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

5 Simple Movement Activities Using Stick Figures

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

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

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

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

You may also like: Creative Movement with Scarves

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

4 Beat Phrases

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

Stick Figures with a Song

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

Add a Blank Sheet

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

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

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

Make Up Your Own

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

With a Partner

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy teaching!

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

Lesson Ideas for Ickle Ockle

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

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

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

Here is the most reliable version that I have found.

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

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

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

Ickle Ockle Game

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

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

So. Much. Fun.

Flashcard Walk

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

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

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

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

Flashcard Partner Walk

This is very similar to the last one.

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

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

Also read: Fun and Engaging Activities for Flashcards

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

Put it in Order

I love doing this as a review!

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

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

Worksheets

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

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

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

Does that seem boring? No.

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

Coloring

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

Pair it with Aquarium

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

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

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

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

Instruments

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

Also read: Breezes are Blowing

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

Happy teaching!

Lesson ideas for Ickle Ockle: a song for ta rest or do. This ocean themed folk song has a really fun singing game-- and many other activities to use with it in your elementary music class! Becca's Music Room
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3-5, Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Fun and Engaging Activities for Flashcards

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also read: Favorite Activities for Piano and Forte

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

Flashcard Walk

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

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

Partner Walk

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

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

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

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

Student Choice

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

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

Hot Potato

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

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

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

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

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

Feed the Monster

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

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

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

Matching and Sorting

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

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

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

Creating Long Pieces

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

Put Flashcards in Order

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

Kaboom

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

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

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

So it literally never ends.

You can check it out here.

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Teaching!

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

Elementary Music Lesson: Breezes are Blowing

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

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

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

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

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

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


Breezes are Blowing

Teach students the song Breezes are Blowing by rote.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also Read: Bizet Scarf Routine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also read: It’s Raining and Que Llueva

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

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

Happy teaching!

Breezes are Blowing: Elementary music lesson for second grade and third grade to teach low la, aba form, and improvisation-- using a Native American folk song! Becca's Music Room
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3-5, Books, Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

I Know a Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Cello

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

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

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

Seriously, I love it.

And so do the kids.

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

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

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

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

Acting it Out

This is one of my personal favorites.

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

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

Speaking of which….

Show and Tell

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

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

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

And again. Kazoo.

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

Introduction to Instrument Families

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Singing

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

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

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

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

Instrument Playing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy teaching!

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

Irish Music Lesson for St. Patrick’s Day

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

Here in Savannah, we take it very seriously.

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

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

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

Also read: Favorite Activities for Piano and Forte

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

Irish Music Lesson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also read: Monkey Game for Crescendos and Decrescendos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Irish music ideas:

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

Happy teaching!

Looking for something fun to do in your elementary music class for St. Patrick's Day? Look no further! This lesson includes two different Irish folk songs for students to sing, do movement activities to, and learn more about Ireland. You can use this general music lesson with kindergarten, first grade, second grade, or third grade. Becca's Music Room
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Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Free K-1 Music Lesson: The Tick Tock Song

You know those songs that you find and you are not sure if your kids will like it, then they love it? That’s how the Tick Tock song was for my classes. I thought it looked/sounded cute, but it was a HUGE hit! My kids wanted to keep doing this song over and over and over again.

And of course we love any songs that keep students singing!

I used this as a movement activity and for playing instruments, but I am planning to bring it back to teach rhythm. It is a ta and titi song as well as a sol-mi-la song. So of course you can use it for any of those.

I do have a TPT product for this, which you can get here. It has rhythmic and melodic practice with flash cards, slides with rhythm and melody, clock faces, beat charts, and basically everything you need for a super smooth class. If you just want to get a preview to use in your classroom with slides for lyrics, solfege, and rhythm, then you can get that in my free resource library. If you have not accessed my free resource library, then you will need to click here. You provide your email and then you get the password and you can download everything in the library! I only email twice a month, so I won’t be spamming you, and of course you can unsubscribe anytime (but you won’t want to because, again, FREE RESOURCES).

PS My second graders also really enjoyed this song!

