Elementary Music, Lessons, Organization

Backup Lessons for when the Plan is not Working

We’ve all been there. At least…. I hope it is not just me! Sometimes, the lesson plan that we want to do is not going to happen. So it is a good idea to have a backup plan. Or two. Or three.

This has happened to me on a few occasions.

There was the time that I showed up at school to find a bunch of fans in my room, and no one could tell me what was going on. (The room flooded, by the way. You can read the lessons I did during that time here.)

There was the time that I went to a meeting twenty minutes before my first class to find out that they were testing in the room next to mine. Which means I could not make noise. And my lesson plan was really, really loud.

I’ve had supplies that didn’t get laminated on time, days that I ended up with extra students and didn’t have enough stuff, days that I found out just beforehand that the counselor needed to spend half of my class talking to kids.

And sometimes, you are sick or tired or just plain cannot make it happen.

And, of course, there are days that my students are just way too crazy for the lesson at hand.

So there will be two main parts to this post: backup ideas for when the lesson doesn’t work out, and what to do so that you do not get in trouble (hopefully) for not following your lesson plan.

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

Backup Lessons for When the Plan is not working-- Because sometimes, it just is not going to happen. Ideas that you can use with all of your grades. Keep a few in your back pocket to help you out on teaching days that are difficult. (As opposed to the easy ones?) Becca's Music Room



Backup Idea #1: A Game You Know Really Well

Preferably one that does not require a lot of supplies.

And bonus points if the kids have played it before so you don’t have to teach it to them.

This option is great if your class just has way too much energy, or if you don’t have a lot of time to get things together.

Everyone has those singing games that they have done so many times that they no longer need to think very hard about them.

You know what your versions are. Some ideas are:



Backup Idea #2: Read a Book

Reading a music book is really great if you need the students to calm down. Music books are great, because there are so many of them. There are a ton of extension opportunities that go along with them!

One of my favorite short-notice no-prep ideas is to read through the book straight through once. Read it a second time and make up some movements to go along with it (especially if you read this book—I like to have the kids pretend to play each instrument). After that, I have the students color a picture based on the book.

Super easy. Super simple.

I also leave this for subs quite often.

There are other fancier things that you can do—games, worksheets, lessons, etc.

Here are some of my favorite books. Click on the picture to read the description on Amazon.


Also read: Music Lesson Ideas: Opera Stories

Backup Idea #3: Coloring

One of my favorite lessons is to listen to a song and color.

This is also great for a sub.

Have the students listen to a song. You can pick whatever song you want. Listen once just listening. Listen again, and tell the students to think about what it reminds them of. Give them paper and crayons and let them go to town. Play it a few more times so they don’t forget it.

The older students do better with this, and really enjoy it. For some reason, I didn’t think that all of my students would be so into it, but they were.

You could also do coloring sheets based on songs or units that you are doing. There are a ton of Teachers Pay Teachers stuff for free or cheap.



Backup Idea #4: Watch a Movie

When all else fails, just watch a movie.

I always feel like this is cheating, but it is not.

One more time, watching a movie is not cheating!

Just make sure it has to do with music.

Here are some of my favorite options. Again, click on the link to see the Amazon description.

Backup Lessons for When the Plan is not working-- Because sometimes, it just is not going to happen. Ideas that you can use with all of your grades. Keep a few in your back pocket to help you out on teaching days that are difficult. (As opposed to the easy ones?) Becca's Music Room

Now… what if the principal walks in?

This is always a fear for all teachers. It always cracks me up when I go to trainings and they talk about how you need to be flexible. Because that’s true… but when you get an observation mid-backup lesson, what do you do?

Well, officially, you should always be on lesson plan. Some principals are such sticklers for this that there is nothing I can tell you that will help.

But since we already discussed that that is not always possible… what do you do?

 

Explain the Situation

Let the admiistrators know that you are not doing what your plan is. Tell them why—don’t make excuses, but they should know that you are not just being lazy (hopefully).



