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Christmas Music Lesson: 12 Days of Christmas

Ah, Christmas. So many songs, so little time. Every year I feel like I cannot narrow down how many songs I want to do. How do you get to them all? Anyway, my fourth and fifth graders are in the middle of a huge recorder unit, and I did not want to put that on pause to do a bunch of Christmas music (we’re doing the Link Up curriculum, and we are on a deadline!). So I only picked a few songs for my 4-5 graders, and the 12 Days of Christmas was our main song.

This song is so much fun, and so easy because it is cumulative.

There are about a million things that you can do with this song, but I narrowed it down to a few. I used a PDF version of a PowerPoint that I made, which you can check out on TPT here.

It is also part of my music lessons bundle, which has 6 different Christmas lessons at a discounted price, which you can get here.

You can also check out my free Oh Christmas Tree Music Game (with free lyric sheet and coloring sheet) here.

Christmas Music Lesson: 12 Days of Christmas. Super fun lesson for upper elementary school to teach singing, movement, writing, and fun! Becca's Music Room



 

12 Days of Christmas

  • First, go over the words to the song the 12 Days of Christmas. It is super easy, so we just read through the words and then I started singing the first verse and by the second verse, they had figured it out.
  • Next, have the students sing through the song. You can play it on the piano or use a YouTube video to sing along with.
  • Pick one student to create movements for each gift. So one student will pick and lead movements for a partridge in a pear tree. One will do it for two turtledoves, etc.
  • Sing through the song and have the students follow the movements that the leaders for each gift choose. Again, you can accompany on the piano or ukulele or you can play a recorder version.
  • Then, you can create a new version of the 12 Days of Christmas. I project the page from my 12 Days of Christmas product that has the first half of each line and then write the students’ answers on the board. Let the kids pick what they get on each day.
  • Sing through the song with your kids’ version of the song. This will need to be done a cappella or with the piano or ukulele or guitar. You can’t sing it with the recording because the words will be different.
  • Have students create individual versions of the 12 Days of Christmas if you need to include more writing in your curriculum!
  • Last, you can have students color pictures or their 12 Days of Christmas or the original version. There are coloring sheets in my product, if you get that.

Christmas Music Lesson: 12 Days of Christmas. Super fun lesson for upper elementary school to teach singing, movement, writing, and fun! Becca's Music Room



 

So there you go! Movement, writing, singing, and fun. My kids enjoyed this immensely! They thought it was so much fun. And I enjoyed it too!

Also check out my free Oh Christmas Tree music lesson/game for what I am doing with my second and third graders. Or you can get the Christmas in the Music Room Bundle and get enough lessons for the rest of the year!

And check out the decorations and books I got for my classroom in my YouTube video.

Want to get access to exclusive content? Sign up to join my FREE RESOURCE LIBRARY. Once you sign up, you can download and use any of the content in the library. New things are being added every few weeks, so make sure you check back for more FREE stuff! Sign up here.

How do you teach 12 Days of Christmas? Let me know in the comments!

Happy Teaching!



Christmas Music Lesson: 12 Days of Christmas. Super fun lesson for upper elementary school to teach singing, movement, writing, and fun! Becca's Music Room



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Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Free K-1 Music Lesson: Beat v. Rhythm with Soul Music

If you have been reading my blog for any amount of time, you will know that I love to teach students about different kind of music. We do tons of listening activities with music from all different places. This is partially because of my personal teaching philosophy, and aided by the program that my students do called Musical Explorers. There are now three of four places that do the Musical Explorers programs. Basically, we learn about six different styles of music and go to two different concerts every year. This year, one of our styles is soul music!

I was really excited about the soul music style, because it is really great for beginning of the year, because it is very accessible (more accessible than the music from Mali, which is definitely my favorite for this semester). And what are we talking about at the beginning of the year?

Beat v. rhythm.

Now, I used variations of this lesson with my kids from kindergarten to third grade. Obviously, we didn’t do exactly the same thing with my kindergarteners and my third graders, but we did parts of it. This version of the lesson will focus on what I did with kindergarten and first grade.

