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Music teachers deal with a lot of things, including teaching on a cart. This is when you are banished to the teachers’ classrooms, forced to wheel around on a rolly cart. It can be frustrating, it can be challenging, but it’s not impossible.
As someone who has spent more than her fair share of days rolling around the hallways of my school, I can tell you that you can actually have a good time and a lot of fun on a cart.
Whether you’re teaching music on a cart for a day or for a year, this blog post will help you prepare yourself, your cart, and your lessons for what lies ahead.
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Tips for Teaching Music on a Cart
1. Be Self Sufficient
First of all, when you’re on a cart, you want to be self-sufficient. Different classrooms have different levels of technology, different layouts, and all over they are just different.
You want to have everything you need on your cart.
That may include:
- A speaker
- Your classroom management tools
Yes, I bring my own white board markers because I have been in classrooms where I could not find them. I bring my own crayons and pencils because they kids don’t always have them and I don’t know where the teacher keeps things.
It seems excessive, but it will make your life better.
I also bring my own classroom management tools to make sure I have EVERYTHING I need.
For classroom management tools, I’m thinking about a few things:
- Chimes to ring for quiet
- My point board (check it out here!)
- Tickets or stickers to hand out to those doing a good job
And lastly, I bring my own speaker to classes. I purchased this one off of Amazon for teaching on a cart during the hybrid year, and I love it so much I have 2. It’s super loud, the charge lasts forever, and it’s compact. They also say it’s waterproof if that’s a plus for you, but I’ve never tested it.
The other thing I like about it is that the speaker goes all the way around, so you can set it in the middle of the room for added sound.
2. Start with a Routine
We start every music class the same way:
- Shaking our body
- 3 deep breaths
- Movement activity
This is even more important in the teachers’ classrooms. When students come to you, they have the chance to literally TRANSITION from one class to the next. They can get into music mode.
When you walk in and they are still typing away at their computers and the teacher just walks out…. There’s no transition from math or reading to music. Sticking to your routine helps them to get into “music mode”.
3. Have a back up plan
Classes act differently in their classrooms. It’s super weird, but it’s true. There will be classes that have been horrible all year that are great and others that have been amazing all year acting like fools. It’s just different. They don’t know whether to follow your rules or the teachers’ rules. Things are weird and when things are weird, sometimes kids don’t do well.
Plus, since you’re not in your room sometimes you plan something only to get to the room and realize there is no room. Or they don’t have a projector. For whatever reason, what you were going to do isn’t going to work.
Have a back up plan.
When I teach on a cart, I ALWAYS bring a book, paper for drawing, and I have an idea of a song or game we can do if all else fails. I don’t always need it, but when I do… It can be life saving.
Also read: Back Up Plans
4. Don’t stress too much
When you’re teaching on a cart, you’re not in your classroom and things are just different. Don’t stress too much about making everything perfect. If all you do is have some fun, that’s fine. Don’t stress.
Lessons for Teaching on a Cart
Now onto some lessons for teaching music on a cart! I’m not going to share all of them, but I’ll share a few:
Songs for Teaching in Teacher’s Classrooms
- Looby Loo: March to the beat, then put different parts of your body in the circle, similar to the Hokey Pokey. Good for K-3. See the sheet music here.
- Mama Lama: This is a movement song for 2-3 grade. Students clap and then clap with their neighbor on the first section. On the second section, one student chooses the movements for the group. If you don’t have space to make a circle, then you can just have them pat their legs, then clap. See more here.
- Pizza Pizza Daddy-O: This is always a hit with my 3-5 grades. On the first part, students cross feet, uncross, cross, uncross, and then put feet together on the “pizza pizza daddy-o” portion. On the second part, students choose actions like “let’s clap it” and then everyone does. See it on Youtube for more info.
Games for Teaching Music on a Cart
- Doggie Doggie, Where’s Your Bone: The doggie is in the front of the room. Students sing the song. You pick one person to be the thief. They sing the last line solo. The doggie has to guess who the thief is by their voice.
- Wolf/We are Dancing: Students dance while they sing and freeze at the end of the song. If they are moving, then they are out. 2-3 (click here to learn more)
- Poison: You do a pattern, students repeat the pattern. UNLESS you play the poison (which you’ll agree upon before the game). If you do the poison, then they CAN’T do it, or they are out. You can play with rhythm or melody. K-5 (click here to learn more)
- Closet Key: One student hides an object in the room (I require about an inch hanging out). One student closes their eyes during the hiding. This person tries to find the object. The class helps by singing loudly when they are close and quietly when they are far away. Good for 3-5. Learn more here.
- Extra Beat, Take a Seat: Play a rhythm pattern 3 times. Then 5 times. Then 7. Each time, if students play an extra beat, then are out. 4-5 (click here to learn more)
- Kaboom (or course!): Give students buckets or boxes with cards with rhythms or melodies (this works with anything!). One student pulls out a card and reads it. If it’s right, they keep it. If not, they put it back. If they get a Kaboom! They put them all back.
- Bingo: I love doing rhythm bingo! I have sets from Amazon, which you can check out here.
- I have, Who Has: Everyone gets a card. One student starts by reading their card it’ll say something like, “I have ta ta titi ta. Who has titi titi ta ta?” Whoever has titi titi ta ta then reads their cards. This continues until everyone has gone. Learn more here.
- Listen + draw: This is one of my favorites– pick a piece of music. Play it. Have students draw along with it. Works with any piece.
- Coloring sheets: When in doubt, color by note! These SAVE me during testing season, because they are easy but fun. Click here to shop color by note.
- Books: Just saying. Here’s some of my favorite music lessons with books.
Hopefully that’s enough to get you started! What are your best tips for teaching on a cart? Send me a message over on Instagram @beccasmusicroom and let me know!
I can’t wait to hear from you!