Differentiation, Elementary Music, Management

Setting up Centers: The First Day

Hey everyone! As the school year just started (or is about to start), every teacher in the world is working on rules, routines, and procedures. For a lot of that, rules, routines, and procedures include centers. But what do you actually do on your first day of centers?
Let’s talk.
I came up with this post because I overheard some second grade teachers discussing centers with the assistant principal at school yesterday. The AP was describing how she used to set up her centers for math.
And you know what? It is the same thing that I do.
Well, it is the same thing that I do after that first terrible centers experience that I had, which I outline in my post about centers with “bad classes”.
The first thing that I will say is that your first round of centers does not have to be magical. It does not have to be the absolute best lesson you have ever done ever. There is time for that later.

Setting up Centers: The first day. How do you get started on the first day of centers or workstations in the music room? Here are some ideas to destress you centers time and help your students understand the routine. Becca's Music Room.

 

In your first day of centers, go for simple

You may love having four or five or seven centers (although I seriously advise against that!), but don’t. On the first day of centers, start with two.
If you did centers last year, then you can go ahead and do three or four. But if you have new kids, have never done centers, or have students (like mine!) who forget ALL procedures over the summer, then just do two.
One group works independently, and one works with you.
If you are adventurous, maybe go for three groups. Two independent and one with you.
That leads me to my second point…



Have a group work with you

I know they may not have to, but try it anyway. This does not necessarily mean that you are teaching the same lesson to each kid 50 thousand times. It just means you are doing an activity with them. Now, for the first day of centers, it can be something they can do by themselves, and you supervise and are available for questions. But this is the time to work with one of the groups. You can assess or extend depending on the group you’ve got.
There is a reason that the classroom teachers do this—because it works.
It’s extra fun to have your group work with instruments. Because they are with you, you can supervise their playing better. But if that is too much for your first day of centers, don’t bother.

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

Have the independent group do something they already know how to do

This is THE BEST classroom management technique I could give you for centers.
Have you ever had a group that sat down to do centers and just sat there and did nothing?
Or they play with other kids the whole time?
Or they throw things and knock things over and run around the room?
Because no matter how much you talk about what they are doing, how many directions you write on the board, or how many times you explained it, they still don’t get it.
I do not understand why, but it is a thing. Maybe your school doesn’t have this problem, but my school does.
Literally. They would sit at the center and do nothing.
Because no matter how many times I explained it, they did not hear me.
So this is the antidote to that.
Take an activity that the students already know how to do. Use a game you did in class as whole group. I sometimes have them practice something the class before. For example, when I introduced Kaboom!, we played it the day before. I had four sets, and it was in groups, but everyone did the same thing.
Then when we played it in centers, they already had the procedures down.
Then you can take that same thing and make it harder—like they could add melody to the rhythms, they could put rhythms together for a quick composition, they could do different body percussions for the rhythms, etc.
But independent work should be something they can do easily.

Like my students know how to do this rhythm bingo, so it works well as a group activity.



Really emphasize the procedures

In my class, we earn class points. On my first day of centers, I tell them all of their points are connected to centers procedures—keeping voices down, transitioning, being kind to each other, etc.
Seriously, it is more important for the students to understand the routines than for them to learn music today.
I know, you hate me now. Let me be clear, the FIRST day of centers is for procedures. The rest of the days of centers are for music learning.
It’s like the first day of school. But in small groups.

You can read more about my classroom management ideas here.

Focus on being kind

The thing about centers is that you cannot watch all of the kids all of the time. Yes, sit so that you can see them. Occasionally circle while your group is busy. But you cannot necesarily hear everything.
So preface this with a pep talk on being kind.
I tell them that they are a team (that’s why they earn class points as a team). You have to work with people on your team, even if they aren’t your favorite. We go through what to do when people are annoying you, we talk about keeping our personal space, etc.
And then I tell them that if they cannot handle centers, we won’t do them anymore.
And they usually like centers because I usually have lots of games for them to play.



Then what?

Now that procedures are down, you can experiment more! I would suggest having only three centers, but like I said in this article, break the groups down further. So I have six groups, but they only do three things.
Now you have to decide how many centers to have. This will vary greatly based on time and space, but give the kids enough time to enjoy a concept. They need at least 5-10 minutes to actually do something productive.
Use your centers to differentiate (I hope you didn’t gag when you heard that word) to help students understand concepts more fully.

Also read: DIY Music Manipulative: Battleship

If you have any tips of questions, put them in the comments. We would love to hear anything that works in your classrooms! Good luck in these first couple weeks!
Happy teaching!






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Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

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

Kindergarten music. It is so much fun. And so terrifying.

As I allude to in this post about teaching rhythm, I felt a bit apprehensive my first year about teaching 4 and 5 year olds EVERYTHING about music. I mean, these students come in and don’t know anything. We have very few students who attend pre K, so the first week of Kindergarten goes like this:

“Look down underneath you. That is a dot. It is shaped like a circle. It is a red dot. What color dot do you sit on? Raise your hand if you sit on a red dot.”

Seriously. I have to reseat kids anytime we stand up and sit down because they will have already migrated.

Where do you even start with music?

Steady beat and singing voice.

That is the answer. If you are not sure what to do with your Kindergarten kids at the beginning of the year, do those two things.

This lesson is the one I am using for the first week of school. I did a very similar lesson last year, but I am tweaking a few things for this year so that it will run smoother and be more effective. (It was too much sitting last year, so I am hoping that the actions will help students pay attention!)

I adapted this lesson from this one that I found from Pinterest, but I cannot for the life of me find it to tag for you! If I remember correctly, they used cups to represent each of the voices: singing, whispering, shouting, and talking. I did this with puppets and stuffed animals to represent each voice (for example, I had a lion for yelling– and this one is adorable and affordable). This worked well, but I think it was just too much for the very first day.

This year, I am adding in a tiny bit of steady beat work, and focusing on just singing v. talking voice. The next week we will talk through whisper and yelling voices, but for the very first day back, two will be plenty.