Put in a Sticky Note

If you know ahead of time that you will be changing your lesson, stick a sticky note on top of your lesson plan binder, or add a note to your lesson plan if they are turned in online. This way, they can see that even though you changed your mind, you still had a plan.

The last thing you want is to not have a plan.

You could also shoot an email or tell them if you see them.

I knew I had an observation coming up when I found out that I could not make any noise, so I just told the assistant principal that. If she had walked in, then she would have understood.

Also read: Tips for Keeping on Top of Lesson Planning

Add a Clause

I ALWAYS add this to the bottom of my lesson plans.

“If the class’ behavior is not good enough, the teacher will differentiate the lesson by …… If students are still having trouble being successful, the teacher will put on a music-related video.”

I also add an extra activity at the end, just in case there’s extra time at the end.

I fill in the dots with whatever my backup plan is… singing game, coloring, etc.

 

What is your favorite backup plan? Let us know what you do in the comments!

Backup Lessons for When the Plan is not working-- Because sometimes, it just is not going to happen. Ideas that you can use with all of your grades. Keep a few in your back pocket to help you out on teaching days that are difficult. (As opposed to the easy ones?) Becca's Music Room



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Organization

2018 Goals for the New Year

I am a huge fan of having goals. I have goals for everything: goals for the day, for the week, for the month, for the year…. Etc. As we get closer to the New Year, I have been thinking about my 2018 goals.

My 2018 goals are in quite a few categories: school, home, blog, reading, and other.

Like I said, I love goals!

Because if you don’t have goals, how do you know where you are going? What do you work towards? It’s like going to the grocery store without a list—what will you buy?

So here are my 2018 goals. Feel free to steal any that you want for yourself or your classroom or your blog!

2018 Goals for the New Year. Goals for teaching, blogging, home, and more! Feel free to use any of them for your New Year's Resolutions! Becca's Music Room

School Goals:

My goals for the school year were basically just to survive. Now that I am halfway through and no one (including me!) has died, I think we can get a little more in depth.

I want my younger students to learn rhythm really well. They are doing a pretty good job so far, but I want to keep them going. (You can check out the first rhythm lesson we did here.)

I want my older students to learn to read melodies. They do not know this at all… I am going to use my keyboards as an incentive to read music, because they ask me al of the time if they can play the keyboards. So if anyone has good ideas about how to teach class keyboard effectively, please let me know!

I want to do centers about once a month, at least with my older students.

I need to organize my room! If you read this post or this post, then you know that my room was flooded and all of my stuff got moved out of my room and back in again. Since I got moved back in, I have been busy with field trips and concerts and just generally not wanting to get things where they need to go. I would like to finish the cleaning up.



Home Goals:

Move into our new house. This one is definitely happening, but it is nice to know at least one of my goals will definitely happen!

Decorate the new house. This will be a bigger feat than just moving in. decorating everything and furnishing everything will take all year.

Keep the new house organized. I like everything organized, but I have a bad habit of getting lazy with the house when I get busy with everything else. This year I am going to keep things organized! Or at least I am going to try…

Read about keeping organized here.

 

Blog Goals:

I just started my blog in October. I did it mostly for myself, without expecting people to actually read it…. So far, I think it has been successful! I am not sure how to gauge “success” with a brand new blog, but I am pleased so far.

Make $100. I really need to make $60 by October. That’s how much I paid for everything, and I believe I need to pay it again in October! (In case you were wondering, so far I have made $1.40. Whoo hoo! I make money from affiliate links (if you click on an Amazon link and then buy anything, I get a commission. Also, I have ads. I get paid both for views and clicks.)

Write 2 posts per week. So far I have been good for this, but I want it to continue! I post on Mondays and Thursdays.

50 subscribers. I currently have 3. I want to get my email list going… at the moment I don’t know how to work the email list yet… I’m going to figure it out this year.

You may want to read Ways to Destress After a Crazy Day of Teaching



Reading Goals:

Read more non-fiction. There are some awesome facts about reading non-fiction books like how the average millionaire reads one non fiction book per month and how reading a non fiction book about your field every month will make you an expert in 7 years. So I would like to read some more non-fiction books.

