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

Free Music Lesson: Bate Bate Chocolate

Do your students speak Spanish? Whether they do or not, they will enjoy Bate Bate Chocolate! I have been using this with my 2-3 grades. I find it perfect for that age (and with students who speak no Spanish) because there are very few words. Out of the few words, the students usually know how to say uno, dos, tres. Chocolate is the same in every language. So you end up with only one line that is a little bit new or different.

I picked this chant because I liked it, but my students ended up loving it too. We used it for a few activities, and I have since thought of even MORE activities that we do not have time to do. Isn’t it always the way? It’s only October and I’m already freaking out about not having enough time to get through everything I want to do.

This is partially because of my super weird schedule and me looking to see how many times I’ll see my kids before the end of the year.

The answer is not very many.

Anyway, I created a TPT resource that goes along with this lesson. It has the words, words and rhythm, and two different worksheets for the students. One of them has heartbeats, and students can fill the rhythm over top (it is just quarter notes and eighth notes, so it is actually a little too easy for second grade), and another one for students to use with their body percussion compositions (more on that if you scroll down!) Check it out here.

And as always, you can do everything without using the resource. But it’s better if you do.

Also read: Vamos a la Mar Orffestration

Free Elementary Music Lesson: Bate Bate Chocolate. This chant teaches ta and titi, body percussion ostinatos, and composition. It is great for your general music class during Cinco de Mayo or Hispanic Heritage month-- or any cold weather day, since it's about hot chocolate! Becca's Music Room

Bate Bate Chocolate

  • Show the students the words to Bate Bate Chocolate and teach it to them by rote.
  • Explain that this is a chant from Mexico that they use when they make hot chocolate—which is a pretty big deal over there.
  • Say the chant a few times, with the students copying your body percussion movements. I like to do three patterns to give them different examples. In the first one, we will change movements every beat. In the second, every two beats. And in the third, every four beat. I will point that out the patterns so that students get it in their heads.
  • Have students create their own body percussion movements patterns. They can use the worksheet included in my TPT resource. They assign each movement a color, and then color the box over that movement that color. So if the decided that clap was blue, then they would color the box over “bate” blue to show that that is a clap.
  • Have students perform their creations.
  • Transfer the compositions to actual percussion. You could have students change the body percussion to instruments. Then you could have the student “direct” the class in playing. So if blue was clap, now it could be triangle. When the student gets to a blue box, all of the triangles play.
  • Have students figure out the rhythms to the chant on the heartbeat worksheet. If you are using this with younger students (or even older students) you could have them point to the hearts as they say the chant.

Free Elementary Music Lesson: Bate Bate Chocolate. This chant teaches ta and titi, body percussion ostinatos, and composition. It is great for your general music class during Cinco de Mayo or Hispanic Heritage month-- or any cold weather day, since it's about hot chocolate! Becca's Music Room

Also, if you are looking for some sort of reward or Christmas themed party or something, a hot chocolate party would be super fun. And if you are, I would suggest this over individual packets.

Also read: It’s Raining and Que Llueva

And don’t forget to check out the Bate Bate Chocolate resources on my TPT here!

So there we go! One chant with five activities. Which one are you the most excited about? Let us know in the comment! Happy Teaching!

 

Free Elementary Music Lesson: Bate Bate Chocolate. This chant teaches ta and titi, body percussion ostinatos, and composition. It is great for your general music class during Cinco de Mayo or Hispanic Heritage month-- or any cold weather day, since it's about hot chocolate! Becca's Music Room

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Elementary Music, Lessons

Vamos a la Mar Orffestration

We are now entering week three of Hispanic Heritage month lesson on my blog! This week I am going to talk about the Guatemalan folk song “Vamos a la Mar”, which means let’s go to the sea. I have been using this with my second and third graders, and they love it. I also taught the song but not the lesson to some first graders and some fifth graders, and all of the students are enjoying it!

I found this song on this website. You should definitely go and check out the song and the lesson that goes along with it. It has a composition extension that goes along with it.

I really liked the lesson, but I was not a huge fan of the composition cards that she had because they are very small. I like to use larger ones, mostly because they are less likely to be destroyed, and partially because I like to be able to do activities like that whole group before my students do it individually. I find if we do not do it together, then they will have no idea what to do.

No matter how many times I tell them.

Anyway, so I created my own Ocean Animals Rhythm Cards that are in both Spanish and English, and you can check them out in my TPT shop here! I have been using the cards with all classes 2nd grade and up this week.

