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Elementary Music

Things to DO when Directing an Elementary Musical

At the beginning of my first year of teaching, I got a great idea. We should do an elementary musical.

I needed some microphones, applied for a grant, and forgot about it.

And then I got the grant. And because it was now January and I was significantly more worn out than I was in September, I thought, “Great, now we have to do a musical.”

An elementary musical.

Great idea, Becca.

I am actually really glad that we did it. It ended up being really great—the students were really into it. They did a wonderful job, and it was fun for me too. Some days, rehearsal was the only thing getting me out of bed in the morning.

On the way, I learned a lot, because when I started I knew NOTHING. Like, nothing at all about an elementary musical.

So none of these things are from a textbook or wonderful pedogogy. These are all things that I learned on my own. I hope that they help you!

If you are curious, we did this musical: It’s a Jungle Out There. It was perfect– 30 minutes long, catchy songs, lots of different parts. I would highly recommend it, especially if you are new to directing musicals. I liked it so much I ordered a new one for this year: Once Upon a Lily Pad.

Things to DO when Directing an Elementary Musical. Becca's Music Room.



1. Do Hold Auditions

For some reason, in elementary schools, teachers are hesitant to hold auditions.

Do it.

Why should you hold auditions? It makes it more fair, prevents favoritism, and surprises you.

Y’all. There was so much talent in my choir that I am ashamed to say I was not aware of. Some of the people that did the best were complete shocks to me.

I was truly impressed by how well the auditions went. I was so glad that I made them audition.

I used a song that we had just performed, so they already knew it well enough to be comfortable singing it. I had them do it in front of each other, to make sure that they would be ok in front of people.

But make sure that you talk to the students about how the auditions will go, and how to be proper audience members. I used a point system, and told them that any rude comments, laugh, etc, would take a point off of their audition score.

I have a post coming about auditions, so make sure to subscribe so you do not miss it!

 

2. Do Plan Rehearsals

This was something I was so relieved about. I went through each rehearsal and wrote down what I wanted us to go through each time. And I was so glad I did, because it helped us stay on track, and ensured that we had enough time to do everything.

It doesn’t have to be crazy (like Monday we will work on measures 1-5 of this song….) but just general. Like: on Monday we will work on the second song and learn the words to the third song.

Just make sure your expectations are realistic.



3. Do be Creative with Rehearsal Times

School schedules can be crazy, so it is helpful to be creative with rehearsal times. During rehearsal season, we did have after school rehearsals. I sometimes kept kids during my lunch (after testing was over, so their teachers would relinquish control!), before school, etc. All of these little times helped add up to students who knew their stuff.

Also read: Phrases for Classroom Management in the Music Room

4. Do Draft Other People

You will be surprised about how much talent there is in school. I could not have done the musical without help.

I only had one person who helped with rehearsals—not many rehearsals, but anything is helpful. What I found most helpful were the people that helped with costumes and sets. People found random things all over the school that were so helpful when it came to costumes and sets.

I also got someone to help run lines during recess, which added some more help to the arsenal.

Ask if you can make an announcement during a staff meeting or send an email asking people for help. You will be surprised. One of our teachers had a degree in Theater—and I had no clue!

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I know it is difficult, but do it anyway.



5. Have fun!

Both you and the kids need to remember to have fun. Rehearsal get stressful, kids get tired, but if you are not having fun, it will not be fun. And if they are not having fun, it will show.

To have fun, try switching up the activities part of the way through. Usually about halfway through, I would have them sing and dance however they want to our songs, or have them get into groups to work on their lines. The change of pace helps to keep things fun.

Also read: Tips for Keeping on Top of Lesson Planning

Things to DO when Directing an Elementary Musical. Becca's Music Room.

Have you ever had an elementary musical? How did you handle it? Let me know in the comments!

Happy teaching!



Things to DO when Directing an Elementary Musical. Becca's Music Room.



Management, PBIS

An Easy (and fun!) School Wide PBIS Incentive

PBIS takes on many different shapes in today’s schools. We use it for individuals, classes, schools, etc. As part of our school’s PBIS plan, we have a school wide PBIS incentive periodically. Last year we did things once a nine weeks, this year the plan is to kick it up to once a month.

For people who have no idea what I am talking about, PBIS stands for Positive Behavior Intervention System. The idea being that students work towards a reward by having good behavior.

A school wide incentive is not necessarily the whole school. Students earn the school wide PBIS incentive through good behavior that is tracked by Dojo points. Any student who earns the set amount of Dojo points gets to go to the school wide PBIS incentive.

Now, these can be really crazy (carnival, fall festival, field trip, etc.) or more subdued (sock hop, popcorn and a movie, etc). Today I am sharing one of my school’s go-to rewards. This is cheap and easy to change so that it can continue to be fresh.

Speaking from experience, I would not suggest making this the only type of reward offered, but it can be used some times. If your school is strapped for cash (like most schools), this can be good. You could use this in between other rewards to keep momentum going.

Also read: Positive Management Strategies for when You Don’t Feel Positive

An Easy (and fun!) School Wide PBIS Incentive. A simple and cheap idea for rewarding students for good behavior. Becca's Music Room



 

The best way to describe the school wide PBIS incentive would be centers. We usually do school wides during specials times. Instead of going to music or art or whatever the case may be, the students in the grade that earned their incentive will go to the incentive. It is usually housed in the gym.

We plan as many activities as there are classes (although sometimes we double up and have two classes at each station). We usually have one specials teacher at each of the stations, and we switch after a few minutes.