We start working on steady beat as soon as the school year starts with my kindergarteners. We don’t name it right away of course. By the time we get to October, they get the concept pretty well (most of my students can keep a decent steady beat the first week!), so we start talking about rhythm.

This lesson is just to prep students for the concept of rhythm. We did not actually learn ta and titi yet, we are just getting used to the idea that the beat is steady and rhythm is not.

Free heartbeat beat charts! There are charts in 2/4 3/4 and 4/4, with the quarter note on the bottom or the real time signature (or none!). Help your students work on the steady beat and rhythm with there free beat sheets! Becca's Music Room

Also, in this lesson we use beat charts. I have a free beat chart (in 4/4, 3/4, and 2/4) available in my free resource library. This is a new thing I am rolling out to help you get free stuff! Sign up for my email list and I will send you the password to the library. Once a member, always a member. More things are being added every few weeks, so check back to see what is new. Sign up here.

If you already have the password, then you can click on the picture above or the “free resource library” tag at the top of the page to get it!

 

Also read: Free K-2 Music Lesson: A Train Jazz Lesson



Soul Music and Beat v Rhythm

  • Listen to the song, I Feel Good and have students follow you by keeping the steady beat. Switch where you are keeping the steady beat while listening.
  • Tell the students that this is the beat. Tell them the beat is steady, which means that is stays the same. Another thing that has a steady beat is your heart beat. Have them try to find their heartbeat.
  • Give them a page with heartbeats on it to track. Students can point to the steady beat while listening. You can get a FREE one in my resource library here!
  • Show them the Musical Explorer page here. It has the rhythm for the song along with the heartbeat. Have students walk up and point to the steady beat on the board while the others are keeping it at their seats.
  • Afterwards, ask the kids if the beat changed. (They should say no!) Then ask them to look at the rhythm. I tell my students that rhythm is the long and short notes that do change. Even though I have not showed them ta or titi in kindergarten (although first grade has a handle on this), I will show them the rhythm of the song. Then I ask, “Does the rhythm look the same?” I will point to some of the extra weird looking ones. Then I will say some of the words and have students play the rhythm (one tap for every sound). on their legs.
  • Then we listened to I Heard it Through the Grapevine. I had students keep the steady beat by holding up their right hand, then their left hand, and back an forth. This prepped us so that we could play tambourines on the backbeat! We love our blue star tambourines, and the kids are excited for any chance to use them.
  • Usually on the next day or a different day, I will pull in beat and rhythm with a song they have already learned to focus on ta and titi. In this case, I am using 2, 4, 6, 8 Meet Me at the Garden Gate, which you can check out here.
  • I like to have students use the popsicle sticks to make rhythms almost immediately after showing them what they look like. I talk a lot about popsicle stick rhythms in this post.



Extensions:

  • Have the students learn the dance to I Heard it Through the Grapevine. It is pretty simple- step out, step across, step out, together. Then you go the other way. With the littles, I just taught it as step, together, step, together until they got it.
  • Have students draw pictures of grapevines (if you are in GA, parts of a plant is a first grade standard. Bonus points if you have them label their leaves and stems!)
  • Have students write or draw a picture of something that makes them feel good.

I hope that is helpful! It is really just an introduction to the concept of having beat and having rhythm. I did not use this to introduce rhythm (I saved that for 2, 4, 6, 8) but this helped students realize the difference between the two. Plus, it was fun! I mean, who doesn’t love soul music?

If you liked this post, make sure that you share it so more people can enjoy it too! You can get access to my FREE RESOURCE LIBRARY (which includes the beat charts I talked about here) by signing up for my email list here. I only send out two emails per month, usually announcing some free stuff!

Happy teaching!





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Elementary Music, Games, K-2, Lessons

Free Music Lesson: Brown Bear Brown Bear

We all love to use books in the music classroom. Brown Bear Brown Bear is one of my favorites—and it has so many extensions! I am planning to do a bear themed unit in January, so I am trying to find some fun things to do. If you have some ideas for bear themed lessons, let me know in the comments!

This lesson includes a solo singing game, a book, and a rhythmic/composition extension my students have really enjoyed.

You can get the Brown Bear book here.