You can see everything I’m reading in my 2018 Reading Challenge.

Music Goals:

I want to play my cello! I got a cello a few years ago and have played it in my spare time (ha!) for fun, but I still am not quite decent.

Work on my piano skills. Over the summer, I would like to take piano lessons to help me get better, because you can never be too good at piano.

Check out Five Steps to Dominating Your Choir Music

 

Other Goals:

Open an Etsy shop. I love to paint, and my paintings are starting to take up too much room… So I thought I would open an Etsy shop and see if I can get any sold. I am not expecting overnight success or to become a millionaire or anything, but I like painting and this way I have an excuse to paint a lot.

 

So that is all of my 2018 goals! I believe they are all achievable with a little effort. Having all of my 2018 goals in place will help me to get there!

 

What are your 2018 goals? Anything similar? Totally different? Any advice? Let me know what your 2018 goals are in the comments!

2018 Goals for the New Year. Goals for teaching, blogging, home, and more! Feel free to use any of them for your New Year's Resolutions! Becca's Music Room



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Elementary Music, Organization

Tips for Keeping on Top of Lesson Planning

Lesson planning. AKA the bane of most teachers’ existence.

I cannot wait until I have taught for a while, so that I will have more lesson ideas. Sometimes I feel so stuck for fun lesson ideas, and it seems to take me forever to write a lesson.

Because I sometimes find it difficult, I have implemented a lesson planning schedule to help keep me on track. This is one of the biggest reasons I am able to get all of my planning done on time and keep my stress levels down! Lesson planning with this schedule keeps me organized.

And we all know that being organized is one of the most important aspects of being a good teacher.

You can check out my other organization posts here. Subscribe for more—I will be continuing this series for a while!

Tips for Keeping on Top of Lesson Planning. Schedule and tips so that your lesson plans are turned in on time! Help stay organized no matter what you teach: elementary school, middle school, high school, art, music, or pe! Becca's Music Room



Schedule to make lesson planning easy

Tuesday- Think about lesson planning.

Yes, I have a day dedicated to thinking about lesson planning. This helps because it gives me plenty of time to think things through. Sometimes, I will not have any ideas in the morning, and as the day goes on, I come up with something great. I usually just write down the ideas on Tuesday.

For example, this week my list says “Carol of the Bells Orff, Pentatonix listen, Christmas sing along. Listen to winter, talk about winter, sock skating to beat, hot potato with jingle bells.”

Not exactly what you would want to put in your lesson plans for your principal to see…. But it works for me.

Wednesday- Write lesson plans

Our template is long and clunky and ridiculous, so this takes a while. Always make your lesson plans detailed enough to prove to your principal that you know what you are talking about.

They especially like to see “content specific” words. Even if they don’t know what they mean, seeing them in your lesson plans makes them think you know what they mean. Things like dynamics, tempo, quarter notes, etc.

Thursday- Gather materials

This means printing materials, making materials, finding them, etc. I love doing this on Thursday, because our lesson plans are due on Thursday at 5. This means most teachers are just starting to think about their lesson plans, and I have free range of the copier. Friday and Monday, it is packed.

Also, since our lesson plans are due on Thursday, planning to do them on Wednesday ensures that I have them done on time. If I cannot get it done on Wednesday, I have a whole entire other day to work on it.

If I planned to do it on Thursday and couldn’t, then I would be in a bind.

Friday- get everything ready

Pull out the materials, get them all set to go.

 

You will notice I didn’t put anything on Monday. This is because with new lessons, I like to have some time to tweak it and not worry about anything else.

Free Music Lesson: Bizet Scarf Routine



Some general lesson planning tips:

Make a series

If you don’t know what to do, pick an instrument and go with it. Or pick a theme. This does wonders because it limits the amount of lessons available.

For example, you could spend a month on Kidsticks Stations. Or recorder. Or whatever.