Also, this ended up turning into like two or three lessons, because we had to take out time to talk about things like where you sit and how to raise your hand, etc. So feel free to spread it out or pick and choose what you do. Make it work for you! (And tell us in the comments how you did it!)

Also read: Phrases for Classroom Management

Free K-1 Music Lesson: Singing Voice v. Talking Voice. This is a great first week of music lesson for kindergarten and first graders! And they love it! Becca's Music Room



Singing Voice v. Talking Voice

 

Focus:

I can identify and use my talking and singing voices.

 

Materials:

And although I don’t need them for this lesson, I just found these finger puppets while I was looking for the other ones to link for you and I want them so bad! My birthday is in October, if anyone wants to get them for me.



Procedure:

  • Greet the children when they walk into the classroom.
  • If this is the first week of school, go over seating charts, classroom procedures, etc.
  • Warm up: Have students listen to a song and tap the steady beat that you show. You tap your arms, legs, march in place, etc and students follow you. On the first week, I do not even tell kindergarten what this is, I just say “Try to match me!” I’ll introduce it later, but that is not my MAIN focus today. For my first grade I will say to show me the steady beat.
  • Next, pull out your talking voice puppet or animal. Introduce the kids to it (I like to give mine composer names like Bizet or Mozart).
  • After that, tell the students, “My friend here loves to talk. He talks all of the time. When he talks, he uses his talking voice. Can you say talking voice? Our talking voices are not very loud, but they are also not very quiet.”
  • Practice using your talking voices by saying kids’ names around the room. I use the chant “Name, name, say your name”. I’m not sure who came up with it but it goes like this: students tap the beat (when I saw it done they did pat, clap, pat, clap, but I am just going to pat our legs). Everyone says “Name, name, say your name”, and then one person says “My name is Ms. Davis.” The whole class repeats “Her name is Ms. Davis.”

Also read: Tips for the New Music Teacher from My First Year of Teaching

Free K-1 Music Lesson: Singing Voice v. Talking Voice. This is a great first week of music lesson for kindergarten and first graders! And they love it! Becca's Music Room



  • Once we finish that, pull out the owl stuffed animal. Ask if anyone knows what an owl says. Somebody will figured it out and make a “hoo” sound. Have everybody try the hoo-ing sound.
  • Then ask: Did that feel the same or different than your talking voice? Owls use their singing voice.
  • Have students echo-sing some hoo’s with you like the owl does.
  • Then have everyone practice their singing voice. I do this by having students sing “My name is Ms. Davis” and having everyone repeat “Her name is Ms. Davis” on sol and mi. (I learned that in my college general music methods class.) Allow students to hold the owl while they do this so that they can sing to it.
  • While students sing, jot down whether they used their singing voice or not and you have an assessment grade!
  • Next, read “There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly”. Emphasize that this is your talking voice. If you don’t have the book (and your library doesn’t either), you can watch this video where they read it to you. Stop throughout and let them do motions that go along with the song, like these:

Fly: Put thumb and first finger together and move around like a fly

Spider: Move hands like in itsy bitsy spider

Cat: Move fingers through imaginary whiskers

Dog: Hold hands in front of you like a dog

Cow: Make a circle in front of you like you have a big belly

Horse: Move hands like using reins on a horse

I don’t know why she swallowed a fly: Hold hands out for question

Perhaps she’ll die: Wave finger in front of you

Also read: Ways to Destress After a Crazy Day of Teaching



  • Ask students if you were using you singing voice or talking voice.
  • Tell them that now you are going to sing the song, and see if they can do the actions still.
  • Sing the song while turning pages in the book. If you don’t know it, look it up here.
  • Have students try to sing along with you. You are not looking for mastery if it is beginning of the year, just trying to get them to do anything in their head voice.
  • Have students answer the following questions for closing:
  1. What two voices did we talk about today?
  2.  Which voice does my owl use?
  3. Can you make an owl sound?
  4. Do you think your singing voice feels different than your talking voice? How?

 

And that’s it! It is nothing revolutionary, just pieces that I have picked up from different places meshed together.

Also read: Calming Down Activities for Music Class

How do you teach about singing voice? What do you teach the first week of school in Kindergarten? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!



Free K-1 Music Lesson: Singing Voice v. Talking Voice. This is a great first week of music lesson for kindergarten and first graders! And they love it! Becca's Music Room



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Elementary Music, Organization

Elementary Music Classroom Tour

Oh classroom tours…. how I love them.

But yet, there never seem to be enough classroom tours when it comes to music teachers.

Guys– I want to see your classrooms!

I figure that others must feel how I do to, so I am doing a classroom tour today! Now, it is not 100% clean (we’ve already had 7 days of school!) or 100% matching and gorgeous, but it is pretty good.

My classroom is huge. Really and truly, I am so spoiled by how big my classroom is. I have a general theme of blue-orange-yellow. I guess that’s a color scheme, and not a theme, but still.

Honestly, I don’t like to spend too much money on my classroom. I spent some last year and hardly any this year. I am slowly finding ways to make everything match a little bit better without breaking the bank.

And my back wall needs some serious help (like a paint job), so if you have ideas, let me know!

Also read: Easy-Peasy Differentiation in the Music Room



 

Welcome to my classroom!

 

Front section

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

This is the very front of my classroom, where the board is. Students sit on the dotted carpets. I LOVE them. You can get them here. OR you can get sit spots, which are significantly cheaper.

And I have a whole blog post on that cart, which I LOVE! Buy it here, or read the article here.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

This is immediately to the right of the board. I have my piano, word wall, standards, and I can statements. I always keep my djembe within reach, because I love it.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

This is a close up of the table in the front. I got this chalkboard super on sale at Hobby Lobby. The buckets were Easter baskets my grandma gave us one year.

The blue one holds papers and pencils. In my fourth and fifth grade classes, when I see students listening, following directions, participating, etc, I tell them to “Go put your name in the envelope”. They come up and write their name on a paper and put it in the envelope with their grade level on it. On Friday, I pull out three names, and they get to go to the treasure box. Works like a charm.

