who always advocates that morning routine slept in multiple times in October.

But you know what? I have faith that November will be better. Not just because we have Thanksgiving break soon, but because I learned a lot about my self care needs while going through the ridiculousness of October.

Side note, did anyone else think that it dragged on forever?

Here are some super simple ideas for self care that you can implement immediately. I’m not suggesting anything crazy. Seriously, super simple. Try them. Then let us know in the comments if they were helpful for you!

Also, if you are interested in getting access to exclusive free resources, sign up for my resource library! I send out two email a month– usually talking about some of the free resources available. Once you get access, you can download as many things as you– and more resources are added every few weeks. Sign up here!

Easy Self Care tips for Teachers. Teachers are always taking care of everyone else in the world, but when is the last time you took care of yourself? These ideas are easy to implement and do not take up very much time! Becca's Music Room



Leave School at School

First thing is first—leave school at school. Now, I’m not saying you have to leave as soon as the bell rings. I’m saying, don’t bring home a ton of work.

What that says is: you will never escape the work.

And what happens 90% of the time? You bring it home with the intention to work on grading papers while you watch TV. But then you realize at home you have 50 other things to do, so that doesn’t happen. You take the papers back to school tomorrow feeling guilty and ashamed.

A better alternative? Stay a few minutes extra and then leave it at school. I talk about grading hacks in this video if you need some ideas how when to get them done.

But seriously—when you go home, GO HOME.

Now, I will admit, I do often make resources at home. But that is mostly because I am putting them into my TPT shop, so I don’t want to work on them at school, even if they are for school as well.

 

TAKE YOUR LUNCH BREAK

This is one of the best pieces of advice about self care that I can give you. It’s also one of the things I am the WORST at.

Take your lunch break.

I’ll say it again and let it sink in: take your lunch break.

I know you have 50 thousand things to do. I do too. And every day at lunch I start thinking, I need to do this and this and this.

And then I stop myself and say: take your lunch break.

It really does help. When I take a break at lunch, I feel refreshed and ready to go rather then frustrated and annoyed.

Legistically, how do I accomplish this without shirking my responsibilities?

Normally, I will check my email (I don’t even respond during lunch—just look and see what is in there). If something is urgent I’ll respond, otherwise I leave them unread. Then I look at my to do list and make sure there is nothing that needs to be done prior to my next class (copies or setting out instruments). If I need to call a parent, I will. Otherwise, I leave everything for my planning or after school.

It feels weird. I used to work through lunch every single day. But I promise, it makes a difference. Even if you only take half of your lunch as a break, do it.

Also read: Ways to Destress After a Crazy Day of Teaching

Easy Self Care tips for Teachers. Teachers are always taking care of everyone else in the world, but when is the last time you took care of yourself? These ideas are easy to implement and do not take up very much time! Becca's Music Room



Have an activity to get your mind off of school

So once you have left school at school, now what? Do you get home frustrated and annoyed? Still thinking about testing and study guides?

As soon as you get home—or on your way home—find a way to get your mind off of school. Sit down, because you have not sat down all day, and just chill out for a few minutes.

For me, this has been reading. When I get home, I make myself some tea and a snack, and I read. My goal is 30 minutes, but sometimes it’s only 10 or 15, and that’s ok. The point really isn’t the reading. The point is to calm down, sit down, and think about things that are not school.

Admitedly, sometimes the books are school related, but still.

 

Take a bath

This is probably my favorite one—take a bath. Or a hot shower. But seriously—try a bath. Get some Epson salts and bubble bath (you cannot go wrong with my personal favorites right here! They are made for relaxing!) and soak for a little bit. This really does help your body to feel better and help your mind.

Bonus points if you read a book in there.

Which leads me to my next point…



Read a book

You tell your students to read, but when is the last time you read a book that was not education related? When is the last time that you read for fun?

I have been really intentional about getting my reading in (see above for when that happens), and it has made a huge difference. I am learning more and I know even if my day is crappy, I have 15 minutes where I get to read before I have to clean or make dinner or any of that mess. It’s great.

Need a new book? Here are a ton of book recommendations!

A few that I just finished and would highly recommend include The Alchemist, The Odyssey, and I am currently reading Circe, and it is really great so far. I cannot put it down.

 

Play some music

Upon reflection, that looks like you should put on Pandora. Now, that is actually a good idea, but not what I am meaning.

Pick up an instrument.

If you are a music teacher, when is the last time that you played music? I know that seems like a crazy concept.

I had a thought halfway through last year that went along the lines of this: I used to sing for about 2 hours a day. Then I would play piano and cello. And I haven’t practiced anything for months.

That realization was truly eye opening.

Now I plan to practice at least 2-3 times a week. Technically, I have it written down for every day but that doesn’t always happen. After reading, I turn on my keyboard, warm myself up, and flip to the next book in my Gabriel Faure songbook (because who doesn’t love a good French art song?).

It has been really great for me to get back to learning music that wasn’t pentatonic. Not that there is anything wrong with that—I enjoy it, which is why I teach elementary music. But I also enjoy learning difficult arias and art songs. It may take me two months to learn a song I could have previously learned in two weeks, but at least I’m still doing it.

