Elementary Music

DIY Music Manipulatives for Centers

I really love music centers. Like REALLY love music centers. Every time that we do them, I am amazed at how the students seem to grow. Even more than that, I am amazed at how much I notice each individual student and their own abilities.

Now, getting started in centers can be difficult (because seriously, what are the kids supposed to DO?!), and you will need a few activities. And they need to be engaging enough that students will WANT to do said activities. Because we all know that bored students are misbehaving students.

These music manipulative DIY will keep students occupied during centers time! They can be adjusted for different musical concepts.

Need some help getting started with centers? You can check out my blog posts below for help!

4 DIY Music Manipulatives that are perfect for centers-- and easy to make! Centers can be difficult to figure out, but they don't have to be! These simple DIY music activities can be used over and over again to help students learn about rhythm and melody. Becca's Music Room

1. Lappacks

Have you ever heard of a lap pack? It is basically a fancy words for “papers stuck in a sheet protector“.

Sounds fancy, right?

Lap packs are actually SUPER useful. I have some that are made all the time with heartbeats on one side and treble clef on the other. You can write on them with expo markers, you can use rhythm manipulative on them, or those tiny erasers to put on the staff… The possibilities are basically endless. You can also put a blank sheet of paper in them so that students can write rhythms or answers or lyrics or whatever they could possibly need to write.

And so, so easy.

Also, you can get a ton of FREE heartbeat charts in the Free Resource Library on my site. It includes all different time signatures! Not a member of the free resource library? You can sign up here! You will get one email each week with a roundup of helpful tips, ideaas, and strategies for teaching music, plus access to all of the free resources in the free resource library.

2. Rhythm Spinners

Rhythm spinners are a little bit of a harder DIY music manipulatives, because they require finding the word spinners. These babies were in Target Dollar Spots at the beginning of the year. Annnnnnd I found very similar ones on Amazon! You can get them here. Hurray!

Anyway.

To make rhythm spinners, you paint over the letters on the word spinners. This took me about 4 coats of cheap acrylic to get it so that I could no longer see the letters. Then you write over the letters with rhythms. I just used a sharpie, because I am not very fancy.

And voila! Students can make rhythms and play them on their instrument. You could do dictation and have them find the rhythm that you used. So many ideas.

This idea is from Katie Wonderly, on Instagram as @mswonderlymakesmusic. She is truly wonderful, and has some really great ideas (including more Dollar Spot DIY music manipulatives), so go follow her! (And yes, I asked her permission before I put this on my blog!)

4 DIY Music Manipulatives that are perfect for centers-- and easy to make! Centers can be difficult to figure out, but they don't have to be! These simple DIY music activities can be used over and over again to help students learn about rhythm and melody. Becca's Music Room

3. Battleship

Battleship is one of my kids’ favorite activities. I pull this out when we first talk about the treble clef, and a few times after. It is always tons of fun.

I have a blog post that goes really in depth into it here, so I’ll keep it short in this one. Basically, you need a paper with two staves. Slide in into a sheet protector. Then staple or glue it into a file folder (that way students can shield their answers).

To read how the kids play, go check out the post here!

4 DIY Music Manipulatives that are perfect for centers-- and easy to make! Centers can be difficult to figure out, but they don't have to be! These simple DIY music activities can be used over and over again to help students learn about rhythm and melody. Becca's Music Room

4. Rhythm Manipulatives

Need more REALLY simple DIY music manipulatives? This rhythm one is so. stinking. easy.

Print out pictures or clipart (you can find tons of free clipart on TPT!). It is best to stick with a theme, so you could do fruits or instruments or whatever. Write the rhythm of the word on the picture. So, for example, “kiwi” would be “titi” (barred eighth notes). Or two eighth notes, depending on how many beats you want.

Then let the kids create compositions with their words!

You can also do this with foam shapes that you can get at Dollar Tree or the Dollar Spot, but I have a hard time finding the ones that I want. Plus, they rip easier than laminated paper.

You can see what I mean with my Christmas Rhythm Manipulatives and Flashcards on TPT.

4 DIY Music Manipulatives that are perfect for centers-- and easy to make! Centers can be difficult to figure out, but they don't have to be! These simple DIY music activities can be used over and over again to help students learn about rhythm and melody. Becca's Music Room

So there you have it– four easy, cheap DIY music maniulatives for centers! Need some help getting started with centers? You can check out my blog posts below for help!