The pink one has sticky notes. At the end of class, I have a few students write what they learned on sticky notes. There is a picture of where they put it further down. (Keep reading!)

Scarves and a few xylophones are stored under the table.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

They love it.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

Standards and I can statements are in sheet protectors. The clothes pins have thumbtacks glued onto the back of them.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

On the left is my main classroom management tool. Each class earns up to five class points during a lesson. The points are represented by the owl magnets being put on the blue paper in a sheet protector (seriously, I use these for everything!) and is taped up. At the end of class I record the number on the sheets of paper (in sheet protectors!) above. They try to earn game time on Fridays. 20 points gets you 10 minutes of game time and 25 earns you 20 minutes.

We use music games they already know so I don’t have to teach them.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

I’ve been using my wind chimes to help students get quiet (although I really want this handheld one!). In my younger classes, they raise their hand as soon as they hear it. In 2nd grade on, they wait until it stops ringing, then raise their hands. This requires them to be really quiet to hear it. If they do it right, they get a point for it.

I got the idea from this post, which is a godsend for chatty classes. Seriously. It is for classroom teachers, but you can transfer a ton of the ideas.

 

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

Expectations poster. On the first day, I play a rhythm and have students guess which one I am referring to. After that, we sometimes clap and chant the expectations at the beginning of class.

 

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room. Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

Manipulatives! This is my bookshelf for all things centers. I eventually want to get some kind of file folder system, but this is ok for now. See those orange boxes in the middle? They are shoe boxes covered in fabric (with hot glue!). This has been my #1 way of coordinating my classroom without breaking the bank. The yellow tub was at my house. The blue ones were in an old science classroom. I have bass boomwhackers in the black home depot 5 gallon bucket.

Also here: white boards, markers, rhythm cards, treble clef battleship (read about it here), dominotes, clipboards (from a Donor’s Choose project), etc.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

These are just some fun things in the corner of my room– a Mahler poster, owl poster, Mozart and his family, people playing sackbuts (if you didn’t pay attention in music history, those are medieval trombones), and a picture of my college choir. These are all things that were in my house and we didn’t want post-moving.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room. Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

Behind my piano is most of my smaller instrument storage. You see more shoeboxes– and paper boxes!– covered in fabric. I haven’t finished them all, but it is some. I also keep my copies of choir music on the shelf so it is easy to find.

All those can drums and drum sticks are for my Artie Almieda stick stations. If you don’t have those– you should. Check out the book here!

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

Another view of my word wall. I call music vocabulary fancy shmancy music words.

For example, loud is a word, but forte is a fancy schmancy music word. So I wanted to include that.

Also, I totally color code grade bands. K-1 is orange (white here, because orange would not show up on the background), 2-3 is yellow, and 4-5 is blue.



Side of my room

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

These are new additions this year– owls playing instruments! They are so fun. Owls are our school’s mascot. And you would be surprised how many of my students have asked who painted these, and then are surprised when I say I did.

If you want some mascots playing instruments paintings, head over to my Etsy shop!

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room. Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room. Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

Close ups.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room. Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room. Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

More instrument storage. These jazz posters are the ones that come from the NAFME magazines. The blue cups with mallets were super on sale at Hobby Lobby (I think I paid $2 a piece for them). These are just a few of my Orff instruments. Most are in my closets. The bottom is full of textbooks. I don’t really use them to have students do activities out of them, but I do use a ton of the folk songs out of them. They have a wide array of songs in them. The ocean drums are super cool.

One day I’m going to spray paint all of my milk crates to match.

The suitcases don’t hold anything at the moment (but that might change).

And do you see that there are FOUR sets of handbells in this picture?! I have more in my closet. I don’t know who ordered all these handbells, but I have a lot. And no idea what to do with them.

If anyone has fun handbell resources, let me know in the comments!

And yes, those are music note curtains on my windows.



Desk area

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

Here is my desk area. Yes, my desk is crooked. It was waxed to the floor crooked and I can’t get it up.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

On top of one of my filing cabinets is my sub plans. I keep this binder standing up so that it is visible. Everything for my emergency sub plans is behind it, with some extra resources (books, papers, CDs) in the little magazine holder. You can download the template for free here!

 

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room. Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

This bookshelf has most of my things that I use a lot– paper, hole puncher ( this is seriously one of my most useful gadgets ever), CDs, kid books, bingo, etc. My lesson books are in a closet.

The containers are really awesome here. I have a wire basket on the shelf, and one on my desk. They are from Office Depot. The one on my desk is my “to do”, and the one on the bookshelf is my “to put away”. The magazine holders are from Target dollar spot las year. One is for copies (anything that needs to be copied gets put in there, along with paper so I don’t forget it), and the other is for things I use everyday– clipboard and notebook. In between is my seating charts.



The back wall

 

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.Does anyone else have to have a standards based classroom? We do.

Part of that is my focus wall, where we put anchor charts and stuff we are working on. These bulletin boards are just foam with fabric hot glued onto them and ribbons hot glued onto them.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room. Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

The 4-5 one is not posted, because it fell off the wall.

All these doors are closets (I know– I am so spoiled!) The signs say “Audience 1”, “Audience 2”, and so forth. This is my time out system, because when you are in the audience, you are watching and not participating.

I don’t actually plan to have 5 kids in time out at the same time, but it is so much easier to say “Go to audience 2”, than to say “Go sit against a door”. I’ve even had kids this week say, “Which one?” when I asked them to go to the audience. It is just a lot less confusing.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

This is my data wall– another part of my “standards based classroom”. It is empty, because school just started. It will have graphs of pie charts to show the percentage of students that have mastered the standards in each class.

In addition, on my door I am going to put “I can use my singing voice!” and “I can keep a steady beat!” for the kindergarteners.