I read a quote on Instagram lately that was something along the lines of, “How can we inspire students to read when we don’t enjoy reading anymore?” I really think the same thing is true for music teachers—we can’t inspire students to love music if we are not actively trying to improve out musicality.

So there are a few easy ways to incorporate some self care into your routine! I’ve get ideas for school and outside of school.

 

Also read: Elementary Music Classroom Tour

You know what else is great self care? Signing up for access to my free resource library so that you can download things instead of making them! There are different resources available, including a music interest survey and a steady beat chart (in 4/4, 3/4, and 2/4). Once you get access to the exclusive content, you can keep coming back and downloading more! I add new resources every few weeks! Sign up here!

Now I’m curious, what do you do for self care? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!



Easy Self Care tips for Teachers. Teachers are always taking care of everyone else in the world, but when is the last time you took care of yourself? These ideas are easy to implement and do not take up very much time! Becca's Music Room



Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Christmas Rhythm Composition with K-1

When it comes to rhythm, especially in the younger grades, some things are easier to teach than others. Making rhythms that match songs– easy. Repeating rhythms– easy. Even reading rhythms– easy. But what about improvisation and composition? That’s a little harder. I talked about improvisation and how I set that up in my Rain v. Llueva lesson (which was fabulous!). Today I’m going to talk about composition. Specifically, Christmas composition.

Because it’s time for Christmas lessons!

In this lesson, I am going to talk about how I set up the Christmas composition activity. I took parts of this and broke them apart over a few lessons, supplemented with some Christmas lessons like Arre Mi Burrito. 

If you are looking for some other Christmas lessons, you can check out my 2-3 grade lesson/game Oh Christmas Tree (which has a free lyric sheet and coloring sheet!) or 4-5 grade lesson/game for the 12 Days of Christmas. If you want something more comprehensive, you can get 6 different lessons for different grades in my Christmas in the Music Room Bundle (or follow the links and get one of the lessons out of the bundle).

Free K-1 Music Lesson: Christmas Rhythm Composition. Super fun lesson for kindergarten and first grade for composition. Becca's Music Room



Christmas Composition

A few notes:

First, my students have already learned about rhythm at this point. Kindergarten knows ta and titi and my first graders know rest. You definitely want them to know rhythm before doing this activity. If you need help, you can check out this post or this lesson.

Second, I am using the rhythm manipulative and worksheet in my TPT product here. You can certainly make your own, and do not have to use the product that I’m talking about. I am also using the ornament composition cards from this TPT product.

So here’s the lesson:

  • Start with singing a song that is only ta’s and titi’s (mine had a rest– oops!). I like to use a song that the students already know as a warm up. In this case, we are working on the song Arre Mi Burrito.
  • Write the rhythms on cards or on the board (I print them off of my computer) and go over those. Because we just started using rhythm names and reading rhythms, I do this as a call and response first. We sing the song. Then I will sing and point to the rhythm or one of the lines. Next I will point and we will do just ta’s and titi’s. Then I will have the students say it with me while I point. That sounds like a lot, but it takes all of 30 seconds.
  • Then, tell the students that we are doing an activity and we need some words. Ask if anyone could tell you a holiday word (and give a few examples). Write a ta and a titi on the board. As kids give you a word, sort them between ta and titi. I usually say the word a few times and have the kids “help” me figure out whether it has one syllable or two (ta or titi). I will say the word and clap or snap and let the kids try and tell me whether it is one syllable or two.
  • After they have told you some holiday words, guide them towards the words that you are using for the composition activity. For me, for Kindergarten I am using elf and stocking, and for first grade we are using tree and reindeer.
  • Once the kids have “come up with” those words, tell them that you have some cards you can use to make rhythms with those words.

Also read: Free Music Lesson: Bate Bate Chocolate

Free K-1 Music Lesson: Christmas Rhythm Composition. Super fun lesson for kindergarten and first grade for composition. Becca's Music Room



  • Then I grab four cards and make a rhythm. The kids say it. Then I make another one and the kids say it. Then I ask if anyone else could come up with a rhythm. A few kids will say a rhythm with the words. Then I tell them that all of them get to make me a rhythm. (This modeling is really helpful with the younger students and getting them to understand the concept of what you are doing.
  • Break the students into groups or two or three depending on how many students you have. Have on student make a rhythm and have the other student read it.
  • While they are doing this, walk around the room and listen to student reading. Help when needed. I also take grades while I walk around the room listening to students read.

Free K-1 Music Lesson: Christmas Rhythm Composition. Super fun lesson for kindergarten and first grade for composition. Becca's Music Room

  • Next, I give kids a sheet that has boxes and lines (in my Christmas Rhythms Manipulatives product) and have them write four rhythms. They write the rhythms on the line and then draw pictures of the words we used in the boxes. (There is also another line underneath that the students can write the words on, but I find there’s not enough space for the younger students to write in them so we left them blank.)
  • Give out a small percussion instrument (like rhythm sticks or jingle bells if you are feeling festive) and have students play other people’s rhythms. I had one student stand up and read one of their rhythms and everyone else echoed it back with their instruments.
  • In the next class period, we review the composition aspect. Then we used the templates form my Ornament Composition Activity  to make rhythm Christmas ornaments! You can use any template you already have to this. Students just made a rhythm, and then colored it in, and they went up on my bulletin board!

