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.

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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Children's Church, Lessons

Free Church (Interactive!) Object Lesson: Jesus’ Forgiveness

I know you are thinking– interactive object lesson? Is that a thing? Well, it is today. This is one of the best lessons that I was able to do with my kids to help them learn about Jesus’ forgiveness in a fun way. It is super simple and very effective. It is easily adjusted depending on students’ age. The only thing I am going to say is that you need really good erasers like these.

Also read: How to Structure Children’s Church in 6 Easy Steps

Free Church (Interactive!) Object Lesson: Jesus' Forgiveness. This lesson is great for Children's Church, Sunday School, or Youth Group. Becca's Music Room.

Jesus’ Forgiveness

 

Materials:

 

Bible verses:

1 John 1:9 Free Church (Interactive!) Object Lesson: Jesus' Forgiveness. This lesson is great for Children's Church, Sunday School, or Youth Group. Becca's Music Room.

Procedure:

  • Have students draw a large heart on their paper. If you’d prefer, you can print out large hearts instead.
  • Ask the students if the heart is pure. Since it is clean, the answer is yes.
  • Tell them, sometimes even when you are trying to do a good job, we mess up anyway. What is a way that we may mess up?
  • Once a student tells you a sin, tell them that sin clouds up your heart. Write the sin on the heart (big!) and have the students do the same.
  • Ask the students what might happen after that. True to connect all of the sins. For example, if the first sin they offer is stealing, then tell them you might lie to cover it up because you don’t want them to know. Then write the next sin on your heart and have students do the same.
  • Repeat these steps until the heart is full of bad things.
  • Now ask them, do you think that Jesus still loves you even with this? (Yes!) But do you think he can live in your heart with all of that stuff? (No.)
  • We need Jesus’ forgiveness sometimes. Can someone tell me what forgiveness is? How do we get it?
  • Read 1 John 1:9
Free Church (Interactive!) Object Lesson: Jesus' Forgiveness. This lesson is great for Children's Church, Sunday School, or Youth Group. Becca's Music Room.
It should look similar to this when finished with the “sins” part, but with whatever sins your students come up with.

Also read: Free Church Object Lesson for Putting God First

  • Ask them “So what do we need to do to be forgiven?” Once they say that you need to admit it and ask for it, ask them, “Why do you think that you need to say it out loud?” (Because we don’t want to hide that it happened. We have to admit it so that we are being honest.)
  • What else do you think would be a good thing to do? Guide them until they answer that you should talk to the people that you wronged.
  • Go through each of the sins on the heart and “make it right” by talking to the person you wronged, making it right, and asking for Jesus’ forgiveness. Each time, erase the sin from the heart. Have the students do this as well. (This is why you need good erasers like these!)
  • Once it is clean, ask the students if they will think it will sty like that forever. (No.)
  • Tell them: It’s probably not going to stay pure forever. Even if you try hard, you will probably mess up every once and a while. The important thing is that we try to do our best to be like Christ, and that we ask for forgiveness when we mess up—and quickly after! We don’t want to end up filling our heart with sins, because then we will have a lot of stuff to fix.
  • Give the students a few minutes (play a quick worship song) and ask them to think about something they may need to ask forgiveness for, and to pray for it. At the end, pray a general prayer over them that they will learn from this lesson and try to keep their hearts pure.

There we have it! If you need some more things to do, you can check out My Kids’ Favorite Church Games or my Pinterest page to find things to do.

There you go! What is our favorite object lesson about Jesus forgiveness? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Teaching!

Free Church (Interactive!) Object Lesson: Jesus' Forgiveness. This lesson is great for Children's Church, Sunday School, or Youth Group. Becca's Music Room.

 

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Children's Church, Lessons

Best Easter Sunday Activities for Church

I am going to be honest, I used to struggle with Easter Sunday activities so much. I never knew what lesson to do. The kids are all hyped up on sugar. It’s just kind of ridiculous.

I know you are probably sitting there thinking, Becca—you talk about Jesus raising form the dead. Easter Sunday activities are so easy.

Yes.

However.