What are your favorite DIY music manipulatives? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!

4 DIY Music Manipulatives that are perfect for centers-- and easy to make! Centers can be difficult to figure out, but they don't have to be! These simple DIY music activities can be used over and over again to help students learn about rhythm and melody. Becca's Music Room
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Elementary Music, Organization

Elementary Music Classroom Tour: Around the World in 180 Days

I am going to be very honest– classroom decor is not my jam. Seriously. If you have ever heard my rant about bulletin boards, then you may have guessed that much. It’s not that I don’t want my elementary music classroom to be cute– it’s that to be cute, it takes some time and effort and money. And, frankly, I don’t have a lot of any of those things to go around.

So for the past two years, my room has been fine. It’s been bright, colorful, clean, and somewhat organized (as long as it’s not December or May….). If you are curious about previous years, you can look at my 2018 classroom tour here. This year, the specials team was supposed to come up with a theme, and we chose “Around the World in 180 Days” annnnd I totally ran with it.

Thus my new classroom was born.

There are a bunch of things that I updated from last year, and I made all of my word walls cards and solfege ladders and other things so they all match.

Annnnd they are all available on TPT here!

If you would prefer to watch a video, you can check out the YouTube video version below.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour: Around the World in 180 Days. World map/country themed music classroom decor. Simple classroom decorating and organizing ideas for general music class. Becca's Music Room

Front of Classroom

Elementary Music Classroom Tour: Around the World in 180 Days. World map/country themed music classroom decor. Simple classroom decorating and organizing ideas for general music class. Becca's Music Room

Let’s start this elementary music tour with the front of my classroom. My students sit on the dot carpets (you can see them here), so this is the view they have the majority of the time.

On my white board, I have a world map that comes down, and also a projector screen. One or both of those are down 90% of the time.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour: Around the World in 180 Days. World map/country themed music classroom decor. Simple classroom decorating and organizing ideas for general music class. Becca's Music Room
Elementary Music Classroom Tour: Around the World in 180 Days. World map/country themed music classroom decor. Simple classroom decorating and organizing ideas for general music class. Becca's Music Room

This little area is on the right right when you walk in. It is kind of sectioned off by the piano. It houses my word wall, mallets, some books, some instruments, and some decorations.

I use the mailboxes for storing hand outs and written work that has not been done yet. I also stick books we are using that week in there. Here is a similar mailbox set up, and here is one that is much prettier and a little cheaper.

I find the globe very helpful for helping kids understand how far away things are from us.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour: Around the World in 180 Days. World map/country themed music classroom decor. Simple classroom decorating and organizing ideas for general music class. Becca's Music Room
Elementary Music Classroom Tour: Around the World in 180 Days. World map/country themed music classroom decor. Simple classroom decorating and organizing ideas for general music class. Becca's Music Room

Here is a better look at my word wall. I have rhythms on the left, words that I don’t spend whole lessons on on the right (like tempo and audiate and improvise), and in the middle I add words we are learning. Because this is the beginning of the year, we are really just reviewing. You can get my word wall here. The background has maps on them (do you sense a theme?).

Elementary Music Classroom Tour: Around the World in 180 Days. World map/country themed music classroom decor. Simple classroom decorating and organizing ideas for general music class. Becca's Music Room

Next up is my table and my expectations corner. This year, I am trying to keep this table as clean as possible. Some things that are always on it include my new staff whiteboard (Yay! No more drawing them on the board! Here is a similar one.), my chimes which I use to quiet kids down, my yellow and red cards for classroom management (I talk briefly about that here, but will go into more depth soon, so make sure you are subscribed!), and my envelope system.

The blue paper and the numbers next to it are the class points. I use the magnets to show the points, and then write down how many a class got under their grade number. We try to earn points so that we can play a game on Friday.