 

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

This is my keyboard area. I do use the keyboards, although I am still working on the best way to use them. The kids love them though. I have some instrument posters on the back (that are intentionally crooked, because I’d never be able to get them all straight). This wall really needs something different…. suggestions?

Also read: Phrases for Classroom Management in the Music Room

And that’s my classroom! Thank you for sticking with me until the end! If you have questions or suggestions, leave them in the comments below.

Happy teaching!



Elementary Music Classroom Tour! Ideas for organization (for cheap!), and a standards based music classroom. Becca's Music Room.



 

 

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3-5, Elementary Music, Lessons

DIY Music Manipulative: Battleship

Funny story: Last year, I was working really hard to get my students to learn the notes of the treble clef. Towards the beginning of this adventure, I gave them all staves to look at, and bingo chips. I’d say, “Put a chip on line one. Put one on space four.” And on and on. In the middle of one of these, I thought that it sounded similar to the game battleship.

And I actually gasped and said, “We should play battleship!”

And all of my poor, board-game-deprived fourth graders looked at me like I had totally lost my mind.

Which is ok, by the way. If they think you are a little crazy, they are less likely to do something ridiculous in your room.

And so the brain-storming began.

Little did I know that other people had done this too… but I’m going to pretend I made it up. Because I did arrive at it independently, I promise.

Anyway, even though about two kids in each class had played battleship before, it was a lot of fun. It really helped them to learn the staff.

We also played it in centers, but if you do this, I suggest playing it all together first, so that you can explain to students what they are doing.

I also used this for assessment—I just walked around and watched them play. One person will say, “Do you have a battleship on A?” and the other will say yes or no, and you can see if they mark it on the right line/space.

I will also put the rules for how to play at the bottom, so that you can check it out!

If you need some help with using centers with crazy classes… check this post out.

 

DIY Music Manipulative: Battleship. This board game based teaching tool is great for upper elementary or middle school students who are learning about the treble clef. It can be adjusted for different lessons. My upper elementary music classes loved it! And it is super CHEAP. Becca's Music Room.

Musical Battleship

Materials:

 

Procedure:

  • Print out two treble clefs on the same sheet of paper. I downloaded this one from Teachers Pay Teachers (for free!). Then I printed two out, cut them, taped them to a clean sheet of paper, and copied them. I know that sounds like a lot, but it wasn’t! I added the words “yours” and “theirs” so that we understood the game a bit better.
  • Stuff treble clefs into sheet protectors (you could also laminate, but this was quicker, and you can put other things inside them if you wanted!).
  • Staple sheet protectors into the file folders. I just put two staples in the top. I tried to make it so that I can put other things inside of them.
  • That’s it!

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

DIY Music Manipulative: Battleship. This board game based teaching tool is great for upper elementary or middle school students who are learning about the treble clef. It can be adjusted for different lessons. My upper elementary music classes loved it! And it is super CHEAP. Becca's Music Room.

Rules of the Game:

  • Students pair up. Each person gets a battleship game. We used expo markers and drew on them, but you could also put bingo chips on the lines/spaces.
  • Each students makes three dots for on the staff marked “yours”. These are their battleships.
  • Students take turns asking where the other student’s battleships are. It should sound like this:
  • “Is there one on B?” (You could also do second line, third space, etc. depending on what you are teaching them.)
  • “Hit” if they hit and “miss” if they miss it.
  • The students mark their guesses. If they guess correctly, on the staff marked “theirs”, they put a dot. That way they know there is a battleship there. If they miss, they put an x. Make sure they do this, otherwise they will ask the same place ten times.

That’s it! I played this with 3-5 grades. At first they really did not get it, but they slowly started to comprehend as time went on. And they LOVED it!

Also read: Lesson Ideas: Creative Movement with Scarves

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

Happy teaching!

DIY Music Manipulative: Battleship. This board game based teaching tool is great for upper elementary or middle school students who are learning about the treble clef. It can be adjusted for different lessons. My upper elementary music classes loved it! And it is super CHEAP. Becca's Music Room.

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Differentiation, Elementary Music

Easy-Peasy Differentiation in the Music Room

Differentiation. Woo that is a scary word… especially if you teach elementary music. We tend to sit through lectures and professional developments about differentiation and shudder in despair.

I can’t do that, we think. This doesn’t apply to me.

Well…. Yes and no.

Now, some lessons really don’t lend themselves to differentiation. Some do. And when you think about it, you already do differentiation. Even when you don’t realize it.

Here are some easy-peasy differentiation ideas. Some of them are things you already do, just need to be more aware of them. When you are aware of them, you can make sure to point them out (to the kids and administrators!). Others will take more effort, but none of these ideas are difficult or time consuming.

Also read: Music Centers Classroom Management for “Bad Classes”

Easy-Peasy Differentiation in the Music Room: Think you can't differentiate because you teach music? Think differentiation is only ok in centers? Think again! Here are some RIDICULOUSLY easy ideas to differentiate in your class-- that you may already be doing! Becca's Music Room



Dances

This is an example of differentiation that you already do. If you use any kind of dances or movement activities, you use differentiation.

Naturally, when preforming dances, students who are struggling will do less and students who are doing a good job will start to add more to their moves. Think about it—if the child is struggling to do movements while walking in a circle, they are naturally going to just walk instead. That is automatic differentiation.

Now that you know that is differentiation, you can use it consciously!

When I teach students a new dance, I tell them ways they can make it easier or harder. Like if we are walking in a circle doing a dance, then I’ll tell them to make sure to do the walking and not worry about the rest.

If students are doing a good job, I’ll ask them to push it harder—how can you make this movement look like the music? What could you add to make it better?

Easy-peasy.

You can also observe them throughout the class and put them into teired groups either for part of the class or for the next class. You can give them different ways to do the dance, and they can perform it for the other groups. Have each group add extra movements, but change the difficulty of each of the dances. This way they will each look different– without them knowing that some groups are more advanced than others.

Also read: Boomwhackers and Science Lesson



 

Instruments

There are two different types of instrument lessons. There are instruments to accompany songs or books. Then there is recorder karate or rainbow ukulele.