Also read: Christmas Music Lesson: 12 Days of Christmas

Free K-1 Music Lesson: Christmas Rhythm Composition. Super fun lesson for kindergarten and first grade for composition. Becca's Music Room



So there we go! Manipulatives, writing rhythms, instruments, sharing compositions, and coloring. That’s a lot of stuff.

My kids had so much fun doing these activities. Like I said before, I actually spread them out through a few different days and supplemented with other songs, books, and games.

You can check out the two products that I used in this lesson here: Christmas Rhythm Manipulatives and Ornament Composition Activity.

Or you can check out my blog posts about the 12 Days of Christmas and Oh Christmas Tree.

And check out the decorations and books I got for my classroom here.

Want to get access to exclusive content? Sign up to join my FREE RESOURCE LIBRARY. Once you sign up, you can download and use any of the content in the library. New things are being added every few weeks, so make sure you check back for more FREE stuff! Sign up here.

What are your favorite Christmas lessons? Any tips for Christmas Composition? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Teaching!





Uncategorized

Christmas Music Lesson: 12 Days of Christmas

Ah, Christmas. So many songs, so little time. Every year I feel like I cannot narrow down how many songs I want to do. How do you get to them all? Anyway, my fourth and fifth graders are in the middle of a huge recorder unit, and I did not want to put that on pause to do a bunch of Christmas music (we’re doing the Link Up curriculum, and we are on a deadline!). So I only picked a few songs for my 4-5 graders, and the 12 Days of Christmas was our main song.

This song is so much fun, and so easy because it is cumulative.

There are about a million things that you can do with this song, but I narrowed it down to a few. I used a PDF version of a PowerPoint that I made, which you can check out on TPT here.

It is also part of my music lessons bundle, which has 6 different Christmas lessons at a discounted price, which you can get here.

You can also check out my free Oh Christmas Tree Music Game (with free lyric sheet and coloring sheet) here.

Christmas Music Lesson: 12 Days of Christmas. Super fun lesson for upper elementary school to teach singing, movement, writing, and fun! Becca's Music Room



 

12 Days of Christmas

  • First, go over the words to the song the 12 Days of Christmas. It is super easy, so we just read through the words and then I started singing the first verse and by the second verse, they had figured it out.
  • Next, have the students sing through the song. You can play it on the piano or use a YouTube video to sing along with.
  • Pick one student to create movements for each gift. So one student will pick and lead movements for a partridge in a pear tree. One will do it for two turtledoves, etc.
  • Sing through the song and have the students follow the movements that the leaders for each gift choose. Again, you can accompany on the piano or ukulele or you can play a recorder version.
  • Then, you can create a new version of the 12 Days of Christmas. I project the page from my 12 Days of Christmas product that has the first half of each line and then write the students’ answers on the board. Let the kids pick what they get on each day.
  • Sing through the song with your kids’ version of the song. This will need to be done a cappella or with the piano or ukulele or guitar. You can’t sing it with the recording because the words will be different.
  • Have students create individual versions of the 12 Days of Christmas if you need to include more writing in your curriculum!
  • Last, you can have students color pictures or their 12 Days of Christmas or the original version. There are coloring sheets in my product, if you get that.

Christmas Music Lesson: 12 Days of Christmas. Super fun lesson for upper elementary school to teach singing, movement, writing, and fun! Becca's Music Room



 

So there you go! Movement, writing, singing, and fun. My kids enjoyed this immensely! They thought it was so much fun. And I enjoyed it too!

Also check out my free Oh Christmas Tree music lesson/game for what I am doing with my second and third graders. Or you can get the Christmas in the Music Room Bundle and get enough lessons for the rest of the year!

And check out the decorations and books I got for my classroom in my YouTube video.

Want to get access to exclusive content? Sign up to join my FREE RESOURCE LIBRARY. Once you sign up, you can download and use any of the content in the library. New things are being added every few weeks, so make sure you check back for more FREE stuff! Sign up here.

How do you teach 12 Days of Christmas? Let me know in the comments!

Happy Teaching!



Christmas Music Lesson: 12 Days of Christmas. Super fun lesson for upper elementary school to teach singing, movement, writing, and fun! Becca's Music Room



3-5, Elementary Music, Games, K-2, Lessons

Music Christmas Game: Oh Christmas Tree

Are you looking for some really fun Christmas lessons? I feel like I am always looking for ideas, and I have a hard time narrowing down the amount of songs that are available for the holidays. I was looking for a song that was common enough that I wanted all of my students to know, but different enough that not all of them would know it. Oh Christmas Tree was the perfect combination or common but unknown by my third graders.

And you know what? In the first two classes I have used this song with, I had a total of about 5 students that knew it.

You could use this song to work on low sol (each line goes sol-do) or for teaching dotted eighth note sixteenth note rhythms. But you know that I used this song for? Fun.

And that is ok.

I am using some of my other songs to push concepts we are working on, but for this one we just had fun.

And we had a lot of fun.

If you are looking for a a bunch of Christmas ideas, check out my Christmas in the Music Room Bundle on TPT.

If you don’t want that many ideas, you can check out the links and see the individual products that are in the bundle.