Also read: Free Music Lesson: Brown Bear Brown Bear

Free Elementary Music Lesson: The Tick Tock Song. This is one of my kindergarten and first graders' favorite songs! We use it for movement, rhythm, and solfeggi. It is perfect for sol-la-mi or ta and titi. Becca's Music Room



Tick Tock Song

  1. Teach students the Tick Tock song by rote. You can focus on rhythm or melody. You can find both the rhythm and melody on the free slide in my resource library or you can get all of the resources in my TPT.
  2. Teach the students the movements to the song. I always (ALWAYS) start non-locomotor movements and then switch to locomotor movements if the students can handle it. The movements are a little bit awkward because they really aren’t supposed to be non-locomotor, but my kids did not notice or care. Here are the movements:
  • Walk in place
  • At “open wide”, open your arms up wide
  • At “cuckoo”, bend your body sideways for each cukoo

I learned this from a video on this YouTube channel. It no longer seems to be on YouTube and the link from my Pinterest is broken. So he gets the credit even though you cannot see it!

3. Each time, ask a student to pick what time it will be. This can make it entertaining for hours, because they all want to pick the time. I like to use a plastic teaching clock like this one or the clock cut out in my TPT product to show the time, because most students cannot tell time on analog clocks. I don’t spend a ton of time on it, but we do talk about the big hand and little hand and the hours and then I will change the time each time we sing.

4. If they are doing a good job with that, then we will do it in partners. Now, of course, you have to make sure that you prep them VERY well before doing anything in partners. Since they are so young, I like to model with a student a few times before I let them do it. Basically, one person is the clock and one is the cuckoo. The clock stands still. The cuckoo walks in a circle around the clock. At “open wide”, the cuckoo opens the clocks’ arms. On each “cuckoo” the cuckoo pops out from behind the clock.

5. Use some small percussion instruments to play the beat to the song. Then use the instruments to play the rhythm. I tend to be partial to rhythm sticks and castanets, both of which are really cheap options if you don’t have much in your classroom.

6. Make the rhythm! Depending on where your students are in the rhythm reading journey, you can have them put manipulative (like the clock cut outs in my resource) onto heartbeat sheets. Use one manipulative for ta and two on a beat for titi. Mini erasers are usually a huge hit for this activity. Or you could use popsicle sticks like I talk about in this lesson to make stick notation ta and titi. I have also seen people use straws for this activity, although I have not used them.

7. Make the melody! Cut out the words to the song. Put two lines on the ground with tape. Have students put the words onto the two line staff. Then you could have everyone practice that by themselves with bingo chips or mini erasers on a personal two line staff.

Free Elementary Music Lesson: The Tick Tock Song. This is one of my kindergarten and first graders' favorite songs! We use it for movement, rhythm, and solfeggi. It is perfect for sol-la-mi or ta and titi. Becca's Music Room



A few extensions:

  • Pair with Hickory Dickory Dock (free!)This is a fun nursery rhyme in 6/8. I like to use this as a warm up with movements.
  • Pair with a movement activity to The Syncopated Clock. I believe this is in the book Parachutes and Ribbons and Scarves, Oh My!
  • A clock race: Have students get into teams. One student runs up and changes the clock to a particular time, rushes back and the next student goes.
  • Rhythm clock: Have students work in groups to make a rhythm clock. They have to make a rhythm for each hour that adds up to the hour. This is more fun with older students who know a bunch of rhythms with different beats, but it can still be fun with the littles.

Need those heartbeat sheets? Get them in my free resource library! If you haven’t gained access yet, then do it by clicking here.

So there is the Tick Tock Song! This is one of my students’ absolute favorites. Between thing on and the Que Llueva song that I talk about here, it is hard to get them to sing anything else!

What are your favorite clock themed activities? What would you pair with the Tick Tock Song? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Teaching!



Free Elementary Music Lesson: The Tick Tock Song. This is one of my kindergarten and first graders' favorite songs! We use it for movement, rhythm, and solfeggi. It is perfect for sol-la-mi or ta and titi. Becca's Music Room



 

This is a powerpoint to go along with the song Tick Tick. It has the song lyrics, lyrics and rhythm (in regular notation and stick notation!), and rhythm and solfege. Becca's Music Room.
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Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Favorite Activities for Piano and Forte

Teaching piano and forte is really fun.

