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

Calming Down Activities for Music Class

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



SQUILT

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

And that’s it.

Just listen.

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

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

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

Bonus: You can use this as assessment!

Also read: Lesson Ideas: Creative Movement with Scarves

 

Videos

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

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

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

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

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



Books

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

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

Sing Alongs

Thre are a few ways to do sing alongs.

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

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

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

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



Deep Breaths

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

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

I have actually had kids request this.

Dum Dum Dah Dah

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



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

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

Happy teaching!



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



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

Free Music Lesson: Blue Skies Jazz Lesson

As you may know (or you read in my post about Jazz lessons here), April is Jazz month! I actually just finished a unit on jazz (yes, my planning should have been better), but this allows me to share some of my jazz lessons with you. This one is one of my favorites from the year, based on the song Blue Skies. I used this with kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade. This lesson uses the song Blue Skies to incorporate singing, movement, instruments, and improvisation. And yes, I used scarves. Because if you cannot tell from this post or this post… or this post…. I LOVE scarves. They are fun, they integrate movements, and you can use them as incentives. What could be better? Now, this was actually two lessons for my students, but I will put it all here and you can make it one or two (or three if you want). Free Music Lesson: Blue Skies Jazz Lesson. Jazz lesson including singing, dancing, improvising, scarves, and instruments! Becca's Music Room.

Blue Skies Jazz Lesson

Focus: I can sing, move, and improvise to jazz music. Materials: You can click on these affiliated links to see them in Amazon.

Procedure:

  • Tell the students that we are going to learn a new style of music, called jazz music. Jazz music started in the United States when people from different cultures mixed their music together.
  • Listen to Blue Skies. You can do steady beat motions (snapping to the back beat is great for this), or have students close their eyes and “move how the music sounds” (I talk more in detail about this in this post).
  • Ask the students: If we have Blue Skies, what do you think that means? Are we happy or sad?
  • Teach them the chorus for Blue Skies by rote. While doing this, have the students move their hands up when your voices go up and down when it goes down.
  • Practice the chorus with the recording.
  • Listen to the song again, this time doing steady beat motions (patting shoulders, marching in place, swaying, etc.) until the chorus. At the chorus, stop and move hands up and down to trace the melody (my students like to pretend they are holding a paintbrush and we are painting the melody).
  • Do this activity again, but use scarves this time—because scarves make everything better!

Free Music Lesson: Blue Skies Jazz Lesson. Jazz lesson including singing, dancing, improvising, scarves, and instruments! Becca's Music Room.

  • Have students get a handheld percussion item, like tambourines (we just got these from Donor’s Choose and they are awesome!).
  • Have students keep the beat on their instrument on the verses and move their “paintbrush” up and down on the chorus. You could also have them move their tambourines up and down for a fun effect.
  • About halfway through, stop the music and talk about improvisation. Tell them this is something that happens in jazz a lot, where we make up our own music. Does this mean we are just as loud as possible? No. This means we try to think about what will sound cool and do that.
  • Play the song and allow students to improvise to the song. Walk around the room and listen and encourage those who do not need a little extra support.
  • Closing: Ask students what words they would use to describe the song. Was it fast or slow? Was it loud or soft? Legato or staccato? What kind of instruments do you hear? See what they come up with.

So that is my Blue Skies jazz lesson! I broke it into two by stopping after the scarves on the first day. On the second day, we reviewed the chorus, danced to the song, and then added in the instruments. The kids loved it. So much so, that I may try it with some of my older students too. I am playing around with a parachute routine for it… So make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss anything! You can also click here to view a lot of lesson ideas on my Pinterest page.

Happy Jazz month!

Free Music Lesson: Blue Skies Jazz Lesson. Jazz lesson including singing, dancing, improvising, scarves, and instruments! Becca's Music Room.

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

Music Lesson Ideas: Jazz

If you cannot tell from other posts, I love to teach students about different kinds of music. I think that music teachers have a unique job in that we can show the students the similarities and differences between different cultures. Music is a great way to integrate different cultures. I spent some time teaching my students about jazz this year, and am sharing some of those lessons—along with some other ideas—with you.

If you want to incorporate different kinds of music, jazz is a good starting place. It is different enough from what most students listen to that it is new, but close enough to popular music that they don’t think it is totally weird.

Here are just a few ideas for how to incorporate jazz music into your music class!

PS—These are great for Black History Month, but you should know that April is Jazz month! And of course, you can just do it anytime.

And if you want to incorporate other styles, here are some ideas for opera!

Music Lesson Ideas: Jazz. Free music lessons to help teach jazz in elementary music. Great for Black History Month or Jazz month. Becca's Music Room.



Backbeat

Jazz is all about the back beat. Practice keeping the steady backbeat first by using movements, then with instruments. I found that tambourines provide a similar sound to the cymbal on the drum set.

By the way– I just got these tambourines in my classroom (from Donor’s Choose!). They are super cute– they are the ones in the pictures above.