You could do a musical month, a keyboard unit, a ballet unit, opera unit, etc.

(Click on these pictures to go to the Amazon page)

Embrace the holidays

Teachers love holidays because they make things different!

You can extend Christmas for a whole month. Same with Thanksgiving and Halloween. Also, Hispanic Heritage month and Black History month are great for lesson planning as well.

If you pencil all of those in, there won’t be many days left!

Here is a Halloween lesson: Free K-2 Music Lesson: Rhythm

Combine grades

This is one of my favorite tricks. I honestly only plan two lessons a week—one for K-2 and one for 3-5. This works well with our schedule and really reduces stress. It is worth it if just for the materials—you only have to get out one set of instraments, or two. Not six.

I think ideally K-1, 2-3, 4-5 would be the best groupings, standards-wise. This does not go well with our schedule at all, but I may try it anyway and see how it goes.

I promise you are not an awful teacher for doing this. I believe it really helps you to do your best because you have time to work out all of the kinks, and you are not constantly trying to think of what your lessons are.

Now, if you have been teaching for 20 years, you probably know your lessons well enough that having 6 different ones isn’t an issue. But for us newbies, it is very helpful.

Have some carryover

When I am really put together, I do this very well. What I mean is that you use a piece of your next lesson in this week’s. Or you use a piece of last week’s lesson in this week’s.

For example, I taught my kids Al Citron a few months ago. We learned the song at the end of one lesson and then we played the passing game the next time. They sang so much better because they knew it better! It was fantastic.

Another time, we learned a circle dance to a Ringshout song as a Musical Explorers lesson. We used it as a warm up the next week.

Sometimes it is tricky or not possible, but if you can do this, it really helps! It allows time for the song or lesson to really sink into their heads.

Lesson Ideas: Creative Movement with Scarves

Find a Curriculum

I cannot sing the praises of the Game Plan Curriculum enough. K-8 is also a really great one. Both are fun, having singing and instrument playing, and get the kids to read music well.

Free K-2 Music Lesson: Animal Form

What is your lesson planning technique? How does it keep you organized? Any tips and tricks? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!

Becca

Tips for Keeping on Top of Lesson Planning. Schedule and tips so that your lesson plans are turned in on time! Help stay organized no matter what you teach: elementary school, middle school, high school, art, music, or pe! Becca's Music Room



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Elementary Music, Organization

Best Tools for Staying Organized as a Teacher

Teachers have a lot of things to do: lesson plans, grading, concert, PTA meetings, field trips, copies…. And that does not even include teaching the kids! Factor in personal life and non-work related commitments and staying organized can be a nightmare. I, personally, have to juggle work, choir, keeping up with the house and dogs, and church commitments on a normal week.

The best way to get it all done? Get organized!

Without organization, there is no way that you could possibly stay on top of everything.

We all know those teachers who are not organized. You know, the ones that are copying things during lunch the day they need it, never remember when staff meetings or PTA meetings are, are always late to duty, etc. Their class’ behavior usually reflects the poor planning.

Don’t be that teacher.

Be the teacher that gets stuff done…. On time! The teacher that doesn’t have to change their lesson plans because the copier is down again. Get organized!

Over the next few months (yes, months, because I didn’t want to completely quit with lesson plan ideas and other posts), I will be doing a series about staying organized as a teacher. I started two weeks ago with a post about my favorite classroom purchase and how it keeps me organized (check it out here). Subscribe in the sidebar or down below to keep up to date on the next posts! Or follow me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, all linked up above this article.

And without further ado… My favorite tools for staying organized as a teacher!

 Best Tools for Staying Organized as a Teacher. Becca's Music Room. Being organized is key to being a succcessful teacher, whether you teach music, elementary school, middle, or high school.

Clipboard with Writing Pad

Best Tools for Staying Organized as a Teacher. Becca's Music Room. Being organized is key to being a succcessful teacher, whether you teach music, elementary school, middle, or high school.Best Tools for Staying Organized as a Teacher. Becca's Music Room. Being organized is key to being a succcessful teacher, whether you teach music, elementary school, middle, or high school.