You can get that border here.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour: Around the World in 180 Days. World map/country themed music classroom decor. Simple classroom decorating and organizing ideas for general music class. Becca's Music Room

Here is a closer view of my expectations board. It has the rules, the consequences, and a reminder to SLANT. I will go more in depth this this later on.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour: Around the World in 180 Days. World map/country themed music classroom decor. Simple classroom decorating and organizing ideas for general music class. Becca's Music Room

I like to have my name somewhere where students can easily see it, because they forget sometimes, and I don’t want them to be embarrassed. This world is from the Target Dollar Spot, and I wrote my name in script.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour: Around the World in 180 Days. World map/country themed music classroom decor. Simple classroom decorating and organizing ideas for general music class. Becca's Music Room

On the right side of my board is what I dub my centers bookshelf. It has all of the stuff I use in centers throughout the week, and things I use often like clipboards, whiteboards, markers, pencils, etc. I love having that portable whit board, because my white board is usually hard to see with the projector screen down (I believe this is the same one, I just never put the ledge on the bottom of mine).

Solfege cards are available here.

That sign is from Etsy, but it was a gift so I’m not sure where it came from.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour: Around the World in 180 Days. World map/country themed music classroom decor. Simple classroom decorating and organizing ideas for general music class. Becca's Music Room

Here’s a better look at the bookshelf. The box to the left of it is full of boxes of crayons.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour: Around the World in 180 Days. World map/country themed music classroom decor. Simple classroom decorating and organizing ideas for general music class. Becca's Music Room

On top, I keep bass boomwhackers, a globe pillow, chalkboard that I always forget to write on, pencils, pointers, and turn in basket.

And yes, the labels are peeling off of the cups. I am working on replacing them.

The basket came with a whole set from Home Goods. There are actually two stacked on each other. The top is where students turn in any and all paperwork. If we are working on a project and do not finish, then I put the papers in the bottom box so that we can use them another day.

The pointers are from the Dollar Spot, and you can get an assortment of them here. I really like the stars because I call them my fairy wands. The bin is from the Hobby Lobby clearance rack.

Desk Area

Elementary Music Classroom Tour: Around the World in 180 Days. World map/country themed music classroom decor. Simple classroom decorating and organizing ideas for general music class. Becca's Music Room

We are not going super deep into my desk area, because it is not very impressive. But. On the side I have this bookshelf that I made to use as a nightstand in college (Interested in a tutorial? Let me know down below!). The top has my books on it, and the bottom has TE’s and some of my curriculum resources. On top, I keep me “to-do” basket. This is where I put papers to grade, permission slips, etc.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour: Around the World in 180 Days. World map/country themed music classroom decor. Simple classroom decorating and organizing ideas for general music class. Becca's Music Room

Beside my desk, I have another bookshelf. This one has CD’s, more of my books, scrap paper, bingo games, and more stuff like that. On top is a sort of command central. I have markers and colored pencils for anchor charts, binders, hole punch, bluetooth speaker, etc. The drawers have things I need but not often like Command hooks and batteries. The magazine racks are very helpful. One has anything that I may need to copy (originals of worksheets, extra paper, etc), and the right side has notebooks and flyers and things I don’t want to lose.

Piano Area

Elementary Music Classroom Tour: Around the World in 180 Days. World map/country themed music classroom decor. Simple classroom decorating and organizing ideas for general music class. Becca's Music Room

Next up is the keyboard lab. It is pretty simple. It has keyboards.

The colored boards on top are some of my DIY bulletin boards. They are currently empty, but that will change soon. I am making them into piano, ukulele, and guitar boards, but we haven’t learned them yet. I am going to add them as we go.

On the left is my data wall. Yes, I have to have a data wall. Once all classes have taken their pretests, I will be able to post data. I usually do percentage of the class that is on grade level, above grade level, or below grade level as a pie chart. If you need more info, let me know.

The background of the data wall is just a poster board from Target. It was about 50 cents. I would not suggest ordering online, because you would not want it to bend. The yellow border is Bordette. I got it off of Amazon. You can get it here.

Back of Music Classroom

Elementary Music Classroom Tour: Around the World in 180 Days. World map/country themed music classroom decor. Simple classroom decorating and organizing ideas for general music class. Becca's Music Room

I used to hate the back of my classroom, but with my recent updates, it is my favorite part!

In addition to that, I have a map on the wall. It is from the Target Dollar Spot. It is hot glued to this poster board because the stickies that came with it did not stick to the felt, but did stick to the wall.

Under that is a poster. You can’t see it well, but it says. “We sing songs from all around the world”, and has names of songs we have done along with the country they are from (if I can find it!) and clipart of the continent.

I also have my instrument bunting! This is one of my favorites! On the right is instruments of the orchestra (with the name of the family it is in), and on the left is classroom instruments. This banner is decorative, but also functional, and adds a nice splash of color.