I won’t go super into detail about the composition extension or anything here because you can read it on her blog.

The reason I am writing this blog is so that we can talk about instruments!

I struggle with instruments. I will not lie. I know that sounds dumb, but I have a hard time remembering to use them, and logistically knowing what I want to do with them. I have to be very INTENTIONAL about using my instruments.

And I gravitate towards the smaller, non-pitched percussion, because frankly, they are easier.

I do use my keyboards a good bit, but still not as much as I should.

I’m working on it.

So for this lesson, I have done two different options. You can use one of these, or neither of these. Either one is fine.

Also read: Ideas for Hispanic Heritage Month

Free Elementary Music Lesson: Vamos a la Mar Orffestration. This is an accompaniment that students can do with non pitched percussion or the xylophones to the song Vamos a la Mar. Perfect for hispanic heritage month or cinco de mayo, or just for fun! My students loved it. I hope your elementary music class loves it too! Becca's Music Room.



Vamos a la Mar Orffestration:

With Orff:

-Castanets playing the rhythm of the words (I have a few of these, and plan to order more!)
Maracas playing the “tum tum” part (I have two maraca groups)
-Xylophones play open C’s (or F’s) on the beat
-One bass F

 

All non-pitched:

Castanets playing rhythm
Maracas playing the “tum tum” part (I have two maraca groups)
Rhythm sticks playing the beat

Also read: Free K-1 Music Lesson: It’s Raining and Que Llueva

Free Elementary Music Lesson: Vamos a la Mar Orffestration. This is an accompaniment that students can do with non pitched percussion or the xylophones to the song Vamos a la Mar. Perfect for hispanic heritage month or cinco de mayo, or just for fun! My students loved it. I hope your elementary music class loves it too! Becca's Music Room.



Side note: When teaching Vamos a la Mar to my students, I found that they were much more successful if we learned the words one day and the melody on another day. It seemed to be a bit too much for them to do the words and the melody in one day. If your students already speak Spanish, you may not have this problem!

And that is it! You can check out my ocean animals rhythms here, or listen to the pronunciation guide on YouTube here if the Spanish intimidates you.

What classroom instruments would you use with Vamos a la Mar? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!



Free Elementary Music Lesson: Vamos a la Mar Orffestration. This is an accompaniment that students can do with non pitched percussion or the xylophones to the song Vamos a la Mar. Perfect for hispanic heritage month or cinco de mayo, or just for fun! My students loved it. I hope your elementary music class loves it too! Becca's Music Room.



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Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Free K-1 Music Lesson: It’s Raining and Que Llueva

Do you want to know something? I love Hispanic heritage month. I love all things multi-cultural, and Hispanic Heritage month gives me the perfect excuse to do a lot of Spanish songs, Spanish dances, etc. My students are not Hispanic, and I am enjoying being able to expose them to different things through music. For my Kindergarteners, that has been through the song Que Llueva.

Now, my kindergarten and 1st graders have actually had the least amount of Hispanic Heritage month fun out of all of my grades. That is because they do a program called Musical Explorers, where they learn about six different styles of music a year. After I teach those, and we work on our normal beat and singing voice, we are out of time. So this is actually the only Spanish song that they were getting this year.

But it will probably be ok.

This lesson features singing (mostly sol-la-mi with one low do. You could change that if you want, but since melody was not my focus, I did not worry about it.), soundscapes, beat v. rhythm, and—of course—the rain stick. If you have one.

I have a Teachers Pay Teachers resource (right here!) for this lesson. It has the melody, rhythm, words in Spanish and English, and rhythm cards. Everything in the resource is in both stick notation and regular notation. You can definitely do the lesson without it, but it does enhance the lesson.

You can also check out the YouTube video (right here!) that explains everything here and give pronounciations! Don’t forget to subscribe while you are over there.

You can tell, I really liked this lesson.

Anyway.

Here it is.

Also read: Ideas for Hispanic Heritage Month

Free K-1 Music Lesson: Que Llueva and It's Raining. A lesson for ta and titi featuring a song in both spanish and english. Because of the two languages, it is perfect for cinco de mayo, hispanic heritage month, or schools with lots of ELL or ESL students. Perfect for your elementary music class. Becca's Music Room

It’s Raining and Que Llueva

  • Teach the students the song It’s Raining by rote. Have them keep the steady beat while they are learning to sing it. It’s the same song as Que Llueva, just with English words.
  • After they have learned it, have them play the rhythm of the words while they sing it. My students are not looking or reading the rhythm yet (and won’t for this song, because single eighth notes? I don’t think so), just playing as they sing the song.
  • Talk about how the beat is the same, but the rhythm changes.
  • Sing the song again, but with sound effects. You can have a student play a rain stick (get one here!) or an ocean drum.

