Monday, February 11, 2013

Star Cards - My reward system

I know everyone has their own reward system in their classroom, but something that works really well for me is music "star cards". 

Whenever I catch someone doing really good (answering a tough question, behaving well, bringing in something musical to share with the class, etc.) I give them a "star card". It is just a piece of paper that they write their name on and put into their classroom bucket. 

Then, if the entire class earns a green (or for those who do not work on a color system, do a really good job as a class) then we do a star card drawing. I draw out 1 -3 names (or more if they are my tough fourth graders and have the best day ever). The names I drew get to pick a prize out of my prize bucket.  My bucket is usually filled with hershey kisses and starbursts. 

The system works great for me, because it lets me rewards good individual behavior and it also keeps the entire class doing well. 

All of my grades loooooooooooove to get star cards. They go crazy for them. 

Staff Wars

If you haven't discovered this yet, go check it out NOW. Staff wars is the greatest thing to be create for the secondary grades studying the music staff. It is a terribly fun game for the students (and the teacher). 

To play the game you have to identify the music notes (in treble, bass or alto clef) and click on the correct note. You have three life lines, and the notes go by faster and faster. 

In my room, I have the students divide into groups and have each player name a note one right after the other. That way everyone is responsible for contributing. We keep score of how many points each team receives. We've been having a running competition all year long. 

I like to play star wars music in the background while we play too :-) 

Download the software here:

The Old Gray Cat, Grizzly Bear, Bell Horses, Skip to my Lou

The old gray cat 

One of the most popular songs for the primary grades is "The Old Gray Cat". My kinders, first graders and second graders ADORE this song.

The old gray cat is sleeping sleeping sleeping
The old gray cat is sleeping in the house 

The little mice are creeping, etc..

The little mice are nibbling, etc..
The little mice are sleeping, etc...

The old gray cat comes creeping, etc...
The little mice all scamper, etc... 

The way we play this game in Mrs. Suess' room is to have one student be the cat, and they go to "sleep" in a special part of the room. Then the mice line up, and follow the actions of the song staying on their hands and knees. When the little mice all scamper, the chase begins. The cat must tag as many students as they can before the song is over. In Mrs. Suess' room, if you are tagged then you must go and sit out of the game for one round. I find it to be a good penalty for being caught, and it keeps them from wanting to be caught. I always pick the friend who gets back to the mice's starting spot the quickest and quietest to be the next cat. 

Grizzly Bear

Grizzly bear a grizzly bear is sleeping in a cave
grizzly bear a grizzly bear is sleeping in a cave
please be very quiet, very very quiet
if you wake him, if you shake him 
he gets very MAD! 

This is a suuuuuuuper simple game. Have the students sit in a circle with a "bear" in the middle. Then while you are singing the song silently pick one student to go and "shake" the bear. After the song is over, the bear has three guesses to guess who "shook" him/her. If the bear guesses correctly, I let them pick the next "waker shaker", if the bear doesn't guess correctly then I choose the next person. 

Bell Horses

Bell horses, bell horses, what's the time of day?
One oclock, two oclock, off and away 

This is fantastic song for practicing la sol mi, but it is so ridiculously simple that I needed to add a game to it. My rule of thumb generally is, if there isn't an activity that goes with the song, don't sing it. 

We usually start by singing this song by itself, and using a clock to change the times in the song and practice reading a regular clock. Then we sing the song with jingle bells, and then we play the game. 

I have my kiddos gallop around our circle while the song is playing. Then once it is over they have to freeze. If I see them moving an inch (besides blinking and breathing) then they are out of the game. I usually get 3-4 people out each round. We keep going until there is only one person left. It's a game that  they keep asking for over and over! I am usually happy to oblige, because it's so good to get them moving their bodies.  

Skip to my Lou 

For this song, I have the kids start by skipping around our carpet. Then I change the words to another action like lou, lou, march to my lou or lou, lou, jog to my lou. It's a great movement activity that gets them practicing different ways to move their bodies. I usually let my kiddos choose what movements they get to do. As you can probably guess, going round and round the circle is the funnest thing EVER.  My kindergartners are not very different from my own little one who loves to go round the circle in our house. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

DIY Music Room Decorations

The kindergarten rooms at my school this year are brand spanking new. Which is pretty cool! They are huge, spacious, tall and WHITE. Meaning that I had to come up with some ideas to make the room more festive. Here is what I made:

This was made by unwrapping crayons, laying them on their sides, and putting a hairdryer to them! It was very simple, and took about an hour (with the unwrapping crayons, gluing them down, blasting them, etc). I love how it turned out! 

This was made in the same kind of fashion. I glued crayons (in their wrappers) to the edge of the canvas, and used my hair dryer to help them melt down. I then turned the canvas around, and added the flowers! I used a die-cut to make the flowers. 