 I also saw this version in one of our first grade teacher’s rooms this week. It’s about polar bears and it uses the same structure, but with endangered animals. I am planning to buy it soon.

Also, I am starting something new! I wanted a way to provide my subscribers with extra exclusive free content, so I have created a resource library. As of Nov. 2018, I have a free beat chart (in 4/4, 3/4, and 2/4) and 2 music interest surveys available in my free resource library. Sign up for my email list and I will send you the password to the library. Once a member, always a member. More things are being added every few weeks, so check back to see what is new. Sign up here.

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

Free Music Lesson: Brown Bear Brown Bear what do you see? This is one of my favorite lessons-- my first graders request it by name! In this kindergarten and first grade lesson, students will play, solo sing, read rhythms, and read a book! Becca's Music Room



 

Brown Bear, Brown Bear lesson

  • First off, read the Brown Bear book.
  • Next, read the book while singing. I have seen a few different songs, but I have always used the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. You use the melody for “twinkle twinkle little star” for the words “brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?” and “how I wonder what you are” for “I see a white dog looking at me”. And it repeats over and over and over again.
  • Read the book again, and have the students sing along with you if they have not already been singing with you.
  • Then you can play the game!

Game instructions:

  • Get into a circle. Every student gets a stuffed animal (if you don’t have stuffed animals, then you can download my stuffed animal cards here). I usually start holding a brown bear. Everyone sings the opening melody. Since I am holding the brown bear, then I get to sing, “I see a ______ looking at me.” I put a name of someone else’s animal in the blank. I put my animal in the middle. Everyone sings to the person who has the animal I called. Then that person picks another animal.
  • For example: I am holding a brown bear. Everyone sings “Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?” I sing, “I see a cheetah looking at me.” Everyone sings “Cheetah, cheetah, what do you see?” and the person with the cheetah sings, “I see a red bird looking at me.” And we keep going until all of the animals are in the circle.
  • PS. I usually have the kids echo sing the animal names on sol-mi before we do the game. This is helpful, especially if you have any weird ones.

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

Free Music Lesson: Brown Bear Brown Bear what do you see? This is one of my favorite lessons-- my first graders request it by name! In this kindergarten and first grade lesson, students will play, solo sing, read rhythms, and read a book! Becca's Music Room



 

Extensions:

  • You could stop there, but I usually take it a step further. I will put up rhythms. With kindergarten, we will use ta and titi. With first grade, I will use quarter note quarter rest, two quarter notes, and eighth notes quarter note. We will sort the animal by the rhythm of their name. So “brown bear” would be two quarter notes. We do this together once and then in groups after that. There are some discrepancies, so I always ask the kids the name of their animal. Because “bear” and “brown bear” have different rhythms, but they are not wrong.
  • You could also use my Brown Bear Rhythm cards to play rhythms with instruments, or to match to the animals.
  • Then we use the Brown Bear rhythm cards to have students compose new rhythms. I don’t like to use the actual animals, because composition is a little too free and I find they end up just playing with the animals. If your kids are more self sufficient, then you can try the animals and let me know how it goes!

I am working on a few more extension activities, but for now, this is it! That is a lot of content for just one book.

Also read: Free K-2 Music Lesson: Rhythm

Free Music Lesson: Brown Bear Brown Bear what do you see? This is one of my favorite lessons-- my first graders request it by name! In this kindergarten and first grade lesson, students will play, solo sing, read rhythms, and read a book! Becca's Music Room



 

I hope your students enjoy Brown Bear– mine love it and ask for it by name! I usually pull it out twice in the same year because it is so much fun… And I also use it as a solo singing assessment.

You can get the book here.

And you can get 25 beanie babies off of Amazon here!

If you liked this post, make sure that you share it so more people can enjoy it too! You can also subscribe to my email list here. You will get two emails a month with updates about my blog, YouTube, and TPT shop. You will also get a FREE music interest survey for signing up!

And let us know what your favorite activities for Brown Bear are down in the comments! I would love some ideas!

Happy teaching!



