Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Ugh - I forgot to show the doors! They are the most important part because the kids get excited about music when seeing fun things. I finally decided to decorate them because otherwise, the brown just gets really boring. Also, one of my doors is on the wall in the hallway, so if I don't mark it, everyone walks right by it :(

Primary door - this is the one that is stuck in the wall. I decorated it with bulletin board letters, vinyl music stickers and a great "welcome" record banner I found from 


Intermediate door - this door is in the music/art hallway. I found this great quote online, only it said "art." Still, I thought it would look and sound fun for music. I also stuck a "welcome" banner up above the door. I found it here:

Near every door is my name and a "music" sign. I also decorate the small bulletin board with quotes about music and fun activities or information relating to music that students can use or find interesting.

There, the tour is finally done!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Room tour - final!

Okay, so I'm camping out in my room this evening before the music boosters meeting. Meaning, I finally had time to take pictures of the rest of my room! Granted, my room is HUGE and I love it. So, I tried to get the good stuff so you have a general idea.

This is my desk & resource area. I've already posted the book case photo, but you can also see the blue cabinets (they don't bolted to the ground...gross). 

This is my main bulletin board in the room. There is a smaller one by the door, but it's just used for the concert calendar. I got tired of kids asking "when is our program?" all the time, so I posted a concert calendar all year. Really handy! This one has our rules, plus ta & titi review for the beginning of the year.

The front of the room has a lot of whiteboard space, which I love. The only problem is the project screen blocks it sometimes, so I have to be strategic. Above the board is the alphabet, with something music related shown on the appropriate letter. The kids love looking at it and it's helpful for those kinders who are learning their ABC's. I also have the solfege handsigns posted in the middle. Underneath the board (if you can see it...sorry!) are the national music/common core standards in kid-friendly language. It also has some fun pictures! Great to connect in the classroom when we're hitting standards. 

 The big blue cabinets have our vocab words, as well as specific things we hit in chorus only. To the left is a bookshelf (I turned it on its' side) to hold our books. I don't use books a lot, but they are resource when we talk about American music and other things throughout the year. I do have a handicap ramp in the back and then the extra metal chairs for chorus. 

This is my favorite spot! I am in love with color and organization. This spot shows that really well! Up above, I have the solfege handsigns again, but they are color coordinated with the boomwhacker colors. Then, I have my boomwhackers organized and stored in coffee containers. On the top are the rhythm sticks and maracas. Underneath, are plastic square and round containers with the different instruments. Some are labeled with white board labels, while some are open so you can see. It also has storage on the back, so that holds instruments we don't use a lot. Finally, it rolls! If I have a lot of instrument stuff one day, it is so handy to roll around! Love, love, love! 

A lot of the ideas and decor templates I did get from various Pinterest sites for free, while other things I did on my own. Please let me know if you have any questions on things. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Classroom tour - part 1

My blog today is just a quick preview of my classroom. I am constantly changing things up and moving stuff around. I find things I really like each year, but then there is always something that irks me. However, I'm really liking most of the placement and design of things this year.

This is my big bulletin board. It sits right outside the music room and is always a pain. The students love touching things and it's so big - I can never fill the whole space! I started off with an iPod design that said "Tune into a new year!" I just changed it today to the Despicable Me Minions in solfege formation. I think it's so cute and relevant to the kids. Found this great idea on Pinterest, of course!

This is my bookshelf. The last few years it has been horribly cluttered. Then, I discovered fabric bins. I am in love with them! I was able to separate my books into categories and use mini dry erase tags to label them. The bottom shelf is for media resources and the top shelves hold curriculum and staff development resources. The bins are in our school colors :)

I love this behavior chart! I hope it really motivates the kids to do their best, but also monitor each other. I have one for Primary and one for Intermediate. Each class has their own guitar pick clip, color coded by grade. They move up or down depending on their behavior. Here's the site I found the idea and template from:

This is the big shelving unit in the back of the room. It has a lot of great storage for mallet sets, old book series and other random odds & ends. However, the kids want to touch and see EVERYTHING! My mom is creating a curtain for this year that can be pushed aside, but is mainly in place to keep the kids from touching and messing with stuff. You can also see my other colored fabric bins. These are labeled and go along with the color coded schedule, behavior chart, and concert calendar for each grade. I store all of their activities and curriculum ideas in this bins. 

