Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Summer Lovin'

As I look back at the summer, I realize that it is coming to an end quickly. I've enjoyed my time with my kiddos. I've seen them do great things, my son is swimming, floating and singing. My daughter has started ballet. She loves to sit at the keyboard and compose. Wow! Where does the time go? As the summer winds down, enjoy your family. I have to remind myself to put work away and enjoy these times when my children are young and want to hang out with me. One of these days I will long for the good old days. Enjoy the rest of your summer. Take some time to relax and enjoy your much deserved break with your family and friends.

Freddie the Frog App

Freddie the Frog is now an free app! I don't expect the "free" to last long, so check it out!  Right now author Sharon Burch has an amazing deal the first 25 people who review the app.  They will each get a free Freddie Book and Mysterious Wahooo DVD!  Wow, what a value! That's about $50 worth for $5.00 - you just have to cover shipping.  I went ahead and ordered and Eli doll while was at it. :)
It is set up similar to the freddiethefrog.com, with a few extra options.  You can add some extras for .99 each. I added 3 for a total of $3.00.  It will be great for my Ipad/Ipod center.  I will also be using it in my piano lessons.  Great one on one note reading fun.  Check it out and enjoy!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Lego Rhythms

Follow this link for PDF lesson plan and worksheets http://www.scribd.com/doc/100348999

This would be read Ti-Ti Ta Ta-a

Each circle or "stud" is worth 1/2 a beat. That being said one stud  would be equal to 1/2 a beat or an eighth note, 2 studs equals 1 beat or a quarter note, 4 studs would equal 2 beats or a half note.

First of all let me give credit where credit is due. I found this lesson as I was doing one of my daily “check –ins” on Pinterest. It is was created by Jennifer Fink from Pianimation.com. Here’s the link to her website http://www.pianimation.com/2010/05/18/lego-rhythms/ . I encourage you to check it out. She has AMAZING ideas! So, here’s how I adapted it for my students. I use this with my Kindergartners all the way up. I have a 6 year old son, so I knew that it would be a huge hit in my classes. I even had a couple of parents ask me about our “Music Legos”. Next year, I will follow it up by using Jennifer’s “Hot Cross Buns” idea where my students can use the Lego rhythms to notate a song on the staff.
I have adapted her lesson to fit the needs in my classroom. The first thing I did was go to our local Lego store. My husband told me that they had a whole wall of loose Legos where you just choose what you need and fill a cup. I filled a large cup for $14.99 and had more than enough for my classes of 32. I was lucky enough to get the exact ones that I need and they were in our school colors. I also bought a few Lego plates for $4.99. Needless, to say I was one happy music teacher.
I then went home and created a interactive SMARTboard lesson to go along with the lesson. It’s on my school computer. I’ll attach it here asap. The first lesson, I just introduced the concept on the board and used Mega Blocks as my hands-on tool. I had the students create their own Lego rhythms on the SMARTboard. It was a huge success. They still had no idea that they would all be getting their own to “play” with the next class period. The first lesson, I was informed by one of my 2nd graders that it’s not a dot on top of the Lego, it’s called a stud. LOL So, I explained to my students that each “stud” is worth ½ beat, an eighth note and 2 studs equal 1 beat or a quarter note and so on. It’s all laid out in the SMARTboard lesson.
For the 2nd lesson, we reviewed the previous lesson and I had a big surprise each of my students was getting their OWN bag of Legos! Oh the excitement! I assembled “Lego” bags which I numbered from 1-35. Students have numbers in my classroom, so this made for easy set-up. Each bag consists of 8 eighth note Legos, 4 quarter note Legos, 2 half note Legos and a Lego plate. I cut the Lego plate into pieces for the kids to display their rhythms. This can be done with scissors. I was able to get by with just one plate. I then played a rhythm and the kids recreated the rhythm with their Legos. Then I had them put the Lego Rhythm on the SMARTboard. We then counted the rhythm aloud using ti’s and ta’s.
For the 3rd lesson, we reviewed the previous lesson and added one more element. I had the kids come to the board and write the rhythm in rhythmic notation. This was a great lesson and is now a favorite of my students. Some of the best $20 that I have ever spent for my classroom.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Freddie the Frog Series by Sharon Burch