Improvising

There are a few ways to do this.

With younger students, I used the song “Blue Skies”. They kept the backbeat with the tambourines. About half way through, we talked about improvising, and I allowed them to try it. We talked about trying to make it sound cool instead of just making tons of noise.

With older students, you could start there, and then go further. On xylophones, you can do question and answer improvising—you improvise for eight beats with the music, then they improvise for 8 beats. Don’t forget to make the xylophones pentatonic.

You can also practice scatting! Have students listen to a song that has scatting in it. Talk about what scatting is. Decide on a syllable and note, and have students come up with their own rhythms. (For example, you can have students use the syllable “do” on middle C. This way they only have to come up with the rhythms.) Once they have that down, you can open it up to different syllables. (Don’t forget to model for them.)

Also read: Free K-2 Music Lesson: Five Little Monkeys (with Math and Reading!)



Instrument study

Jazz songs are great for instruments, because the instruments often take turns improvising! Talk about the types of instruments that you hear in jazz music, and show them pictures (if you can bring some in, even better!). Show them how to play the instruments.

While listening to the music, have the students pretend to play each of the instruments they hear.

Bonus: for an assessment, you could have students hold up cards that say what each of the instruments are.

 

Scarf movements with melody

I did this with the Blue Skies song too. Teach the students the chorus, and have them move their scarves up when the melody does up and down when the melody goes down.

For the verses, you can have them follow you with movements or make up their own!

Read more above listening lessons with scarves here and get YOUR scarves here!

 

Music Lesson Ideas: Jazz. Free music lessons to help teach jazz in elementary music. Great for Black History Month or Jazz month. Becca's Music Room.



A Train

This song is about directions to get to Harlem. Have the students listen to the song, and tell what directions are said (take the A train). Have students come up with their own directions on how to get to Harlem, and draw a map that shows it. The more ridiculous, the more fun! My favorite one said that we had to go over the Great Wall of China.

 

What a Wonderful World

Talk to students about Louis Armstrong, and how he was a really important jazz composer. Tell them a little bit about his life. Have them listen to the song What a Wonderful World. Have students make up actions for the song—you could have one group make up actions for the first verse, another group for the second, so on and so forth.

Ask students what you think a wonderful world would look like. Have them draw a picture and write a few sentences about their own wonderful world.

Also read: Phrases for Classroom Management in the Music Room

Books about Jazz

Books are always a really great way to teach about music– and include reading lessons as well.

Miles the Crocodile is a really cute book about jazz. Here are two books about jazz you can read to the kids. Click on the pictures to see them.

So there are some ideas for Jazz music! How do you incorporate jazz music? And how what styles of music do you like to incorporate?

Happy Teaching!



Music Lesson Ideas: Jazz. Free music lessons to help teach jazz in elementary music. Great for Black History Month or Jazz month. Becca's Music Room.



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3-5, Elementary Music, Lessons

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

This is one of my favorite games! I learned it from my mentor during student teaching. I am not sure where she got it from. I haven’t seen it in any books or on the internet. If you know where Extra Beat Take a Seat comes from, feel free to let me know so I can give credit where credit is due!

I have also used it during a long term substitute job, and the first week of school during my first year.

It is easy to figure it out, musical, and fun.

It is also good if you need to travel to classrooms. I have used it many times for that. Just do it with hands instead of rhythm sticks.

Also read: Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Boomwhackers and Science

Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Extra Beat Take a Seat. A really fun rhythm game for upper elementary. Can be played with rhythm sticks, drums, or no materials at all! Becca's Music Room



Extra Beat, Take a Seat

Focus:

I can count rhythm patterns.

Materials:

Also read: Phrases for Classroom Management in the Music Room

Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Extra Beat Take a Seat. A really fun rhythm game for upper elementary. Can be played with rhythm sticks, drums, or no materials at all! Becca's Music Room



Procedure:

  • Have students sit on a circle on the floor.
  • Start by having students play a short rhythm on repeat. I like to use quarter note, quarter note, half note. I play the first two with rhythm sticks on the floor, and the last note tap together. This, by the ways, is the “We Will Rock You” rhythm, so get ready to hear someone sing that.
  • Once they have the rhythm down, tell them to put their sticks down and listen. Tell them you are going to play the rhythm three times and three times only. And then do it. Count out loud so that they can hear what you mean.
  • Have them play it with you, three times and three times only. Someone will keep going—use that as an example.

Also read: Free K-2 Music Lesson: Sempre Libera Scarf Routine

Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Extra Beat Take a Seat. A really fun rhythm game for upper elementary. Can be played with rhythm sticks, drums, or no materials at all! Becca's Music Room
Here are the rhythms in notation. D for playing on the floor, and u for playing sticks together.