The different stations allow you to change activities each time and keep things fresh. One suggestion is to alternate between high energy activities and low energy activities.

Also read: Really Specific Classroom Management Systems for the Music Room

An Easy (and fun!) School Wide PBIS Incentive. A simple and cheap idea for rewarding students for good behavior. Becca's Music Room



 

Here are some ideas for activities for school wide PBIS incentives:

  • Snack station (or water station)
  • Scooter races
  • Jump rope station
  • Relay race
  • Dance station
  • Non-elimination musical chairs: even my fifth graders loved this game!
  • Craft station: Bookmarks are an easy and cheap craft that require little time and supplies.
  • Basketball station
  • Just Dance videos on YouTube
  • Dress up relay: Students put on hats, sunglasses, large shoes, necklaces, etc. and run a relay. When they get back, they take the dress up off and the next person goes. This is easy to change for the seasons (these leis for summer, sweaters for Christmas, etc.)
  • Bean bag toss
  • Photo booth station: Have a camera to take photos. You can send them to teachers afterwards. If they are older, they could just use their phones. You can use props like these cheap ones.
  • Volleyball station
  • Parachute station
  • Tug of war
  • Fake tattoos: These are cheap and the kids love them! These look like fun.

 

Also read: Keys to Classroom Management in the Music Room



 

The list can go on and on—that’s the beauty of this type of school wide PBIS incentive. What would you add to this list? And what does your school use to encourage good behavior? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Teaching!



An Easy (and fun!) School Wide PBIS Incentive. A simple and cheap idea for rewarding students for good behavior. Becca's Music Room



Elementary Music, Management

Music Centers Classroom Management for Bad Classes

If you have been teaching music for longer than a day, you will know that not all classes are well behaved. If you have had your kids for a few weeks, you will have already figured out which the “good classes” versus the “bad classes”. It is easy to let the bad classes rule your life—and your lesson plans.

One thing I knew that I wanted to do this year was centers. Centers is the big thing when it comes to education at the moment, and I wanted to incorporate that into my music class.

I know a few teachers who work in schools with many bad classes, and that causes them to shy away from centers activities due to classroom management problems.

I am not going to lie, it took a lot of effort for me to figure out how to do centers with some of my classes this year. It definitely wasn’t perfect by any means, but I did figure out some ways to keep control.

If you shy away from centers due to bad classes, read through this article for some ideas on how to make things better. Because it is possible. It may not be easy, but it is possible.

As a disclaimer, I don’t normally call any classes “bad classes”, but I thought it would be the best way to get my point across!

Also read: Routines You Need in the Music Room

Music Centers Classroom Management for "Bad Classes". Difficult classes and differentiated centers are not usually things that go hand in hand. Find out how to get your difficult elementary music classes to do centers well! Becca's Music Room.



 

Don’t Make Too Many Activities

This one of the first mistakes that I made. The first (and second and third, I’ll admit!) time that my students did centers, I gave them five or six different activities.

While I have heard that many people do this successfully, it did not work with my classes.

Just being honest.

There was a time restraint, of course. I have 50 minute classes, but they often come late. And you have to take a few minutes for closing and lining up the classes. By this time there’s usually 30 minutes left, including explaining how to do each activity. We never end up with enough time to do everything.

Even without the time restraint, we still end up not having enough time to really dig deal into each of the activities. I fine that 8-10 minutes for each activity is ideal in my class. This, of course, would may be different in your class.

I usually plan three centers—four at the most. This seems to be the best way to allow my students to really benefit from each center.

I found that when I had too many centers, it was too hectic. On top of that, the students didn’t have time to grasp each center as they ought to.

Also read: Keys to Classroom Management in the Music Room



 

Use Activities the Kids Know

This was apparent to me after our first round of centers.

Not only did I have way too many centers, but the students did not know any of the activities.

The first round went ok, but even just the second center was a mess. I walked around and half of the kids were just sitting there, because they had already forgotten what they were supposed to do.

Nevermind that I wrote the directions on papers for them, they still were not doing anything. Or they were goofing off.

So the next time I did centers, I picked activities that we had done in class. Some of them I changed slightly, added more to it, or used the same activity but new concepts.

This worked so much better.

Since then, I only add one activity that is new, and I station myself at that activity to help. This will keep trouble makers occupied. The more occupied they are, the less time they have for trouble making.

They love playing Bingo, like this one for instruments or this one for rhythm.

 

Make Groups Small

I cannot stress this enough.

Make. Groups. Small.

Especially if you have bad classes. The smaller the groups, the better.

I know you are thinking—you just told me now too make too many centers!

Yes, I did.

What I like to do is have two sets of the same centers.

So I will have six groups with three rotations. Everyone still gets to do everything, but the groups are smaller. I usually set up three centers on one side, and three on the other side of the room.

Another way to do it is pick an independent or pair activity for half the class, and work with the other half of the class.

Also read: Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Extra Beat, Take a Seat

Music Centers Classroom Management for "Bad Classes". Difficult classes and differentiated centers are not usually things that go hand in hand. Find out how to get your difficult elementary music classes to do centers well! Becca's Music Room.



 

Keep Everything Contained

When I say contained, I mean keep the supplies contained. Not the kids.

Well, the kids too.

If students do not know where to go for each center, it will be a mess. They will be too close to other groups, or way up on instruments, or whatever.

Give them a place to sit.

This could be groups of desks, tables, a blanket or tablecloth on the floor, etc.