If you don't know the series, you HAVE to check it out!  I attended a workshop by Sharon Burch at our state music convention several years ago and loved her ideas.  The whole concept is based on a Frog named Freddie.  Throughout her series of books, she teaches the lines and spaces of the bass and treble clef, tempos and jazz.  The books are based on Freddie and his best friend Eli the Elephant.  They have many exciting adventures that you will love sharing with your students.  Freddie has become so popular that he has become our unofficial classroom mascot.  My kinders even get to take Freddie home.  I have a binder and books that go home with one student per night. The binder has flashcards and pictures of Freddie's adventures as he visits the kids at home.  He has become such a big hit, I often get emails, videos with the families and Freddie and notes from the parents about how much they enjoyed their time with Freddie.   This is a great way to introduce the families to what we are doing in music class and is a great way to get that much needed support from our school families.  I love it when the older brothers and sisters come to class asking if we can read Freddie in their music class.  I'm starting my 2nd year at my current school, so my older kids didn't get Freddie when they were little. I of course grant their request. :)   Many parents think that we just sing and dance at that age.  They don't necessarily realize that this is the perfect time to introduce the kids to these basic concepts which are the foundations of music.  That being said Freddie is a great tool for the building of your program.  Freddie even went to my son's birthday party much to the delight of his kindergarten classmates and their families and here he is with my son and daughter at the last soccer game of the season.  He was a great team mascot.  He fit right in with our Lime Leopards.  :)  Here is a link to her website which is full of coloring sheets and SMARTboard activities.  Have fun!  http://freddiethefrog.com/

Carnival of the Animals

One of my favorite units to teach every year is the Carnival of the Animals.  Over the years, I began to notice that I was spending alot of time on the unit, but my students weren't really connecting with the music.  So, I made it my mission to "revamp" my unit into something that would grab my students.  What was it you ask?  Literature!!!  I love using literature in my music classroom.  I began hunting down storybooks that I felt best portrayed the characters in the music.  My favorite of course, the Aquarium.  With the help of several great librarians, my friends Jamie Davis and Marianne Price. here's what I came up with.

I introduce my students to one movement per class period.  Any more than that can lead to confusion.  I spread the unit out over several weeks.  I start each movement by reading a poem from the book of poems called Carnival of the Animals by Judith Chernaik. Then I read the book Carnival of the Animals (Classical Music for Kids).  This book discusses each piece including the instruments you'll hear and has a very detailed discription of the piece in terms that students can relate.These are the two books that you see pictured above.  You can find them on Amazon.  I also use Christi Cary Miller's Music Zone Books, you can read about those in my previous post.  We listen to each movement before I tell the students which animal Saint Saens was trying to portray.  We then discuss tempos, articulations and such.  I then tell them the name of the movement and we read a story to go with it.  Afterwards, we discuss how the character in the book is similar to the character being portrayed in the song.  It has led to some great conversations with my 1st and 2nd graders.  Here are a few of my favorite "connections" that can be made with the Carnival of the Animals.  :)

 Royal March of the Lions – I use the Aesop Fable The Lion and the Mouse. It’s a great way to bring their teacher in to the picture for the integration that we all love so much. I usually let them know that we are reading a fable, so that they can address it in their class as well. I usually have the students paint their interpretation of the story. The results are usually interesting. It’s great to see the kids perspective and discuss the moral of the story on this one.

Cock and Hens – or as I call this movement the Rooster and the Hens. It just makes things a little easier. LOL I use the book called Bob written by Tracey Campbell Pearson . Over the years, this book has become a classroom favorite. They love it! It's all about a rooster who doesn't know how to cock-a-doodle-doo.  So, other animals teach him how they sound until he finally finds his voice.  It's an awesome book.  So check your local library!