  • Tell them that you are going to play a game. They have to play the rhythm first three times and three times only. If they make an extra beat, they have to take a seat (sit in the middle of the circle). Then the class will try it again. Once the whole class (or whoever is left!) gets it right, then the round is over and everyone can rejoin the circle.
  • Once students get three times down, the round is over. The next time everyone will play the rhythm five times. Keep moving up by two each time. I usually go to eleven, and then find a new rhythm. You can do that or choose something else.
  • Once they get to whatever your magic number is, get a new rhythm.
  • My second rhythm is quarter note, quarter note, two eighth notes, quarter note. Play the rhythms as down-down-up-up-up. Again, if you make an extra beat, then you take a seat.
  • The third rhythm that I use is eighth notes, eighth notes, quarter note, quarter note, quarter note. this one goes down-down-up-up-down-up-down

A few tips:

Use a djembe to play the rhythms, because students can hear it over their sticks. This will help them keep the beat study.

You can play this without the sticks—just have students tap their legs and clap. This makes it great for the classroom.

You can add in some simple math practice by asking questions like, “If I have three notes and I play it three times, how many notes do I play total?”

Also read: Music Lesson Ideas: Opera Stories

So there you go! It’s not too difficult, but it is very fun! What is your favorite rhythm game? Let us know in the comments!

Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Extra Beat Take a Seat. A really fun rhythm game for upper elementary. Can be played with rhythm sticks, drums, or no materials at all! Becca's Music Room



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3-5, Elementary Music, Lessons

Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Boomwhackers and Science

Boomwhackers. I love Boomwhackers. I love to use them for everything, really. Rhythms, chords, etc.

This is a super simple, mini science lesson that I like to use with Boomwhackers.

In Georgia at least, they talk about the science of sound in 1st grade and 4th grade. I have used parts of this with all of my grades to help reinforce some science. This lesson is better suited for older students though.

Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Boomwhackers and Science. Great lesson for third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Students read rhythms, talk about high and low sounds, and learn how size affects sound. Becca's Music Room.



Boomwhackers and Science

Materials:

Boomwhackers in a Pentatonic scale (click here to check them out)

Hula hoops

Rhythm cards

Baton (optional)

Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Boomwhackers and Science. Great lesson for third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Students read rhythms, talk about high and low sounds, and learn how size affects sound. Becca's Music Room.



Procedures:

  • Start by introducing the Boomwhackers, and going over the rules.
  • Show them two Boomwhackers that are the same note but different octaves. I like to use C because I have them in three octaves, so I can use my really big one and really small one.
  • Repeat after me: Small is high, big is low, that is science you should know!
  • Say that a few times and then ask which one of the boomwhackers is going to be higher just by looking at it. I like to have them point either right or left so that I can see what they think. Then play them so the kids can hear if they are correct.

Also read: Phrases for Classroom Management in the Music Room



  • Pass out the Boomwhackers.
  • Have the students get into groups, one with each of the Boomwhackers and have them arrange themselves lowest to highest (this works better if your kids haven’t figured out that the letters are on the Boomwhackers. And yes, mine usually don’t notice.) Then have them play a rhythm in that order so that you can hear it going up the scale.
  • Have students sit with all their colored Boomwhackers at a hula hoop. Put a rhythm (I just use my normal rhythm cards) inside of the hula hoop. Give them thirty seconds to practice the rhythm (I always walk around and double check that they are all playing them correct).
  • Do whatever your attention-getting system is. I use a cow bell because it is louder than thirty Boomwhackers.
  • You are the conductor. Walk to each of the groups and have them play their rhythm on repeat. Bring in each of the other groups until everyone is playing. I like to add in crescendos and decrescendos after everyone is playing.
  • After everyone has come in, go through and stop each of the groups.
  • Assessment time: Have students take a good look at the Boomwhacker they have. After rotating to a new instrument, have them hold it above their head if it is higher than the old one or close to the group if it is lower—just by sight.
  • Bonus: Have a student “conduct” the Boomwhacker choir!
  • Extension: Show them two other similar instruments and have them guess which one is higher. I like to bring in my violin and cello, but it could work with a guitar and an ukulele or a flute and a piccolo, or whatever you have available.

Also read: Music Lesson Ideas: Opera



Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Boomwhackers and Science. Great lesson for third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Students read rhythms, talk about high and low sounds, and learn how size affects sound. Becca's Music Room.
This is a fourth grade playing Boomwhackers along with In the Hall of the Mountain King. Video from YouTube.

So there you go! It’s not too hard, but it does really help solidify their understanding of how size relates to sound. You can also show them pictures of the whole string family, or a close up of strings on a guitar or ukulele or violin and show them how even the thickness of the strings affects how high or low they are.

If you don’t have and Boomwhackers, get them! Click on the picture below.

Also read: Free Music Lesson: Bizet Scarf Routine

Do you talk about science in music? What is your favorite way to do that? Let us know in the comments!

 



Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Boomwhackers and Science. Great lesson for third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Students read rhythms, talk about high and low sounds, and learn how size affects sound. Becca's Music Room.