The stop light is my best friend. Specialists at my school work on a green, yellow, red system and the stop light is an excellent visual for my kids to see what color they are on. The signs next to it say,
Green: I tried really hard, I did my very best, I paid attention
Yellow: I tried some of the time, I didn't always do my best, I didn't always pay attention
Red: I didn't do do my best, I didn't pay attention, I gave up trying

Music Rules:
M - Make Good Choices
U- Use Good Manners
S - Speak when the teacher allows it
I - Involve yourself in all activities
C- Care for Music Room Equipment

"I get by with a little help from my friends!" Although my students aren't really familiar with this song, I love it! It's lyrics are perfect for the elementary music classroom. 

"Each person is like a single note, together we make a masterpiece"
On the first day of school I had each of my children color in their own music note. That way, they will always know that they contributed to our masterpiece!

Did I mention that I have two rooms to decorate too? My projects never end. 

I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly

My kindergartner's always spent about a week doing "I know an old lady who swallowed a fly". We sing the song with the book, then we sing the song with the puppet. When we sing it with the puppet, I hand out the little beanbag animals to the kids and let them feed it to the old lady when their animal is sung. Then, just to spice things up (and get our crayons out) we do this art project:

I let the kids color the lady any way they want to (many students made her look like an alien with their color choices), and then as we sing the song they draw the animals in. It's a fun project for them! We then sing the again and the kids point the correct animals as we sing them.

My kids liked the song so much this year that I decided to do a program based on this story. I'll let you know how it turns out later, but my idea is to sing a different song for each animal. Here is what I have so far:

Fly - "Shoo Fly"
Spider - "Itsy Bitsy Spider"
Bird - "Here Comes a Blue Bird"
Cat - "The Old Gray Cat"
Dog - "Bow Bow Bow"
Cow - "Hunt the Cows"
Horse - "Bell Horses"

Hopefully it will turn out well! Stay tuned!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Valentine's Activities

Postman Songs

It is Valentine's Day next week, so my little ones have been doing a lot of Valentine's Activities.

We usually start Valetine's week with the song "The postman brings a valentine". It goes like this:

"The Postman brings a valentine, a valentine, a valentine

The postman brings a valentine, it's for you!"

The activity for this song is very simple. The kids sit in a circle, and one "postman" walks around while the song is sung. On the word "you" the postman drops a valetine in the lap of the closest person. Then it is a game of chase (a la duck duck grey duck) around the circle.

This song is a great transition into the students' favorite game of all time, "Postman, Postman":

"Postman, Postman

Do you have a letter?

Postman, Postman

Two would suite me better

I can hardly wait to see

What is in the mail for me"

I've played this game two ways. The first (and most time consuming) consists of me creating "mail" for all of my students. I've made concert tickets, trips to hawaii, junk mail, bills, etc. When the students are sitting in a circle, I go around from person to person and sing, "do you have a letter?". The student then has to reply, "Yes, I have a letter" in order to get a piece of mail. Another way of doing it for older students is to sing do you have a letter, and have the student improvise the rhythm "do you have a letter" on the orff instruments. They have to either sing it correctly, or play it in rhythm to get their letter. Then once everyone has a letter, they all open them up and see what treasures they got.

Another cute way to play this game is to have the students make the "mail". I have them write an anonomous letter (or picture) and put it in an envelope. Then we play the same way, but the students then get a letter from a classmate instead of me. Either way, they love it!

I wish I had a little Red Box

On Smart Exchange there is an adorable Valetine's Activity that goes to the tune of polly wally doodle. It goes like this:

"I wish I had a little red box to put my _____ in. 
I'd take her/him out and go hug hug hug 
and put her/him back again"  

The smart file comes with a bunch of hearts, and a red box. I make the hearts pure white until they are clicked, which then reveal a student's name. One by one the students go up and choose a random heart. Whatever name is on that heart is their "valentine". They then have to drag (if you have smartboard - which I don't, so I drag it for them with my mouse) to the red box, while the students sing the song with that name put in. It's cute, and the kids like it. K-1 is the best age however, any older and they get so embarassed about the "valentines" that they act really silly (and not in a good way).

I also did a version of this song using laminated hears (that I wrote names on with wet erase markers), and a physical red box that they drew names out of.

Valentine's Singing Books

Some books that I have used in my classroom for valentines day are "Froggie Went a Courtin" by Iza Trapani and "Risseldy-Rossedly" in the John Fierabend collection. I sing a majority of the book to them, but they sing the "hmm-hmms" for the froggie story, and the "Risseldy-Rosseldy mow, mow, mow" for the latter. I LOVE to use pictures books that the kids can sing, and these are both very valentines-esque.

Valentine's Karaoke
On Valetine's day my older students get to sing"Valetine's Karaoke" (they also have a Christmas one in December). For this I create a presentation that has many love songs that they can sing karaoke to. Some include, "Can you feel the love tonight", "Can't Help Falling in Love", "Can't Help Falling in Love", etc! It's a fun activity that gets them singing, especially when they are hyped up on sugar and regular instruction is difficult!

Welcome to my new blog! My name is Bridget, and I am a music teacher in Minnesota. As a new teacher in constant search of creative teaching ideas, I find myself frequently perusing music blogspots. I wanted to create my own, simply so I can pay it forward, and contribute my own ideas. Happy lesson planning!