Free Music Lesson: Brown Bear Brown Bear what do you see? This is one of my favorite lessons-- my first graders request it by name! In this kindergarten and first grade lesson, students will play, solo sing, read rhythms, and read a book! Becca's Music Room



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Elementary Music

Assessment without “Assessment”

Assessment. This is one of the favorite words in education these days. Principals love assessment, district chairs love assessment…. Do teachers love assessment? Not really. Do kids? No.

But you can change that. At least you can change that in the elementary music room.
Most of us see our kids about once a week. My schedule is different this year, so I see one class for 45 minutes a day for a week, and then I do not see them for another five weeks.

Do I want to give up one of those days to stop everything and have kids do a test? No.
And a lot of our skills cannot be assessed from a paper. You cannot use your singing voice by writing on a paper.

So how do we do assessment in the music room without giving up all of our precious time? Here are a few ideas. You may already be doing some—or all—and that is great. You can add your ideas to the comments below. But if you are stumped by assessment in the music room, here are some ideas.

But wait…

Now, if you follow me on Instagram, you will see that I did give my students a drop-everything-and-take-a-test this year. I did this for a pretest with grades 2-5. And it did take almost the whole class period.

But I will say that it was worth it, because I found out soooo much about my students. The top half was a pretest and the bottom half was an interest survey. I found out what students enjoyed and didn’t enjoy (one of them said “Something I don’t like about music is not chewing gum.”).

It was also interesting, because I thought my students would freak out and be really miserable filling out this paper in music, but they did ok. And some of my worst classes actually behaved better, which I found interesting. If I continue to have issues with the one in particular, I may switch to a totally different teaching format for them.
Anyway. I would not do that for every single unit. I did one at the beginning, and I will do one at the end. Now, for what you came here for…

Also read: Routines You Need in the Music Room

Assessment without "Assessment" in the music room. I don't know about your music room, but in my elementary music class, I hate stopping everything to take a test. But we still need to know what our students know. Here are some ideas for assessment that does not interrupt your learning! Becca's Music Room



Assessment while doing an activity

This is probably the most common and easiest thing to do. You teach an activity and while they are doing it, you just check off who is doing is correctly. I suggest having a seating chart (seriously– you should have a seating chart!) with boxes on it so that you can mark students off.

I don’t do anything fancy when it comes to this. In my room, students either get a check (they are doing it right), a line (almost there), or an x (don’t have it right).

I do this almost every day. Sometimes I walk around during a game and check off who is matching pitch. If we are writing rhythms on white boards, I check off who has the correct amount of beats. We will play a game like Kaboom! and I will check off who is doing the rhythms correctly. If we are doing a form activity like this one, I’ll check off who is switching actions at the appropriate time. If we are keeping the steady beat, then I will check off who is doing that. If we are playing instruments, I will check off who is playing them correctly.

Even if you are not writing this down, you are probably doing it in your head. So just put it down on paper.

The more intentional you are about it, the more things you will find that you can use for this.

And the kids don’t even know they are being assessed.

 

Assessment during centers

This is also very helpful. If you have read this post about centers, then you know I usually have one group that is with me. And this is the perfect time for assessment. A lot of times I will do things that are very similar to what I would do whole group, but with only a few students it is easier to assess them all.

And if you are wondering, I do differentiate my centers. If you are interested in hearing more about that, let me know in the comments!

I also like to pull out things like writing rhythms on white boards or putting bingo chips on letters on the staff during this time. Those are easy things to assess that go over pretty well.

If you don’t anchor yourself at one center, you could just walk around and listen to students and check them off.

I like to have my station where students get a grade and also include some sort of written assignment where they get a grade. This could be writing a rhythm, writing lyrics, drawing a picture about a song we learned, etc.

Also read: Setting up Centers: The first Day

Assessment without "Assessment" in the music room. I don't know about your music room, but in my elementary music class, I hate stopping everything to take a test. But we still need to know what our students know. Here are some ideas for assessment that does not interrupt your learning! Becca's Music Room



Assessment through exit tickets

I will be honest, this is something I am not good at.

Exit tickets are traditionally quick things students write and hand to you at the end of class. People do this very well, and it is a good way to get quick information about if your students are understanding a particular concept.