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

Music Lesson Ideas: Opera

This is a round-up of a bunch of lessons and resources all about teaching opera!

I love teaching kids about different styles of music, and opera is one of my favorites! It is a great way to incorporate geography, history, and culture into your lessons, because you can talk about German, Italy, France, etc. A lot of countries have opera but those are the three big ones.

I know a lot of you are thinking, “There is no way my kids will ever like opera!”

But it is really all about how you present it.

I recommend starting teaching the kids about different styles of music from kindergarten on up. When you introduce something new, approach it as, “This may be different than what you are used to, and that’s ok. We are going to be smart musicians and learn about it, even if it is not what we are used to.” Then talk about being respectful.

It works. I teach in an inner city, urban school where I can assure you, none of my kids are listening to classical music at home. But after an opera unit, we had this conversation:

“Did you know, that some people think that opera is boring?” –Me

“WHAT?! But opera is so fun!”-A bunch of first graders staring at me like I told them some people don’t like puppies.

And now they seriously ask if we are going to listen to opera.

So, here are some things that we did, along with some things we did not, but I wish we had.

Music Lesson Ideas: Opera. Becca's Music Room. Great ideas and resources for ideas to teach kids about opera or any style of music! including scarves, writing across the curriculum ideas, videos, movement, etc. Great for any elementary music class.



Scarves!

If you have read my blog, you know that scarves are my favorite material in the music room. I love them. And with opera, it was so much fun.

We used creative movement with scarves (check out the full lesson here) to learn about using movement to show how the music sounds. We talked about using the scarves to show fast and slow passages, as well as high and low. They loved it. I loved it.

We also did two scarf routines to opera pieces. One is to Bizet’s Les Toreadores No. 1 (check out the full lesson here), and the other was to Sempre Libera from La Traviata (check it out here).

You can listen to and purchase each of those songs here: Sempre Libera and Les Toreadores No. 1.

And get your scarves here! You need them!

 PS– Parachutes are super fun too!



Coloring sheets and Drawing

Coloring is always a good way to teach kids to like different styles of music.

We used a theater style coloring sheet to talk about the plot of The Magic Flute (you can check out the lesson here. It also has the link to the coloring sheet, which is a free download). We broke it down into three really simple things that they could draw.

Another favorite (which works with any kind of music) is to have students listen to a song and draw a picture of that is makes them think of. I have used this activity with K-5 (it is especially great for subs!). You just play the piece a few times, and have them draw whatever comes to mind. I usually do this with blank paper, but there are templates on TPT like this one.

You can also have them write a few sentences about it to incorporate writing across the curriculum. Win win!

There are also some coloring sheets on TPT of operas that you can get.

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



Opera Activity Books

I have a few of these opera activity books. They were at the school when I got here, but they are available on Amazon. They are awesome. They are full of information and games. They talk about the composers and the music. There are mini-skits that students can act out as well as word searches and coloring pages. I definitely recommend them (they are also pretty cheap, which also helps).

Click on the picture to view in the Amazon browser:




Make Your Own Opera

Have students make their own opera in groups. Give them a topic and have them write the story. So they don’t feel weird singing their own opera, you could have them include YouTube videos of songs in it.

For example, if they are doing Cinderella, then they could have “Let it Go” on the way to the ball, or something to that effect. You don’t even have to listen to it, just have them say what it is.

This is another example of writing across the curriculum, and really great if you have technology. They could do the whole story on power point with the videos in it.

Also read: Tips for Keeping on Top of Lesson Planning



Act it Out

Have students act out key points from operas. So that no one has to sing Queen of the Night, you could play the arias, and have the students lip sync to it. You could do this as a whole class or in groups. Each group could have a scene.

One of my favorite ways to do this (especially with little kids) is to be the narrator. This way, I tell the students where to go and what to do. For example, I may say “The three ladies walk away. Then Prince Tamino wakes up and sees Papageno and thanks him for saving his life.” The students will act out these actions. It also means that I can add in comprehension questions throughout.

Also Read: Best Tools for Staying Organized as a Teacher

Music Lesson Ideas: Opera. Becca's Music Room. Great ideas and resources for ideas to teach kids about opera or any style of music! including scarves, writing across the curriculum ideas, videos, movement, etc. Great for any elementary music class.

Videos

Now, of course, the best way to teach about an opera is to watch one. This said, however, my kindergarteners are not going to sit through an opera.

You can watch clips from operas. I did this a lot in our opera unit. I would have the students watch an aria, and then I would tell them what was going on in the scene. This was a good way to have them watch opera without having to sit through everything.

We also watched this episode of Arthur, which is all about Carmen. It even uses real music from Carmen in the video (with original words and with different words).


Additional Opera Resources

Here are some other resources in case you want to learn more:

  • Musical Explorers Curriculum This is a curriculum in NYC and Savannah, Georgia where students learn about styles of music and then go to concerts. Even if you don’t live in these places, you can get the curriculum online for free.
  • Minnesota Opera has a bunch of ideas, although I would only use them for my older students.
  • Hansel and Gretel Learning about Opera this is an activity online where students can make their own opera.