I know that may seem like a weird comment, but it is true. I have a lot of fun teaching piano and forte. I think this is because there are just so many different things that you can do with it– and it is so different from teaching rhythm and melody and styles of music.

This post has a few of my favorite activities for teaching piano and forte. It is not nearly everything that can be used for piano and forte, but it is a couple things that my students have enjoyed.

And make sure you read to the bottom, because I saved the best for last.

Also read: Creative Movement with Scarves

 

Favorite Activities for Piano and Forte. A compilation of songs, games, listening and moving activities for teaching piano and forte to your elementary music students! Becca's Music Room.

Songs with Animals

The first thing that I do with my students is relate piano and forte to animals. I ask them to come up with ideas of what is loud and what is soft. This year, we did a series of lessons based off of mice and bears. This was an easy segway into piano and forte, because we were able to talk about how loud they were. (Are bears loud or soft?)

You could use something else, of course, like lions and bunnies or whatever.

For these lessons, we did Hickory Dickory Dock (FREE on TPT), Mouse Mousie, Brown Bear Brown Bear, What Do You See, annnnnnd…..

Grizzly Bear

No list of piano and forte activities could be complete without Grizzly Bear on it.

Grizzly Bear is a super fun song that has dynamic changes in it, plus there are at least three different games that go with it. You can read all about it in this post.

You can also get a PowerPoint for FREE in my resource library. If you haven’t signed up yet, you can do that here. I only send out one email every other week, and I add new free resources to the library once a month (and sometimes more, because I can’t help myself!). If you have already signed up, then you can click the tab at the top that says “free resource library” and enter in the password that was emailed to you.

Responding to a Drum

Is that really the best title to describe this activity, Becca? I guess so.

This is one of my favorite simple warm ups. Seriously. I use it the first week of school and for piano and forte and for any other day the kids just need to move. I play my djembe (I have this one and LOVE it!) piano, and students tip toe. Then I play forte and they jump or stomp. With the younger kids, I play piano for 4, 8, or 16 beats, then forte for 4 or 8 beats. If your students are doing a good job, then you can also change the tempo on them for an extra challenge.

With older students, I use this to get them thinking about groups of rhythms (often in preparation for the game Extra Beat, Take a Seat). I play the downbeat forte, and then play seven beats piano. After a few times, they can anticipate the downbeat.

Then we make it even more fun– we do statues. I still play the downbeat forte followed by seven piano beats, but when it is forte, the students strike a pose. They hold that statue until the next forte beat, when they switch to the next one.

Closet Key (or Lucy Locket)

Closet Key is a fun game for piano and forte. It is a song (check it out here). After learning the song, students sit in a circle. One person closes their eyes. While their eyes are closed, the “key” (or whatever object you have) gets hidden (I prefer to have it so that it is hidden in the circle, but you could have them hide it in the room.

Then the students sing while the person who had their eyes closed moves around. The students sing louder when they are close to it, and softer when they are far away. It’s like hot and cold with your voice.

I have also heard of people doing the same thing with the game Lucy Locket, so I included that in the heading. I personally do not play my game that way, but you certainly could. Check out how I play here.

Playing instruments

Of course we are going to play instruments! I use these rhythm cards for piano and forte. Each one has either a bear or a mouse on them. If it has a bear, then the students play the rhythm forte. If it has a mouse, then they play the rhythm piano.

They also have an introduction to piano and forte. You can get them here.

Favorite Activities for Piano and Forte. A compilation of songs, games, listening and moving activities for teaching piano and forte to your elementary music students! Becca's Music Room.

Student “Conductor”

This can go along with singing or playing instruments.

For the little people: Make a sign with “piano” and “forte” (I use the ones that are included in the Piano and Forte Rhythm Cards set). Have the students sing and hold up the cards. While they are singing, switch the cards so that the students have to change dynamic. You can change them at any time. Then have a student come to the front and change the cards.

