Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Music Lesson: Piano and Forte with Bears and Mice

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

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

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

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

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

Also read: Beat v. Rhythm with Soul Music

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

 

Mice and Bears for Piano and Forte

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

 

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

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

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

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

Happy teaching!

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3-5, Differentiation, Elementary Music, Lessons

Elementary Music Lesson: Treble Clef Dice

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also read: DIY Music Manipulative: Treble Clef Battleship

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

Treble Clef Dice Activity

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Also read: Assessment without “Assessment”

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

 

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

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

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

Get my version of the treble clef dice activity here.

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

Happy teaching!

 

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

 

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

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Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Christmas Rhythm Composition with K-1

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

Because it’s time for Christmas lessons!

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

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

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



Christmas Composition

A few notes:

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

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

So here’s the lesson:

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

Also read: Free Music Lesson: Bate Bate Chocolate

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



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

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

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

Also read: Christmas Music Lesson: 12 Days of Christmas

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Teaching!





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

Music Christmas Game: Oh Christmas Tree

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

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

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

And that is ok.

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

And we had a lot of fun.

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

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

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



Oh Christmas Tree

So how do I play the game?

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

Also read: Free Music Lesson: Bate Bate Chocolate

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



 

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

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

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

Happy teaching!



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



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Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

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

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

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

Beat v. rhythm.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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



Soul Music and Beat v Rhythm

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



Extensions:

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

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

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

Happy teaching!





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Elementary Music, Games, K-2, Lessons

Free Music Lesson: Brown Bear Brown Bear

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

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

You can get the Brown Bear book here.

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

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

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

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



 

Brown Bear, Brown Bear lesson

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

Game instructions:

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

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

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



 

Extensions:

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

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

Also read: Free K-2 Music Lesson: Rhythm

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



 

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

You can get the book here.

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

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

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

Happy teaching!



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



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Elementary Music

Assessment without “Assessment”

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

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

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

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

But wait…

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

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

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

Also read: Routines You Need in the Music Room

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



Assessment while doing an activity

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Assessment during centers

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

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

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

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

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

Also read: Setting up Centers: The first Day

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



Assessment through exit tickets

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

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

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

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

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

 

Recording Assessments

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

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



Also read: DIY Music Manipulative: Battleship

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

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

Happy teaching!



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



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Elementary Music, Management

What do I do with fifth graders? Classroom Management

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

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

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

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

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

Also read: Vamos a la Mar Orffestration

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

A few quick tips….

See how the class acts with the teacher

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

Review the expectations

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

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

Be Consistant

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

Make the Rewards worth it

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

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

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

Some bigger tips….

 

Be very specific (the strike system)

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

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

We probably all say things like that, right?

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

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

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

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

I know, it sounds so mean!

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

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

I have a whole video explaining this here.

Don’t Be Afraid to be Mean

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

But you know what is really mean?

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

And you know what I have found?

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

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

Yes. Because they now know:

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

Also read: Keys to Classroom Management in the Music Room

Save Your Teacher Voice

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

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

Teacher voices are important and usually necessary.

However.

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

Don’t be that teacher.

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

Some specific classroom management things…

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

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

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

Also read: Bate Bate Chocolate

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

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

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

Happy teaching!

 

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3-5, Elementary Music, Lessons

What do I do with Fifth Graders? Lessons and Tips

If you are a brand-new elementary music teacher, you might be thinking—what do I do with fifth graders? Well, even if you are not brand new, you may be thinking– what do i do with fifth graders?

If you haven’t started teaching yet, you may be confused. Let me explain.
We all know that the first year at a school is usually the hardest. On top of that, the oldest students in the school are usually the hardest. For most of us, that is fifth graders.

Why are they so difficult?

Well, the biggest thing is that they may not know you yet. They just met you. They only see you about once a week, and they do not trust you yet. I know that that stinks, but it is the truth. It takes a long time for the kids to get used to you and trust you. And this is even harder for the older students.

There is a saying, “Kids don’t care what you know until they know that you care.”
You may be thinking, Well that’s great, but what do I do NOW? Because I still have to teach them!

That’s what I’m here for.

This post is all about what to do with fifth graders when it comes to lessons. What do you actually teach them? Next week I will be posting again about how to deal with fifth grade behaviors.

Before we get started…..

We have to figure a few things out. The first thing is to figure out what the students already know. You may not be able to do this until the first few weeks of school, but it is so important. You need to know if what students know and what they are used to—singing, instruments, watching movies, doing worksheets… You would be amazed by how varied the student’s musical education can be before you get there.

How do you do that?