Tortoises – I have two books that I use with this movement. I use the old Aesop’s Fable The Hare and the Tortoise and The Hare or the Tortoise by Toni Morrison.  The Hare or the Tortoise is just a variation of the original story.  There are also some great youtube clips with this story. I use the two books so that we can compare and contrast the two stories. This is a great time to teach the vocabulary words Largo and Presto. Check out The Music Zone as listed above.

Elephants – I have two books that I use on this depending on the grade that I’m doing the unit with. One is called the Ballet of the Elephants by Leda Schubert and Robert Andrew Parker. It’s a great book based on the true story of Stravinsky writing the “Circus Polka” for 50 tutu wearing young elephants. The kids love it and love looking at the old black and white photos of the elephants actually wearing tutus and dancing with the ballerinas. The other book that I use is Ellison the Elephant by Eric Drachman. It comes with a cd that tells the story. It is very cute. It’s about a trunk tooting elephant who finds his voice with the help of his imaginary friend weasel. It’s also great if you are doing this around February for Black History Month. It’s a great introduction to jazz. I pair this one up with Denise Gagne’s “Elephant’s Have Wrinkles” from her book Movement Songs Children Love. If you don’t have that book you should definetly check it out. It’s a great one for the little ones. This is also a time when I introduce the term Largo.

Kangaroos – This is a fun one, we read the book Katy Kangaroo by Emmy Payne and H. A. Rey. It’s about a momma kangaroo who doesn’t have a pouch, so she goes in search of a pouch for her Joey. It’s a very sweet story. I found a movement on this one from Lynn Kleiner. It is in the book Kids Can Listen, Kids Can Move. It is a phenomenal resource for movement activities to do with classical music. We hop through the forest as we are looking for our pouch, stopping periodically (you’ll hear it in the music) to put our hand on our forehead and take a good look around the forest.

Aquarium – This movement is my personal favorite. I’ve paired this movement up with The Rainbow Fish written by Marcus Pfister. It is perfect for this movement. I step outside the room or send a student and cover myself with scarves. This year, I had a few “paras” that chose to be the Rainbow Fish. We read the book, then the person covered in scarves comes in swimming through the classroom. As the Rainbow Fish swims he shares his “scales” with the children in the class who are so excited that they join him in swimming. This is probably one of my most movement activities that I do every year. We also make rainbow fish. I use a templet. The students use tissue paper and foil to create their rainbow fish. It’s always a huge hit with my students.

People with Long Ears – I just came across a new one that I will be trying out this year, it’s called Donkey-donkey written by Roger Duvoisin. It’s a book first published in 1933 about a donkey who thiks that he looks ridiculous with long ears that stick straight up, so he consults his friends on the farm. Sounds perfect for this movement. In the past, I have used Pedro’s Burro by Alyssa Capucilli. It is a great book that has a kicking donkey that fits this movement well.

Cuckoo in the Heart of the Woods – I use the Mexican folk tale Cuckoo by Lois Elhert. It’s a great story that fits perfectly with this piece of music.

Aviary – The book Hey Al is a great story that tells of a man and his dog Eddie who are down on their luck when they get an amazing opportunity to fly with the birds. This is another free movement activity using scarves or ribbons. We also wear our bird hats. They are made of foam. You can pick them up at Oriental Trading, party store or where I found mine the Dollar Tree.

Fossils – I use the book Dinosaurs love Underpants written by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort. It is about the dinosaurs love for the cavemen’s underwear. They loved them so much that they had the great briefs tug of war which wiped all of the dinosaurs out. The kids as you can imagine love this one. You could also use the books Dem Bones written by . If you use Dem Bones I suggest you teach the song. This is a great one for Halloween. There’s a great video of it on you tube with dancing skeletons. It’s awesome! On this one my extension is a youtube clip. Search: Carnival of the Animals Fossils Disney. You can’t miss it. There is a great clip that Disney created for this movement using skeletons. The kids LOVE it!