As for the first type of lesson, there are ways to make it different. If a student is struggling with a rhythm, you can have them just play the downbeat, or you can put them onto a different instrument that may be easier.

You don’t even have to sort them– you can just say, “OK guys, if that’s too hard, then try playing the steady beat on mi and sol. If you think this is too easy, then try playing this rhythm on different notes.”

To tier it up, you can have them sing the song while playing the instrument. You could have them make up their own accompaniment. If you want everyone to play the c-e-g-c on the quarter notes, you could have more advanced students play different rhythms one the same notes.

Recorder karate is literally made for differentiation– students who understand more quickly move quickly.


Easy-Peasy Differentiation in the Music Room: Think you can't differentiate because you teach music? Think differentiation is only ok in centers? Think again! Here are some RIDICULOUSLY easy ideas to differentiate in your class-- that you may already be doing! Becca's Music Room

Singing

Singing may seem like it is hard to differentiate, but it is not.

How do I tier a song down to make it easier? Easy. When teaching, you can break it down with solfege and rhythmic notation. When singing, you can have students sing on “loo” instead of with the words. This is helpful, especially if the song is in another language. (These are all things you can do in your whole group lessons!)

To make songs harder, you can add dynamics or phrasing. Ask students to make up movements to go along with the song. You can do the song as a round, and allow students who are excelling fend for themselves while aiding the other group.

Also read: Blue Skies Jazz  Lesson

 

Centers

Now this is a form of differentiation that you have heard of before.

But good news—you can use this is the music room.

Here are two easy ways to differentiate with centers:

  1. Flashcards: There are lots of centers activities including flashcards—singing the solfege on them, reading rhythms, performing rhythms, etc. You can use two sets of them—or three or four. You could have students play rhythms on one note of an instrument, and to tier up you could play the same rhythm on different notes. (Check out some rhythm flashcards here)
  2. Working with students: When I do centers (and how they advise to do them in professional development meetings), I always have one center that is an activity with me. Sometimes we practice writing rhythms or melodies, identifying notes on the staff, composing rhythms, etc. Sometimes the students really don’t need me, but I station myself there anyway. These are ridiculously easy to differentiate, and allows you to see more easily who understands the concepts.



Easy-peasy, right?

How many are you already doing?

Probably all of them.

Anyway, those are some really easy ways to differentiate. Most of them are already being done, but when you realize that, you can point them out to students and write it into your lesson plans to help emphasize that you are doing those things.

This year, I plan to dive deeper into differentiation (which, of course, also includes better assessment… yuck…), so look subscribe for more posts about differentiation and other music teaching stuff. You can also subscribe to my email list here. You will get two emails a month with updates about my blog, YouTube, and TPT shop. You will also get a FREE music interest survey for signing up!

 

How do you differentiate in your music class? Do you find it easy or difficult? Let me know in the comments!

Happy teaching!



Easy-Peasy Differentiation in the Music Room: Think you can't differentiate because you teach music? Think differentiation is only ok in centers? Think again! Here are some RIDICULOUSLY easy ideas to differentiate in your class-- that you may already be doing! Becca's Music Room



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Choir, Elementary Music

How to do Auditions for an Elementary Musical

Are you doing an elementary musical? Need to pick your characters? You need to hold auditions.

I know, I know. Nobody wants to audition elementary school kids. They think they are too young, too sensitive, whatever.

But you should.

My choir did a musical this year. It was super simple, all of thirty minutes. But it was fun.

I held auditions—terrified of what would happen—and was so glad that I did.

Why should you hold auditions?

Well there are the easy answers—you don’t want to appear to favor any of your students. Also, you need to know who is interested.

But the other thing is that you may not have an idea of the talent that is in your kids.

One of my main characters was a girl that I did not know had that much talent. She was the very best out of all of the students. And I had no idea.

I felt terrible about it, but I had no idea. She was quieter, so I didn’t hear her much.

But she was so good.

Moral of this story—you should really hold auditions.

Now—how do you hold auditions?

If you are curious, this is the musical we did. It was super fun, 30 minutes, easy to learn, and has lots of parts. I highly recommend it. Click on the picture to learn more.

You can also read more about things to do when directing an elementary musical here.

How to do Auditions for an Elementary Musical. If you are having a musical, you NEED to hold auditions. Find out why and how here! Becca's Music Room.



Talk to them about what to expect in an audition

This is super important. If you are doing an elementary musical, they have probably never had to do auditions. For anything.

Tell them what will happen in the audition. Tell them what you want them to sing. Tell them the things you are looking for (diction, dynamics, etc.). Ask them what they think the lead roles will be. The most honest you are, the better they will do.

Also, I had one kid ask me, “Do you want me to sing it like how we sing in here or like how I sing?”

I assume she meant that she didn’t want to sound as classical. I told her just to sing it like she would do onstage, but that I taught them to sing that way for a reason: it really is easier on your voice, and it is the style that we use in choirs.

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

Pick a song they know

There are a few ways to do this. If it is the beginning of the year, you could have them pick a song. I know other teachers who hold auditions for choir and tell students to sing a song they learned in class or at church or on the radio.

If you have had your students longer, you can pick a song. I highly suggest this. It is easier to evaluate students when they all sing the same thing, so you have a few things to really look for.

I chose a song that we had just finished singing in concert, so I knew that they knew it well. They knew what I was looking for, because it was all of the things that I had discussed during rehearsals. This way students are less worried about whether or not they know the song, and can focus on doing their bests.



Have them Sing in Front of Other People

I know this is super intimidating– but it helps you see what the students will do in front of an audience.

I did auditions during a choir time. The students sang in front of their peers. This helped me see who would be ok singing in front of the whole school.

I know this sounds bad. We had a loooong talk about audience behavior before. I used a point system for the auditions, and I subtracted points for any bad audience behavior. Anyone who laughed or talked went down a point. This worked very well– I think I only had to subtract one point form one kid. Most of them were so nervous for themselves they were not thinking about the others.

