Children's Church, Lessons

Free Church Lesson: Using Talents for God– Music

Music! Music is one of my favorite things. I am a music teacher—I went to college for Music Education and specialized in voice. I currently teach elementary music (hence: why the blog’s name is Becca’s Music Room), which I love most of the time.

So I was really excited to talk to my kids about ways we can use music for God.

Now, some of you may not agree with me on all of the points. I have been singing in choirs since middle school. I have taken piano lessons. I have given recitals where I have sung opera and art songs and oratorios.

Some of those songs were about God. And a lot were not.

And you know what? During all of those instances, I feel like I am praising God. Sometimes even more so than in church on Sunday.

It is something about music that makes me feel connected to God, even when I am singing about French birds (no, I am not making that up). I truly believe that God honors the dedication and practice. He pours out his presence and his spirit of creativity on us.

I don’t sing on Sundays because I teach Children’s Church, but I still honor God with music.

I do it every day when I teach school, even though I do not say his name or sing songs that have to do with him. But I am still honoring God with my talents because I am showing his love to the kids and teaching them about music.

So I went into teaching this lesson with that in mind. You can be a worship leader and honor God with your talents. You can play trumpet in a jazz band and honor God with your talents. You can play Mozart on piano and honor God with your talents. You can teach elementary music and honor God with your talents.

I want my students to see all of those sides.



This lesson, even more so than some of the others, was inspired by reading this book. It is a wonderful book, and talks in depth about praising God with art—even when it is not in the most obvious ways. Because so much of my life is dedicated to art—both in music and in my painting hobby—I related very well to the book. It is also a quick, good read.

This lesson is conversation based, like the others have been. If you have missed any you can read them here:

Free Church Lesson: Using Talents for God-- Music. Conversation based lesson for teaching students how they can use all of their talents for God-- even beyond the most obvious ways. Works with children's church, sunday school, and youth group. Becca's Music Room



Using Talents for God: Music

Bible Passages:

Psalms 98 (main)

1 Samuel 16:10

Lesson:

  • Ask if any of the students have a talent for music. If you do, or one of your other teachers does, go ahead and talk a little bit about it now.
  • Ask the students what some ways we can use music for God are. You will probably get a lot of “We can be worship leaders!”
  • Say: Great! Being in a worship band is a great way to honor God. You use your talent to bring people closer to him. Do you think that is the only way that we can use music talents for God?
  • Read Psalms 98
  • I heard some interesting things in here. It said to praise God with singing. But it also said to use the harp (show a picture of a harp if they don’t know what that is). The harp is kind of like a piano. Does the piano say words? Well if the piano doesn’t have words, can it still honor God? It also talks about the trumpet. When you play trumpet, you buzz your lips (allow the students to buzz their lips. This is a similar sound to a motorboat—put your lips together and then push a lot of air through them.) If you are buzzing your lips, can you say words? So how can we praise God with our trumpets?
  • I think that I know a verse that may work here. 1 Samuel 16:10 says that man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. So it doesn’t matter if I am singing or playing trumpet—it is what is in my heart that glorifies God!
  • So if I play tuba in a band at school, can I honor God in that? And if I sing in a choir and our songs are not about God, can I still honor God in that? Yes! God loves music—he created music! If we play music with the intention of honoring him with it, then we will honor him!

Also read: Free Church Object Lesson for Putting God First

Free Church Lesson: Using Talents for God-- Music. Conversation based lesson for teaching students how they can use all of their talents for God-- even beyond the most obvious ways. Works with children's church, sunday school, and youth group. Becca's Music Room



  • Now, do you think God like it if we play flute but we never practice? And we don’t work on it? No. God loves it when we work towards something. He sees when we practice every day, and he rewards it with us getting better. We can honor God just by working hard on our music. And music is hard. You have to practice a lot to be good.
  • Can anyone think of any other ways we can honor God in music? (I got “We can write songs about him.” “We can make songs that teach people about him.” “We can have a concert and give the money to charity” and “We can help people in our band or choir and be nice to them so they can know about God.”)
  • If we have a talent for something, should we hide it? No! We should share it. We can do that by playing music for people, and also by teaching people.
  • (I teach elementary music, so I was able to share a bit of that. We talked about how I teach music, but I try to show my students God’s love through that—hopefully by me loving them, they will see God’s love through me. I can also give them the skills they need to worship God with their music. (We also talked about how teachers in public school cannot teach about God. You do not need to go that far, but it came organically for us since I am a teacher.))
  • End the service with something musical. You could have them dance or sing along with a worship song. (My kids LOVE this one—they request it every week!) We played a music game, which is my thing because I do it in school all week. Or you could sing a song with them—Father Abraham is a big favorite.

Also read: My Kids’ Favorite Church Games

How do you use music for God? What did you students come up with? Let us know in the comments!

And don’t forget to subscribe for the rest of the series, and other Children’s Church Resources!



Free Church Lesson: Using Talents for God-- Music. Conversation based lesson for teaching students how they can use all of their talents for God-- even beyond the most obvious ways. Works with children's church, sunday school, and youth group. 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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Elementary Music, Organization

The Best Classroom Purchase Ever!

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

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

My rule is: Do not buy consumable things.

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

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

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

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

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

A metal rolling cart.

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

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

All of the time.

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

Also: My First Experience with Donor’s Choose

This purchase has literally changed my life.

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

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

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

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

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

So what do I keep on my cart?

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

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

Top Shelf:

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

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

Other items include:

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

 

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

Second Shelf:

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

 

 

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

Bottom Shelf:

Still not convinced about the best classroom purchase ever?

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

Here it is in teal:

And in grey like mine:

 

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

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

 


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