The reason I do not do well with these is because my students sit on the floor. In order to write anything, we have to pass out paper, pencils, and clipboards. By the time that is passed out or collected, we have now spend 20 minutes on it, and it is no longer an exit ticket. This is a bit too much when we are also trying to line up (and with some classes, that itself is a struggle).

I am experimenting with some exit ticket designs that do not require a lot of stuff. Here is my first attempt, which you can get on TPT.

And if you know of something, please let me know in the comments.

 

Recording Assessments

This is something I have not explored very well either. I have, on occasion, filmed a whole class working on a dance or instruments or something like that and then gone back later to watch it and assess students. This can be done while students are already doing their stuff and it doesn’t take extra class time.

I have heard of people having students use the SeeSaw app on iPads to have students record themselves. I plan to try this once my iPads are up and running!



Also read: DIY Music Manipulative: Battleship

You can also subscribe to my email list here. You will get two emails a month with updates about my blog, YouTube, and TPT shop. You will also get a FREE music interest survey for signing up!

How do you do assessment in the music room? Do you have drop-everything-and-test days? Do you do it sneakily? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!



Assessment without "Assessment" in the music room. I don't know about your music room, but in my elementary music class, I hate stopping everything to take a test. But we still need to know what our students know. Here are some ideas for assessment that does not interrupt your learning! Becca's Music Room



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3-5, Elementary Music, Lessons

What do I do with Fifth Graders? Lessons and Tips

If you are a brand-new elementary music teacher, you might be thinking—what do I do with fifth graders? Well, even if you are not brand new, you may be thinking– what do i do with fifth graders?

If you haven’t started teaching yet, you may be confused. Let me explain.
We all know that the first year at a school is usually the hardest. On top of that, the oldest students in the school are usually the hardest. For most of us, that is fifth graders.

Why are they so difficult?

Well, the biggest thing is that they may not know you yet. They just met you. They only see you about once a week, and they do not trust you yet. I know that that stinks, but it is the truth. It takes a long time for the kids to get used to you and trust you. And this is even harder for the older students.

There is a saying, “Kids don’t care what you know until they know that you care.”
You may be thinking, Well that’s great, but what do I do NOW? Because I still have to teach them!

That’s what I’m here for.

This post is all about what to do with fifth graders when it comes to lessons. What do you actually teach them? Next week I will be posting again about how to deal with fifth grade behaviors.

Before we get started…..

We have to figure a few things out. The first thing is to figure out what the students already know. You may not be able to do this until the first few weeks of school, but it is so important. You need to know if what students know and what they are used to—singing, instruments, watching movies, doing worksheets… You would be amazed by how varied the student’s musical education can be before you get there.

How do you do that?

First, you want to look at your room. Obviously, if there is not a single instrument, they probably were not playing instruments. Or if the instruments have a one inch thick layer of dust on them, they were probably not playing instruments. If the instruments look well loved, then they may be more used to them.

Second, ASK. Ask the other teachers what they have heard the students doing in the music room. Ask the kids—yes, you can do that! You can give them a super short survey. Ask them what they liked and didn’t like last year, what they like to do, and what they want to do. You can get a FREE music interest survey from my free resource library here. There are a few templates for different grades and thoughts so that you can use whatever you would like to do.

If you have already gotten the password, then you can click the picture below to get there.

FREE Music Interest Survey as part of the new free resource library on Becca's Music Room. There are two versions-- an older student and younger student version. Find out whether your students love instruments or singing or dancing-- and what their favorite things are! Becca's Music Room

Third, try things. Once school has started (I’m writing this in October, so school started a while ago), you can just try some different things. You will find out very very quickly whether or not students are used to doing something.

For example, if you ask students to use scarves to show you high and low (like I talk about in this blog post) while listening to a song and they look at you like you are completely crazy and don’t even know what to do with the scarf, they are probably not used to using scarves or movement.

That doesn’t mean they won’t do it or they won’t love it, it just means it is new.

When you try new things you can also see what the students seem to be liking/not liking when you try something new. They may not love everything, but they may surprise you with what they do like.