Also read: Music Centers Classroom Management for Bad Classes

Consider the whole child

Your kids have lots of talents that you can use. Even if they don’t get the part they want, you can use them somewhere else.

I had three main characters, and four really great auditions. For the fourth one, I felt terrible. Because she was really good. She did get a smaller part, and then I added more responsibilities to her. She was in charge of the CD player, so through rehearsals, she started and stopped the CD. It wasn’t a huge thing, but it really helped her feel more involved and less disappointed.

I had other students in charge of taking care of props or painting costumes. All of these seem minor, but they help the students feel involved.

The most important thing is that the students feel involved.

After our musical, I had a lot of other teachers say, “How did you get them to care so much?”

I wasn’t sure how to answer that, but I guess it is because I had them get involved. I only had one student who didn’t show up to the show– long story– and for my school, that is a BIG deal. As a contrast, only about half showed up to the previous concert. And unfortunately, that is normal for our kids.

How to do Auditions for an Elementary Musical. If you are having a musical, you NEED to hold auditions. Find out why and how here! Becca's Music Room.



Let them know every part is important

Tell them that not everyone will be able to get the parts they want. Tell them that it really stinks when you audition and don’t get the part. Tell them that every part is important– because it is!

They may not believe you, but still. If someone is absent from a rehearsal, use it as a chance to show them that everyone is important. Point out– not in a rude way– how difficult it is without the other person there.

Also read: Calming Down Activities for Music Class

Have Understudies

I know you don’t want to, but do. I came within two minutes of needed to use the understudy for my main character, and in the terrifying moments, I was so glad I had a backup.

Explain to them what an understudy is, and give them another part (a smaller part) as well. Include them on all rehearsals with the main characters so that they will learn what to do.

 

I like our musical last year so much that I ordered another by the same person for this year. Hope we like it as much! You can check it out by clicking on the photo:

You can also read more about things to do when directing an elementary musical here.

Have you held auditions for an elementary musical? How did you do it? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!



How to do Auditions for an Elementary Musical. If you are having a musical, you NEED to hold auditions. Find out why and how here! Becca's Music Room.



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Elementary Music

Things to DO when Directing an Elementary Musical

At the beginning of my first year of teaching, I got a great idea. We should do an elementary musical.

I needed some microphones, applied for a grant, and forgot about it.

And then I got the grant. And because it was now January and I was significantly more worn out than I was in September, I thought, “Great, now we have to do a musical.”

An elementary musical.

Great idea, Becca.

I am actually really glad that we did it. It ended up being really great—the students were really into it. They did a wonderful job, and it was fun for me too. Some days, rehearsal was the only thing getting me out of bed in the morning.

On the way, I learned a lot, because when I started I knew NOTHING. Like, nothing at all about an elementary musical.

So none of these things are from a textbook or wonderful pedogogy. These are all things that I learned on my own. I hope that they help you!

If you are curious, we did this musical: It’s a Jungle Out There. It was perfect– 30 minutes long, catchy songs, lots of different parts. I would highly recommend it, especially if you are new to directing musicals. I liked it so much I ordered a new one for this year: Once Upon a Lily Pad.

Things to DO when Directing an Elementary Musical. Becca's Music Room.



1. Do Hold Auditions

For some reason, in elementary schools, teachers are hesitant to hold auditions.

Do it.

Why should you hold auditions? It makes it more fair, prevents favoritism, and surprises you.

Y’all. There was so much talent in my choir that I am ashamed to say I was not aware of. Some of the people that did the best were complete shocks to me.

I was truly impressed by how well the auditions went. I was so glad that I made them audition.

I used a song that we had just performed, so they already knew it well enough to be comfortable singing it. I had them do it in front of each other, to make sure that they would be ok in front of people.

But make sure that you talk to the students about how the auditions will go, and how to be proper audience members. I used a point system, and told them that any rude comments, laugh, etc, would take a point off of their audition score.

I have a post coming about auditions, so make sure to subscribe so you do not miss it!

 

2. Do Plan Rehearsals

This was something I was so relieved about. I went through each rehearsal and wrote down what I wanted us to go through each time. And I was so glad I did, because it helped us stay on track, and ensured that we had enough time to do everything.

It doesn’t have to be crazy (like Monday we will work on measures 1-5 of this song….) but just general. Like: on Monday we will work on the second song and learn the words to the third song.

Just make sure your expectations are realistic.



3. Do be Creative with Rehearsal Times

School schedules can be crazy, so it is helpful to be creative with rehearsal times. During rehearsal season, we did have after school rehearsals. I sometimes kept kids during my lunch (after testing was over, so their teachers would relinquish control!), before school, etc. All of these little times helped add up to students who knew their stuff.

Also read: Phrases for Classroom Management in the Music Room

4. Do Draft Other People

You will be surprised about how much talent there is in school. I could not have done the musical without help.

I only had one person who helped with rehearsals—not many rehearsals, but anything is helpful. What I found most helpful were the people that helped with costumes and sets. People found random things all over the school that were so helpful when it came to costumes and sets.

I also got someone to help run lines during recess, which added some more help to the arsenal.

Ask if you can make an announcement during a staff meeting or send an email asking people for help. You will be surprised. One of our teachers had a degree in Theater—and I had no clue!

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I know it is difficult, but do it anyway.



5. Have fun!

Both you and the kids need to remember to have fun. Rehearsal get stressful, kids get tired, but if you are not having fun, it will not be fun. And if they are not having fun, it will show.

To have fun, try switching up the activities part of the way through. Usually about halfway through, I would have them sing and dance however they want to our songs, or have them get into groups to work on their lines. The change of pace helps to keep things fun.

Also read: Tips for Keeping on Top of Lesson Planning

Things to DO when Directing an Elementary Musical. Becca's Music Room.

Have you ever had an elementary musical? How did you handle it? Let me know in the comments!

Happy teaching!