How do you teach opera? Have you done any of these? Let us know in the comments!

 

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

Music Lesson Ideas: Opera Stories

If you have been reading my blog, then you have hear me mention that my Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd graders spent a lot of time this year on opera. We use the Musical Explorer curriculum (currently available in Savannah and New York City, and I heard rumors that they are trying to get it elsewhere). Every semester, students learn about three styles of music, and then they go to a concert. This means that by the time they finish, they have gone to 6 concerts and learn 18 styles of music.

Which is awesome!

I really cannot sing its praises enough.

Anyway… this semester was Ringshout, Opera, and Blues.

And we spent a lot of time on opera.

You can read about our Creative Movement with Scarves lesson here, or our Bizet Scarf Routine here. (Do you see a theme? I truly love scarves in the music room!)

You can click on the picture to buy some for your music room!

This lesson is all about the opera stories.

Now, opera stories can be a little bit on the ridiculous side. Some of them are reeeeally complicated (Can you say Magic Flute?). Or inappropriate (Can you say Carmen?). This made teaching the opera stories really complicated.

So here are a few ideas to help out…



Music Lesson Ideas: Opera Stories. Lots of ideas for teaching opera in elementary music! Scarves, videos, books, writing, coloring, etc. I used lots of these in my classroom, and now my students love opera! Success! Becca's Music Room

Tell the Story Around the Aria

The two piece the students were supposed to learn were from Norma and La Traviata.

Have you ever tried explaining either of those to Kindergarteners? It’s difficult.

Instead, I just told them the story right around the aria. I basically just explained what they were saying.

For example, with La Traviata, instead of trying to explain the whole thing in its ridiculousness, I just talked about the aria.

We watched this video. First, I told them to try to decide how she was feeling by her facial expressions. I stopped it every once and a while and ask. I like this video because she looks happy while she sings, and then upset when the man is singing.

Afterward, I told them what was going on—that she is talking about wanting to be free, so she is happy. The man wants her to marry him, but she does not want to marry him. This is why she looks upset when he is singing.

And that is all they really needed to know about that.

First story down!



Pick a Beginning, Middle, and End

The next of the opera stories we learned was The Magic Flute. Now, the Magic Flute is another one of those operas that is just kind of all over the place. It is complicated, and there are a ton of things going on.

I did something terrible—I only told them about the first act.

The first and second acts are just so different that it was too difficult to try to get it all in there.

We watched this video of the Papageno/Pagagena duet. They thought that it was HILARIOUS. They laughed so hard at the part where they were singing “Pa… pa pa….. pa… pa pa…” I got a wonderful video on my Instagram of some of my first graders singing along with it.

Then we talked about how all stories have a beginning, middle, and end. In this one, the beginning is when Princess Pamina gets captured. In the middle, Papageno and the Prince Tamino go and look for her. At the end, they find her!

Yes, I know. Only one act and extremely simplified. But that’s what Kindergarteners need.

After the video and the discussion, we did this coloring sheet which I got for free on Crayola’s website. I cut them out ahead of time (you can have the kids do it if you are feeling adventurous), and we drew pictures of the beginning, middle, and end. The boxes are pretty small, so I did have the older kids write “beginning, middle, and end”, but I did not have them write what was happening.

You can get the coloring page here.

If you want a writing connection, you could give them a piece of paper and have them write a sentence or two for each part.

My main focus was “Opera is fun!” rather than “We need to know exactly how The Magic Flute goes.”



Compare and Contrast

Pick an opera that has a common story, like Cinderella. Talk to the students about what an opera is (People acting out a story by singing all the time). Then tell them sometimes when a composer writes an opera, they use a story people know.

Watch a video from the opera Cinderella. Then watch a video from the Disney movie Cinderella.

Make a Compare/Contrast chart. You could do it on the board, or have them do it individually or as groups.

Depending on the videos you pick, they will say different things. I would focus on differences like setting—opera is live, so the setting cannot change as much as a cartoon. Vocal quality—they will probably say the opera sounds “bigger” or “louder”.

Also read Free K-2 Music Lesson: Animal Form

Read a Book

We did not do this one, but it is probably the best option.

Read a book about an opera, or with the same story. Here are some examples with The Magic Flute.

After you read the book, watch a few videos from the opera.

Extension: Have them act it out! You can read the book, or have a student read it, and have the characters move around to act out the story. You can pause and listen to the arias as they come up in the story. (This would be great for older kids.)

You can click on these books to check them out.

Watch a Video

I was flipping through the channels one day and hear the music from Carmen. I stopped, and realized that it was an episode of Arthur!

In this 15 min. video, Muffy and her dad are going to the opera. She thinks that she won’t like it, but after she tries it, she does.