Lesson Extension: Make a sound scape

You could also have students make a soundscape. To make rain, you could start by using “sh” sounds. Then tap two fingers together. Then tap your legs. You could even have them stomp. Then bring it back down to get quieter and quieter. Bonus points if you use a thunder clap like this one.

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

  • Teach students the Spanish words. (I like to tell them we are singing it without telling them abut the language change, and then start singing in Spanish because they get so confused. It’s quite funny. That’s really mean, isn’t it? Oh well.)
  • Once they have learned it in Spanish and English, then you can work on the creative extension.
  • If they don’t know about ta and titi, take a moment to introduce that aspect of rhythm. For my students, this was the first time they had heard of it. We didn’t even say ta and titi. I just said that rhythm has long sounds and short sounds. We did some echos of “long short short long short short” and other versions of that. My first graders already know about rhythm, so they did the example rhythms in the Que Llueva TPT product.
  • Then we said that rain was our long sound (or ta) and llueva was our short sound (titi). Like I said, this was a Kindergarten and 1st grade lesson, so my first graders already knew about rhythm.
  • I arranged the “rain” and “llueva” cards on the board (it helps if you have heartbeats or something to show the beat. I used chairs to represent the beat, and put the words over the chairs.)
  • After I arranged them, I would read the words and students would echo back to me. After a few tries, I had students come up and do a rhythm on the board that we would all say.
  • Then you can break into groups and have them create their own rain-llueva compositions.

Also read: Free K-2 Music Lesson: Rhythm

Free K-1 Music Lesson: Que Llueva and It's Raining. A lesson for ta and titi featuring a song in both spanish and english. Because of the two languages, it is perfect for cinco de mayo, hispanic heritage month, or schools with lots of ELL or ESL students. Perfect for your elementary music class. Becca's Music Room

Lesson extensions:

  • If student are already notating, you can have them write their compositions down.
  • Have students come up with their own rain soundscape in groups.
  • Sing Que Llueva and read a student composition as a B section.
  • Sing Que Llueva and have students improvise with rain and llueva as a B section.
  • Sing other rain songs like “It’s Raining, It’s Pouring”.
  • Have students draw pictures of rain storms.

So there’s my lesson! Full disclosure, this took about three lessons in my room. Not necessarily because it was too much for one, but because it sinks into them better when you pull something out a few days in a row than if you do it all in one day.

You can do it however you’d like, of course.

Check out the YouTube version of this lesson (so you can hear the pronounciation!) and the Teachers Pay Teachers resource for it!

What is your favorite Hispanic heritage month song for Kindergarten and first grade? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Teaching!

Becca

 

Free K-1 Music Lesson: Que Llueva and It's Raining. A lesson for ta and titi featuring a song in both spanish and english. Because of the two languages, it is perfect for cinco de mayo, hispanic heritage month, or schools with lots of ELL or ESL students. Perfect for your elementary music class. Becca's Music Room

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Elementary Music

Things I’m Doing Differently in my Second Year of Teaching

My first year of teaching was ok. A lot of people have these stories where every single day of their first year of teaching is awful and they almost quit and so on and so on. I will say that I did not hit that point until about February.

That’s a pretty good time line, right? That’s quite a while for my first year.

Now that I am in my second year of teaching, I am realizing just how many things I did wrong in my first year. Or things I may not have done “wrong” but really, REALLY could have been better.

I thought all summer about things I’d do better in my second  year, and now that I’ve gotten through a week of school, I am able to nail down some of the things that I wanted to do differently but didn’t know how.

If you are in your first year of teaching, go ahead and take these tips so you won’t have to bother with as much of the first-year-ridiculousness. You can skip right into second year ridiculousness.

If you are a second year teacher, then go ahead and ake some of these ideas to help yourself! And if you are past the first and second years, hen you can still steal some of these ideas. They may still help.

And let us know in the comments what you learned your first year to help in your second year, and beyond!

Things I'm Doing Differently in My Second Year of Teaching. What did you change from your first year to your second year of teaching? The short answer is everything. Find out what mistakes from my first year teaching elementary music that i am not going to relive! Becca's Music Room.



 

Teaching Rules and Procedures

I’ll repeat that: teach rules and procedures.

People always said that, but I had no idea to what extent that meant. Or even how to do that.