I like to use hula hoops. I put out a hula hoop for each center. My students sit around the hula hoops, and the supplies stays in the hula hoops. I like to also put everything in a box so it is organized.

Also, because I do two sets of the same centers, I color code them. If I have two sets of Kaboom!, then I put them both in blue hula hoops. this way I can say, “Blue hula hoops, go to red.”

You can get hula hoops here or some cheap colorful containers here.

 

Work on Transitions

This is the most important part of your first round of centers.

Especially for a bad class.

You need a clear signal for when to stop—this can be a saying, a noise, etc. you need to decide what they are to do when this happens—do you want them to clean up, or just freeze and listen to directions? Do they automatically go to the next station, or wait for your signal? These are all up to you.

I like to play a rhythm on the cowbell (this one has a cow print on it!) and have them echo it—this way they can hear it over their noises—and then I say “1, 2, 3, 4, pick everything up get off the floor and freeze.” (I learned it from my mentor who would say instruments instead of everything, but this is more far reaching. I also added the freeze part because I don’t like the kids just going onto the next part without my signal.) Once everyone is up and QUIET, I will say “5, 6, 7, 8, hurry don’t be late.” This is the signal to go to the next center.

You can do whatever you see fit, but this works well for me.

Whatever you decide, make them do it right. Even if it takes the whole class period. Eventually they will do it right and quickly (yes, even the worst of classes) if you make them do it right from the get go.

Also read: Free Music Lesson: Bizet Scarf Routine



So there are some ideas for how to do centers with your “bad classes”. I know it may be daunting, but you can do it. They can do it.

 

Although to be perfectly honest, it’s not a bad idea to have a backup plan (find some here!) in case it is not successful. You could consider having enough supplies to have every one do the same thing if centers are not in the cards that day.

I know we don’t want to think that way, but sometimes it is best.

The first time you do centers, I suggest picking all activities that they know how to do so that you can concentrate on procedures until they are able to do the routines easily.

How do you handle centers with bad classes? Let us know in the comments!



Music Centers Classroom Management for "Bad Classes". Difficult classes and differentiated centers are not usually things that go hand in hand. Find out how to get your difficult elementary music classes to do centers well! Becca's Music Room.



Elementary Music

Tips for the New Music Teacher from My First Year of Teaching

It is now June, and I have finished my first of teaching elementary music. I am no longer a new music teacher. It has been a good, long year. It has definitely not been easy, but it has been worth it. Teaching anything—let alone elementary music—has its ups and downs.

So if you are reading this, about to be a new music teacher, here are some tips for what to expect and how to get through the first year of elementary music.

Tips for the New Music Teacher from my first year: Some useful help from my first year teaching elementary music. Becca's Music Room



Overplan

This is a lesson I learned in my first grade class on the very first day of school.

Overplan.

What I mean by that is plan way more than you can get done.

Trust me, there is nothing worse than getting through your 50-minute lesson in 20 minutes and then having a bunch of bouncy, distracted first graders staring at you. And you being out of things to do.

It is something you never want to repeat.

Keep an eye on the clock as you go, and I suggest writing down on your plans how long you think each portion will take. This way, if you think the introduction will take ten minutes, and it only takes five, then you know you need to extend something else.

In my lessons, I always try to have something that you can extend. For example, pretend you are teaching a song. If you notice that you are running early, you can always extend a song longer. You can add in some rhythm or melodic work into the lesson. With older students, you can add make it into a round. You can add instruments to help.

I also add something to my lessons as a contingency plan. At the bottom of my lesson plans, I literally write something like this:

EXTRA: If there is extra time, he teacher will read the book I Know a Shy Fellow who Swallowed a Cello.

Or watch a video. Or review a song. Or whatever.

You will not always need this, but when you do, it helps to have a plan. And it can be the same plan for a few weeks.

Don’t feel stressed by this. You can literally just keep a pile of books on your desk as a “just in case”.


Have a plan b

This goes along with the last one. It will take you all of a few weeks as a new music teacher to learn that school are full of all sorts of random, unexpected things that will be thrown at you at the last second.

Right before the end of school, the principal walked in at the beginning of my fifth grade and announced that a band director was coming to talk to the kids. When that was over, it was too late for my normal lesson and I had to change plans on the spot.

And the last week of school, I had no idea that I was teaching all classes in the classrooms. And I didn’t know that I was helping with testing that week too.

And I didn’t know that I was helping with kindergarten and fifth grade graduations. And I didn’t know that I would be doing class parties.

I don’t tell you these things to scare you, but just to show you that things change. And you may not know until five minutes before (if you are lucky).

Have a few activities on the back burner for those weird and crazy days.

If you need some help, you can read this post that I wrote about back up plans in the music room.



Keep learning

I know that you just finished school and have no desire to go back there, but don’t cut yourself off from learning. It doesn’t have to be crazy. Read some books. Check out a conference. Get on Pinterest—serious, you can get all of you lesson ideas from Pinterest! (you can follow mine if you click here for some music teaching ideas).

My best tip? Find some other music teachers to talk to. Even if you just get together with someone and have coffee, I cannot tell you how much it helps to talk to someone who understands. And although I love my fellow classroom teachers, they have different views than we do.

I find that most people are very happy to talk to anyone—just shoot them an email. One thing I am so glad that I did was add some music teachers on instagram. I know that seems stupid, but it is so nice to share in the joys and struggles of other music teachers. And they have lots of ideas that I like to steal… (you can click on my instagram at the top of the page).