You do not have to use both, and you can choose which instruments to use in order to make it the size that you want.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour: Around the World in 180 Days. World map/country themed music classroom decor. Simple classroom decorating and organizing ideas for general music class. Becca's Music Room
Elementary Music Classroom Tour: Around the World in 180 Days. World map/country themed music classroom decor. Simple classroom decorating and organizing ideas for general music class. Becca's Music Room

In the back, I have my Focus Walls. Focus Walls are basically where I put things that are relevant to the lessons I am teaching this week. I have my standards, I Can Statements, mini anchor charts, and a running list of songs that we know.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour: Around the World in 180 Days. World map/country themed music classroom decor. Simple classroom decorating and organizing ideas for general music class. Becca's Music Room

This is the last section of my classroom. These shelves have instruments (does anyone have good hand bell lessons?!?), coffee can drums for Kidstix, textbooks that barely get used, a few suitcases for decoration, and a cabinet full of stuff. This has mostly school supplies– paper, glue sticks, scissors, etc. I hot glued clothespins to the outside to hang anchor charts on it.

So that’s it! I want my classroom to be pretty, but mostly I want it functional and to feel fairly clean. I try not to put too many things on the walls, and use my bookshelves to keep things organized.

You can see last year’s classroom here, or get the Map Decor Bundle on TPT here!

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

Do you have a classroom theme? Colors? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!

Elementary Music Classroom Tour: Around the World in 180 Days. World map/country themed music classroom decor. Simple classroom decorating and organizing ideas for general music class. Becca's Music Room
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3-5, Elementary Music, Games, K-2, Lessons

5 Simple Movement Activities Using Stick Figures

I am always looking for really easy, low stress movement activities– but that desire becomes even more apparent at the beginning of the school year. At the beginning of the year, I like to get kids moving in a way that is fun and not stressful– especially for students who are new to my school and the way that I teach music. This year, the stick figures posters have been my saving grace.

Now, some of these activities I came up with, but some I did not. I originally got the idea from my mentor teacher during student teaching. I am not sure where she got it from. I also got one of the variations from the book 85 Engaging Movement Activities by Phyllis Weikart (which I highly recommend, by the way).

You can draw stick figures yourself, or you can get a set from my TPT shop here!

Let’s get down to it: Movement activities with stick figures!

You may also like: Creative Movement with Scarves

Looking for a super simple movement activity for your elementary music room? Whether you need a warm up, a time suck, or to just wake the students up, these 5 movement activities with stick figures are the way to go. They are easy, require almost no prep, and the kids LOVE them. Becca's Music Room

4 Beat Phrases

The first (and easiest!) of these activities is 4 beat phrases. This is the one that I got out of the book 85 Engaging Movement Activities by Phyllis Weikart. Basically, you hold up a stick figure poster and students match it. You count to four, and each time, you switch the card. Super simple. What is cool is that students will start memorizing the pattern and will be able to switch to the next pose without even seeing it. You can also switch it up by changing the tempo or going to 8 beats or 16 beats. This is the activity I used this year right off the bat with my 3-5 graders.

Stick Figures with a Song

The next activity is actually the same, but with music in the background. Do the same procedure, just add some music. I really like this, because it will get students listening to things they may not normally listen to. I have done this with everything from salsa to Michael Jackson to Japanese classical music, when we did the song Star Festival (check it out here!).

Add a Blank Sheet

In order to get kids thinking more creatively, I add a black sheet of paper (or two or three!). Students copy the stick figure poses that are on the papers. When it is a blank sheet of paper, they make up their own. This is really simple, lets them be creative in a low-stakes way, because it is just for a moment. I even say they can use one of the ones we have already used.

You may also like: What Do I Do with Fifth Graders? Lessons and Tips

Looking for a super simple movement activity for your elementary music room? Whether you need a warm up, a time suck, or to just wake the students up, these 5 movement activities with stick figures are the way to go. They are easy, require almost no prep, and the kids LOVE them. Becca's Music Room

Make Up Your Own

After adding a blank sheet of paper, I will sometimes go to a pile of blank sheets. Students have to come up with their own poses. I like using a pile of blank sheets of paper, because that allows the kids to get the visual cue of when to switch poses. You could also just tell them to switch between 4 and 1 if you are counting, or you could use a drum to signal time to shift.