Now, I got really lucky in that I teach at the school where I student taught. That meant I already knew a lot of the students, and I kept a lot of the procedures the same.

And thank God I did. Seriously. Because if I had not, it would have been a mess. Because I did not do a very good job teaching the rules and procedures in the beginning.

So what does that actually look like?

On the first day of school, have kids come inside. Give them assigned seats. I’ll repeat that: GIVE THEM ASSIGNED SEATS. Seriously. It helps you learn their names and keeps the chaos down. Not to mention the talking.

Have them go back outside and come in correctly. Correctly meaning walking straight to your seat, quietly, etc. This is something that I did not do on my first year, and it has made a huge difference already.

Let them do something quick and fun, then go over some of your procedures. What procedures are we talking about? Here are some ideas:

  • Getting water
  • Going to the bathroom
  • Fire drills
  • Answering questions
  • Getting tissue
  • Exiting class
  • Everything else
  • How to sit
  • How to stand

Kids need really specific procedures. And they need you to be a bit over the top.

For example: When talking about answering questions, I tell them that I only call on people sitting quietly and raising their hands. We talk about how you have to hold it high, so I can see it. If you wave your hand around, I will not call on you. If you say “Me me me!” I will not call on you. And we practice all those things in the correct and incorrect ways. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s true.

And then you have to stick to that. When students call out answers, I say, “I’m sorry, I can only hear you if you raise your hand.” If they aren’t sitting correctly, I will make them fix it before I call on them. If they are making a bunch of noise, I don’t call on them until they stop.

Also read: Routines You Need in the Music Room

Giving them something to do immediately

Last year, I had a hard time with students coming into my classroom and running to their seats and acting ridiculous. I got a suggestion from a vetran music teacher to give them an assignment as soon as they get inside, to give them something to do. So far, it has been working well. You may want to check back in with me in February.

I have been doing this all week with my 2-5 graders. My k and 1 are usually ok with just coming in and sitting down.

Some examples of things that I have used so far:

  • Putting rhythms on the screen for students to play
  • Putting on music and having students keep the steady beat
  • Putting up a picture and having students guess what it may have to do with music
  • Reading lyrics to a song
  • Putting a question on the board for them to think about

Now, you don’t have to do all of these. Especially starting out, you can just pick one. Like every day, they will come in and find the steady beat. Or every day they come in and read lyrics to the song. Don’t stress.

It has made for really interesting conversations, and all of these require higher order thinking skills and autonomy. It doesn’t have to be perfect—they don’t even have to do it. The point is that if they have something to do, they will (hopefully) be calmer.



Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

Not giving out pity points

In my classes, students earn class points. They get points for coming in correctly, participating, listening, lining up, transitioning, etc. I have had different versions, but the idea is that the class earns some sort of reward from the points.

In the past, I would sometimes be a little too loose with my point giving—especially at the beginning of class. I have moved to a if I hear any talking at all when you walk in, we do not earn the first point system. Although this may seem overboard, I am sticking to it, because I want them to actually earn the points.

Now, if I have one kid that is just ridiculous all of the time, I’ll ignore the one. Other than that one kid, we all work as a team. And if there is always that ONE, I will even say, “I can ignore so and so as long as the rest of you are correct.”

Also read: 3 Really Specific Classroom Management Systems for the Music Room

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

Reviewing and referring to the rules

The first day we spent a lot of time on rules. And my first year, and that is all that happened. This year, we have reviewed them everyday (five times). We have talked about specific things I have seen to nip them in the bud. And on top of that, when people show what I expect, I point it out.

For example, one of our expectations is “Be respectful”. When I hear a student saying something nice, I say, “Thank you so much! That is really respectful!” And I literally point to it on the wall.

This way, the rules—sorry, they are supposed to be expectations now—are not just something that we go over once, but they are involved all the time.



Calling parents early

Y’all. I’m just going to be honest. I was TERRIFIED to call parents my first year of teaching.

I know, I know. Ridiculous. But seriously—did anyone else feel that way? Or is it only me that was a wimp?

Anyway, it took me a loooong time to call parents.

And once I did, I realized it wasn’t that bad.

This year, I started early. Like third day early.

But I called all of my students that can get a little more wild, but hadn’t yet, because it was so early. And I said, “Your child is doing a great job in music!”

This created a few things. 1. It establishes a relationship with a parent you may need on your side. 2. The kid gets really excited, and they continue doing a good job to get the same attention. 3. It changes the culture—my parents sometimes don’t even bother answering the phone when the school calls, because they get so much bad news. Sending home a positive phone call can really help change that. 4. You may find out things you did not know.