The great thing is they use real music! There is one scene where they change the plot to make it kid-friendly and have the characters singing in English. At the end, they are snippets of the real music from Carmen.

We watched it and the kids loved it! And since it is shorter, it didn’t take up too much of the time.

Check it out here.


And a Bulletin Board Idea….

For this month, I did an opera bulletin board. I made three of the coloring sheets with the school’s poster maker (in other words, I didn’t spend any money). I wrote the sentence that corresponds with the beginning, middle, and end. Then I put it up along with some of the kid’s drawings. the drawings are form the Crayola website which is above under “Beginning, Middle, and End”.

I added the title and the answer to the question “What is opera?”. And I wrote that we were doing The Magic Flute.

Music Lesson Ideas: Opera Stories. Lots of ideas for teaching opera in elementary music! Scarves, videos, books, writing, coloring, etc. I used lots of these in my classroom, and now my students love opera! Success! Plus a bulletin board idea. Becca's Music Room Music Lesson Ideas: Opera Stories. Lots of ideas for teaching opera in elementary music! Scarves, videos, books, writing, coloring, etc. I used lots of these in my classroom, and now my students love opera! Success! Plus a bulletin board idea. Becca's Music Room

How did it turn out?

Great!

My opera lessons were huge hits.

When we watched the Arthur video, I told them “Some people think that opera is boring, and they don’t like it!”

You should have seen their shocked little faces. They gasped and said “No!”

I said, “Yes. Do you think opera is boring?”

“No! Opera is fun!”

This is a big deal in any school, but in my urban, inner city school, it was an even bigger deal.

What opera strategies do you use? Do your kids keep an open mind? Let me know in the comments!

Music Lesson Ideas: Opera Stories. Lots of ideas for teaching opera in elementary music! Scarves, videos, books, writing, coloring, etc. I used lots of these in my classroom, and now my students love opera! Success! Plus a bulletin board idea. Becca's Music Room



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

Free Music Lesson: Bizet Scarf Routine

Free Music Lesson: Bizet Scarf Routine. This routine can work for any elementary grade. It is fun and upbeat, and quick. It is great as an energizer. If you do not have a scarf you have just use your hands. Becca's Music Room

If you have read any of my posts, you will know that I love to use scarves in my elementary music classroom. I usually use a choreographed scarf routine, but I also allow students to move creatively with scarves.

I have a whole post about that you can read here. It has ideas for scarf activities to teach different things.

I feel that I can never find enough scarf routines. Sometimes I find them on the internet. There are quite a few in Artie Almeida’s Parachutes and Ribbons and Scarves, Oh My!

But there still are not enough.

My K-2 did an opera unit this year. We used creative movement with scarves (which I talk about in this post), coloring, watching videos, etc. We also did a scarf routine to Bizet’s “Les Toreadores” No. 1.

I liked this one because it is opera—although there is no singing, so it may be a good way to easy your kids into opera—and it is has clear, distinguished sections.

Click on this link to download the form chart. Bizet Scarf Routine 6

Also: Free K-2 Music Lesson: Rhythm


Free Music Lesson: Bizet Scarf Routine. This routine can work for any elementary grade. It is fun and upbeat, and quick. It is great as an energizer. If you do not have a scarf you have just use your hands. Becca's Music Room


Here is the scarf routine for Bizet’s Les Toreadores No. 1

The form for Les Toreadores is AABACA

A-March with scarf in hands

A-March and move scarf up and down like a baton in a marching band

B-Move scarf back and forth above head for 8 beats, then at feet for 8 beats. For the trills, shake the scarf quickly and high

A-March

C-Get low (all the way to the ground!) and move scarf in a sideways figure 8 motion. Every 16 beats of the melody, get a little bit higher. The music will also get a little bit louder. This will happen four times, so don’t get too tall too fast!

A-March

End-Shake the scarf really high above your head and freeze at the end

Super easy, right? It is even easier with the music, because each section is so different!

Get your scarves here!

Find another form lesson here (minus the scarves).

I know this was a short post, but that’s all! Make sure to check out my post on Creative Movement with Scarves for a lot of other scarf ideas! I will be posting more opera ideas, so make sure you subscribe!

Happy Teaching!

Becca

Free Music Lesson: Bizet Scarf Routine. This routine can work for any elementary grade. It is fun and upbeat, and quick. It is great as an energizer. If you do not have a scarf you have just use your hands. Becca's Music Room



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3-5, Children's Church, Lessons

Children’s Church Christmas Lesson for Kids Who Know the Christmas Story

Let’s be honest: I have a hard time teaching Children’s Church on Christmas and Easter. The Christmas lesson is particularly difficult.

Yes, I guess it should be the easiest days to teach. But it is not. It is difficult because all of my kids know the Christmas story and the Easter story. My group is 10-15 kids, most of whom I have known since they were born and taught since they were four. Some of them have never known another Children’s Church teacher. But between myself, the Sunday School teachers, the Wednesday night teachers, and the few that have Bible classes at school, they know the Christmas story. There is at least one that knows more about the Bible than I do. So trying to find a way to teach them a Christmas lesson without them falling asleep is a constant challenge!