I love this clipboard.

I picked it up on a whim (because it was cute, of course), and could not be happier with it.

Why do I love this clipboard and think it helps me stay organized?

It has a notepad and a pocket inside of it. So I can clip paper to the front, and I can also write on the inside and keep my pencil or pen in the pocket.

I use this clipboard mostly for meetings and professional development. I put the agenda or ticket for professional development on the front, and then I take notes on the inside. I also use it if I am walking around the school and making list of things I need to do or remember or lesson ideas.

Plus, it is cute and inexpensive.

If you like any of these, click on the picture to go to the Amazon page!

Also: Lesson Ideas: Creative Movement with Scarves

Days of the Week Notepad

Best Tools for Staying Organized as a Teacher. Becca's Music Room. Being organized is key to being a succcessful teacher, whether you teach music, elementary school, middle, or high school.
This is my true, messy, crazy to-do list. You can see the random notes I have written, like lesson ideas and how many copies I need of each paper. This is real life!

This was a gift from my (wonderful!) mentor teacher during student teaching. I have never met anyone who makes as many lists as I do! We were both constantly writing things down, scheduling things, etc. But we mostly wrote on random pieces of paper, which is ineffective. Because after we wrote them, we would lose them.

Anyway, for graduation she got me a notepad with all of the days of the week on it. I. love. It.

I keep it on my desk and make it specifically for my school to-dos.

Every Monday morning, I sit down and write in the things I know I have to do—write lesson plans, attend meetings, etc. Then I go through and add in the other things that I need to do—write emails, make letters, practice the accompaniment for a piece of music, etc. At the end of the day, if I have something I need to do that I have not, I put it on the next day’s list.

This could also work if you have a planner with decent weekly spreads, but I like to keep this on my desk and have only school related things on it, so that it is easier to distinguish what needs to happen at school v. at home.

Also: Free K-2 Lesson: Animal Form

Planner/Calendar

Best Tools for Staying Organized as a Teacher. Becca's Music Room. Being organized is key to being a succcessful teacher, whether you teach music, elementary school, middle, or high school.

And just one planner or calendar. I am the worst about wanting to keep my home and school life in separate places, but resist the urge! Get one planner.

Once you get the planner, write in all of the school things you need to know—grades due, holidays, concerts, etc. Then add in all of the personal things that you have consistently—church obligations, social obligations, etc.

Then keep adding.

Everything.

Keep everything in your planner. I mean it.

Even though you have many different things going on, you only have one life. You should only have on planner.

Because I am obsessive, mine is color coded—I use green for school, purple for choir, red for my husband (dates or days when he works late), blue for my social life (ha!), etc. This way even though everything is together, I can still see what is specifically for what parts of my life.

You don’t have to do that much, if you are not as crazy as I am.

But you do need a planner.

I have this one with a different cover, and I love it! I also use these pens (and only these) for my planner. Clip to purchase!

Also: Questions to Ask Yourself when the Class is Off the Chain



Seating Charts

Best Tools for Staying Organized as a Teacher. Becca's Music Room. Being organized is key to being a succcessful teacher, whether you teach music, elementary school, middle, or high school.

If you see every student in the school like I do, you are probably thinking I am crazy. But really, a few minutes per class at the beginning of the school year makes a world of difference! Especially if you see every student in the school.

Why is it more important if you see all of the students in the school?

Not only do you need it to keep yourself organized, but it will help you learn the names.

I have 750 students. That is a lot of students. If I remember one or two out of a class in the hallway, I am impressed with myself. But if I have a seating chart, then I know all of the names.

Knowing the students’ names changes everything. I promise. Try it.

How do you keep track of all of those kids’ names? Seating Charts!

I keep mine in binders with dividers between each day of the week. I keep a schedule in the front so that I can remember who I have each day, and if I unexpectedly have a sub, then they can find the class as well.