First, you want to look at your room. Obviously, if there is not a single instrument, they probably were not playing instruments. Or if the instruments have a one inch thick layer of dust on them, they were probably not playing instruments. If the instruments look well loved, then they may be more used to them.

Second, ASK. Ask the other teachers what they have heard the students doing in the music room. Ask the kids—yes, you can do that! You can give them a super short survey. Ask them what they liked and didn’t like last year, what they like to do, and what they want to do. You can get a FREE music interest survey from my free resource library here. There are a few templates for different grades and thoughts so that you can use whatever you would like to do.

If you have already gotten the password, then you can click the picture below to get there.

FREE Music Interest Survey as part of the new free resource library on Becca's Music Room. There are two versions-- an older student and younger student version. Find out whether your students love instruments or singing or dancing-- and what their favorite things are! Becca's Music Room

Third, try things. Once school has started (I’m writing this in October, so school started a while ago), you can just try some different things. You will find out very very quickly whether or not students are used to doing something.

For example, if you ask students to use scarves to show you high and low (like I talk about in this blog post) while listening to a song and they look at you like you are completely crazy and don’t even know what to do with the scarf, they are probably not used to using scarves or movement.

That doesn’t mean they won’t do it or they won’t love it, it just means it is new.

When you try new things you can also see what the students seem to be liking/not liking when you try something new. They may not love everything, but they may surprise you with what they do like.

Now, let’s get down to the nitty gritty: What do you teach?

Also read: Boomwhackers and Science

What do I do with fifth graders? Part 1: Lessons and Tips. Trying to teach music to fifth graders? Don't know what to do? Read this article to find out what tips and tricks to help keep those students engaged! A few ideas and a FREE RESOURCE to help your elementary music class. Becca's Music Room



Use Lots of Instruments

In any music class, the number one thing to keep students engaged is playing instruments. It’s hands on, it’s learning, and students are more likely to behave if they can play them. Seriously, if I tell students we are going to play the instruments today, they will try SO MUCH HARDER.

Your fifth graders may or may not want to sing or read music or listen to classical music, but they want to play instruments.

If you don’t have instruments, see if you can get some. Even if you just get drum sticks, they will go crazy. Seriously, put a drum stick project on Donor’s Choose. You can drum on the floor or on the chairs if you don’t have drums.

Recorders are also a good choice, since they are small and relatively cheap. A lot of schools are able to have students purchase their own recorder. If you go that route, do not let them bring the sparkly pink princess recorders that are $1. They do not sound good. I have these Yamaha ones, and a lot of other blogs I have read also seem to have them.

If you have some instruments, you can do African drumming or Orff or whatever you want really!

If you are new to the general music instrument world, I would suggest using a book or curriculum. Artie Almeida’s Kidstix program is really great, and all you need is drumsticks and coffee cans and tambourines (which are also relatively cheap). Recorder Karate is really popular for recorder, although I have not used it. (We are starting recorders for the first time next week!)



Play Some Games

All children love games, especially fifth graders. There are tons of musical games– the Kodaly curriculum is basically built off of singing games. Here are a few of my favorite singing and non singing games:

  • Extra Beat Take a Seat: This one is sooo much fun! We play it with rhythm sticks, but you can play it with just your hands too. It’s all about counting rhythms, and I like to bring in some rhythm reading as well.
  • Chicken on a Fencepost: I played this for the first time with my fourth graders yesterday, and they had a blast. It was so much fun. I plan to teach it to my fifth graders as well, although I am a little bit concerned about them freaking out about holding heads. Ideas? Let me know in the comments.
  • King of the Mountain: I have not tried this one yet, but it looks like fun. It has to do with rhythm reading, and that’s always good, right?
  • Button You Must Wonder: My students love this song. One person stands in the middle. Everyone else is in a circle, and they have to pass a button (or button like object) around the circle without the person in the middle noticing. At the end, the person in the middle tries to guess who has the button. You can play it with younger students but I think it is better with fifth grade because they have figured out how to be sneaky with it.
  • Freeze Dance: Always a winner. If stopping music mid-phrase kills you, you could try using a signal like a maraca to tell kids when to freeze and when to move.
  • Rhythm Hula Hoops: Break the class up into teams. Have four hula hoops (or three or whatever meter you’d like) out. Say a rhythm and have students figure out how many people to put in the hula hoop (one for a quarter note, two for eight notes, etc). Each student represents a sound. First team with the correct rhythm wins! Note: I like to make the first hula hoop a different color, because I have had issues with students creating the rhythm backwards.
  • Poison Rhythm: This is my go-to. You do a rhythm and students echo it back. One rhythm is poisoned. You can tell them what it is or just have it written on the board. If you do the poisoned rhythm and the students repeat it, then they are out. Last one standing is out!