Hopefully I can get the rest of the photos up in the next week or so. What do you think? I always love hearing new ideas on room organization. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Back to school!

Wheww, I am exhausted! I went to bed at 9 pm most nights and still slept from 10pm until noon on Saturday. Those first few days are so exciting, chaotic and tiring at the same time! So far, I have a pretty great group of kids this year. There will be some behavior issues here and there, but I think the classes are divided better, so the students are more even-tempered this year. You really don't realize the impact of personalities until you have a really crazy class for an entire year. Love them, but boy, do they wear me out!

I thought I would post my first week lesson plans. The first week is hard, as most classes are still figuring out the schedules and with early outs, I don't really see everyone until the next week. I focus on some review activities for my primary students, while I try to start with a "bang" for the intermediate students. Here's an overview:

Kindergarten, 1st Grade

  • Beanbag Boogie
         I got this idea from:
     The kids loved moving around, balancing their bean bag and dancing with their new classmates - so fun!
  • The Music Teacher from the Black Lagoon
          I use books as much as I can in the music room. I love song stories, biographies, Orff, solfege, etc. Basically, if I can discover or create a lesson for it, I will use a story. This one is a great beginner because it's about a scared boy the rumors of music class. The students kept saying how I was "nothing like her" and "she's so mean - you're nice!" Makes my day when I get that feedback from my students!
  • Freeze Dance
           Let's face it - freeze dance is a staple in music class. I love watching the kids show off their dance moves and have a little crazy fun. The teachers have started using it in their classrooms for brain breaks and indoor recess. Can't end a first day without freeze dance!
2nd Grade    

  • "Sasha" partner dance
           As a former student of Simpson College, I had the opportunity to attend awesome MusicEd workshops every year. One of my favorites was given by Sanna Longden with the title "No Child Left on His or Her Behind." So fun and some awesome dances to boot! "Sasha" is a personal favorite of mine because the students are learning beat, rhythm, and dancing techniques, while also partnering with lots of students and working on hand-eye coordination. Win-win!
  • The Music Teacher from the Black Lagoon
           This was a new book for me this year, so I decided to share it with the 2nd graders. They loved it just as much as the younger students.
  • Freeze Dance
            I hate seeing a new class come in and leave without playing freeze dance. They get jealous and I'm a wimp at saying "no."

Intermediate (grades 3-5)  : I only saw 1-3 classes out of the 5 for each grade. I like to keep them altogether, so here was my "kick-off" activity for those that were able to come to their special.

  • Ida Red
           I learned this great song & game from one of my college friends and fellow teachers, Lydia. It sounded so fun and a great first day activity! We learn the song "Ida Red" and create a circle. After the song, I cut between two students. These students must race around the circle while doing something funny that I have placed in a letter. I could pull out anything from "hop" to "crabwalk." The kids race around the circle in opposite directions and the first one to get back and touch my hand wins. So funny! Here's a link to a great powerpoint on "Ida Red."
  • Oobleck & the differences in Sound
         This was the most fun (and most mess) I've had in music class. I saw this idea on The Big Bang Theory and new it was a perfect "first day" activity. Here is a link to the experiment:

    We tested several different tones from high to low. I also played "The Cupid Shuffle" which was perfect for the oobleck to move and bounce around. The kids loved it! I also created a little note & recipe from our activity, so the students could take it home and try it out with their families. It was messing and a lot of clean-up, but I hope it sparked interest in the wild world of music for this year. 

I promise to get pictures of the room up soon! I just want everything to look perfect and it's not quite there yet. What are your first day ideas & activities? Do you have full days or the half day chaos of trying to come up with filler lessons?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Join Chorus!