Each day, I take the days’ seating charts and put them on this clipboard. It opens up so that I can store pads of paper for notes or other things inside of it.

Here is a similar clipboard (although cooler because mine does not have a separate pencil place) and binder. Looking for seating charts? Teachers Pay Teachers has a ton of options here.

Also: Ways to Destress After a Crazy Day of Teaching

Rolling Cart

Best Tools for Staying Organized as a Teacher. Becca's Music Room. Being organized is key to being a succcessful teacher, whether you teach music, elementary school, middle, or high school.
A picture of my cart, post a month of traveling nonsense. It’s quite messy.

And I keep my clipboard with my seating charts on my cart!

I seriously love my cart. It holds everything that I need on a daily basis, so that I can find everything I need. I keep my seating charts on the top. I also keep hall passes, nurse passes, a tambourine, pencils, my stuffed owl, and a bunch of stickers on the cart.

And yes, all of those things are very important.

Check out my full review of my cart here.


Need help getting organizational products? Check out my post on Donor’s Choose and see if you can get them donated! Also, check out what lessons I did while on the cart for a month.

Those are my top items to keep my life organized! What do you use to keep organized? I would love to know! Tell me in the comments!

 



Best Tools for Staying Organized as a Teacher. Becca's Music Room. Being organized is key to being a succcessful teacher, whether you teach music, elementary school, middle, or high school.

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Children's Church, Management, Organization

How to Structure Children’s Church in 6 Easy Steps

Kids need structure.

All kids need structure. The less they seem to want it, the more they need it.

Structure is the key to running your Children’s Church (or Sunday School or Awanas or whatever) smoothly.

What I mean by that is that you need a plan. You need to have an idea of what you want to do when, so that you can manage time well and get everything done. You need to make a plan, and then follow it.

Think about how church normally runs. At my church, the order is always songs, offering, announcements, sermon, alter call. If we have baptisms or baby dedications, they are thrown into the “announcements” category. It is not always the same, but there is a plan. There is a structure.

Your Children’s Church needs that too!

I will never forget the first time I wrote on the board what we were doing for the day. I didn’t change the order we did. I didn’t add anything new. But the kids knew what was coming, so they were better prepared.

Now we just used the same structure every week, so I don’t write it down on the board, but they know what’s coming next.

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

How to Structure Children's Church in 6 Easy Steps. Becca's Music Room. Learn how to effectively use your time to help have less stress on you and more time for fun things in Children's Church, Sunday School, Awanas, etc.

1. Think about what you want to do

Think in categories. Your activities may include (but are not limited to)

  • Lesson
  • Craft
  • Song or worship
  • Games
  • Coloring sheets
  • Bathroom break

In my class we do:

  1. Upbeat song and dance
  2. 2 games
  3. Bathroom break
  4. Worship
  5. Lesson
  6. Game/craft/time filler

2. Now give everything a time value

It may not always be the same, but give it an idea. Here’s mine:

  1. Upbeat song and dance (10 min)
  2. 2 games (25 min)
  3. Bathroom break (15 min)
  4. Worship (20 min)
  5. Lesson (20 min)
  6. Game/craft/time filler (however long until parents show up)

Now, this is not the whole story. Sometimes things take longer or shorter. Sometimes you have to stop and remind the kids about what is appropriate and not. But this is the basic idea of how I structure

I also made the decision to start my class late because a lot of people at my church come consistently late. It bugs me when I have to explain something for the fourth time because are straggling. So I give them a little bit of extra free time at the beginning and save myself the annoyance.

After you decide what you want to do, decide what is feasible. For example, I just put down my desired times, and then I added five minutes to “games”, “bathroom”, and “worship” because I realized that that was more truthful.

3. Change what you don’t like

Now is your time to change things. Prefer if one part was longer? Hate that something doesn’t’ take long enough? Always finishing early or late? Adjust the schedule!

Need some help getting students to behave? Check out my posts on classroom management here and here.