What do I do with fifth graders? Part 1: Lessons and Tips. Trying to teach music to fifth graders? Don't know what to do? Read this article to find out what tips and tricks to help keep those students engaged! A few ideas and a FREE RESOURCE to help your elementary music class. Becca's Music Room



Get them Moving!

We all know kids need to move. Getting them moving to music is a really great idea. I love to use movement to teach form, but you can use it for high and low, to talk about instruments, etc. Here are some of my favorite movement activities:

  • Parachute: Parachutes are actually decently cheap, and the students love them. I believe mine is 12 feet and it fits really well in my classroom. We did this parachute routine to Star Wars last year and the kids loved it!
  • Scarves: If you have been reading my blog, you probably already knew that one was coming. I loooooove scarves! I have a Bizet scarf routine you can read here, a routine to Sempre Libera here (yes, you can get fifth graders to listen to opera if you put a scarf in their hands), and a post about creative movements with scarves here. I would also highly recommend the book Parachutes and Ribbons and Scarves, Oh My! by Artie Almeida. It is fabulous. There are two routines for the Nutcracker and I use them both pretty much every year.
  • Folk Dances: If your kids are not used to folk dancing, they might be weirded out at first, but I promise they will love it! You can use recorder music or have students sing the songs. My kids think that this one is super cool, because it looks like stepping (sidenote– the teacher in here was totally my music education professor. And no I did not learn this from hime, I just looked up the video). I have not tried Alabama Gal (yet!), but I plan to incorporate it this year.



Make it Easier– Do Some Units

If fifth graders are stressing you out, calm down. Make it easy on yourself. A great way to do that is through units. A unit is basically a bunch of lessons all tied together by something. It can make it easier to find resources because you are looking for something specific. Students will also find this really helpful because they know what to expect, and they will learn everything really well.

You could do units based off of instruments. You could do African drumming for a few months and teach the students African songs and work on rhythms. you could do a recorder or piano unit if you still have those old keyboards in your room (I do, and I totally use them!). You could even do a unit on Orff instruments where you play Orff instruments and you sing and read treble clef notes.

You could also go off of a theme. You could do seasons– teach the students songs about fall and dance to songs about fall and everything. You could do a unit about a certain country. I do this a lot and my students always think it is so cool. We will learn about a certain country and sing their songs and play their instruments.

You could pretty much do a unit about everything.

They May Surprise You

You will be amazed at what can happen when you try things. Just because you think the kids won’t like to to sing or use scarves or whatever, they might. My fifth graders really don’t mind singing– even the boys. If I hadn’t tried to get them to sing, I wouldn’t know that.

If you want to do something and you are not sure whether it will go well or not, just try it. Keep a back up plan in mind, but still just try. They may surprise you. My principal says students rise to the level of expectation you set for them.



 

So there are a few tips! Sorry for the super long post (my word counter currently says I’m at 1857), but I hope it was helpful! If you want to get that FREE MUSIC INTEREST SURVEY we were discussing, sign up for my free resource library! This is exclusive content for my email subscribers. Don’t worry– I will only send you two emails per month, usually talking about the new resource that is available. Sign up here!

What are your favorite activities for fifth graders? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!



What do I do with fifth graders? Part 1: Lessons and Tips. Trying to teach music to fifth graders? Don't know what to do? Read this article to find out what tips and tricks to help keep those students engaged! A few ideas and a FREE RESOURCE to help your elementary music class. Becca's Music Room



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Elementary Music, Management, PBIS

Positive Reinforcements that won’t Break the Bank

PBIS. If you have read my blog for more than five minutes, you know that I love PBIS. And I use it. A lot. Why? Because positive reinforcements work.

That doesn’t mean that you don’t address when students are doing something wrong. It just means that you make a big deal about the students doing a good job.

Positive reinforcement is all about students earning rewards.

You can take this as far as you want to go, but buying candy for every good kid every day can get really expensive really fast.

Here are some things that are quite cheap (or free!) that your students will love a work for!

Side note: These are all intended to be for individuals, not whole class. If you want to know more about systems for behavior management in the whole class, you can check it out here.

Positive Reinforcements that won't Break the Bank. Ideas for rewards for students to help your classroom management without spending a lot of money. A lot of these are cheap or free! This can work for all teachers, but it is specifically written for elementary school. Becca's Music Room.