So I thought: let’s get creative!

Also: The Beginner’s Guide to Teaching Children’s Church

My choir sang Huron Carol last year. I had never heard it before, and I thought my kids probably have not either.

Huron Carol is a Christmas carol. It is the first Christmas carol ever written in the Canada in 1642. Missionaries used it to teach the Native Americans (Canadians?) about Jesus. You can read more about it here.

Since the Native Americans had no concept of myrrh.

And frankly, neither do your kids.

So the missionaries made a song with words that they could understand.

And behold… my Christmas lesson was born.

Also: How to Structure Children’s Church in 6 Easy Steps

Download the printable version here.Children’s Church Christmas Lesson

Download the printable version of the lyrics here. Huron Carol Lyrics



Children's Church Christmas Lesson for kids who know the Christmas story. Would also be a great project for a Bible school English class, youth group, Sunday School, girl scouts, etc. Huron Carol. Becca's Music Room

Huron Carol Christmas Lesson

Materials:

Procedure:

  1. Ask the kids what holiday is coming up? (Christmas!)
  2. Ask if anyone knows why we celebrate Christmas. Allow for answers. If no one arrives at the real reason for Christmas, tell them a brief version.
  3. Ask kids to turn in their Bibles to Luke 2:1-20. While you (or a kid) read, ask them to count all of the words that they do not know.
  4. Ask how many of the words they do not know. Write them down on the board, or on a piece of paper. Go over each one, so that they know what they are.
  5. Tell them, “People from different places know different things. Just like we don’t understand all of the words, neither do a lot of other people. Years ago, after Christopher Columbus came over the Americas, some missionaries went to teach the Native Americans about Jesus. Just like we didn’t understand some of the things in the story, neither did they. So the missionaries came up with a song to tell the story using things that the people knew.”
  6. Pass out copies of the lyrics to Huron Carol. Read it with them. After each part, ask what part of the Christmas Story it represents. You could also assign parts to groups to figure out, if you have older kids.
  7. Tell the kids that they are going to make up a version of the Christmas story. I have mixed age groups, so I gave guidelines—think of a TV show or movie or video game or book. They need to come up with a job for the people who go to Jesus (instead of shephards), a precious gift to give Jesus (instead of gold, frankincense, and myrrh), and a place for Jesus to stay (instead of the manger).
  8. Give an example with something they may know. An example could be if they are in SpongeBob, then the people who come to Jesus could be people who work at the Krusty Krab, the gift can be Krabby Patties, and the place to stay could be Spongebob’s pinapple. Why on Earth that is the first thing I thought of, I cannot tell you. But you get the picture. You can pick your own example if you do not like that one.
  9. Have the kids write down their ideas. Tell them all of the things in the story have to be in their “world”. They are missionaries to their world, and the people have to understand them.
  10. Have the kids share their stories with the class.
  11. Follow up with whatever your favorite Christmas activity is—crafts, games, etc. (If you need help with some good games, subscribe to find out when My Kids’ Favorite Church Games post comes out!

Children's Church Christmas Lesson for kids who know the Christmas story. Would also be a great project for a Bible school English class, youth group, Sunday School, girl scouts, etc. Huron Carol. Becca's Music Room



Also, here is a picture books of Huron Carol. You could use them as well, and if you have younger kids, they would love them. I plan to buy myself one. Click on the picture to check it out!


I love making ornaments with the kids at Christmastime. (Despite the fact that my mother never let me put homemade ornaments on the real tree… anyway…) I have used a lot of these, and also you can find some more on this Pinterest board.

And if you are in need of a Christmas Program, check out Church Christmas Programs: What Do I Choose?

Do you have a hard time with Christmas lessons? Or do you have a favorite that you do every year? Let me know in the comments, and subscribe to get more content!

Happy teaching!

Becca

Children's Church Christmas Lesson for kids who know the Christmas story. Would also be a great project for a Bible school English class, youth group, Sunday School, girl scouts, etc. Huron Carol. Becca's Music Room



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

Lesson Ideas: Creative Movement with Scarves

I love using scarves in my classroom. We do scarf routines that I have made up, or from Artie Almeida’s Parachutes and Ribbons and Scarves, Oh My! (Which if you do not have, you need!). We use them to keep the steady beat, feel phrases, etc.

So when I first started my opera unit, I thought, “I will make up a scarf routine for these two songs.”

And then I didn’t.

So it was right before my first class, and I realized that I had forgotten. So I decided to improvise.

“Let’s do creative movement with scarves! You can make up your own moves that match the music.”

I thought creative movement would be a disaster. That people would be hitting each other or bored or whatever.

But they loved it.

See some of my other favorite resources in my Resources Page.