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

4. Keep track

Over the next few weeks, keep track of the time. Then write down how long you actually spend in every category. You may need to adjust it. You may also have to adjust it depending on the week. Remember, this is a guideline, not a hard and fast rule. It’s not the end of the world if something is faster or shorter. Just remember, if you add five minutes to something, you also need to take it away somewhere else.

5. Set up the room to reflect the structure

Do you need separate places for different segments? If you are dancing, you will need a dancing place. For the lesson, do you want chairs? Do you want the kids to sit on the floor? If you do crafts, you will need tables for them.

These are just some things to think about. At the moment, I have chairs in the middle of the room with at least 6-8 feet from the chairs to the walls. This structure works for us, because we have de-emphasized crafts, and there is plenty of room around the chairs to play games. And if the game requires more space, we either push the chairs out of the way or we go outside.

In the past I have had three different “sections”. I had an empty space for dancing and games, two tables with chairs for crafts, and a cozy corner with a lot of pillows for the lesson time.

You may not always do the same thing, and you may not always need the same set up. But room set up is key to your structure.

How to Structure Children's Church in 6 Easy Steps. Becca's Music Room. Learn how to effectively use your time to help have less stress on you and more time for fun things in Children's Church, Sunday School, Awanas, etc.
An example of room set up. There is a story place, dance/movie/game space, and tables for crafts. Excuse the Easter Egg hunt.
How to Structure Children's Church in 6 Easy Steps. Becca's Music Room. Learn how to effectively use your time to help have less stress on you and more time for fun things in Children's Church, Sunday School, Awanas, etc.
Close up on the reading station. We were going for a tent-like feel for our Journey Through Genesis series.

6. Have a backup plan in place

This is to cover anything that goes wrong. If church suddenly runs half an hour longer than usual, what will you do? If your lesson is significantly shorter than anticipated, what do you do? If the person in charge of games doesn’t show up, what do you do? If you are supposed to go outside and it is raining, what do you do?

I suggest keeping a few extra activities handy. Good ideas include:

Having just a few ideas, even if they are not prepared, will help you in a pinch. Part of your structure is your back up plan.

Back up plans make us flexible.

So those are my steps to structuring Children’s Church (or Sunday School, or Awanas, or whatever). Having a structure or schedule in place will help the kids, but will also take a lot of the pressure off of you! If you know that you only need to come up with 20 minutes’ worth of lesson because your craft will take just as long, then you will be less stressed! And don’t forget your back up plan to really help you be less stressed!

Still not sure about your Christmas Program? Check out this post to help you decide what to do!

How do you structure your Children’s Church? Are there any points that I missed? Let me know in the comments! (Bonus: Put a picture of your Children’s Church or Sunday School room in the comments and let us know how it effects your class.)

Happy Teaching!

How to Structure Children's Church in 6 Easy Steps. Becca's Music Room. Learn how to effectively use your time to help have less stress on you and more time for fun things in Children's Church, Sunday School, Awanas, etc.

 


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Elementary Music, Organization

The Best Classroom Purchase Ever!

As school starts, teachers purchase a lot of things for their classrooms. Some stock up on pencils, pens, crayons, and composition books. Some redecorate their classrooms.

I tried to spend a minimal amount of money. I think it is good practice to save as much money as possible in the classroom. Ten dollars here and five there adds up very quickly, especially after 30 years of teaching– which is how long you will be teaching if you plan on getting your retirement (at least in Georgia).

My rule is: Do not buy consumable things.

I don’t buy pencils. I don’t buy crayons. Because the kids destroy them, and they are gone quickly.

I may one day have different views. But as a new teacher (not getting paid for like two months after I start working), I was not willing to buy anything that would only last one class period.

I bought normal office things that I would have bought no matter where I was working: pencil cups, binders, magazine racks, etc.

I also stumbled across the. Best. Purchase. Ever.

The Best Classroom Purchase Ever! Becca's Music Room. This cart is the answer to my prayers and what keeps me sane. I do not lose things since I bought it. Need more convincing? Read this article to find out more!