For older students: They can conduct. Hand them a baton (or a pencil) and have them conduct while the students sing or play instruments. If you don’t want to teach them the conducting patterns, then you could just have them show the beat (so like in one) and get bigger when students should sing forte and smaller when they should sing piano.

Listening

Of course, there are all sorts of listening activities that can go with piano and forte. The piece Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks has a very distinct piano section. And–of course– the Surprise Symphony. I am going to play this for my first graders this week and I cannot wait to see their faces!

Students could hold up a card with a bear on it when the music is forte and a card with a mouse on it when the music is piano. And of course, you could always use scarves. Students can make large movements for forte and small movements for piano. You can read more about creative movement with scarves here.

 

 

Stuffed Animal Sort

To go along with our animal songs, I’ll often ask students what animals are forte and which ones are piano. For a quick review (or during centers), we will sort them. I will put piano and forte signs on bins or next to a pile, and students come and place their animal in either the piano or the forte pile. This is also great for centers, because it is pretty easy.

Don’t have stuffed animals? You can get them pretty cheap on Amazon. Check it out here.

The Monkey Game

I really did save the best for last. In The Monkey Game (which is really for crescendos and decrescendos, but I use it for piano and forte as well), one student hides a stuffed monkey. Another student has to find it. Then I have students at the tubanos who play forte when the person is close to the monkey and piano if they are far away.

You can read all about it here.

 

Favorite Activities for Piano and Forte. A compilation of songs, games, listening and moving activities for teaching piano and forte to your elementary music students! Becca's Music Room.

Well that was a bunch of ideas. I hope that some of them help you out in your teaching of piano and forte. What is your favorite activity for piano and forte? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!

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

Monkey Game for Crescendos and Decrescendos

Is there a game at your school that your students beg to play? Like all of the time? That’s the Monkey Game for me. I know that it teaches piano and forte to the littles and crescendos and decrescendos to the older students, but they do not care. They want to play it all the time.

Seriously. I’ll say, “We’re going to play a game!” and they’ll say, “The Monkey Game?!”

No. It’s not always the Monkey Game.

It actually got to the point where I was so sick of it that I started telling them we couldn’t play it because it took too long to get the drums out.

Anyway, this is a game that teaches crescendos and decrescendos (or piano and forte, if you differentiate). I learned it from my mentor teacher during student teaching, and I do not know where she came up with it. But it is so much fun.

Why do I call it the Monkey Game? Because we use a stuffed monkey. In your class it could be the bear game or the owl game or whatever depending on your stuffed animal collection.

Also read: Extra Beat, Take a Seat

The Monkey Game: Free music game for crescendo and decrescendo. Perfect for teaching elementary music, or even middle school band and choir. It can be adapted to teach kindergarten and first grade by switching it to piano and forte. Your kids will be begging to play it-- at least mine do! Becca's Music Room.

 

The Monkey Game

Materials:

Instructions:

  • First, discuss what crescendo and crescendo are. I like to have the students say the words with a crescendo and decrescendo. So when we say crescendo, we crescendo. When we say decrescendo, we decrescendo. I also like to have them move their hands up and down to show the dynamics. Then I project them onto the board so that we remember them.
  • Then, have a few students come up to the tubanos in the front. (After the long discussion about how we do NOT LEAN ON THE DRUMS, of course)
  • Have one student hide the monkey. They are the hider. (We always let a piece of the monkey stick out to make the game go a little bit faster.)
  • While that person hides the monkey, another student goes in the corner and closes their eyes. They are going to be the finder. Once the hider is finished, have the finder come out and open their eyes. They are now going to walk around the room and look for the monkey.
  • The people at the drums help find the monkey by playing with different dynamics. If they are close to the monkey, they play forte. If they are far away from the monkey, they play piano. This causes lots of crescendos and decrescendos. Throughout the game, ask the students, “Was that a crescendo or a decrescendo?”
  • The students at their seats watch, and I usually tell them they can help by playing on their legs or the ground if they want to. This helps those friends who just cannot sit still have an outlet.
  • Once the monkey is found, switch out the people. I usually let the drummer stay for two rounds before switching them.