 

Don’t take it personally

So…. This is part that we never want to talk about. But y’all… kids are mean sometimes. Most of your kids will be sweet, but some of them will not. Some of them enjoy getting under a teacher’s skin. Especially under the skin of the new music teacher. Some do it on purpose.

And some do it totally not on purpose. Because kids also have no sensitivity. They don’t think twice to ask you if you are pregnant or if you know how to do math or if you are turning 100.

Yes, all of these happened to me this year.

So whether it is on purpose or not on purpose, don’t take it personally. Try your best to just let it roll off of your back.

If it is on purpose, remember that the child has much bigger issues than you. They are bugging you to try to gain much needed attention. Allowing them to get under your skin just gives them what they want—and they will continue it.

And if it’s not on purpose, then they really don’t realize they are being rude. You may want to tell them gently that it is not appropriate—but don’t get mad at them for not realizing something is rude.

And for really rough days, check out this post.

 

Get a hobby

This, incidentily, will help you with letting things roll off of your back.

Find a hobby that will allow you to relax. I took up painting this year, and it has certainly helped keep me sane (you can check out my etsy shop if you’re curious). And I figure it is better than watching Netflix all night…. Although, you can paint and watch Netflix…

You can read, dance, write, arrange flowers, garden, whatever. My dad (also in education) has been a whole new man since he took up kayaking.

Find something you enjoy and do it!

Tips for the New Music Teacher from my first year: Some useful help from my first year teaching elementary music. Becca's Music Room



Remember to have fun

Like I said at the beginning, there are both ups and downs to teaching elementary music. Especially for the new music teacher.

Some days you will wonder why on earth you chose to do this. You may go home and swear that you are never having kids (until you remember that you will never have 20 eight year olds at the same time).

And some days will be wonderful.

Sometimes I joke about getting paid to dance and sing and play games with kids all day. But really—I get paid to dance and sing and play games with kids all day. How awesome is that?!

There are some times that you will think, “I cannot believe I get paid to do this.”

Hang onto those days. They may be frequent of they may be far apart, but remember those feelings.



If you are starting out as a new music teacher, there are great joys ahead of you. No one will pretend that it is all sunshine and rainbows, but it is pretty great.

Hopefully some of my advice will help you in your first year.

What advice would you give a new music teacher? Let us know in the comments!

If you need some more help, you can read through some of my posts for help, or shoot me an email if you have any questions.

Subscribe and follow me on social media for more help in teaching music!

Happy teaching!



Tips for the New Music Teacher from my first year: Some useful help from my first year teaching elementary music. Becca's Music Room


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

Calming Down Activities for Music Class

As music teachers, we spend a great deal of time trying to get kids; energy up—it requires energy to sing, dance, use scarves and parachutes, etc. We do tons of movement activities and games that teach but also are a lot of fun. And then we send the little people back to their teachers without calming down…

Halfway through the year, I realized I was sending these kids back wired. I thought that getting the wiggles out by dancing was enough, but it isn’t. Kids do not yet know when or how to calm themselves down—they need help calming down.

Since then, I have done a much better job at calming kids down. I find that they act better in line, and hopefully beyond that.

So here are a few super easy end of class calming down activities to help your kids.

I also sometimes use them throughout class if they are particularly wild that day.

These are not anything monumental, but they work. They are all no prep and can be used for any amount of time.

Calming Down Activities for the Music Room. Some ideas for musical ways to get students to wind down before sending them out again. Becca's Music Room.



SQUILT

This is a great concept. You can check out the website here. SQUILT stands for super quiet uninterrupted listening time. The basic premise is that students learn how to listen to music.

And that’s it.

Just listen.

Now, we all know that students cannot just sit and listen. They need something to do. There are lots of different ways to do SQUILT (I love these worksheets for when we do this as a large part of class).

My favorite way is to have students close their eyes and “put the music in their bodies”. I tell them they can move their head, hands, or bodies, but they cannot get up and they have to close their eyes. They actually get really into it. It’s awesome. I have seen a huge difference in the kids’ ability to move to the music and describe it since I started incorporating this.

Another way is to have them show you movements. With my older kids, I will play a song and have them close their eyes and show me the hand signs for the letters of the form. You could have students put their hands up for high parts and down for low parts. Have them pretend to play an instrument they hear. There are all sorts of super easy movements that can keep kids engaged.

Bonus: You can use this as assessment!

Also read: Lesson Ideas: Creative Movement with Scarves

 

Videos

Now, videos are always a great way to end a lesson and calm children down. You can find videos of everything on YouTube.

One easy thing to do is to show an orchestra playing a song that you learned. So if you did a movement routine like this Bizet scarf routine, you could show people playing the music. This helps kids get a feel for the song.

You could do a video that has to do with the country a song is from, or a composer.

For time fillers or for fun, I like to use some of Disney’s Silly Symphonies. They are cartoons set to classical music and they are hilarious—and have classical music! I always ask the students to notice how the music and the cartoons line up.

Calming Down Activities for the Music Room. Some ideas for musical ways to get students to wind down before sending them out again. Becca's Music Room.



Books

Books are a great way to get students to calm down. You can find a book that goes along with any of your songs or concepts.

There are also a ton of great music books. Berlioz the Bear, I Know a Shy Fellow who Swollowed a Cello, and Orchestranimals are some of my favorites! You can click on the pictures below to see more about them on Amazon.

Sing Alongs

Thre are a few ways to do sing alongs.