For example, I called a parent today, and she happened to mention that her religion does not allow them to sing songs that are not about God.

Y’all. I had no idea. I thought this girl was just refusing to sing. Honestly, she has some other behavior issues as well, so it wasn’t far fetched. But knowing that is valuable information! I talked with mom about what is and is not ok, and on Monday I am going to talk to the girl and make sure we are all on the same page. Because right now I’m not sure if she thinks she can’t do anything in music, and that is the problem. Even if it isn’t, at least she’ll know I am not upset with her about not singing.

 

Teaching my choir kids songs for later in the year

Last year, I got a choir together, and realized I had NO CLUE what I was doing.

I feel so much more prepared in my second year.

I haven’t started the choir yet (we’re only 7 days in!), but when I do, I have more of a plan.

I have a concert in December, one in January, one in February, and one in May. And possibly more. But at least those.

Last year, even without the January concert, it was a mess. It was a mess because I wasted my first few weeks when it is too early for Christmas music. Then after Christmas, we did not have a lot of time to get all of the pieces ready for February, and it was stressful.

This year, I am going to teach my students the songs for January and February right off the bat. This way, they already know some songs, and they will have something to do if we are asked to do a surprise concert.

Also, I am going to try structuring my choir rehearsals like this:

5 minute warm up

10 minute theory lesson (to help us learn sight reading)

15 minute work on new material

15 minute work on parts we already know

This way we are not working on the same thing for too long. I am hoping the pace will work out well.

Also read: How to do Auditions for an Elementary Musical (and why you should!)



More assessments and more centers

I don’t mean that every day we will sit down and write papers, but I want to do a better job knowing what my kids know.

This could mean that I just watch them play instruments to see them learn rhythms, walk around and listen to their singing voices, etc. I am trying to find something to assess in every class. That doesn’t mean that everything is a test, it just means that I am trying to know what they know.

Because if they know a concept, we can move on. And if they are struggling, then we can’t.

For some reason, this was hard as a first year teacher. I think you get caught up in the idea of assessment as sitting down and taking a test. That is part of it, but not all. In my second year of teaching, I am really exploring different (easy!) ways to assess students.

Yesterday I had my second graders playing rhythms on drums. I literally just watched a different student each time, and marked down whether they got it or not. It seemed to be about half and half (although I was happy to see that the students I had last year did better than the ones I did not). So that told me we can stay on the concept longer.

It also told me how to group them. So next time we do rhythms on instruments, I can group together those who got it and those who did not. Even if I don’t do “centers” specifically, I can still put them together and help the struggling group more. (By having them repeat the rhythm, deconstructing it, pointing to the rhythms as they play, etc.)

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

Closing Activities

I still struggle with this one. But when you teach kids, you should always have some sort of closing activity where THEY tell YOU what they learned. With the little people, this might take some prodding, but from second on, you can just say, “What did you learn today?”

You can have them tell their partner. You can have them do a Kahoot! I am personally loving (although I still it from a first grade teacher who I think got it on pinterest) having 2-3 students tell we what they learned, and then having them write it on a sticky note. They get to put the sticky note on my anchor chart that says, “What stuck with you today?”

Guys. They. Love. It.

Like they are super excited to write on a sticky note. And most of my students hate writing. But this is exciting.

The other things is that I can use what they wrote and transfer it to anchor charts. So I can take all of the stickies talking about rhythm and put it on a poster that talks abut rhythm.

Your administrators will be so impressed.

And you can do this every day until you run out of sticky notes. Then you can buy a bunch from Amazon through this link. 

Or this one if you want them to be pretty colors.

I also have all of my students tell me what they learned (or answer a question) as they walk past me while leaving the class. I have learned SO MUCH from their answers. You could also write them down to help you remember.

I avoid writing exit tickets because it is such a pain to get all the stuff out as they are leaving. If any one else has this figured out in your second year of teaching, let me know!

I’m still learning more about closing activities, so if you have ideas, leave them in the comments!



If you are reading this looking for ideas and feel overwhelmed– don’t. I know. It is a lot to think about. Having something for students to do immediately and closing activities and assessing…. That’s a lot of stuff.

But you can do it! If I can, you can!

Just pick one thing from the list– or from your own list of things you want to change– and work on it. Once you get that thing, add in another thing.

What about you? What did you do differently in your second year of teaching? Or your third or fourth? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!





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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.

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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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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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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