Christmas Music Game: Oh Christmas Tree. Super silly and fun game for the song Oh Christmas Tree or Oh Tannenbaum. Includes a free lyric sheet and Christmas coloring sheet! Becca's Music Room



Oh Christmas Tree

So how do I play the game?

  • First, teach the students the song Oh Christmas Tree. You can see the sheet music in Beth’s Music Notes here or get my free lyric sheets (for projecting or printing) in my resource library here. If you do not have the password to the resource library, you can get it by joining my email list! Then you can get all of the free resources.
  • Sing the song and focus on the contour. I love to use scarves and have students move the scarf up when the song goes up and down when the song goes down.
  • Have students get into groups. It really doesn’t matter how many are in each group, but I like to do 2-4 for this game.
  • Then, have one student stand with their arms straight out. This student is the Christmas tree.
  • Sing through the song Oh Christmas Tree. During the first verse, have students decorate the Christmas tree in their group. Give them a box with a bunch of (non-pointy or breakable!) Christmas decorations. I went to the Dollar Store and bought garland, tinsel, and some ornaments with strings instead of hooks.
  • During the next verse, have the students undecorated the Christmas tree.
  • Then sing the next verse (or the first one again) and have a different student be the tree.
  • Repeat as many times as desired.

Also read: Free Music Lesson: Bate Bate Chocolate

Christmas Music Game: Oh Christmas Tree. Super silly and fun game for the song Oh Christmas Tree or Oh Tannenbaum. Includes a free lyric sheet and Christmas coloring sheet! Becca's Music Room



 

And there you go! This is super easy, super fun. I just left it there, but you could add some more things like:

  • Decorating paper trees or plastic trees with rhythm or melodic composition ornaments like these
  • Read a Christmasy book like this one or this one which is a super cute eBook with Phineas and Ferb! (I have not read them, so don’t hold me to how good they are, but the previews are cute!)
  • Watch The Charlie Brown Christmas movie. I know this may be too religious for some schools, but man it is cute. If it is too Christmasy, then you can watch Frosty the Snowman which is not Christmasy.

What are you doing for Christmas in the music room? I am doing all of the lessons from my Christmas music bundle on TPT! Do your students know the song Oh Christmas Tree? Let me know in the comments?

Happy teaching!



Christmas Music Game: Oh Christmas Tree. Super silly and fun game for the song Oh Christmas Tree or Oh Tannenbaum. Includes a free lyric sheet and Christmas coloring sheet! Becca's Music Room



Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Free K-1 Music Lesson: Beat v. Rhythm with Soul Music

If you have been reading my blog for any amount of time, you will know that I love to teach students about different kind of music. We do tons of listening activities with music from all different places. This is partially because of my personal teaching philosophy, and aided by the program that my students do called Musical Explorers. There are now three of four places that do the Musical Explorers programs. Basically, we learn about six different styles of music and go to two different concerts every year. This year, one of our styles is soul music!

I was really excited about the soul music style, because it is really great for beginning of the year, because it is very accessible (more accessible than the music from Mali, which is definitely my favorite for this semester). And what are we talking about at the beginning of the year?

Beat v. rhythm.

Now, I used variations of this lesson with my kids from kindergarten to third grade. Obviously, we didn’t do exactly the same thing with my kindergarteners and my third graders, but we did parts of it. This version of the lesson will focus on what I did with kindergarten and first grade.

We start working on steady beat as soon as the school year starts with my kindergarteners. We don’t name it right away of course. By the time we get to October, they get the concept pretty well (most of my students can keep a decent steady beat the first week!), so we start talking about rhythm.

This lesson is just to prep students for the concept of rhythm. We did not actually learn ta and titi yet, we are just getting used to the idea that the beat is steady and rhythm is not.

Free heartbeat beat charts! There are charts in 2/4 3/4 and 4/4, with the quarter note on the bottom or the real time signature (or none!). Help your students work on the steady beat and rhythm with there free beat sheets! Becca's Music Room

Also, in this lesson we use beat charts. I have a free beat chart (in 4/4, 3/4, and 2/4) available in my free resource library. This is a new thing I am rolling out to help you get free stuff! Sign up for my email list and I will send you the password to the library. Once a member, always a member. More things are being added every few weeks, so check back to see what is new. Sign up here.

If you already have the password, then you can click on the picture above or the “free resource library” tag at the top of the page to get it!

 

Also read: Free K-2 Music Lesson: A Train Jazz Lesson



Soul Music and Beat v Rhythm

  • Listen to the song, I Feel Good and have students follow you by keeping the steady beat. Switch where you are keeping the steady beat while listening.
  • Tell the students that this is the beat. Tell them the beat is steady, which means that is stays the same. Another thing that has a steady beat is your heart beat. Have them try to find their heartbeat.
  • Give them a page with heartbeats on it to track. Students can point to the steady beat while listening. You can get a FREE one in my resource library here!
  • Show them the Musical Explorer page here. It has the rhythm for the song along with the heartbeat. Have students walk up and point to the steady beat on the board while the others are keeping it at their seats.
  • Afterwards, ask the kids if the beat changed. (They should say no!) Then ask them to look at the rhythm. I tell my students that rhythm is the long and short notes that do change. Even though I have not showed them ta or titi in kindergarten (although first grade has a handle on this), I will show them the rhythm of the song. Then I ask, “Does the rhythm look the same?” I will point to some of the extra weird looking ones. Then I will say some of the words and have students play the rhythm (one tap for every sound). on their legs.
  • Then we listened to I Heard it Through the Grapevine. I had students keep the steady beat by holding up their right hand, then their left hand, and back an forth. This prepped us so that we could play tambourines on the backbeat! We love our blue star tambourines, and the kids are excited for any chance to use them.
  • Usually on the next day or a different day, I will pull in beat and rhythm with a song they have already learned to focus on ta and titi. In this case, I am using 2, 4, 6, 8 Meet Me at the Garden Gate, which you can check out here.
  • I like to have students use the popsicle sticks to make rhythms almost immediately after showing them what they look like. I talk a lot about popsicle stick rhythms in this post.