School starts this week - ahhh! It seems like it always sneaks up on me, even though I've been in my room several times throughout the summer. Still getting everything up and running - then, I'll take you through a room tour.

This post, however, is all about chorus. I originally taught 5th & 6th grade chorus. However, as more students have come into the district and class sizes are becoming smaller to better assist students, my schedule became too full. Now, I am just responsible for the 5th grade choristers. This is still no easy task. I start with these students in September, with 3 concerts throughout the year (December, March & May). I only see them twice every 6 days from 2:30-3:05. This is especially difficult during the winter and early out days because I don't get the end of the day and the letter days get messed up with missed days.

Behavior & attendance is also an issue. Chorus & band are during the end of the day. If the students choose to participate, they miss their last recess. This isn't a battle until the sun comes out and it gets warmer in April and May. Suddenly, I have students who "forgot" or just don't show up at all. They do get feedback on their progress, but our district is trying to move away from stamping a letter grade on everything.

In the past, I have spoken with each 5th grade class individually and occasionally in the hallways, as well as a letter I send home. This year, however, I'm changing it up! I recently saw some awesome chorus templates from Beth at I loved the pamphlet idea and the "cutting lines" and "keep...return to" spots. This seemed extra helpful. I immediately emailed her and asked about purchasing the template. She was extremely nice and glad that her ideas are helping other teachers. However, the program she used (Adobe Reader, maybe?) wasn't compatible with my laptop. She suggested just finding a basic template I liked on Microsoft Word and imput the things I liked and change the things I didn't like. So, off I went!

Here is what I ended up with:

Hopefully, this will work better for communication with the students and parents. I will also be coming up with a better attendance and rubric system in the next week or so. What ideas & suggestions do you have for chorus? What has worked or needed to be changed?

Friday, August 2, 2013

The dreaded "movie day"

I posted a sub sheet that I am going to start using this year in my last entry. This got me thinking about my emergency sub ideas for the school year. Substitute teachers are just few and far between these days! Maybe this is just in my neck of the woods, but it is a sad thing. Last year, I might have had one or two actual substitute teachers when I had other school events or was sick. In most situations, I had one of my principals or another teacher/associate cover and then switch back and forth with someone who was available for 30 minutes. Because I never knew what was going to happen, I was recommended to leave movies - I know, movies! The kids live for these days, but I am not too keen on missing some class time. Still, since this is an easy idea for a last minute sub, I wanted to have something that we could tie into our concepts or start up a new idea.

I am always looking for new ideas, especially for my intermediate students (grades 3-5). Here are some of my ideas. PLEASE give me suggestions, ideas, comments :)

Primary (K-2)
Arthur's Music Jamboree - I'll admit it...I still love Arthur. This DVD has several episodes relating to music, like instruments, performances and stage fright. It's especially good for my younger students before a performance. Even Arthur makes mistakes and gets nervous, but everything turns out great!

Lomax, the Hound of Music - I love the music and work of John Feierabend! I had the opportunity to go to his workshop last year and had so much fun. While some of the episodes steered away from his vision, this DVD has hand-selected episodes that Feierabend approves of. The kids will also recognize some of the music and stories because I use a lot of his materials in class.

The Tuneables - I haven't had a chance to watch this yet, but the reviews look great. There is singing, steady beat and lots of instrument introduction. However, it is pricey. For $30, you get a CD and DVD, but the DVD is only one episode. I'm really interested to purchase it and try it, but the previous DVDs are more worth the money in my opinion.

Little Amadeus - This is the other set I'm intrigued about. It is a boxed set of the first season all about Mozart as a child. It looks fun and is a great way to start talking about composers, classical music and opera. However, the reviews say that it is more "fairy-tale" like instead of historical accuracy.

Intermediate (3-5)

Fantasia 2000 - I love using Fantasia for lots of things! It's great for the kids to watch, but also to listen, create and compare with writing. I've done lots of writing activities and group discussions with Fantasia. The kids especially like The Sorcerer's Apprentice!