First, you can teach a song (or do a song they learned a while ago) and sing it while you play a background instrument (I really want this ukulele!). Second graders especially love songs that build on themselves—we have done There was an Old Lady who Swollowed a Fly and the Irish song Rattlin’ Bog (they thought this was wonderful!) and they were all about it.

You can also teach a song and put up a YouTube video with the lyrics on the screen.

And…. You can also use Disney sing along songs. I reserve these for right before a break or when I am trying to reward my students. I just play Disney songs on YouTube and they go for it.

Also read: Free K-2 Music Lesson: Animal Form



Deep Breaths

This is a super quick and easy calming activity. if I run out of time for a calming activity, I will at least do this.

I have students move their arms up and breathe through their nose, and then out and breathe through their mouth.

I have actually had kids request this.

Dum Dum Dah Dah

This is a really fun song that I often use when we are in line waiting for a teacher. You can check it out on YouTube. Essentially you sing dum dum dah dah and do an action, and the student copy you. It’s like music Simon Says.



Also read: Tips for Incorporating Social Studies in the Elementary Music Class

So those are some of my favorite calming activities. What do you do to calm students down? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!



Calming Down Activities for the Music Room. Some ideas for musical ways to get students to wind down before sending them out again. Becca's Music Room.



Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Free K-2 Music Lesson: End of School Luau!

Now of course, you can use this lesson at any point of the year, but I am going to use it on the last week of school (and will update with any extra information I come up with then). This luau will include singing, dancing, and of course, limbo. Although we are doing music standards (we sing music, we move to music, we connect music with history and culture), this lesson will be mostly fun.

Because it’s the last week of school. It’s supposed to be fun.

You will notice I pick activities strategically—we do an active warm up first, followed by a calming activity, then some fun, and finally a calming activity at the end. I try to structure all lesson like this, if possible.

This lesson will include a little bit of social studies. You can find some more social studies tips here.

And without further adu.. here is the end of school luau!

Free K-2 Music Lesson: End of School Luau! What better way to celebrate summer than with a Hawaiian themed party? This lesson includes singing, dancing, geography, and a lot of fun. Becca's Music Room.



End of School Luau!

Materials:

Focus:

I can sing and dance to Hawaiian music.



Procedures:

  • When students come in, give them a lei to wear for the day (I take them back for the next class, but you can let them have them if they keep them). Tell them we are having a luau and ask if anyone knows where they have luaus.
  • Tell them luaus are from Hawaii. Hawaii is a state in the US, but it is far away (pull up a map that shows Hawaii).
  • Baby Shark song! If you don’t know this one, it is awesome. You can check it out here.
  • Pick a movement for the chorus, verses, and instrumental parts of the song Hawaiian Rollercoaster Ride. Have students follow you in their movements. You can also have students pick, but I picked ours so that they went with the song. I used this strictly to have kids get some wiggles out so I wasn’t concerned about them learning very much in this part of the lesson.
  • Watch the video of the Lilo and Stich movie that has this scene. This one is the sing along version.

Free K-2 Music Lesson: End of School Luau! What better way to celebrate summer than with a Hawaiian themed party? This lesson includes singing, dancing, geography, and a lot of fun. Becca's Music Room.



  • Then, pick two students who are doing a good job to come up and hold the limbo stick. Have them walk in a circle (I use the perimeter of the carpet) and limbo under the stick. Tell them that if they hit the stick, they are out.
  • Alternate version: If you prefer, you can have them go through a different way each time. So one time they could crawl like a crab. They can walk like a dog, they can lean forward or backward, whatever you pick. You can pick a different one each time they go through.
  • Limbo! Play some beachy 50s music while they do this.
  • To help them calm down, show them some pictures of Hawaii. You can just google “Hawaii” and then show them the google images results. This helps them understand that it is an actual place, not just something in Lilo and Stitch.
  • Teach them the song “Aloha Oe” by rote or by solfege (whatever you prefer). You can see the ukulele/guitar/piano tabs to play with it here. Once they have at least kind of learned the song (I’m only doing the chorus), sing it with them and play an instrument (or sing with a video). It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be fun!



And there’s our luau! It incorporates movements, games, singing, and social studies!

You could use this with older students as well—without even tweaking much.

Also read: Blue Skies Music Lesson

Another good thing about this lesson is that it has a very very easy backup plan—if the students are too out of control for the fun, then they can just watch Lilo and Stitch! (and make sure you write that into your lesson plans!) You can find more backup plans here.

What would you include in a last week of school luau? Let me know in the comments!

Happy Teaching!



Free K-2 Music Lesson: End of School Luau! What better way to celebrate summer than with a Hawaiian themed party? This lesson includes singing, dancing, geography, and a lot of fun. Becca's Music Room.


Elementary Music, Management

Going Back to Teaching After a Really Rough Day

And I mean like a really rough day. Really, really rough day.

This is my first year teaching. And man, it has been a year. I don’t want to go into too much detail, because I intend for this to be uplifting, but I have been yelled at, cussed out, ignored, hit, and downright disrespected. I have some children that for the life of me NEVER sit down. I mean, spend the whole hour walking around my room touching my instruments. (Although I found out yesterday that they do it in everyone’s rooms, not just mine.)

We are not quite finished (still 22 days left), but we are getting down to the wire. Teachers are ready for summer (at least I am!). Students are ready for summer. And with that, comes some crazy.

And depending on your school, it might be a lot of crazy.

It might have already been pretty crazy, but now it is getting even worse.

Some days just drain all the energy out of you.