Extensions:

  • Have the students learn the dance to I Heard it Through the Grapevine. It is pretty simple- step out, step across, step out, together. Then you go the other way. With the littles, I just taught it as step, together, step, together until they got it.
  • Have students draw pictures of grapevines (if you are in GA, parts of a plant is a first grade standard. Bonus points if you have them label their leaves and stems!)
  • Have students write or draw a picture of something that makes them feel good.

I hope that is helpful! It is really just an introduction to the concept of having beat and having rhythm. I did not use this to introduce rhythm (I saved that for 2, 4, 6, 8) but this helped students realize the difference between the two. Plus, it was fun! I mean, who doesn’t love soul music?

If you liked this post, make sure that you share it so more people can enjoy it too! You can get access to my FREE RESOURCE LIBRARY (which includes the beat charts I talked about here) by signing up for my email list here. I only send out two emails per month, usually announcing some free stuff!

Happy teaching!





Elementary Music, Games, K-2, Lessons

Free Music Lesson: Brown Bear Brown Bear

We all love to use books in the music classroom. Brown Bear Brown Bear is one of my favorites—and it has so many extensions! I am planning to do a bear themed unit in January, so I am trying to find some fun things to do. If you have some ideas for bear themed lessons, let me know in the comments!

This lesson includes a solo singing game, a book, and a rhythmic/composition extension my students have really enjoyed.

You can get the Brown Bear book here.

 I also saw this version in one of our first grade teacher’s rooms this week. It’s about polar bears and it uses the same structure, but with endangered animals. I am planning to buy it soon.

Also, I am starting something new! I wanted a way to provide my subscribers with extra exclusive free content, so I have created a resource library. As of Nov. 2018, I have a free beat chart (in 4/4, 3/4, and 2/4) and 2 music interest surveys available in my free resource library. Sign up for my email list and I will send you the password to the library. Once a member, always a member. More things are being added every few weeks, so check back to see what is new. Sign up here.

Also read: Free K-1 Music Lesson: It’s Raining and Que Llueva

Free Music Lesson: Brown Bear Brown Bear what do you see? This is one of my favorite lessons-- my first graders request it by name! In this kindergarten and first grade lesson, students will play, solo sing, read rhythms, and read a book! Becca's Music Room



 

Brown Bear, Brown Bear lesson

  • First off, read the Brown Bear book.
  • Next, read the book while singing. I have seen a few different songs, but I have always used the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. You use the melody for “twinkle twinkle little star” for the words “brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?” and “how I wonder what you are” for “I see a white dog looking at me”. And it repeats over and over and over again.
  • Read the book again, and have the students sing along with you if they have not already been singing with you.
  • Then you can play the game!

Game instructions:

  • Get into a circle. Every student gets a stuffed animal (if you don’t have stuffed animals, then you can download my stuffed animal cards here). I usually start holding a brown bear. Everyone sings the opening melody. Since I am holding the brown bear, then I get to sing, “I see a ______ looking at me.” I put a name of someone else’s animal in the blank. I put my animal in the middle. Everyone sings to the person who has the animal I called. Then that person picks another animal.
  • For example: I am holding a brown bear. Everyone sings “Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?” I sing, “I see a cheetah looking at me.” Everyone sings “Cheetah, cheetah, what do you see?” and the person with the cheetah sings, “I see a red bird looking at me.” And we keep going until all of the animals are in the circle.
  • PS. I usually have the kids echo sing the animal names on sol-mi before we do the game. This is helpful, especially if you have any weird ones.

Also read: Free K-1 Music Lesson: Singing Voice v. Talking Voice

Free Music Lesson: Brown Bear Brown Bear what do you see? This is one of my favorite lessons-- my first graders request it by name! In this kindergarten and first grade lesson, students will play, solo sing, read rhythms, and read a book! Becca's Music Room



 

Extensions:

  • You could stop there, but I usually take it a step further. I will put up rhythms. With kindergarten, we will use ta and titi. With first grade, I will use quarter note quarter rest, two quarter notes, and eighth notes quarter note. We will sort the animal by the rhythm of their name. So “brown bear” would be two quarter notes. We do this together once and then in groups after that. There are some discrepancies, so I always ask the kids the name of their animal. Because “bear” and “brown bear” have different rhythms, but they are not wrong.
  • You could also use my Brown Bear Rhythm cards to play rhythms with instruments, or to match to the animals.
  • Then we use the Brown Bear rhythm cards to have students compose new rhythms. I don’t like to use the actual animals, because composition is a little too free and I find they end up just playing with the animals. If your kids are more self sufficient, then you can try the animals and let me know how it goes!