At least at my church, most of them can tell the story of Jesus raising from the dead about as well as I can. They hear it in Sunday School, on Wednesdays, from their parents, from me, etc. You may recall I have a similar issue on Christmas (you can find one of my solutions here).

Anyway, I don’t want to tell them the exact same thing that they already know. So I try to find different ways to do the job. So here are four of my favorite Easter Sunday activities to help tell the story of Jesus raising from the dead— for kids who know the story very, very well.

Best Easter Sunday Activities for church. Great for children's church or sunday school. Includes an object lesson and some hands on fun Bible searches. Becca's Music Room

Let’s Put it in Order

This is actually a new one I am trying this year.

Have students tell you different parts of the Easter story. Ask them what they know. Make sure they do not have any questions. Make sure they hit all of the points that you are using in the game.

Before class, write parts of the Easter story on pieces of paper with the Bible verses where it occurred on them. (You are going to want to use all four of the Gospels so that students can’t just use the numbers to put them in order.) Have students put all of the pieces in the order that they occurred.

Have students work in groups. If you have mixed age groups (like I do) make sure that you pair younger students with older students so that it will be more even. Someone in the group needs to be able to read. You could also do it without the references and just tell them that everything is in John. Or Matthew. Or whichever one you pick.

Also read: Free Church Lesson for Putting God First

Resurrection Rolls

This is pretty much the most wonderful object lesson EVER. One of my friends found it years ago and wanted to do it, and we have used it every single year since. You can find the original here.

Basically, you use a marshmallow (the big ones! I use these) to represent Jesus (because he is pure). Tell the students that he died for their sins. When he died, they put a bunch of stuff on his body so it would smell better.

Roll the marshmallow in melted butter and then in cinnamon-sugar mix. They put his body in a tomb, so you wrap it up in a crescent roll. Make sure it is sealed tight. Put the rolls in the oven (with a teenager to watch them!) until cooked. Have students bite into them and ask them what they find—the marshmallow will be gone. Because Jesus conquered the grave and rose again.

Just be careful because they might say, “He melted!”

Tip: Use aluminum foil on the pans so that it doesn’t stick to them. Trust me, when the marshmallow gets stuck to the pan, there is no getting it off.

The other article has all of the details (it’s where I found it!), so give it a read before you do it.

Bible Verse Egg Hunt

Have students hunt for Easter eggs. (Click the picture above or here to get them at a decent price on Amazon) In each one, put a Bible verse.

Depending on the group, the verses could be about different things. I have done this with verses about love, verses about the Easter story, etc. This year we are going to read prophesies of Christ—so verses that predict Jesus or that predict him dying and raising again. Have students hunt for the eggs.

Have each student read their verse out loud (you can write it on there or have them find it in their Bibles) and talk about what it means.

I am going with prophesies this year because I want the students to see the God knew exactly what was going to happen and had a plan the whole time. That is the main goal for this year.

Here is the one I am using. It is not the prettiest, but it does the trick! (You do not have to use all of the verses): Prophesies of Christ

Also read: My Kid’s Favorite Church Games

Egg Hunt

And of course, you can always just do an egg hunt. Not as educational, but it is fun.

Best Easter Sunday Activities for church. Great for children's church or sunday school. Includes an object lesson and some hands on fun Bible searches. Becca's Music Room

 

So those are my top four! We will be doing at least three of them this year (I am not sure about the normal egg hunt).

Of course, we always spend some extra time dancing to help us burn off the energy of the morning’s candy!

Don’t forget to subscribe or follow my Pinterest page for more posts!

What are your favorite Easter Sunday activities? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!

Best Easter Sunday Activities for church. Great for children's church or sunday school. Includes an object lesson and some hands on fun Bible searches. Becca's Music Room

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Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

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

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

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

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

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

And don’t forget to subscribe for more ideas!  

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

Five Little Monkeys

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

  Procedure:

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

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

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

Extensions:

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

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

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

Click the picture below to check out the book!

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

Happy teaching!

 

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3-5, Elementary Music, Lessons

Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Boomwhackers and Science

Boomwhackers. I love Boomwhackers. I love to use them for everything, really. Rhythms, chords, etc.