Classical Kids - Classical Kids has great stories about composers. My students love watching "Beethoven Lives Upstairs." The only drawback to these is that they are over thirty minutes. Therefore, I don't like using them in a pinch because I want to build on the information in it or use it as a review - not just shove it in randomly for them to watch and never mention again!

Musicals - We talk about musicals in 5th grade, but it's always nice for the kids to have a preview or small understanding of them. Again, the time length is a problem, but I always have The Music Man and Mary Poppins on hand in a pinch.

Any Grade - Phineas and Ferb & The Magic School Bus always work for both parts of the elementary. The Magic School Bus has a great episode about sound and a winter musical about recycling. Good introduction to musicals, especially during that "almost Christmas break" time. Phineas & Ferb is the same way. They do a rollercoaster musical and a summer musical. These aren't my favorites sometimes, but on emergency days, you have to do what you have to do.

Again, I am not an advocate for constantly using DVDs. I think they serve a purpose occasionally, but this post is for those last minute days or times when the substitute situation is out of your hands. Hopefully this provides some new resources. If you have any suggestions, I would definitely take them - thanks!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Sub Form

As a music teacher, I tend to have a lot of subs throughout the year when it's time for music programs. Each grade has one program each year because my classes range from 100-130 students in each. I always try to be detailed with my sub notes, but it ends up being a complete page. This leaves no room for the sub to write good/bad things or any questions/problems that came up throughout the day.

I spotted this gem from

It's a free sub template that comes with other sub binder ideas. If you like this template and want to see more, you can go to Erin's store and download it for free:

Since this form is very "classroom teacher" based, I chose to edit it a little for my own tastes. Here is my version, though I give all the amazing credit to Erin and her wonderful design tools.

The graphics are more music friendly and I changed "students" to "classes," as I usually have more problems with classes as a whole with substitutes. Let me know if you'd like the form - I'd be happy to share!


Hello! Thank you for viewing my music education blog. People have been telling me on and off for the last year to write, so I finally took the plunge.

A lot of what I find, adjust and integrate is from Pinterest or work shops. I try my best to fit it for my classroom size, student needs and current curriculum goals of our state and district. I titled my first post "OCD" because I am OCD on organization and planning. My first month of school is mostly planned out already. Yes, this does adjust often but I always feel better with some strong ideas under my belt.

My Pinterest is a perfect example:

It is divided into several categories based on my needs as a teacher. I want to always give credit where credit is due, so I will link a lot of what I find. Most of the time I adjust it, but I want to make sure the original owner is praised for their awesome ideas!

My first post is all about my planner. Yes - a planner. I stumbled upon from pinterest (mention #1) and fell in LOVE! It is quite pricey for a teacher planner ($59 plus add-ons if you'd like) but it has everything I could possibly need. Here is a photo I snapped:

It arrived in an awesome box and I wanted to cry! Everything is huge, color coordinated and labeled. What else could an OCD music teacher want? 

Here is a monthly calendar view - I've already put in all of our school calendar dates, plus important "life events" and holidays.

Lesson plans with color coordinated days. It has 7 sections, so I can include K-5 and 5th Chorus.

Tabs for everything! And a swanky little pen/pencil holder for staff meetings :)

My last photo is the labels. It has 2 pages of printed labels (conferences, field trips, etc.) and then 2 pages of labels that you can write on. I've already taken some out and marked our elementary music concerts for the year. The color of the label corresponds with the same color fabric bin I have for each grade's curriculum and activities. has a nice tutorial video with everything in it, plus all the extras you can add on if you'd like. I haven't heard negative comments from people that have purchased and used it (only if their order was wrong), so I'm hoping for the best because I am already in love with it. When ordering, you do receive some surprise benefits like personalized items and discounts. If you're interested in ordering a planner, have questions or wonder about the other products on the website, let me know. 

Before school starts, I will post a completed room tour so you can see the layout, plus behavior charts and curriculum organization. Thanks for reading!