With a Partner

Annnd lastly, we do this in small groups. I always have them come up with their own in whole group first. Then we get into small groups or partners. One person is the leader and the other(s) follow the leader. The leader makes up the poses every four beats, like we have been doing, and the others do the same thing. After about 30 seconds, signal to the students to switch (I like to use a triangle or a maraca or something like that).

Looking for a super simple movement activity for your elementary music room? Whether you need a warm up, a time suck, or to just wake the students up, these 5 movement activities with stick figures are the way to go. They are easy, require almost no prep, and the kids LOVE them. Becca's Music Room

So there you go– five movement activities with stick figures! These are simple enough that you could use them in a teacher’s classroom or add it into your lesson if you happen to finish 5 minutes early. I have used it with grades 2-5, but the little people could probably do it as well.

You can draw the stick figures on paper, or you can get mine from my TPT shop (they are $1 and surprisingly popular. I didn’t think that anyone would want them, but what do I know?).

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

What is your favorite simple movement activity? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!

Looking for a super simple movement activity for your elementary music room? Whether you need a warm up, a time suck, or to just wake the students up, these 5 movement activities with stick figures are the way to go. They are easy, require almost no prep, and the kids LOVE them. Becca's Music Room
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3-5, Elementary Music, Games, K-2, Lessons

Lesson Ideas for Ickle Ockle

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

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

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

Here is the most reliable version that I have found.

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

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

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

Ickle Ockle Game

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

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

So. Much. Fun.

Flashcard Walk

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

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

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

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

Flashcard Partner Walk

This is very similar to the last one.

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

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

Also read: Fun and Engaging Activities for Flashcards

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

Put it in Order

I love doing this as a review!

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

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

Worksheets

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

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

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

Does that seem boring? No.

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

Coloring

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

Pair it with Aquarium

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

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

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

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

Instruments

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

Also read: Breezes are Blowing

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

Happy teaching!

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

Write the Room: An active instruments review

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

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

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

Enter: Write the Room.

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

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

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

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

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

Annnyway…. Check out this write the room activity!

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

What is a Write the Room Activity?

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

How do I do a Write the Room Activity?

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

You will need a few things:

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

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

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

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

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

Classroom Management for Write the Room Activities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy teaching!

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

Fun and Engaging Activities for Flashcards

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also read: Favorite Activities for Piano and Forte

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

Flashcard Walk

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

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

Partner Walk

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

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

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

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

Student Choice

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

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

Hot Potato

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

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

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

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

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

Feed the Monster

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

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

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

Matching and Sorting

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

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

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

Creating Long Pieces

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

Put Flashcards in Order

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

Kaboom

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

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

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

So it literally never ends.

You can check it out here.

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Teaching!

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

Elementary Music Lesson: Breezes are Blowing

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

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

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

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

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

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


Breezes are Blowing

Teach students the song Breezes are Blowing by rote.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also Read: Bizet Scarf Routine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also read: It’s Raining and Que Llueva

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

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

Happy teaching!

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

Super Simple Differentiation through Music Centers

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

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

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

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

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

You can also watch the video below of how to differentiate students.

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

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

Make it Harder

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

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

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

Ideas for Make it Harder:

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

Provide Scaffolding

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

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

Some ideas of scaffolds or extra help include:

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

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

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

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

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

Tiered Activities

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

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

A few ideas for tiered activities in centers:

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

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

Teacher Led Groups

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some ideas for teacher-led station:

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

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

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

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

Happy teaching!

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

I Know a Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Cello

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

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

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

Seriously, I love it.

And so do the kids.

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

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

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

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

Acting it Out

This is one of my personal favorites.

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

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

Speaking of which….

Show and Tell

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

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

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

And again. Kazoo.

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

Introduction to Instrument Families

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Singing

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

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

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

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

Instrument Playing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy teaching!

5 Ways to Use I Know a Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Cello in the elementary music classroom. Want to incorporate more books into your music lessons but don't know how? Check out these ways to use my favorite book to teach instruments of the orchestra, singing, and more! Becca's Music Room
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3-5, Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Irish Music Lesson for St. Patrick’s Day

Is St. Patrick’s Day a big deal where you live? It is one of those holidays that either your city takes very seriously, or no one cares.

Here in Savannah, we take it very seriously.