Now, let’s get down to the nitty gritty: What do you teach?

Also read: Boomwhackers and Science

What do I do with fifth graders? Part 1: Lessons and Tips. Trying to teach music to fifth graders? Don't know what to do? Read this article to find out what tips and tricks to help keep those students engaged! A few ideas and a FREE RESOURCE to help your elementary music class. Becca's Music Room



Use Lots of Instruments

In any music class, the number one thing to keep students engaged is playing instruments. It’s hands on, it’s learning, and students are more likely to behave if they can play them. Seriously, if I tell students we are going to play the instruments today, they will try SO MUCH HARDER.

Your fifth graders may or may not want to sing or read music or listen to classical music, but they want to play instruments.

If you don’t have instruments, see if you can get some. Even if you just get drum sticks, they will go crazy. Seriously, put a drum stick project on Donor’s Choose. You can drum on the floor or on the chairs if you don’t have drums.

Recorders are also a good choice, since they are small and relatively cheap. A lot of schools are able to have students purchase their own recorder. If you go that route, do not let them bring the sparkly pink princess recorders that are $1. They do not sound good. I have these Yamaha ones, and a lot of other blogs I have read also seem to have them.

If you have some instruments, you can do African drumming or Orff or whatever you want really!

If you are new to the general music instrument world, I would suggest using a book or curriculum. Artie Almeida’s Kidstix program is really great, and all you need is drumsticks and coffee cans and tambourines (which are also relatively cheap). Recorder Karate is really popular for recorder, although I have not used it. (We are starting recorders for the first time next week!)



Play Some Games

All children love games, especially fifth graders. There are tons of musical games– the Kodaly curriculum is basically built off of singing games. Here are a few of my favorite singing and non singing games:

  • Extra Beat Take a Seat: This one is sooo much fun! We play it with rhythm sticks, but you can play it with just your hands too. It’s all about counting rhythms, and I like to bring in some rhythm reading as well.
  • Chicken on a Fencepost: I played this for the first time with my fourth graders yesterday, and they had a blast. It was so much fun. I plan to teach it to my fifth graders as well, although I am a little bit concerned about them freaking out about holding heads. Ideas? Let me know in the comments.
  • King of the Mountain: I have not tried this one yet, but it looks like fun. It has to do with rhythm reading, and that’s always good, right?
  • Button You Must Wonder: My students love this song. One person stands in the middle. Everyone else is in a circle, and they have to pass a button (or button like object) around the circle without the person in the middle noticing. At the end, the person in the middle tries to guess who has the button. You can play it with younger students but I think it is better with fifth grade because they have figured out how to be sneaky with it.
  • Freeze Dance: Always a winner. If stopping music mid-phrase kills you, you could try using a signal like a maraca to tell kids when to freeze and when to move.
  • Rhythm Hula Hoops: Break the class up into teams. Have four hula hoops (or three or whatever meter you’d like) out. Say a rhythm and have students figure out how many people to put in the hula hoop (one for a quarter note, two for eight notes, etc). Each student represents a sound. First team with the correct rhythm wins! Note: I like to make the first hula hoop a different color, because I have had issues with students creating the rhythm backwards.
  • Poison Rhythm: This is my go-to. You do a rhythm and students echo it back. One rhythm is poisoned. You can tell them what it is or just have it written on the board. If you do the poisoned rhythm and the students repeat it, then they are out. Last one standing is out!

What do I do with fifth graders? Part 1: Lessons and Tips. Trying to teach music to fifth graders? Don't know what to do? Read this article to find out what tips and tricks to help keep those students engaged! A few ideas and a FREE RESOURCE to help your elementary music class. Becca's Music Room



Get them Moving!