 

Easy peasy! It’s kind of like hot and cold but with music. I know some people play Lucy Locket in a similar way (I don’t– you can see how I play here)

Note– if you do not have tubanos, don’t stress. Use whatever you have– hand drums, bongos, rhythm sticks, egg shakers. If you can play crescendos and decrescendos, then you can play the game.

Also read: Sempre Libera Scarf Routine

There you have it– the most requested game EVER in my elementary music room. I think I am going to break down and play it right before Spring Break…. They always need a little extra incentive to do a good job around Spring Break.

What is the most requested game in your elementary music classroom? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!

 

The Monkey Game: Free music game for crescendo and decrescendo. Perfect for teaching elementary music, or even middle school band and choir. It can be adapted to teach kindergarten and first grade by switching it to piano and forte. Your kids will be begging to play it-- at least mine do! Becca's Music Room.

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Elementary Music, Games, K-2, Lessons

Free Music Lesson: Grizzly Bear

Teaching dynamics in your elementary music class? Then you need to teach your music students the song Grizzly Bear.

This song is one of the main reasons that I decided to do a bear and mouse unit for my kindergarten and first graders this year. We did Grizzly Bear, Hickory Dickory Dock, Mouse Mousie, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, and Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do you see? We related forte to bears and piano to mice, like I outlined in this post.

Out of all of the different songs and activities that we did, this was the favorite.

There are a bunch of different games that go along with this lesson. I will include a few versions that I have seen/heard of along with the one that I actually did with my students.

You can get a lyric and rhythm sheet for FREE in my free resource library. All you have to do is sign up to get the password and then you can access all of the resources in the library! Sign up here!

Grizzly Bear: Free music lesson for piano and forte. This lesson is a song and game for kindergarten, first grade, and second grade. Includes free resource to help teach the lesson. Becca's Music Room

 

Grizzly Bear Lesson

  • First, I had the students warm up with the rhyme Hickory Dickory Dock (you can check out my FREE product on TPT here)
  • Ask your students: are mice loud or quiet? Musicians call quiet a special word– piano. What kind of animal is loud? (keep going until students guess a bear)
  • Sing the song for the students and have them listen the first time. It is extra fun if you walk around while you sing it because the students get really shocked at the end. Sing it again and have students hold their hands up high when it is forte, low when it is piano, or in the middle when it is in the middle.
  • Then ask for the students to join you in singing.
  • Ask them: If we don’t want to wake up the grizzly bear, what dynamic level should we be singing?

Also read: Free Music Lesson: Bizet Scarf Routine

 

The game…

Like I said, there are many different types of games for this song. I know of at least three different versions.

  1. Sing the song and walk around in a circle. One student is in the middle, laying on the floor. This child is the grizzly bear. At the end of the song, the teacher walks up and taps the child. The child jumps up and roars at everyone else. (I have also done this without anyone touching the child, they just hopped up at the end of the song.)
  2. Sing the song and walk around in a circle. One student lays on the floor in the middle– this child is the grizzly bear. At the end of the song, the bear gets up. All of the students have to be frozen. If they move, then they bear pretends to eat them. They have to get out of the circle (or just sit down).
  3. Sing the song and walk around in a circle. One student lays on the floor in the middle– this child is the grizzly bear. At the end of the song, the bear pops up. The other students try to get to a safe place in the room (maybe a wall or a carpet). The bear tries to tag the students before they get to the safe place.

Also read: Lesson Ideas: Creative Movement with Scarves

I used the first version until I heard the second version of it– then we switched. The third version looks like fun, but it is a little bit too chaotic for my population of students.

Don’t forget to sign up for the exclusive FREE RESOURCE LIBRARY so that you can download the lyric and rhythm sheets to go along with this song.

Which one do you like? Is there a different version that you like? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!

 

Grizzly Bear: Free music lesson for piano and forte. This lesson is a song and game for kindergarten, first grade, and second grade. Includes free resource to help teach the lesson. Becca's Music Room

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