This is a super simple, mini science lesson that I like to use with Boomwhackers.

In Georgia at least, they talk about the science of sound in 1st grade and 4th grade. I have used parts of this with all of my grades to help reinforce some science. This lesson is better suited for older students though.

Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Boomwhackers and Science. Great lesson for third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Students read rhythms, talk about high and low sounds, and learn how size affects sound. Becca's Music Room.



Boomwhackers and Science

Materials:

Boomwhackers in a Pentatonic scale (click here to check them out)

Hula hoops

Rhythm cards

Baton (optional)

Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Boomwhackers and Science. Great lesson for third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Students read rhythms, talk about high and low sounds, and learn how size affects sound. Becca's Music Room.



Procedures:

  • Start by introducing the Boomwhackers, and going over the rules.
  • Show them two Boomwhackers that are the same note but different octaves. I like to use C because I have them in three octaves, so I can use my really big one and really small one.
  • Repeat after me: Small is high, big is low, that is science you should know!
  • Say that a few times and then ask which one of the boomwhackers is going to be higher just by looking at it. I like to have them point either right or left so that I can see what they think. Then play them so the kids can hear if they are correct.

Also read: Phrases for Classroom Management in the Music Room



  • Pass out the Boomwhackers.
  • Have the students get into groups, one with each of the Boomwhackers and have them arrange themselves lowest to highest (this works better if your kids haven’t figured out that the letters are on the Boomwhackers. And yes, mine usually don’t notice.) Then have them play a rhythm in that order so that you can hear it going up the scale.
  • Have students sit with all their colored Boomwhackers at a hula hoop. Put a rhythm (I just use my normal rhythm cards) inside of the hula hoop. Give them thirty seconds to practice the rhythm (I always walk around and double check that they are all playing them correct).
  • Do whatever your attention-getting system is. I use a cow bell because it is louder than thirty Boomwhackers.
  • You are the conductor. Walk to each of the groups and have them play their rhythm on repeat. Bring in each of the other groups until everyone is playing. I like to add in crescendos and decrescendos after everyone is playing.
  • After everyone has come in, go through and stop each of the groups.
  • Assessment time: Have students take a good look at the Boomwhacker they have. After rotating to a new instrument, have them hold it above their head if it is higher than the old one or close to the group if it is lower—just by sight.
  • Bonus: Have a student “conduct” the Boomwhacker choir!
  • Extension: Show them two other similar instruments and have them guess which one is higher. I like to bring in my violin and cello, but it could work with a guitar and an ukulele or a flute and a piccolo, or whatever you have available.

Also read: Music Lesson Ideas: Opera



Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Boomwhackers and Science. Great lesson for third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Students read rhythms, talk about high and low sounds, and learn how size affects sound. Becca's Music Room.
This is a fourth grade playing Boomwhackers along with In the Hall of the Mountain King. Video from YouTube.

So there you go! It’s not too hard, but it does really help solidify their understanding of how size relates to sound. You can also show them pictures of the whole string family, or a close up of strings on a guitar or ukulele or violin and show them how even the thickness of the strings affects how high or low they are.

If you don’t have and Boomwhackers, get them! Click on the picture below.

Also read: Free Music Lesson: Bizet Scarf Routine

Do you talk about science in music? What is your favorite way to do that? Let us know in the comments!

 



Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Boomwhackers and Science. Great lesson for third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Students read rhythms, talk about high and low sounds, and learn how size affects sound. Becca's Music Room.

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

Music Lesson Ideas: Opera Stories

If you have been reading my blog, then you have hear me mention that my Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd graders spent a lot of time this year on opera. We use the Musical Explorer curriculum (currently available in Savannah and New York City, and I heard rumors that they are trying to get it elsewhere). Every semester, students learn about three styles of music, and then they go to a concert. This means that by the time they finish, they have gone to 6 concerts and learn 18 styles of music.

Which is awesome!

I really cannot sing its praises enough.

Anyway… this semester was Ringshout, Opera, and Blues.

And we spent a lot of time on opera.