We all know kids need to move. Getting them moving to music is a really great idea. I love to use movement to teach form, but you can use it for high and low, to talk about instruments, etc. Here are some of my favorite movement activities:

  • Parachute: Parachutes are actually decently cheap, and the students love them. I believe mine is 12 feet and it fits really well in my classroom. We did this parachute routine to Star Wars last year and the kids loved it!
  • Scarves: If you have been reading my blog, you probably already knew that one was coming. I loooooove scarves! I have a Bizet scarf routine you can read here, a routine to Sempre Libera here (yes, you can get fifth graders to listen to opera if you put a scarf in their hands), and a post about creative movements with scarves here. I would also highly recommend the book Parachutes and Ribbons and Scarves, Oh My! by Artie Almeida. It is fabulous. There are two routines for the Nutcracker and I use them both pretty much every year.
  • Folk Dances: If your kids are not used to folk dancing, they might be weirded out at first, but I promise they will love it! You can use recorder music or have students sing the songs. My kids think that this one is super cool, because it looks like stepping (sidenote– the teacher in here was totally my music education professor. And no I did not learn this from hime, I just looked up the video). I have not tried Alabama Gal (yet!), but I plan to incorporate it this year.



Make it Easier– Do Some Units

If fifth graders are stressing you out, calm down. Make it easy on yourself. A great way to do that is through units. A unit is basically a bunch of lessons all tied together by something. It can make it easier to find resources because you are looking for something specific. Students will also find this really helpful because they know what to expect, and they will learn everything really well.

You could do units based off of instruments. You could do African drumming for a few months and teach the students African songs and work on rhythms. you could do a recorder or piano unit if you still have those old keyboards in your room (I do, and I totally use them!). You could even do a unit on Orff instruments where you play Orff instruments and you sing and read treble clef notes.

You could also go off of a theme. You could do seasons– teach the students songs about fall and dance to songs about fall and everything. You could do a unit about a certain country. I do this a lot and my students always think it is so cool. We will learn about a certain country and sing their songs and play their instruments.

You could pretty much do a unit about everything.

They May Surprise You

You will be amazed at what can happen when you try things. Just because you think the kids won’t like to to sing or use scarves or whatever, they might. My fifth graders really don’t mind singing– even the boys. If I hadn’t tried to get them to sing, I wouldn’t know that.

If you want to do something and you are not sure whether it will go well or not, just try it. Keep a back up plan in mind, but still just try. They may surprise you. My principal says students rise to the level of expectation you set for them.



 

So there are a few tips! Sorry for the super long post (my word counter currently says I’m at 1857), but I hope it was helpful! If you want to get that FREE MUSIC INTEREST SURVEY we were discussing, sign up for my free resource library! This is exclusive content for my email subscribers. Don’t worry– I will only send you two emails per month, usually talking about the new resource that is available. Sign up here!

What are your favorite activities for fifth graders? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!



What do I do with fifth graders? Part 1: Lessons and Tips. Trying to teach music to fifth graders? Don't know what to do? Read this article to find out what tips and tricks to help keep those students engaged! A few ideas and a FREE RESOURCE to help your elementary music class. Becca's Music Room



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

Ideas for Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage month is one of my favorite things to teach. Many people have schools with large groups of Hispanic students. I do not. But it is still fun.

If you do not usually do music lessons from different cultures, this Hispanic music is one of the easiest ones to start with. A lot of kids know some Spanish words or have seen Dora the Explorer, so they are used to some Spanish.

And it is super fun.

I do a lot of music from different cultures. And Spanish songs are some of my favorites.

How do you celebrate Hispanic heritage month?

Also read: Incorporating Social Studies in the Elementary Music Class

Ideas for Hispanic Heritage Month in elementary music. Whether you have hispanic students or not, learning spanish songs and dances is so much fun! Here are some of my favorite elementary music lessons for Spanish songs, spanish dances, and rhythm practice. Becca's Music Room.



 

Dancing

There are tons of Hispanic folk dances. Last year we learned the Mexican hat dance (well a variation of it), and it was super fun.

This year, my 2nd and 3rd graders are going to learn Los Machetes. I found it on Pinterest, and here is the link to the YouTube video so you can try it too. And as I was looking for a video of it, I found this one which just happens to be of my college music professor teaching this to his elementary music class. I am not sure how that happened, but it did.

The salsa is always a good one—and actually pretty easy to learn.