Then the next day, you are expected to go back to school.

How do you go to school the day after you were cussed out by a 10 year old? How do you approach that? How do you give your kids your best teaching self when you don’t feel like yourself?

I definitely do not claim to have all of the answers (and any input in the comments would be appreciated!), but here are some things that I (personally) have found help me out when it is the day (or the afternoon) after something really ridiculous happens.

Going back to Teaching after a Really Rough Day. Some tips for what to do the day after something bad happened, or when you feel defeated. What do you do? Becca's Music Room

Get Some Rest

This starts the night before (AKA the really really rough day). You need to destress. Whether that means taking a bath, reading a book, or just laying on the couch eating Taco Bell, do it. I know that this may be hard depending on if you have stuff to do or kids at home, but try your best. Put the kids in front of Moana and go use that hour and a half to take care of yourself.

I find that painting is a really great stress reliever. I paint a lot (so much so that I am about to open an Etsy shop), and it really helps keep my mind at ease. It is really great to take some time to just calm down and make something creative. (If you’re new to this, try abstract art. Anything goes!)

You can find more destressing activities in this post.



Take Some Time for You

This is more for the morning. In the morning, don’t just roll out of bed and throw some clothes on. Take a few minutes to enjoy yourself before going to school. That could mean reading your Bible, sitting on Pinterest, doing yoga, etc. It may just mean that you drink your coffee really slowly in the silence.

This will help get your mind right before you go to school. If you can take care of yourself, then you can take care of the children.

You can read more about morning routines in this post.

 

Pick Something Easy

Now, I know that most schools are sticklers for your lesson plans. But if it better to pick something easier on you than struggle all day. See if there is anything in your lesson plans that can be extended, shortened, or altered.

For example, I had a rough day a few weeks ago. It was a Wednesday. For the next two days, I was basically drained. My older students were learning a song and then getting on the keyboards. I shortened the song part (they still learned it, I just went a little faster) and put the extra time into their keyboard time (I always do half lesson and half playing for fun). I didn’t have to change my lesson plans, I just made it a little bit easier on myself.

If you feel like you just cannot do whatever your lesson plans say, then go ahead and reprint them just in case of an observation. And make sure what you replace it with is still going with the same standards.

For really easy lessons, I like this game or this movie.

You can read about backup plans in the music room here.

Going back to Teaching after a Really Rough Day. Some tips for what to do the day after something bad happened, or when you feel defeated. What do you do? Becca's Music Room



Remember….

Always remember that if a kid totally freaks outs, it is a rough day for them too. And they are still reeling from it too. What is traumatic for us is traumatic for them.

If a kid is having a rough enough day that they are screaming or they are walking out of the classroom or banging on instruments or whatever, then they are going to be upset as well. And although you may not ever want to see them again, you have to. So, make sure there is a consequence and then let it go.

It’s hard. I know. But you have to let it go.

That doesn’t mean there’s no consequence. That doesn’t mean you don’t learn from it. But it means that you do not continually punish them for something that they have already paid the price for.

 

So those are my tips for going back to school after a really hard day. Have you ever had these feelings? How do you deal with them? Let us know in the comments. And don’t forget to subscribe!

Happy teaching!



Going back to Teaching after a Really Rough Day. Some tips for what to do the day after something bad happened, or when you feel defeated. What do you do? Becca's Music Room


Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Free K-2 Music Lesson: A Train Jazz Lesson

All month, I have been sharing Jazz resources with you (since April is Jazz month!). I shared ideas for incorporating jazz and a jazz lesson on the song Blue Skies (which includes scarves!). This week I have another jazz lesson on the song A Train.

Now, if it is not April, do not panic. Jazz is great to teach all year long, and can be used to incorporate many different aspects of music—pitch, steady beat, instruments, mood, etc.

This lesson has some steady beat, but the bulk or it is actually making up lyrics for a writing connection. Because as we all know, incorporating academics is very important. I did this lesson with K-2, but you can definitely tier it up and use it with older students. Free K-2 Music Lesson: A Train Jazz Lesson. This lesson uses the Ella Fitzgerald and has a writing component! Becca's Music Room

A Train Jazz Lesson

Focus: I can keep a steady beat while listening to Jazz. I can make up my own lyrics based on the song A Train. Materials:

Free K-2 Music Lesson: A Train Jazz Lesson. This lesson uses the Ella Fitzgerald and has a writing component! Becca's Music Room Procedure:

  • I started this lesson with a review of the song Blue Skies from the week before (which you can read in this lesson). Students kept the steady beat, moved their hands up and down with the contour of the melody on the chorus, and pretended to play each instrument during the solos.
  • Tell them: We’re going to listen to another jazz song. This one is a little bit different, because at the beginning, they use instruments to sound like something that is not an instrument. If you think you have figured it out, give me a quiet thumbs up.
  • Have students close their eyes and listen to the beginning. I always have them close their eyes because than they are not concerned with their neighbors. Be prepared, some of them will start laughing, because it is funny.
  • Ask: What did that sound like? (Keep letting them guess until they guess train) It sounds like a train! They use a drum to sound like the tracks, and a trumpet to sound like the whistle. What do you think the song will be about? Let’s see where we are going on the train…
  • Allow students to listen to the rest of the song, and determine where the train is taking them (to Harlem).