The Swan – I use the old story The Ugly Duckling. We then get our scarves out and move to the music. I have the students imagine that they are the swan on the water for the first time after he realizes that he is not the ugly duckling he thought he was. He is a beautiful swan. It’s a great activity for free expression.

Finale – I use John Lithgow’s book The Carnival of the Animals. It is a story very similar to a night at the museum. It’s a great end to the unit.

Your Take:  I hope that you find some of these ideas useful.  If you have any questions or suggestions please don’t hesitate to send me a message.  I have found these to have enhanced my Carnival of the Animals Unit. 

Embarrassing times, I mean fun times at school

 I believe that this was for Drug Free Week - Rock Star Day!  I love my job. LOL Just part of being a teacher I guess.  Had to share. 

One of my new resources

This year at the OMEA, we had clinician John Feierabend. After leaving his workshops I was very excited to have a new, exciting way to incorporate vocal techniques to my students.  I am very fortunate to have a very supportive PTA, so I wrote a proposal outlining everything that I needed and was lucky enough to have had them fund it.   This is a great set of resources.  The one that I was most excited about was the book First Steps in Music:  Preschool and Beyond.  He has a bundle where you can get the book, 4 cds along with 8 other books for extra resources for $165.  He has broken the book down into sections.  He suggests ways to break up the classes into distinct areas such as vocal warm ups, fingerplays and action songs, song tales (my favorite :) , circle games, pitch exporation, movement exploration, call and response and echos.  He even has lesson plans set up for you.  Have I done everything exactly like he has it lined out?  No, I have chosen what works for my particular situation.  My 3rd and 4th graders play recorders, we do vocabulary, literature based activities, orff and technology.  But, this has been a PHENOMENAL resource to pull from. He also has a set of storybooks that go along with some of the song tales.  My students have loved them. We listen to the song, learn the song then we see the storybook.  They are so excited by that point.  One of my favorites in the book is "The Fox".  It was great because after a few class periods I had a 2nd Grade student (who's mom happens to be our school's reading specialist) find a The Fox storybook in his classroom.  I honestly didn't even know that there was one.  I was of course very excited that he and his classmates found it. We then read it in class and they let me borrow it to share with my other classes.  Long story short, check it out it is well worth the investment. 

Words of the Week a.k.a. W.O.W.

Every week my students have W.O.W.  time.  I usually have between 2 to 5 vocabulary words.  I have them between 2-3 times a week.  The first time that I see them each week we write our W.O.W. words in our notebooks.  We then sing a song about the vocabulary words.  I use two wonderful books by fellow Oklahoman Christy Cary Miller.  They are called Music Zone and Music Zone 2. You can find them at West Music or Pender's Music for $29.99.  She has created songs for music vocabulary.  We then put movement to the songs.  This helps the students to remember the words because at this point, they've written the word, sang the words and danced to the word.  It's a great reinforcer.  We then take a short vocabulary quiz at the last class period of the month.  I do this with 3rd and 4th graders.  My lower grades begin learning the songs just for fun throughout their music classes as well.

Welcome to Pope's Place

I'm writing this blog so that I can share what I have learned throughout my eleven years of teaching.  I would like to have a place to share things that have worked for my students and I.  I teach K-4th grade music in a rural school in Oklahoma.  We have approximately 450 students.  This is the first year, that I won't be teaching 5th graders.  Our district will be opening a 5th and  6th grade center this Fall.  So, this year will be a new experience especially in regards to choir.  I hope that you find something that helps you and feel free to share any suggestions that you may have.  I will be posting resources that I have found especially helpful for me.  I don't have textbooks since we are a new school.  So, I pull from things that I have gotten over the years and we have a wonderful PTO who has been great about helping me get anything that I need.  Thanks for stopping by Pope's Place.