Free Positive Reinforcements

  • Class leader: Students get to be an example, get first pick at a game, get to hold rhythms cards, you name it and students want to do it.
  • Instrument of the day: I’ve seen music teachers give out “green cards” (I talk about it here) to students doing a good job, and they get to play the instrument of the day at the end of class.
  • Class coupons: I have not tried this, but it sounds like fun. Students can earn coupons for whatever—getting to pick a game, not wearing shoes, chewing gum in class, etc.
  • Parent phone calls: Calling students’ parents when they are good is THE BEST. The kids love it. The parents love it. You build relationships and it puts you in a super great mood.
  • Lunch with the teacher: You can have students come and eat lunch in your room. I’ve never done this, but I’ve heard good reviews from other teachers about this.
  • Notes: Send home a hand written note! Holding something tangible makes a huge difference, and students can show their parents. You can scribble them on a piece of paper, or you can download these free notes in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
  • Music Buddy: Students can hold a stuffed animal or puppet during music class.

Also read: Keys to Classroom Management in the Music Room

Positive Reinforcements that won't Break the Bank. Ideas for rewards for students to help your classroom management without spending a lot of money. A lot of these are cheap or free! This can work for all teachers, but it is specifically written for elementary school. Becca's Music Room.



Cheap Positive Reinforcements

  • Cheap candy: No discription needed.
  • Kids’ Meal toys: If you get kids’ meals at fast food restaurants (like I do!), keep the toy and put it in your treasure box. My mom also saves these for me when she goes to Chickfila.
  • Marshmallows: Super weird, but it works. Especially the giant ones. I use this mostly for getting students to be quiet with positive reinforcements.
  • Cereal: Kids love food. And with little kids, they will work hard just for ONE piece of cereal. Which means this can last forever. I also like to get these huge things of Goldfish from Amazon.
  • Pencils: Kids are always in need of pencils. And they can be super cheap.
  • Erasers: Kids also need earasers! And they love the cute ones, even when they are little.
  • Stickers: Enough said. Get a ton on Amazon here.
  • Notes: I put this in two places, because if you want them to be cute, you have to spend a little money. I like these, because there’s a ton and they are blank. You can also look in the Target and Micheal’s dollar sections because they always have cards there.

 

You can also download five different positive reinforcement cards from my Teachers Pay Teachers store here.




Other ideas for keeping cost down

  • Not everyone needs a reward: When it comes to positive reinforcement, they do not all need a reward. Especially the older students. With 4th and 5th grades, I do a drawing. I see students for a week at a time, so I have them put their names into en envelope when I see them doing something good. On Friday, I pull out three names for students who get to go to the prize box. That way, I am only giving out six rewards a week. That is a lot less money than giving something to everyone. And it makes it a little more fun, because there is an element of surprise. This would NOT work with kindergarten though. But they just need a piece of paper or a piece or cereal or a sticker or something.
  • Keep a box: Once you have a prize box, you will be shocked how much stuff you can stick in there. Random art supplies, little things that someone gave you (you’re a teacher, so surely you need all of these random things, right?), etc.
  • Piggy Back on teachers: If the classroom teacher has a system, you can help with that. We have a school wide management system where students earn “Gotcha tickets” which are exchanged for a Dojo point. They earn access to events with their points. This is what I give out 99% of the time. Then I supplement with other things.



What’s in my prize box?

Well I have two. Here is my regular prize box:

Positive Reinforcements that won't Break the Bank. Ideas for rewards for students to help your classroom management without spending a lot of money. A lot of these are cheap or free! This can work for all teachers, but it is specifically written for elementary school. Becca's Music Room.
My regular prize box

I have Dum Dums, chocolate coins, sparkley pencils, spider rings, and various stuff that I have taken from students over the year….

Then I have a “big” prize box that comes out near breaks…

Positive Reinforcements that won't Break the Bank. Ideas for rewards for students to help your classroom management without spending a lot of money. A lot of these are cheap or free! This can work for all teachers, but it is specifically written for elementary school. Becca's Music Room.
My extra-super-special prize box

Piggy banks, soccer balls, train whistles, jacks, harmonica, dominoes, toys from ChickFilA, scarves from pirate night on the Disney cruise boat, mazes, etc.

So those are a few ideas! I like to stay in the free sections of positive reinforcements. I give out the previously mentioned tickets, the cards from my TPT store, stickers, and experiences. I make students earn their games and instrument time (that we are going to do anyway). And then I raffle off prizes to older students.

 

What do you like to use in your classroom? What is in your prize box? The possibilities are endless, so let us know your favorite in the comments!

Happy Teaching!

Becca





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