You can read about our Creative Movement with Scarves lesson here, or our Bizet Scarf Routine here. (Do you see a theme? I truly love scarves in the music room!)

You can click on the picture to buy some for your music room!

This lesson is all about the opera stories.

Now, opera stories can be a little bit on the ridiculous side. Some of them are reeeeally complicated (Can you say Magic Flute?). Or inappropriate (Can you say Carmen?). This made teaching the opera stories really complicated.

So here are a few ideas to help out…



Music Lesson Ideas: Opera Stories. Lots of ideas for teaching opera in elementary music! Scarves, videos, books, writing, coloring, etc. I used lots of these in my classroom, and now my students love opera! Success! Becca's Music Room

Tell the Story Around the Aria

The two piece the students were supposed to learn were from Norma and La Traviata.

Have you ever tried explaining either of those to Kindergarteners? It’s difficult.

Instead, I just told them the story right around the aria. I basically just explained what they were saying.

For example, with La Traviata, instead of trying to explain the whole thing in its ridiculousness, I just talked about the aria.

We watched this video. First, I told them to try to decide how she was feeling by her facial expressions. I stopped it every once and a while and ask. I like this video because she looks happy while she sings, and then upset when the man is singing.

Afterward, I told them what was going on—that she is talking about wanting to be free, so she is happy. The man wants her to marry him, but she does not want to marry him. This is why she looks upset when he is singing.

And that is all they really needed to know about that.

First story down!



Pick a Beginning, Middle, and End

The next of the opera stories we learned was The Magic Flute. Now, the Magic Flute is another one of those operas that is just kind of all over the place. It is complicated, and there are a ton of things going on.

I did something terrible—I only told them about the first act.

The first and second acts are just so different that it was too difficult to try to get it all in there.

We watched this video of the Papageno/Pagagena duet. They thought that it was HILARIOUS. They laughed so hard at the part where they were singing “Pa… pa pa….. pa… pa pa…” I got a wonderful video on my Instagram of some of my first graders singing along with it.

Then we talked about how all stories have a beginning, middle, and end. In this one, the beginning is when Princess Pamina gets captured. In the middle, Papageno and the Prince Tamino go and look for her. At the end, they find her!

Yes, I know. Only one act and extremely simplified. But that’s what Kindergarteners need.

After the video and the discussion, we did this coloring sheet which I got for free on Crayola’s website. I cut them out ahead of time (you can have the kids do it if you are feeling adventurous), and we drew pictures of the beginning, middle, and end. The boxes are pretty small, so I did have the older kids write “beginning, middle, and end”, but I did not have them write what was happening.

You can get the coloring page here.

If you want a writing connection, you could give them a piece of paper and have them write a sentence or two for each part.

My main focus was “Opera is fun!” rather than “We need to know exactly how The Magic Flute goes.”



Compare and Contrast

Pick an opera that has a common story, like Cinderella. Talk to the students about what an opera is (People acting out a story by singing all the time). Then tell them sometimes when a composer writes an opera, they use a story people know.

Watch a video from the opera Cinderella. Then watch a video from the Disney movie Cinderella.

Make a Compare/Contrast chart. You could do it on the board, or have them do it individually or as groups.

Depending on the videos you pick, they will say different things. I would focus on differences like setting—opera is live, so the setting cannot change as much as a cartoon. Vocal quality—they will probably say the opera sounds “bigger” or “louder”.

Also read Free K-2 Music Lesson: Animal Form

Read a Book

We did not do this one, but it is probably the best option.

Read a book about an opera, or with the same story. Here are some examples with The Magic Flute.

After you read the book, watch a few videos from the opera.

Extension: Have them act it out! You can read the book, or have a student read it, and have the characters move around to act out the story. You can pause and listen to the arias as they come up in the story. (This would be great for older kids.)

You can click on these books to check them out.

Watch a Video

I was flipping through the channels one day and hear the music from Carmen. I stopped, and realized that it was an episode of Arthur!

In this 15 min. video, Muffy and her dad are going to the opera. She thinks that she won’t like it, but after she tries it, she does.