We actually have the third largest St. Patrick’s ay parade in the US– yes, right here in South Georgia! I looked that up to double check we are still #3, and one of the articles I read said we have the highest density of Irish-Americans for our size– 8%. I did not know that.

Now, I’m going to be honest, none of my kids are Irish. But they still love St. Patrick’s Day, and I am shocked by how much they looooved the music in this Irish lesson! I actually did this K-3, although it is probably best suited for 2-3 grade. Nevertheless, in every class, students were asking me if they could sing it again.

At the bottom, I will link some other ideas if you want to expound upon what we’ve got here!

Also read: Favorite Activities for Piano and Forte

Looking for something fun to do in your elementary music class for St. Patrick's Day? Look no further! This lesson includes two different Irish folk songs for students to sing, do movement activities to, and learn more about Ireland. You can use this general music lesson with kindergarten, first grade, second grade, or third grade. Becca's Music Room

Irish Music Lesson

We start the day out with a well known song as a warm up. We did not previously know any Irish songs (should have planned better!), so each grade did whatever they had done last week.

After that, I told them, “We are going to listen to Irish music today! Does anyone know what holiday is coming soon that has to do with Ireland?”

We learn the chorus to “Tell Me Ma”. I taught it to them by rote– first words, then with the melody. This is actually one of our Musical Explorers songs (find out more about that here), which means I have extra resources to go along with it– that you can access! So I use this page to show the lyrics. You can get the song here.

They sing along with the song for about 30 seconds, and then I pause it. Then we talk about how the chorus is a part of the song that keeps coming back over and over, and the verses are different each time. I have the class pick different ways that we can keep the steady beat, and we change each time the section changes. So I will write something like this on the board:

  • Instrumental: Pat legs
  • Chorus: Clap
  • Verse 1: Stomp
  • Verse 2: Head

We will listen and sing and do the steady beat, changing our motions for each section. Of course, I am letting the kids pick it so it ends up being different each time.

Looking for something fun to do in your elementary music class for St. Patrick's Day? Look no further! This lesson includes two different Irish folk songs for students to sing, do movement activities to, and learn more about Ireland. You can use this general music lesson with kindergarten, first grade, second grade, or third grade. Becca's Music Room

Also read: Monkey Game for Crescendos and Decrescendos

Instrument time! We looked at the bodhran (an Irish drum played with a stick– you can look at one here) and– with the older students– talked about how it is a percussion instrument. We listened again and played hand drums, since they were the closest thing what we had to the bodhran.

To make it more interesting for my second and third graders, they each played the hand drums. Two students went to the front of the room and played tubanos (I have these!). Everyone was playing the steady beat. We walked in a circle on the chorus and stood still the rest of the time. Each section, the people at the tubanos had to switch with someone in our circle until everyone had played.

Next, I showed the students some pictures of Ireland (I literally just google “Ireland” and click on pictures– but make sure that you do this ahead of time and look to make sure they are appropriate!). We looked at the ocean, the castles, the cliffs, and make sure to show them the bogs.

After explaining what a bog is, I told them I had a song about a bog. They learned the chorus by rote. I sang the verses myself, and had them use their arms to make actions that represented all the things in the bog– the limb and the branch and the twig and the nest, and so on. They joined in on the chorus. And, of course, I played my ukulele (but you could play the guitar or the piano or xylophones or just do it a cappella).

Looking for something fun to do in your elementary music class for St. Patrick's Day? Look no further! This lesson includes two different Irish folk songs for students to sing, do movement activities to, and learn more about Ireland. You can use this general music lesson with kindergarten, first grade, second grade, or third grade. Becca's Music Room

After that, we watched some Irish dancing. Again, my kids are used to Irish dancing because– hello, parade– but they still amaze me with how much they love it. They think it is so cool. One fifth grader told me last year, “It’s kind of like our music, because it’s got a cool beat and then a melody on top.” I thought that was very insightful.

Anyway, I like to have them watch Riverdance, because it is super cool. This is my favorite video so far– I always look for one that have guys as well as girls.

More Irish music ideas:

What is your favorite Irish music lesson? Let us know in the comments so we can keep the conversation going!

Happy teaching!

Looking for something fun to do in your elementary music class for St. Patrick's Day? Look no further! This lesson includes two different Irish folk songs for students to sing, do movement activities to, and learn more about Ireland. You can use this general music lesson with kindergarten, first grade, second grade, or third grade. Becca's Music Room
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