  • Tell them: This song is like a map. It is giving people directions to Harlem. Harlem is a place in New York where people would gather and write songs, write stories, make paintings, and do other artsy things.
  • You can do the next part as a class or individually (or in small groups!). Have students come up with three directions to get to Harlem—the sillier the better! I put things on the board like “Go over….” And let them fill in the blanks. With some classes, I had three people pick and we wrote them on the board as class lyrics. Some classes have better writing skills, so they got to make up their own.
  • Have students write their three directions and then “That’s how we get to Harlem!” on the bottom.
  • Have students illustrate their map. Make sure they show all of the directions.
Free K-2 Music Lesson: A Train Jazz Lesson. This lesson uses the Ella Fitzgerald and has a writing component! Becca's Music Room
Here is an example of one of my kids’ map!
  • Put on some Jazz music while you finish up!
  • Have students share their maps with their classmates.

  PS– Here is a really great video of Duke Ellington’s band playing the song!

And there you have it! This was a hit (even though I made them write) with all of my classes. And for those who cannot handle pencils and clipboards (yes, I have those classes and if you need some help with them you can read here), we came up with lyrics and then we just danced in our seats to the music.

What is your favorite jazz song or lesson? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Teaching!

 

Free K-2 Music Lesson: A Train Jazz Lesson. This lesson uses the Ella Fitzgerald and has a writing component! Becca's Music Room

Elementary Music, Lessons

Tips for Incorporating Social Studies in the Elementary Music Class

As music teachers, most of us try to incorporate different subjects into our classroom. Some of us may even have administrators that ask us to do this. I would do this regardless, but my administrators have expressed that they would like to see this as well. In school, social studies was one of my favorite subjects. I have always loved history and different cultures.

Even before I became a teacher, I knew that I would want to incorporate as much social studies as possible into the curriculum.

Throughout this year, I would say I have done ok with that. I definitely haven’t added it in as much as I would like, but I have used it some. I admit, I have been concerned with the new teacher I-want-to-teach-everything-everyday issue. I keep thinking I want them to sing every day and move every day and read every day and play music every day and incorporate other academics…. And that is a lot of stuff. I am trying, and hopefully I will be able to add more next year.

Anyway, here are some super easy tips on ways to incorporate social studies (history, geography, and different cultures) into your classroom. Most of them are little things you can add into most lessons without very much effort.

Check out a music-science lesson here and a math lesson here!

Incorporating Social Studies in the elementary music room. Some practical ways to use social studies with the lessons you are already doing in your classes! Becca's Music Room.



Keep a Map

This is something I installed at the beginning of the year and I love it. All year, I add songs to our map to show where everything is from. And every time we learn a new song, I show the kids where we live and where the song is from on the map. I also allow them to ask a few questions, because maps make kids super curious. (“What’s that big purple one? It’s huge!” “Why is England so small?”)

I have caught kids staring at it while getting into line, because it is a cool thing. I color code it so that each grade has a different color.

I printed mine off of the internet, but I couldn’t get the quality very good. I am planning to buy this one off of Amazon.

Incorporating Social Studies in the elementary music room. Some practical ways to use social studies with the lessons you are already doing in your classes! Becca's Music Room.
This map is up all year. I add names of songs as we learn them.



Use Music from Different Countries

Most of us do this without thinking, but think about it. Especially with older kids, tell them where the song is from or what kind of music it is. Add in one or two fun facts about the country or the culture.

It doesn’t have to be long, just one or two little things.

Even if you don’t go with different countries, you can show them different styles of music too. I have a really fun music styles bingo that you can do once they have learned about it. Find it here.

Incorporating Social Studies in the elementary music room. Some practical ways to use social studies with the lessons you are already doing in your classes! Becca's Music Room.
Bubble map about things we learned about Ireland during our St. Patrick’s Day lesson.



Embrace the Holidays

Black History Month. St. Patrick’s Day. Mardi Gras. Hanukkah. Christmas. Hispanic Heritage Month.

All of these provide easy opportunity for teaching about different cultures. Pick some lessons that go along with what holiday is coming up. Explore traditions in different countries.

 

Use different instruments

I observed a teacher this year that had an instrument of the day. Each one provided an opportunity to talk about different cultures. When I was there, she was showing the claves, so they talked about where they come from and what the claves are like. Then students who did a good job throughout the lesson were able to play them for a minutes or two.

This is a really great calming down activity, and if you are reinforcing the song or dance from the lesson, it is even better.

I just got some castanets like these!

Incorporating Social Studies in the elementary music room. Some practical ways to use social studies with the lessons you are already doing in your classes! Becca's Music Room.



Composer of the Month

This is a little more on the history side—composer of the month. This is something I have not tried but I have seen other teachers doing. Each month they pick a composer, and then use some of the composers’ music in the lessons. That doesn’t mean that that is all you do, put a portion of it. You can take some time to talk about the time period and the composers’ life—again, they do not need a big long lecture, just some quick facts.

Try to pick people you were going to pick anyway. You can use their music for movement routines (like this one) or for listening activities (like this one). For younger kids, it is a good idea to have a calm down activity so that they are not totally crazy when you release them into the hallway. I have found that just having them close their eyes and “move to the music” is a really great way to accomplish this.

Incorporating Social Studies in the elementary music room. Some practical ways to use social studies with the lessons you are already doing in your classes! Becca's Music Room.
Example of a chart on a country.



Show the country

This is my favorite thing to do. Whenever we talk about a different country, I show them where it is on the map, and then I google it and show them photos. It requires no set up at all. For St. Patrick’s Day, I typed in “Ireland” and showed them pictures of the landscape, the flag, the map, etc. Then we look at the pictures and talk about them. It’s super quick, and they will be amazed by it.