The great thing is they use real music! There is one scene where they change the plot to make it kid-friendly and have the characters singing in English. At the end, they are snippets of the real music from Carmen.

We watched it and the kids loved it! And since it is shorter, it didn’t take up too much of the time.

Check it out here.


And a Bulletin Board Idea….

For this month, I did an opera bulletin board. I made three of the coloring sheets with the school’s poster maker (in other words, I didn’t spend any money). I wrote the sentence that corresponds with the beginning, middle, and end. Then I put it up along with some of the kid’s drawings. the drawings are form the Crayola website which is above under “Beginning, Middle, and End”.

I added the title and the answer to the question “What is opera?”. And I wrote that we were doing The Magic Flute.

Music Lesson Ideas: Opera Stories. Lots of ideas for teaching opera in elementary music! Scarves, videos, books, writing, coloring, etc. I used lots of these in my classroom, and now my students love opera! Success! Plus a bulletin board idea. Becca's Music Room Music Lesson Ideas: Opera Stories. Lots of ideas for teaching opera in elementary music! Scarves, videos, books, writing, coloring, etc. I used lots of these in my classroom, and now my students love opera! Success! Plus a bulletin board idea. Becca's Music Room

How did it turn out?

Great!

My opera lessons were huge hits.

When we watched the Arthur video, I told them “Some people think that opera is boring, and they don’t like it!”

You should have seen their shocked little faces. They gasped and said “No!”

I said, “Yes. Do you think opera is boring?”

“No! Opera is fun!”

This is a big deal in any school, but in my urban, inner city school, it was an even bigger deal.

What opera strategies do you use? Do your kids keep an open mind? Let me know in the comments!

Music Lesson Ideas: Opera Stories. Lots of ideas for teaching opera in elementary music! Scarves, videos, books, writing, coloring, etc. I used lots of these in my classroom, and now my students love opera! Success! Plus a bulletin board idea. Becca's Music Room



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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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3-5, Children's Church, Lessons

Children’s Church Christmas Lesson for Kids Who Know the Christmas Story

Let’s be honest: I have a hard time teaching Children’s Church on Christmas and Easter. The Christmas lesson is particularly difficult.

Yes, I guess it should be the easiest days to teach. But it is not. It is difficult because all of my kids know the Christmas story and the Easter story. My group is 10-15 kids, most of whom I have known since they were born and taught since they were four. Some of them have never known another Children’s Church teacher. But between myself, the Sunday School teachers, the Wednesday night teachers, and the few that have Bible classes at school, they know the Christmas story. There is at least one that knows more about the Bible than I do. So trying to find a way to teach them a Christmas lesson without them falling asleep is a constant challenge!

So I thought: let’s get creative!

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

My choir sang Huron Carol last year. I had never heard it before, and I thought my kids probably have not either.

Huron Carol is a Christmas carol. It is the first Christmas carol ever written in the Canada in 1642. Missionaries used it to teach the Native Americans (Canadians?) about Jesus. You can read more about it here.

Since the Native Americans had no concept of myrrh.

And frankly, neither do your kids.

So the missionaries made a song with words that they could understand.

And behold… my Christmas lesson was born.

Also: How to Structure Children’s Church in 6 Easy Steps

Download the printable version here.Children’s Church Christmas Lesson

Download the printable version of the lyrics here. Huron Carol Lyrics



Children's Church Christmas Lesson for kids who know the Christmas story. Would also be a great project for a Bible school English class, youth group, Sunday School, girl scouts, etc. Huron Carol. Becca's Music Room

Huron Carol Christmas Lesson

Materials:

Procedure:

  1. Ask the kids what holiday is coming up? (Christmas!)
  2. Ask if anyone knows why we celebrate Christmas. Allow for answers. If no one arrives at the real reason for Christmas, tell them a brief version.
  3. Ask kids to turn in their Bibles to Luke 2:1-20. While you (or a kid) read, ask them to count all of the words that they do not know.
  4. Ask how many of the words they do not know. Write them down on the board, or on a piece of paper. Go over each one, so that they know what they are.
  5. Tell them, “People from different places know different things. Just like we don’t understand all of the words, neither do a lot of other people. Years ago, after Christopher Columbus came over the Americas, some missionaries went to teach the Native Americans about Jesus. Just like we didn’t understand some of the things in the story, neither did they. So the missionaries came up with a song to tell the story using things that the people knew.”
  6. Pass out copies of the lyrics to Huron Carol. Read it with them. After each part, ask what part of the Christmas Story it represents. You could also assign parts to groups to figure out, if you have older kids.
  7. Tell the kids that they are going to make up a version of the Christmas story. I have mixed age groups, so I gave guidelines—think of a TV show or movie or video game or book. They need to come up with a job for the people who go to Jesus (instead of shephards), a precious gift to give Jesus (instead of gold, frankincense, and myrrh), and a place for Jesus to stay (instead of the manger).
  8. Give an example with something they may know. An example could be if they are in SpongeBob, then the people who come to Jesus could be people who work at the Krusty Krab, the gift can be Krabby Patties, and the place to stay could be Spongebob’s pinapple. Why on Earth that is the first thing I thought of, I cannot tell you. But you get the picture. You can pick your own example if you do not like that one.
  9. Have the kids write down their ideas. Tell them all of the things in the story have to be in their “world”. They are missionaries to their world, and the people have to understand them.
  10. Have the kids share their stories with the class.
  11. Follow up with whatever your favorite Christmas activity is—crafts, games, etc. (If you need help with some good games, subscribe to find out when My Kids’ Favorite Church Games post comes out!

Children's Church Christmas Lesson for kids who know the Christmas story. Would also be a great project for a Bible school English class, youth group, Sunday School, girl scouts, etc. Huron Carol. Becca's Music Room



Also, here is a picture books of Huron Carol. You could use them as well, and if you have younger kids, they would love them. I plan to buy myself one. Click on the picture to check it out!


I love making ornaments with the kids at Christmastime. (Despite the fact that my mother never let me put homemade ornaments on the real tree… anyway…) I have used a lot of these, and also you can find some more on this Pinterest board.

And if you are in need of a Christmas Program, check out Church Christmas Programs: What Do I Choose?

Do you have a hard time with Christmas lessons? Or do you have a favorite that you do every year? Let me know in the comments, and subscribe to get more content!

Happy teaching!

Becca

Children's Church Christmas Lesson for kids who know the Christmas story. Would also be a great project for a Bible school English class, youth group, Sunday School, girl scouts, etc. Huron Carol. Becca's Music Room



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

Lesson Ideas: Creative Movement with Scarves

I love using scarves in my classroom. We do scarf routines that I have made up, or from Artie Almeida’s Parachutes and Ribbons and Scarves, Oh My! (Which if you do not have, you need!). We use them to keep the steady beat, feel phrases, etc.

So when I first started my opera unit, I thought, “I will make up a scarf routine for these two songs.”

And then I didn’t.

So it was right before my first class, and I realized that I had forgotten. So I decided to improvise.

“Let’s do creative movement with scarves! You can make up your own moves that match the music.”

I thought creative movement would be a disaster. That people would be hitting each other or bored or whatever.

But they loved it.

See some of my other favorite resources in my Resources Page.

Lesson Ideas: Creative Movement with Scarves. Learn how to use creative movement and scarves to teach high/low, melody, listening, form, and even assessment! Scarves are the greatest tool there is in elementary music. Becca's Music Room

I know this is nothing new, but I am here to say if you have not tried creative movement, you should. How do I incorporate creative movement? You may ask. Well here are some ideas…

Creative Movement for Listening

This is the easiest and best. This is how I used creative movement for the first time.

We were learning about opera. My school district does this wonderful program called Musical Explorers. The students learn about three types of music, and then go to a concert… twice a year. If you teach in near Savannah, Georgia or New York City, check it out! (Link for Savannah, link for NYC)

Anyway, one of our styles is opera. I love opera, so I was very excited for this.

We had some quiet listening time first. I told them to close their eyes. They could move their arms or heads or bodies, but eyes have to stay closed and you have to stay in your seat.