I am working on a few more extension activities, but for now, this is it! That is a lot of content for just one book.

Also read: Free K-2 Music Lesson: Rhythm

Free Music Lesson: Brown Bear Brown Bear what do you see? This is one of my favorite lessons-- my first graders request it by name! In this kindergarten and first grade lesson, students will play, solo sing, read rhythms, and read a book! Becca's Music Room



 

I hope your students enjoy Brown Bear– mine love it and ask for it by name! I usually pull it out twice in the same year because it is so much fun… And I also use it as a solo singing assessment.

You can get the book here.

And you can get 25 beanie babies off of Amazon here!

If you liked this post, make sure that you share it so more people can enjoy it too! You can also subscribe to my email list here. You will get two emails a month with updates about my blog, YouTube, and TPT shop. You will also get a FREE music interest survey for signing up!

And let us know what your favorite activities for Brown Bear are down in the comments! I would love some ideas!

Happy teaching!



Free Music Lesson: Brown Bear Brown Bear what do you see? This is one of my favorite lessons-- my first graders request it by name! In this kindergarten and first grade lesson, students will play, solo sing, read rhythms, and read a book! Becca's Music Room



Elementary Music

Assessment without “Assessment”

Assessment. This is one of the favorite words in education these days. Principals love assessment, district chairs love assessment…. Do teachers love assessment? Not really. Do kids? No.

But you can change that. At least you can change that in the elementary music room.
Most of us see our kids about once a week. My schedule is different this year, so I see one class for 45 minutes a day for a week, and then I do not see them for another five weeks.

Do I want to give up one of those days to stop everything and have kids do a test? No.
And a lot of our skills cannot be assessed from a paper. You cannot use your singing voice by writing on a paper.

So how do we do assessment in the music room without giving up all of our precious time? Here are a few ideas. You may already be doing some—or all—and that is great. You can add your ideas to the comments below. But if you are stumped by assessment in the music room, here are some ideas.

But wait…

Now, if you follow me on Instagram, you will see that I did give my students a drop-everything-and-take-a-test this year. I did this for a pretest with grades 2-5. And it did take almost the whole class period.

But I will say that it was worth it, because I found out soooo much about my students. The top half was a pretest and the bottom half was an interest survey. I found out what students enjoyed and didn’t enjoy (one of them said “Something I don’t like about music is not chewing gum.”).

It was also interesting, because I thought my students would freak out and be really miserable filling out this paper in music, but they did ok. And some of my worst classes actually behaved better, which I found interesting. If I continue to have issues with the one in particular, I may switch to a totally different teaching format for them.
Anyway. I would not do that for every single unit. I did one at the beginning, and I will do one at the end. Now, for what you came here for…

Also read: Routines You Need in the Music Room

Assessment without "Assessment" in the music room. I don't know about your music room, but in my elementary music class, I hate stopping everything to take a test. But we still need to know what our students know. Here are some ideas for assessment that does not interrupt your learning! Becca's Music Room



Assessment while doing an activity

This is probably the most common and easiest thing to do. You teach an activity and while they are doing it, you just check off who is doing is correctly. I suggest having a seating chart (seriously– you should have a seating chart!) with boxes on it so that you can mark students off.

I don’t do anything fancy when it comes to this. In my room, students either get a check (they are doing it right), a line (almost there), or an x (don’t have it right).

I do this almost every day. Sometimes I walk around during a game and check off who is matching pitch. If we are writing rhythms on white boards, I check off who has the correct amount of beats. We will play a game like Kaboom! and I will check off who is doing the rhythms correctly. If we are doing a form activity like this one, I’ll check off who is switching actions at the appropriate time. If we are keeping the steady beat, then I will check off who is doing that. If we are playing instruments, I will check off who is playing them correctly.

Even if you are not writing this down, you are probably doing it in your head. So just put it down on paper.

The more intentional you are about it, the more things you will find that you can use for this.

And the kids don’t even know they are being assessed.

 

Assessment during centers

This is also very helpful. If you have read this post about centers, then you know I usually have one group that is with me. And this is the perfect time for assessment. A lot of times I will do things that are very similar to what I would do whole group, but with only a few students it is easier to assess them all.

And if you are wondering, I do differentiate my centers. If you are interested in hearing more about that, let me know in the comments!

I also like to pull out things like writing rhythms on white boards or putting bingo chips on letters on the staff during this time. Those are easy things to assess that go over pretty well.

If you don’t anchor yourself at one center, you could just walk around and listen to students and check them off.

I like to have my station where students get a grade and also include some sort of written assignment where they get a grade. This could be writing a rhythm, writing lyrics, drawing a picture about a song we learned, etc.

Also read: Setting up Centers: The first Day

Assessment without "Assessment" in the music room. I don't know about your music room, but in my elementary music class, I hate stopping everything to take a test. But we still need to know what our students know. Here are some ideas for assessment that does not interrupt your learning! Becca's Music Room



Assessment through exit tickets

I will be honest, this is something I am not good at.

Exit tickets are traditionally quick things students write and hand to you at the end of class. People do this very well, and it is a good way to get quick information about if your students are understanding a particular concept.

