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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Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



End of School Luau!

Materials:

Focus:

I can sing and dance to Hawaiian music.



Procedures:

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

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



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



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

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

Also read: Blue Skies Music Lesson

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

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

Happy Teaching!



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


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Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Free K-2 Music Lesson: A Train Jazz Lesson

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

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

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

A Train Jazz Lesson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Teaching!

 

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

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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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Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Free K-2 Music Lesson: Five Little Monkeys (with math and reading!)

As a music teacher, I try to encourage academics in music as much as possible. That does not mean that I sacrifice musical integrity or that we just read textbooks all day, but it does mean that I try to fit in math, science, social studies, and reading wherever possible. This lesson, with Five Little Monkeys, incorporates math and reading perfectly!

I am pretty sure I got part of this lesson I got from another website, but I cannot find it anywhere. I had already planned on using this rhyme, and the high/low fit perfectly. And if you can know what website the high and low part came from, please let me know so I can link it!

You can also do this without the book, although without the book, there is no reading aspect to it. You can read extension ideas at the bottom of the post.

You can read about my 3-5 Boomwhacker and Science lesson here.

And don’t forget to subscribe for more ideas!  

Free K-2 Music Lesson: Five Little Monkeys (with math and reading!) Really fun lesson for younger music students to teach high and low and steady beat. Also includes reading and subtraction/counting. Becca's Music Room.

Five Little Monkeys

Focus: I can differentiate between high and low. Materials:

  Procedure:

  • Start by gathering the students together and reading the book Five Little Monkeys. Most of my students knew the book already, so just be aware that may happen. Have students hold up five fingers at the beginning and lose one each time. After every monkey ask (So five take away one is what?).
  • PS: At least in Georgia, Kindergarten phrases it as “take away”. During 1st grade, they learn subtraction, but depending on what time of the year this is done, you may still need to say “take away” instead of “subtract”.
  • Tell them that we will read it again, but this time a little bit silly. We are going to use our high voice and our low voice. So we will read the first part normal, but when we get to “Mama called the doctor and the doctor said” we use our high voice, and when we do “No more monkeys jumping on the bed”, we use our low voice. Demonstrate this for the students.
  • After demonstrating the first time, allow students to join with you if they have figured out the words. They can also do some simple actions (Hold up the number of fingers for the monkeys, pretend to bob their head on bumped their head, and then put hands up for the high part, and down for the low part.).
  • Go through the rhyme again, but this time, after each monkey, have a few students write on the board (or have everyone write on their own board) the subtraction problem. So the first time it will be 5-1=4. Pick different students each time so that everyone gets a turn. Be prepared to fix some of the problems, even though it feels like they ought to be able to do it themselves.
  • Performance time: Have two students come up to the front. Everyone in class will do the first part of Five Little Monkeys. One student will have a solo in their high voice on “Mama called the doctor and the doctor said.” And one student will have a solo in their low voice on “No more monkeys jumping on the bed.”
  • Continue until time runs out or everyone has had a chance.

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

Free K-2 Music Lesson: Five Little Monkeys (with math and reading!) Really fun lesson for younger music students to teach high and low and steady beat. Also includes reading and subtraction/counting. Becca's Music Room.

Extensions:

  • Students could play rhythms or keep a steady beat on instruments.
  • Students could act out the scene, starting with five “monkeys”, a mom, and a doctor.
  • Students could write down each of the math problems and then draw pictures to accompany each one.

My students (even my second graders) really enjoyed this lesson—even more than I anticipated! They were asking for weeks if they could do the Five Little Monkeys rhyme. From a teaching standpoint, it is great. Students keep the steady beat, move with actions, differentiate between high and low, and use reading and math skills. Talk about a win for everyone!

Don’t forget to subscribe for more content, or check out this Pinterest board for more teaching music ideas.

Click the picture below to check out the book!

What is your favorite book to use with you students? How do you incorporate academics into your classroom? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!

 

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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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Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Free K-2 Music Lesson: Sempre Libera Scarf Routine

I love using scarves in my music class. They encourage movement, can be used for many different types of activities, and they are just plain fun. This is a scarf routine to Sempre Libera from La Traviata.

If you have read some of my opera lessons like this one (Music Lesson Ideas: Opera Stories), you know that I spent a lot of the first semester teaching my students about opera. It was partly because of a curriculum that we do in my county, and partially just because I love opera.

And I wanted them to love opera too.

And it worked!

One of the pieces the students had to become familiar with was Sempre Libera from La Traviata (you can find it by clicking here).

Free K-2 Music Lesson: Sempre Libera Scarf Routine. Becca's Music Room. A fun scarf routine to help teach my kindergarteners, 1st graders, and 2nd graders about opera. This piece is from La Traviata. Super fun opera scarf lesson! First, I showed them a YouTube video of Sempre Libera in an opera. Then we talked about how to use facial expressions and body language to show how we feel.

Then we watched it again and I asked them how they think she felt, and how they knew that. (Ex. I think she was excited, because she was dancing.)

I really like this video of Sempre Libera because it shows her excited when she is singing about being free, and upset when the guy is singing to her.

I explained what the aria is about. The guy wants to marry her, so he is singing about how wonderful she is. She does not want to marry him, which is why she doesn’t look happy when he is singing. When she is singing, she is talking about wanting to be free and happy and not with this guy.

After all of this as an intro, I had the kids get scarves.

After the usual explanation of, “If you hit anyone or if your scarf leaves your hand, then you will lose your scarf!” we started.

I started out the week having the kids “Show me what the music looks like.” This worked very well (I go into more details in this post). I, of course, was also showing how the music sounded.

And I noticed that I kept doing the same thing. So, this is how I came up with the Sempre Libera scarf routine.

If you are interested in more scarf lessons you can check them out here:

And get your scarves from Amazon by clicking on the picture below (affiliate link). Free K-2 Music Lesson: Sempre Libera Scarf Routine. Becca's Music Room. A fun scarf routine to help teach my kindergarteners, 1st graders, and 2nd graders about opera. This piece is from La Traviata. Super fun opera scarf lesson!

Sempre Libera from La Traviata

  • During the main part (sempre libera…) move scarf from side to side in dotted quarter notes. Make it very bouncy (and you will want to make it bouncy, just because of the music).
  • During the runs, follow the melody with your scarf. Move the scarf quickly so that you show the vibrato.
  • Repeat twice (just like the music does).
  • At the coda, move the scarf in large circles in front of your body.
  • At the end, follow the melody. It should end with the scarf up in the air moving quickly to show vibrato.
  • And freeze!

Side note: I always end scarf routines by freezing, to help control chaos. So there you have it.

Make sure to check out my other opera and scarf lessons!

You can find some of my favorite scarf routines in one of my favorite books:

How do you like to use scarves? What is your favorite scarf routine? Let us know in the comments!

Free K-2 Music Lesson: Sempre Libera Scarf Routine. Becca's Music Room. A fun scarf routine to help teach my kindergarteners, 1st graders, and 2nd graders about opera. This piece is from La Traviata. Super fun opera scarf lesson!

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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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