This also went better than anticipated.

Then we talked about opera. We watched a video of the other song we needed to learn. Then I pulled out the scarves.

All I said was that your scarf should match the music. So if it is fast, how should your scarf move? If it is slow, how should your scarf move? With the older kids, we talked about how you could also trace the melody, or have bigger movements when it was louder.

And it was great! Most of them actually bought into it and were listening.

Tips: Let them hear the music prior to turning them loose with the scarves. Encourage them to move their body to the music so that it will be easy to translate to the scarves.

Lesson Ideas: Creative Movement with Scarves. Learn how to use creative movement and scarves to teach high/low, melody, listening, form, and even assessment! Scarves are the greatest tool there is in elementary music. Becca's Music Room

Creative Movement for High and Low

My students have practiced high and low while moving around the room, wiggling their fingers, pretending to be fairies and monsters, etc. Scarves would be great!

You could play on the piano and have them move their scarf high for high sounds or low for low sounds. The Music Connection has a recording of high and low sounds for this purpose. Have them talk about different high movements and low movements. Challenge them by having them pick a different movement each time.

My students listened to Edward Elgar’s Fairies and Giants. We pretended to be fairies on our tip toes for the high parts and crouched down low for loud parts. You could have a lot of fun moving the scarves with this one.

Also: Free K-2 Music Lesson: Rhythm

Creative Movement for Piano and Forte

This is along the same lines. Play an instrument or listen to a piece that has forte and piano sections. Have students pick a movement to represent each one (maybe something with a small movement for piano and a large movement for forte).

You could also divide the room into two and have students move to one side for piano and the other for forte, while creatively moving their scarves to the music.

Of course, you would want to break that into sections—first listen, then stay in seats and show forte and piano, then move around the room for each one, and then finally do it all together with the scarves.

Lesson Ideas: Creative Movement with Scarves. Learn how to use creative movement and scarves to teach high/low, melody, listening, form, and even assessment! Scarves are the greatest tool there is in elementary music. Becca's Music Room
Second graders closing their eyes so they can “feel the music” in their scarves while listening to the music from Norma.

Creative Movement for Form

Have students listen to a piece of music with clear distinctions between sections (I like March from The Nutcracker (ABACABA), Rondo Alla Turca (ABCBABC), and Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks (AABA)) and talk about how form is how music is made. Talk about the form of it, so they know (and write it on the board). Then have students make up a movement for each section with their scarves.

You could even start this way, and then have students vote for their favorite movements to create a routine!

Check out my Animal Form lesson here.

Creative Movement for Moods

Have students listen to (short) pieces of music and use their scarf to reflect it. They can also use their faces to express how the music feels. Tell them they can move the scarf however they want as long as they are listening—if it is a slow, quiet piece, then the scarf movement should reflect that.

Also—end with a slow, calm, quiet piece as a winding down activity.

Artie Almeida has a great music-mood resource which you can use with scarves.

Creative Movement for Assessment

Yes, you heard me: assessment.

Creative movement with scarves can be used for assessing any of the things I mentioned and then some. Just watch the students responding to the music, and write down if they are understanding or not. For assessment purposes, having them close their eyes will give you a better sense of what they know.

Some other things you could assess include:

  • Instruments of the orchestra: Pick a movement for each instrument family, and have students watch or listen to a piece and show what they see. The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra would be great for this.
  • Melody: Have students listen to a song and trace the melody with their scarves.
  • Crescendos and decrescendos: Moving in increasingly large circles for crescendos and small circles for decrescendos.

Those are some ideas. Did I miss something that you like to do with creative movement? Have you tried any of these before? Let us know in the comments! I am always open to more ideas!

And don’t forget to get your scarves! If you do not believe me, try it and see! School can’t afford scarves? Check out my article on Donor’s Choose. You may be able to get them for free! 

Lesson Ideas: Creative Movement with Scarves. Learn how to use creative movement and scarves to teach high/low, melody, listening, form, and even assessment! Scarves are the greatest tool there is in elementary music. Becca's Music Room


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