The reason I do not do well with these is because my students sit on the floor. In order to write anything, we have to pass out paper, pencils, and clipboards. By the time that is passed out or collected, we have now spend 20 minutes on it, and it is no longer an exit ticket. This is a bit too much when we are also trying to line up (and with some classes, that itself is a struggle).

I am experimenting with some exit ticket designs that do not require a lot of stuff. Here is my first attempt, which you can get on TPT.

And if you know of something, please let me know in the comments.

 

Recording Assessments

This is something I have not explored very well either. I have, on occasion, filmed a whole class working on a dance or instruments or something like that and then gone back later to watch it and assess students. This can be done while students are already doing their stuff and it doesn’t take extra class time.

I have heard of people having students use the SeeSaw app on iPads to have students record themselves. I plan to try this once my iPads are up and running!



Also read: DIY Music Manipulative: Battleship

You can also subscribe to my email list here. You will get two emails a month with updates about my blog, YouTube, and TPT shop. You will also get a FREE music interest survey for signing up!

How do you do assessment in the music room? Do you have drop-everything-and-test days? Do you do it sneakily? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!



Assessment without "Assessment" in the music room. I don't know about your music room, but in my elementary music class, I hate stopping everything to take a test. But we still need to know what our students know. Here are some ideas for assessment that does not interrupt your learning! Becca's Music Room



Elementary Music, Management

What do I do with fifth graders? Classroom Management

Ah, fifth graders. What will we ever do with them?

Last week we talked about what to do with fifth graders in the elementary music room as far as lessons go. Check it out here.

Today we are talking about dealing with behavior in fifth graders. Because we all know that no learning can happen if the students are out of control. We also know that what works with the Kindergarteners will not work for the fifth graders who are eleven. And sometimes twelve. And I have at least one who is thirteen.

Please don’t think that I am an expert, because I am certainly not. I cannot guarantee that if you walk into my classroom, everything will be magical. I try really hard, and I am getting there, but still have some ways to grow.

That being said, I have tried a lot of different tactics when it comes to behavior management. I have some things that have worked and some that have not. I have also observed a lot of things that worked/did not work.

Also read: Vamos a la Mar Orffestration

What do I do with fifth graders? Part 2: Classroom management. If you teach elementary music (or elementary art or elementary PE), then you may be struggling with controlling your fifth graders. Don't sweat it. We have all been there. This post has lots of tips and tricks to figure out what to do with fifth graders-- even if you are a new teacher! Becca's Music Room.

A few quick tips….

See how the class acts with the teacher

If you have a particularly difficult class, watch how they act with their teacher. If they go to different classes, try to see how they act with all the teachers that they see. Sometimes you may be having a hard time with a class, but their teacher is having a hard time all of the time. If they are used to wild and crazy with no classroom management all day long, then you are fighting an uphill battle trying to get them to behave for you. It is possible, but keep that in mind.

Review the expectations

You may have seen my Things I’m Doing Differently in my Second Year of Teaching post, but last year, we talked about the rules once and then never again. This year, we are reviewing them almost daily, depending on which fifth graders I have. I have rhythms associated with each expectation (you can see them in my classroom reveal post), and we will clap them at the beginning of almost every class. This also gives me the chance to talk about anything specific that I have seen that I don’t like. It takes like 30 seconds, and I do think it matters. When someone is not doing what they are supposed to, I will literally point to it on the board and remind them of the expectation.

I know it’s making a difference because yesterday, one of my second graders said, “We didn’t do those rhythms!”

Be Consistant

If something was a call-able offense yesterday, then it needs to be a call-able offense today. Don’t laugh at a joke Monday and get mad about the same joke on Tuesday. Kids need to know what you are ok with or not ok with. They need you to be the same person every single day.

Make the Rewards worth it

Now, when you have a kindergarten class, you can start giving out little star stickers to kids doing a good job, and all the others will straighten out. Your fifth graders, however, and probably not going to care about a sticker. You need to make rewards match the age group. That doesn’t mean you have to spend a ton of money or that you need to go crazy, it just means that you need to get a little bit creative.

You can get some ideas from my post about cheap or free incentives. You can also get some reward cards from my TPT here. Writing a nice note home can make a huge difference– even with fifth grade!

What do I do with fifth graders? Part 2: Classroom management. If you teach elementary music (or elementary art or elementary PE), then you may be struggling with controlling your fifth graders. Don't sweat it. We have all been there. This post has lots of tips and tricks to figure out what to do with fifth graders-- even if you are a new teacher! Becca's Music Room.

Some bigger tips….

 

Be very specific (the strike system)

This goes for all of your grade levels, but when it comes to behavior and classroom management, be very specific. Way more specific than you feel you need to be. This is something that I just amped up.

I have always said things like, “You need to do a good job so that you can play the instruments.”

We probably all say things like that, right?

But what constitutes a “good job”? Does that mean that talking is ok but punching people isn’t? Does it mean that you speak to them once? Twice? Six times? Does it mean they sat quietly for two minutes? All students—especially fifth graders—need to know where the line is.

I have started to do a strike system. It seemed really mean at first, but it is so helpful because the students know exactly where they stand. Basically, if a student does anything they are not supposed to—gets out of their seat, talking without permission, being rude, etc—they get a strike.