Lesson Ideas: Creative Movement with Scarves. Learn how to use creative movement and scarves to teach high/low, melody, listening, form, and even assessment! Scarves are the greatest tool there is in elementary music. Becca's Music Room

I know this is nothing new, but I am here to say if you have not tried creative movement, you should. How do I incorporate creative movement? You may ask. Well here are some ideas…

Creative Movement for Listening

This is the easiest and best. This is how I used creative movement for the first time.

We were learning about opera. My school district does this wonderful program called Musical Explorers. The students learn about three types of music, and then go to a concert… twice a year. If you teach in near Savannah, Georgia or New York City, check it out! (Link for Savannah, link for NYC)

Anyway, one of our styles is opera. I love opera, so I was very excited for this.

We had some quiet listening time first. I told them to close their eyes. They could move their arms or heads or bodies, but eyes have to stay closed and you have to stay in your seat.

This also went better than anticipated.

Then we talked about opera. We watched a video of the other song we needed to learn. Then I pulled out the scarves.

All I said was that your scarf should match the music. So if it is fast, how should your scarf move? If it is slow, how should your scarf move? With the older kids, we talked about how you could also trace the melody, or have bigger movements when it was louder.

And it was great! Most of them actually bought into it and were listening.

Tips: Let them hear the music prior to turning them loose with the scarves. Encourage them to move their body to the music so that it will be easy to translate to the scarves.

Lesson Ideas: Creative Movement with Scarves. Learn how to use creative movement and scarves to teach high/low, melody, listening, form, and even assessment! Scarves are the greatest tool there is in elementary music. Becca's Music Room

Creative Movement for High and Low

My students have practiced high and low while moving around the room, wiggling their fingers, pretending to be fairies and monsters, etc. Scarves would be great!

You could play on the piano and have them move their scarf high for high sounds or low for low sounds. The Music Connection has a recording of high and low sounds for this purpose. Have them talk about different high movements and low movements. Challenge them by having them pick a different movement each time.

My students listened to Edward Elgar’s Fairies and Giants. We pretended to be fairies on our tip toes for the high parts and crouched down low for loud parts. You could have a lot of fun moving the scarves with this one.

Also: Free K-2 Music Lesson: Rhythm

Creative Movement for Piano and Forte

This is along the same lines. Play an instrument or listen to a piece that has forte and piano sections. Have students pick a movement to represent each one (maybe something with a small movement for piano and a large movement for forte).

You could also divide the room into two and have students move to one side for piano and the other for forte, while creatively moving their scarves to the music.

Of course, you would want to break that into sections—first listen, then stay in seats and show forte and piano, then move around the room for each one, and then finally do it all together with the scarves.

Lesson Ideas: Creative Movement with Scarves. Learn how to use creative movement and scarves to teach high/low, melody, listening, form, and even assessment! Scarves are the greatest tool there is in elementary music. Becca's Music Room
Second graders closing their eyes so they can “feel the music” in their scarves while listening to the music from Norma.

Creative Movement for Form

Have students listen to a piece of music with clear distinctions between sections (I like March from The Nutcracker (ABACABA), Rondo Alla Turca (ABCBABC), and Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks (AABA)) and talk about how form is how music is made. Talk about the form of it, so they know (and write it on the board). Then have students make up a movement for each section with their scarves.

You could even start this way, and then have students vote for their favorite movements to create a routine!

Check out my Animal Form lesson here.

Creative Movement for Moods

Have students listen to (short) pieces of music and use their scarf to reflect it. They can also use their faces to express how the music feels. Tell them they can move the scarf however they want as long as they are listening—if it is a slow, quiet piece, then the scarf movement should reflect that.

Also—end with a slow, calm, quiet piece as a winding down activity.

Artie Almeida has a great music-mood resource which you can use with scarves.

Creative Movement for Assessment

Yes, you heard me: assessment.

Creative movement with scarves can be used for assessing any of the things I mentioned and then some. Just watch the students responding to the music, and write down if they are understanding or not. For assessment purposes, having them close their eyes will give you a better sense of what they know.

Some other things you could assess include:

  • Instruments of the orchestra: Pick a movement for each instrument family, and have students watch or listen to a piece and show what they see. The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra would be great for this.
  • Melody: Have students listen to a song and trace the melody with their scarves.
  • Crescendos and decrescendos: Moving in increasingly large circles for crescendos and small circles for decrescendos.

Those are some ideas. Did I miss something that you like to do with creative movement? Have you tried any of these before? Let us know in the comments! I am always open to more ideas!

And don’t forget to get your scarves! If you do not believe me, try it and see! School can’t afford scarves? Check out my article on Donor’s Choose. You may be able to get them for free! 

Lesson Ideas: Creative Movement with Scarves. Learn how to use creative movement and scarves to teach high/low, melody, listening, form, and even assessment! Scarves are the greatest tool there is in elementary music. Becca's Music Room


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