Things to DO when Directing an Elementary Musical. Becca's Music Room.



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Elementary Music, Management

Music Centers Classroom Management for Bad Classes

If you have been teaching music for longer than a day, you will know that not all classes are well behaved. If you have had your kids for a few weeks, you will have already figured out which the “good classes” versus the “bad classes”. It is easy to let the bad classes rule your life—and your lesson plans.

One thing I knew that I wanted to do this year was centers. Centers is the big thing when it comes to education at the moment, and I wanted to incorporate that into my music class.

I know a few teachers who work in schools with many bad classes, and that causes them to shy away from centers activities due to classroom management problems.

I am not going to lie, it took a lot of effort for me to figure out how to do centers with some of my classes this year. It definitely wasn’t perfect by any means, but I did figure out some ways to keep control.

If you shy away from centers due to bad classes, read through this article for some ideas on how to make things better. Because it is possible. It may not be easy, but it is possible.

As a disclaimer, I don’t normally call any classes “bad classes”, but I thought it would be the best way to get my point across!

Also read: Routines You Need in the Music Room

Music Centers Classroom Management for "Bad Classes". Difficult classes and differentiated centers are not usually things that go hand in hand. Find out how to get your difficult elementary music classes to do centers well! Becca's Music Room.



 

Don’t Make Too Many Activities

This one of the first mistakes that I made. The first (and second and third, I’ll admit!) time that my students did centers, I gave them five or six different activities.

While I have heard that many people do this successfully, it did not work with my classes.

Just being honest.

There was a time restraint, of course. I have 50 minute classes, but they often come late. And you have to take a few minutes for closing and lining up the classes. By this time there’s usually 30 minutes left, including explaining how to do each activity. We never end up with enough time to do everything.

Even without the time restraint, we still end up not having enough time to really dig deal into each of the activities. I fine that 8-10 minutes for each activity is ideal in my class. This, of course, would may be different in your class.

I usually plan three centers—four at the most. This seems to be the best way to allow my students to really benefit from each center.

I found that when I had too many centers, it was too hectic. On top of that, the students didn’t have time to grasp each center as they ought to.

Also read: Keys to Classroom Management in the Music Room



 

Use Activities the Kids Know

This was apparent to me after our first round of centers.

Not only did I have way too many centers, but the students did not know any of the activities.

The first round went ok, but even just the second center was a mess. I walked around and half of the kids were just sitting there, because they had already forgotten what they were supposed to do.

Nevermind that I wrote the directions on papers for them, they still were not doing anything. Or they were goofing off.

So the next time I did centers, I picked activities that we had done in class. Some of them I changed slightly, added more to it, or used the same activity but new concepts.

This worked so much better.

Since then, I only add one activity that is new, and I station myself at that activity to help. This will keep trouble makers occupied. The more occupied they are, the less time they have for trouble making.

They love playing Bingo, like this one for instruments or this one for rhythm.

 

Make Groups Small

I cannot stress this enough.

Make. Groups. Small.

Especially if you have bad classes. The smaller the groups, the better.

I know you are thinking—you just told me now too make too many centers!

Yes, I did.

What I like to do is have two sets of the same centers.

So I will have six groups with three rotations. Everyone still gets to do everything, but the groups are smaller. I usually set up three centers on one side, and three on the other side of the room.

Another way to do it is pick an independent or pair activity for half the class, and work with the other half of the class.

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

Music Centers Classroom Management for "Bad Classes". Difficult classes and differentiated centers are not usually things that go hand in hand. Find out how to get your difficult elementary music classes to do centers well! Becca's Music Room.



 

Keep Everything Contained

When I say contained, I mean keep the supplies contained. Not the kids.

Well, the kids too.

If students do not know where to go for each center, it will be a mess. They will be too close to other groups, or way up on instruments, or whatever.

Give them a place to sit.

This could be groups of desks, tables, a blanket or tablecloth on the floor, etc.

I like to use hula hoops. I put out a hula hoop for each center. My students sit around the hula hoops, and the supplies stays in the hula hoops. I like to also put everything in a box so it is organized.

Also, because I do two sets of the same centers, I color code them. If I have two sets of Kaboom!, then I put them both in blue hula hoops. this way I can say, “Blue hula hoops, go to red.”

You can get hula hoops here or some cheap colorful containers here.

 

Work on Transitions

This is the most important part of your first round of centers.

Especially for a bad class.

You need a clear signal for when to stop—this can be a saying, a noise, etc. you need to decide what they are to do when this happens—do you want them to clean up, or just freeze and listen to directions? Do they automatically go to the next station, or wait for your signal? These are all up to you.

I like to play a rhythm on the cowbell (this one has a cow print on it!) and have them echo it—this way they can hear it over their noises—and then I say “1, 2, 3, 4, pick everything up get off the floor and freeze.” (I learned it from my mentor who would say instruments instead of everything, but this is more far reaching. I also added the freeze part because I don’t like the kids just going onto the next part without my signal.) Once everyone is up and QUIET, I will say “5, 6, 7, 8, hurry don’t be late.” This is the signal to go to the next center.

You can do whatever you see fit, but this works well for me.

Whatever you decide, make them do it right. Even if it takes the whole class period. Eventually they will do it right and quickly (yes, even the worst of classes) if you make them do it right from the get go.

Also read: Free Music Lesson: Bizet Scarf Routine



So there are some ideas for how to do centers with your “bad classes”. I know it may be daunting, but you can do it. They can do it.

 

Although to be perfectly honest, it’s not a bad idea to have a backup plan (find some here!) in case it is not successful. You could consider having enough supplies to have every one do the same thing if centers are not in the cards that day.

I know we don’t want to think that way, but sometimes it is best.

The first time you do centers, I suggest picking all activities that they know how to do so that you can concentrate on procedures until they are able to do the routines easily.

How do you handle centers with bad classes? Let us know in the comments!