I find this is good because it makes it come to life. You can say that we are learning about a country called Ireland, but it may as well be Narnia if they cannot at least see pictures of it. Once they see pictures of the country and maybe the people, it becomes a real place to them.

 

So those are a few of my favorite ways to incorporate social studies in the classroom! I did not include any sort of country study or videos or books, but all of those are also great ways to include social studies in the classroom.

How do you incorporate social studies? How do you incorporate other academics? Let us know in the comments! And don’t forget to subscribe!



Incorporating Social Studies in the elementary music room. Some practical ways to use social studies with the lessons you are already doing in your classes! Becca's Music Room.



Uncategorized

Morning Routines for Teachers

We all know that our students need routines. We spend the first few weeks of school going over routines—how to line up, how to get supplies, how to turn in work, etc. (You can read about some routines in my classroom here) But sometimes we forget that we need routines in our own lives. I think this is especially true in the mornings—if we start our morning off with a good morning routine, it sets the tone for the rest of the day.

It is important to remain consistent, especially as we are wrapping up the school year. I know all too well how easy it is to continually hit the snooze alarm, throw on some clothes, and make coffee at school.

Resist the urge. I am talking to myself—Becca, resist the urge.

We are at the post-spring break, testing, and crazy part of the year. Maybe it is different for you, but for me, it is getting harder and harder to get up and start my day well. But I will say, the days that I give in and sleep late and don’t take care of myself tend to be the days that don’t go so well.

So I am practicing having better control over myself and my habits. This morning routine has been the same for me all year. I adjusted a little bit since last year to allow me to get to school earlier (I prefer to get to school early rather than stay late).

Of course, you may have totally different needs that I do. I don’t have any kids. I do have two dogs to take care of in the morning, but I do not have to worry about people other than my husband.

So this is my routine, with a few suggestions for you: Morning Routines for Teachers plus some of my favorite beauty products! Tips for preparing yourself for those kids! Becca's Music Room.

5:30 Wake up, wash face

I would really suggest waking up early. It is so much better to have time in the morning to geet everything done. You don’t have to wake up at the same time as I do, but adjust the time based on when you need to leave.

As soon as I get up, I go the bathroom and wash my face. I read recently that you really don’t need to wash your face every morning, but I honestly just love the way it feels to have a clean face in the morning. Then I put on face lotion.

I use these (click on the pictures to see better):

Morning Routine Tip #1: If you are not used to getting up early, do it gradually. One week, try waking up ten minutes earlier. Next week, ten minutes earlier than that until you get to where you want to be.

5:45 Walk the dogs

So… I have to walk my dogs in the morning. This is obviously not something that everyone has to do, but I do. But in 48 days, we are moving, and we will have a fenced in yard. I will just open the door and set them free! I cannot wait.

5:55 Yoga or hair

So this alternates. Once every four days, I curl my hair. After that, I just pin my hair up when I am showering. Yes, you may think that’s gross, but it is truly the best for my hair. I use a Aussie hair insurance to smooth and protect my hair, and a wand to curl my hair (check it out here), and it takes of 15 minutes. And I have a lot of hair. And stays for four days.

On the other days, I do yoga. This makes my body feel ready for the day, and helps me feel mentally ready for the day.

Morning Routine #2: Do something for you. We spend the whole day worrying about our students, and it is vitally important to have some time for yourself. Whether that is reading, spending five minutes sipping on coffee in silence, petting your dog, whatever. Take a few minutes for yourself before you spend the whole day worrying about other people.

6:15 Read Bible

This is for obvious reasons, but the same kind of thing. Take a few minutes to take care of yourself. Morning Routines for Teachers plus some of my favorite beauty products! Tips for preparing yourself for those kids! Becca's Music Room.

6:30 Breakfast and lunch

At this point, I get mine and my husband’s breakfasts and lunches ready. I try to keep them really simple. He generally takes salads (we buy the salad kits) and something like crackers. I take fruit and yogurt or pretzels. All things we can just throw in a bag and go. For breakfast, I eat oatmeal and he eats a smoothie. And of course, I drink coffee. Morning Tip #3: Keep your breakfast easy.

6:45 Actually getting ready

After all of that, I spend all of fifteen minutes getting ready. I do my makeup (usually a little over 5 minutes. By the way, if you want to keep your make up looking good all day, I would suggest this primer. And using this on your eyebrows is a game changer—it is a super easy and quick thing to do and makes all of the difference.) Then I get my clothes on.

I find the best way to do this is to pick my outfits for the week the week before—I just pick out five things on Thursday or Friday and just put them together in my closet. This eliminates all of the I-don’t-know-what-to-wear issues.

It used to take me forever to pick out clothes, and now I do not. It takes all of five minutes each week and saves my tons of time. And although I curl my hair first, I don’t actually do my hair until after I put my clothes on because it never fails that it will pull all of my bobby pins out of my hair. And I eat my breakfast while I do these things.

7:00 Drive to work

I leave at seven and I drink my coffee on the way to work.

So there you have it—my morning routine and my 3 best tips for your morning routine. Remember, if your morning routine isn’t working, then change it. And keep changing until you get it where you would like.

Also read: Music Lesson Ideas: Jazz

What is your morning routine like? How do you use your morning routine to get ready for your students? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Teaching!

Morning Routines for Teachers plus some of my favorite beauty products! Tips for preparing yourself for those kids! Becca's Music Room.