The first two are warnings. If they get three, they are out—they do not get to do our fun thing that day. This is usually something I was already planning on doing, like playing a music game or using the instruments. If they get four strikes, they are out for the rest of the day. If they get five, then I call mom and they have to write an apology letter either during the next class period or during lunch (they get to choose which one). I see them every day for a week at a time, so I tell them if they get to five strikes twice in a week, then they get actual detention.

Side note– You may not have this problem, but at my school, kids pretty much never stay for detention. That’s why I started doing lunch detentions. And if you do lunch detentions, make sure you document them somehow. I just have a sign in sheet.

I know, it sounds so mean!

But really, it is way less mean than trying to make the judgment call for yourself about whether a student should or should not play the instruments or whether or not you call home. This takes the responsibility off of you and onto the students. They will appreciate knowing what to expect. The students know where they stand, and it allows them to monitor their own behavior.

I have even heard them say, “I’m at two, I can’t do anything again.” This does not mean that they never get to three strikes. But standing firm does make a difference. And they will get it. Even if they still get strikes, they will eventually (eventually) get less.

I have a whole video explaining this here.

Don’t Be Afraid to be Mean

This one goes along with the last one. I told you, it sounded mean, but it’s not. And every time that I do let someone know they have not earned their instrument time or that they have earned a phone call and alternate assignment, I feel mean. I do not feel good.

But you know what is really mean?

What is mean is letting students think that they can have inappropriate behavior and still participate in the rewards. It is not fair to them and it is not fair to the students who did what they were supposed to. If you say something, you have to follow through. Even if it is “mean”.

And you know what I have found?

Time and time again, when I give fifth graders detention or call mom or give them an apology letter, they respect me more. Not in the moment, but the next time they see me, they appreciate me. They will give me a hug. They will smile and talk to me.

I was sooooo freaked out the first few times this happened. I’m like, “I called your mom and gave you detention and now you are hugging me?”

Yes. Because they now know:

  1. Where the line is drawn (that consistently thing again)
  2. That you care enough to not let them off the hook
  3. You mean what you say

Also read: Keys to Classroom Management in the Music Room

Save Your Teacher Voice

We have all heard of the “teacher voice”. I use mine mostly with fifth graders, so I call it my fifth grade voice. (As in, “I should not have to use my fifth grade voice with my first graders.”)

Basically, your teacher voice is your strong voice. It’s not screaming, but it is louder and forceful. It says, “I’m in charge.”

Teacher voices are important and usually necessary.

However.

If you use your teacher voice (or just straight up screaming) ALL THE TIME, they will tune it out. They won’t notice it anymore. They won’t care. I’m sure you can think of a teacher where every time you see them, they are just screaming. Do the kids care? Nope. Are they listening? Nope. Is it helping? Nope.

Don’t be that teacher.

Save your teacher voice for when it is necessary. The greatest thing about teacher voice is the element of surprise. If you use it too much, the element of surprise goes away. I try to only use my teacher voice when there is a serious problem. Usually only if someone hurts someone else or looks like they are about to hurt someone. I can tell that I am using it appropriately because half of the students will look at me with these super shocked faces because they’ve never heard me raise my voice. And that’s how I know it’s working.

Some specific classroom management things…

  1. Have a quiet signal: Have some sort of signal to get students quiet. Or have a few signals to get quiet. I use some chimes. If I ring my chimes, all of the students raise their hands until the sound stops. I use ones like this, but I have seen other teachers use these because they are more mobile.
  2. The points system: I talk about this in this post. This is a whole group reward system. The class works together to earn points for… something. Because of my funky schedule, my classes work towards game time on Friday. They get either 10 or 20 minutes of a game of their choice on Friday if they earn their points. 20 points=ten minutes and 25 points= 20 minutes.
  3. The card system: I also talk about this one in this post. This is individual (this would replace the strike system I talked about earlier). If a student is doing a good job, they get a green card. If they have it at the end, they get to do something special. If they are not doing the right thing, they get a yellow card (it’s a warning). If they continue, they get a red card. That means they get a parent phone call and lunch detention.
  4. The envelope system: I have a video about this which you can see here, but basically if a student does a good job, they get to write their name on a paper and put it in an envelope. On Friday, I pull out three names from the envelope and those three people get a prize.

What do I do with fifth graders? Part 2: Classroom management. If you teach elementary music (or elementary art or elementary PE), then you may be struggling with controlling your fifth graders. Don't sweat it. We have all been there. This post has lots of tips and tricks to figure out what to do with fifth graders-- even if you are a new teacher! Becca's Music Room.

So those are some ideas! This is another super long post, but I feel like this is a really important topic. Read part 1 here— it’s all about lessons for fifth graders.

Also read: Bate Bate Chocolate

A note of encouragement: If this is your first year at a school, it will get easier. I have noticed that my fifth graders this year are easier to handle than my fifth graders last year, and the only big change I can see is that I know these students better.

If you are interested in the FREE MUSIC INTEREST SURVEY we talked about in the last post, or getting access to other free resources, sign up for my email newsletter. I send out two emails a month– usually talking about one of the free resources available in the resource library. Once signed up, you can download and use any and everything in there! Sign up here!

What do you do to keep your fifth graders in line– literally and figuratively? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!