Music Centers Classroom Management for "Bad Classes". Difficult classes and differentiated centers are not usually things that go hand in hand. Find out how to get your difficult elementary music classes to do centers well! Becca's Music Room.



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Elementary Music

Tips for the New Music Teacher from My First Year of Teaching

It is now June, and I have finished my first of teaching elementary music. I am no longer a new music teacher. It has been a good, long year. It has definitely not been easy, but it has been worth it. Teaching anything—let alone elementary music—has its ups and downs.

So if you are reading this, about to be a new music teacher, here are some tips for what to expect and how to get through the first year of elementary music.

Tips for the New Music Teacher from my first year: Some useful help from my first year teaching elementary music. Becca's Music Room



Overplan

This is a lesson I learned in my first grade class on the very first day of school.

Overplan.

What I mean by that is plan way more than you can get done.

Trust me, there is nothing worse than getting through your 50-minute lesson in 20 minutes and then having a bunch of bouncy, distracted first graders staring at you. And you being out of things to do.

It is something you never want to repeat.

Keep an eye on the clock as you go, and I suggest writing down on your plans how long you think each portion will take. This way, if you think the introduction will take ten minutes, and it only takes five, then you know you need to extend something else.

In my lessons, I always try to have something that you can extend. For example, pretend you are teaching a song. If you notice that you are running early, you can always extend a song longer. You can add in some rhythm or melodic work into the lesson. With older students, you can add make it into a round. You can add instruments to help.

I also add something to my lessons as a contingency plan. At the bottom of my lesson plans, I literally write something like this:

EXTRA: If there is extra time, he teacher will read the book I Know a Shy Fellow who Swallowed a Cello.

Or watch a video. Or review a song. Or whatever.

You will not always need this, but when you do, it helps to have a plan. And it can be the same plan for a few weeks.

Don’t feel stressed by this. You can literally just keep a pile of books on your desk as a “just in case”.


Have a plan b

This goes along with the last one. It will take you all of a few weeks as a new music teacher to learn that school are full of all sorts of random, unexpected things that will be thrown at you at the last second.

Right before the end of school, the principal walked in at the beginning of my fifth grade and announced that a band director was coming to talk to the kids. When that was over, it was too late for my normal lesson and I had to change plans on the spot.

And the last week of school, I had no idea that I was teaching all classes in the classrooms. And I didn’t know that I was helping with testing that week too.

And I didn’t know that I was helping with kindergarten and fifth grade graduations. And I didn’t know that I would be doing class parties.

I don’t tell you these things to scare you, but just to show you that things change. And you may not know until five minutes before (if you are lucky).

Have a few activities on the back burner for those weird and crazy days.

If you need some help, you can read this post that I wrote about back up plans in the music room.



Keep learning

I know that you just finished school and have no desire to go back there, but don’t cut yourself off from learning. It doesn’t have to be crazy. Read some books. Check out a conference. Get on Pinterest—serious, you can get all of you lesson ideas from Pinterest! (you can follow mine if you click here for some music teaching ideas).

My best tip? Find some other music teachers to talk to. Even if you just get together with someone and have coffee, I cannot tell you how much it helps to talk to someone who understands. And although I love my fellow classroom teachers, they have different views than we do.

I find that most people are very happy to talk to anyone—just shoot them an email. One thing I am so glad that I did was add some music teachers on instagram. I know that seems stupid, but it is so nice to share in the joys and struggles of other music teachers. And they have lots of ideas that I like to steal… (you can click on my instagram at the top of the page).

 

Don’t take it personally

So…. This is part that we never want to talk about. But y’all… kids are mean sometimes. Most of your kids will be sweet, but some of them will not. Some of them enjoy getting under a teacher’s skin. Especially under the skin of the new music teacher. Some do it on purpose.

And some do it totally not on purpose. Because kids also have no sensitivity. They don’t think twice to ask you if you are pregnant or if you know how to do math or if you are turning 100.

Yes, all of these happened to me this year.

So whether it is on purpose or not on purpose, don’t take it personally. Try your best to just let it roll off of your back.

If it is on purpose, remember that the child has much bigger issues than you. They are bugging you to try to gain much needed attention. Allowing them to get under your skin just gives them what they want—and they will continue it.

And if it’s not on purpose, then they really don’t realize they are being rude. You may want to tell them gently that it is not appropriate—but don’t get mad at them for not realizing something is rude.

And for really rough days, check out this post.

 

Get a hobby

This, incidentily, will help you with letting things roll off of your back.

Find a hobby that will allow you to relax. I took up painting this year, and it has certainly helped keep me sane (you can check out my etsy shop if you’re curious). And I figure it is better than watching Netflix all night…. Although, you can paint and watch Netflix…

You can read, dance, write, arrange flowers, garden, whatever. My dad (also in education) has been a whole new man since he took up kayaking.

Find something you enjoy and do it!

Tips for the New Music Teacher from my first year: Some useful help from my first year teaching elementary music. Becca's Music Room



Remember to have fun

Like I said at the beginning, there are both ups and downs to teaching elementary music. Especially for the new music teacher.

Some days you will wonder why on earth you chose to do this. You may go home and swear that you are never having kids (until you remember that you will never have 20 eight year olds at the same time).

And some days will be wonderful.

Sometimes I joke about getting paid to dance and sing and play games with kids all day. But really—I get paid to dance and sing and play games with kids all day. How awesome is that?!

There are some times that you will think, “I cannot believe I get paid to do this.”

Hang onto those days. They may be frequent of they may be far apart, but remember those feelings.



If you are starting out as a new music teacher, there are great joys ahead of you. No one will pretend that it is all sunshine and rainbows, but it is pretty great.

Hopefully some of my advice will help you in your first year.

What advice would you give a new music teacher? Let us know in the comments!

If you need some more help, you can read through some of my posts for help, or shoot me an email if you have any questions.

Subscribe and follow me on social media for more help in teaching music!

Happy teaching!



Tips for the New Music Teacher from my first year: Some useful help from my first year teaching elementary music. Becca's Music Room


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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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