 

Songs

There are a ton of Spanish folk songs. You can sing them in English or Spanish (but it’s so much more fun in Spanish!). Here are some songs that my students are learning this year, or learned in the past:

  • Al Citron: This was super fun. Here is a link to a video of the game. I used old tin cans instead of rocks. I found this from Pinterest. (try with grades 3-4)
  • Los Pollitos: This is a super fun song for younger students about chickens. It is fun and it can lead to very interesting discussions (like how Mexican chickens say pio). I learned this song from the podcast Make Moments Matter, which is fabulous, by the way. (Here is a link to a red hen puppet, if you are into that.) And here is a link to the words.
  • Que Llueva: This is basically a Spanish version of “It’s Raining”. That is actually how I am going to teach this to my K and 1—they will learn “It’s Raining”, then we will learn “Que Llueva”. And I will be pulling out the rain sticks! Here is a link to my TPT version of this song that has the solfege, rhythm, Spanish, and English words, and rhythm cards.
  • Vamos a la Mar: I found this song on this website. I am going to do the lesson pretty close to how she wrote it. The only difference is that I wanted larger rhythm cards so that we can do the composition activity together before they do it alone. Because I wanted them larger, I actually created my own rhythm cards (some of the rhythms are different than hers, because I did them independently of those) which you can check out on my Teachers Pay Teacher page here.
  • Las Mananitas: I love this song. I actually sang an arrangement of this in college choir, and I loooove it. So when I found it in one of my textbooks at school, I knew we had to do it. Some people use this as a birthday song, so we are going to learn it and do an informal compare and contrast with our birthday song. Here is a link to a mariachi band singing it.
Ideas for Hispanic Heritage Month in elementary music. Whether you have hispanic students or not, learning spanish songs and dances is so much fun! Here are some of my favorite elementary music lessons for Spanish songs, spanish dances, and rhythm practice. Becca's Music Room.
What the Spanish rhythm cards look like when you don’t have a colored printer… My kids did not seem to care!



Instruments

You can play instruments with the songs or with the dances, or with something totally different. Of course, you can use Orff instruments or ukuleles or whatever you have in your classroom, but try using some Hispanic instruments like these:

  • Maracas: always a good one. We all have maracas.
  • Castanets: I just got a few of these (the cheap plastic ones) and I love them! We used them a few weeks ago and the kids loved them too. A lot of them said they liked them even better than the drums. Here are plastic kid ones and here are some wooden ones.
  • Claves: Claves are super cool. If you only have one or two sets (like I do), you could totally cheat and have most of the students use rhythm sticks, and just let one person use the real claves. They can switch out.
  • Cajones: So I do not have these, but they are on my wish list, because they are so cool.
  • Guiros: Instruments shaped like fish? Yes please!

 

Videos

I like to include some videos so that students can see more of the Hispanic culture. I can’t bring in professional mariachi bands in their costumes to my classroom (if you can, then go for it!). But there are YouTube videos about with professional mariachi bands in their costumes!

Here are some videos that are fun to show the students.

I would also suggest showing the students some pictures of Mexico, Costa Rica, Spain, Venezuela, etc. You can just google (ahead of time so you know what will pop up!) “pictures of Mexico”. It really helps when the students can see these places, so they know they are actual places. Without the pictures, you may as well be talking about Middle Earth for all they know.

And please, please talk about places other than Mexico. I love Mexico– I used to live there– but let the students know that hispanic heritage means everywhere that speaks Spanish, not just Mexico.



Ideas for Hispanic Heritage Month in elementary music. Whether you have hispanic students or not, learning spanish songs and dances is so much fun! Here are some of my favorite elementary music lessons for Spanish songs, spanish dances, and rhythm practice. Becca's Music Room.

And of course, you can use my Ocean Animals Rhythm Cards in Spanish and English to practice rhythms, composition, and for centers or my Que Llueva lesson to practice beat v rhythm!

And I have a YouTube channel now! Check it out here!

How do you celebrate Hispanic heritage month? Do you use songs and dances from other countries? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!



Ideas for Hispanic Heritage Month in elementary music. Whether you have hispanic students or not, learning spanish songs and dances is so much fun! Here are some of my favorite elementary music lessons for Spanish songs, spanish dances, and rhythm practice. 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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