A metal rolling cart.

That may not sound very exciting, but trust me, it is the bomb!

You may not have this problem, but I am THE WORST about setting things down and forgetting where I put them. Pencils, seating charts, books with the song we are singing this week, my tambourine… I pick them up, I put them down, and I cannot find them anywhere.

All of the time.

In comes my new rolling cart. It holds everything that I use on a normal day—and it moves! So if I need to stand in the back of the classroom while we watch a video, I can. I can put it in the front while I am talking. I can move it out-of-the-way when we are dancing.

Also: My First Experience with Donor’s Choose

This purchase has literally changed my life.

I do not lose things. When a student needs to go to the nurse, the pass and a pen are on my cart. When I need to double-check a student’s name on the clipboard, it is on my cart. When I need to jingle my tambourine to get the kids’ attention, it is on my cart (and yes, I do that). When I need my animal manipulatives for a fun form lesson, they are on the cart, or popsicle sticks to teach little kids about rhythm. (Check out my Animal Form lesson here and my Popsicle Rhythm lesson here.)

I probably sound ridiculous, but it has really changed my life. I am so much more organized. I do not lose time trying to find things that I set down on the table or on my desk or on the piano or on the… floor?

Granted, you could just use a table. But a rolling cart can move all around the classroom, and that makes life so much easier!

The cart really saved my life during the weeks that I was travelling to classrooms. There was a water leakage situation that resulted in me being spontaneously out of my classroom for a month. The first day, I was able to throw my crayons, paper, tambourines, CD player, and bingo game onto the rolling cart and roll it all around the school. Everything stayed together, I didn’t have a million bags to carry, and when I got to the classrooms, my stuff stayed together. I really do not know what I would have done for the month (!) without my rolling cart.

You can learn about the lesson I taught while traveling here.

So what do I keep on my cart?

It is not always the same. But here are the basic things:

The Best Classroom Purchase Ever! Becca's Music Room. This cart is the answer to my prayers and what keeps me sane. I do not lose things since I bought it. Need more convincing? Read this article to find out more

Top Shelf:

I try to keep this clutter free as possibly (if you had seen it before I picked up the 20 pencils and 10 confiscated toys, you would be laughing at that comment). The most important thing? Seating chart! I use a clipboard with storage underneath for extra information that is pertinent (mostly for subs). I keep seating charts in a binder like this, and clip the ones for the day onto the clipboard.

The Best Classroom Purchase Ever! Becca's Music Room. This cart is the answer to my prayers and what keeps me sane. I do not lose things since I bought it. Need more convincing? Read this article to find out more

Other items include:

  • Gotcha tickets (our school’s PBIS system)
  • Sticky notes for notes on clipboard or other teachers
  • Notepad which I sometimes write my lesson plans on
  • Anything I need for a day (usually Game Plan or this book) This week it is a yellow plastic thing we are using as a button for the game Button You Must Wander.

 

The Best Classroom Purchase Ever! Becca's Music Room. This cart is the answer to my prayers and what keeps me sane. I do not lose things since I bought it. Need more convincing? Read this article to find out more

Second Shelf:

  • Tambourine (used for getting students’ attention)
  • Nurse pass and hall pass
  • Owl Beanie Baby
  • Weird light-up rubber thing I toss to students when they answer questions
  • Pail with pencils, pens, markers, remote, etc.

 

 

The Best Classroom Purchase Ever! Becca's Music Room. This cart is the answer to my prayers and what keeps me sane. I do not lose things since I bought it. Need more convincing? Read this article to find out more

Bottom Shelf:

Still not convinced about the best classroom purchase ever?

Get it, and I promise it will become your favorite classroom purchase as well– unless you enjoy losing things.

Here it is in teal:

And in grey like mine:

 

What is your favorite classroom purchase? Let me know in the comments!

The Best Classroom Purchase Ever! Becca's Music Room. This cart is the answer to my prayers and what keeps me sane. I do not lose things since I bought it. Need more convincing? Read this article to find out more

 


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