Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Ideas for Surviving the End of the School Year


Holy cow - this year has been a toughie! I don't know what was in the water, but if it could happen, it almost most certainly did this year. This is the time of the year where it's hard for everyone - parents, teachers, AND students. You want to leave a positive musical impression on these students right now and sometimes, they will challenge you to the depths of the ocean! I love my job, my students, music and everything that goes with it, but I am not going to sugar coat the last few days of school. The kids are worn out, the teachers are worn out and discipline is the hardest thing to do. The students that need you the most right now are going to act out ten times more and the students that are normally good can just make horrible decisions these days. Plus, we've had a lot of bad weather this year and rain recently, so they are all itching to be outside. In the end, the last 2 weeks of school are always a jumble of actions, emotions and exhaustion. I try my best to keep a smile on and be positive, but sometimes, I am just DONE with misbehaving. When this happens, I try to take a breath and move on.

Today, I'm linking up for Music a la Abbott's Linky Party.  These ideas might not always work for everyone and their music classroom, but here are some things that I recommend for surviving these last few previous days with the students in my music class.

1. Keep them active

        I like to do a lot of movement in my class, but the last few days especially. Sometimes, I even throw on the Just Dance videos from YouTube or Symabloo for the kids to dance. I did this one day where it had been raining for several days and they had not had any recess. It saved me a ton of headaches and the teachers were happy the kids were a little more calmed down that day. I also like to pull out folk dances that we have done throughout the year. My favorites is "Sasha" from Sanna Longden's Even More Folk Dance Music for Kids and Teachers, CD 1 1/2.

2. Don't Start Anything Brand New = REVIEW

       They are not going to retain anything new at the end of the year. I do teach Carnival of the Animals to 1st grade, but it's not something difficult to understand like tika-tika or Re on Melody Street. I use the last month to review and solidify what we've already talked about. If I teach something new, it's usually only an introduction for the fall. 

I'm really loving The Yellow Brick Road's Rhythm Chairs activities. These are so fun and reinforce beat vs rhythm for the things we've learned this year. She has a great bundle that I use for 1st-4th. 

Lindsay Jervis also posted a great set of Musical Memory pages for all grades. This is a fun way to review what the students learned and enjoyed most. It is really helpful to me to see what stuck with them and what I might need to change next year. You can also edit them for whatever questions you'd like. Great idea!!

3. Have fun with singing!

      After doing programs, I am tired of singing and so are the kids. However, this is so important to their musical growth! I am planning to make slides this summer to put into a folder of fun songs for them. It might be things we've done or classics they love like "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." I might even add one or two that are recent each year like something from Frozen (I know...Let it go, let it go, etc..) or other school appropriate hits. These will be great for the end of the year or a sub day.

      I also love literature in the music classroom! I try to save these for the end of the year so the kids can laugh and sing along with the story. Sometimes, though, I love them so much I pull them out whenever! Here are two of my favorites:

Grandma's Feather Bed by John Denver

Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah! by Allan Sherman

4. Always be ready to go

         It is the season of field trips, celebrations and allergies. I've already covered for a few teachers this week because of various things. They have covered for me and I am always happy to return the favor. Because of this, I am on my toes at all times. It might be the last week, but this is when things can go haywire in a second.
         Most classes will be out of the building at least once and forget to tell you. Or, it will rain and they will reschedule for another day, forget to tell you and come in without you being ready. ALWAYS BE READY! I keep several lessons handy for this just in case. I also have several classes that are off of each other because of snow days, presentations, etc. These filler lessons are things I want to do with everyone, but sometimes, I have to make the sacrifice. If some students have already learned it, it will solidify their knowledge even more and allow them to be leaders for the rest of the class. Here are some ones I enjoy at the end of the year, but also occasionally sprinkled in. 

Composer lessons are fun to sprinkle in throughout the year or give a small preview to at the end of the year. We usually read a short story about the composer, color the pages while listening and then have some kind of movement or instrument activity to end. I also like having them use their Beanie Baby Beat Buddies to lead each other in a steady beat to the music.

Cori Bloom is amazing! I was in love with her Mystery Song for Flight of the Bumblebee and asked if she would ever consider making more. These are something that could really hook students into listening and sharing their thinking and writing in the music classroom. She put this file together in 2 weeks and it is AMAZING! These are so fun to do and can take a whole lesson or several if you'd like. I plan on doing this once a month next year...I can't wait until she puts out more. Thank you, Rhythm and Bloom!

Well, I hope everyone has had a successful year. I am already planning and thinking about ideas for next year. Hopefully, these last few days are fun for you and the students in the music classroom. Some of them may be stinkers, but they are the ones I miss when they board the bus on the last day. Just remember the BREATHE and SMILE - you can make or break someone's day that way. So, go out and make the last few musical memories of the year!


  1. Hey thanks for posting my Composer Coloring sheets! I used them this week too. :-) I love love love Symbaloo. I hope to make some time this summer to build mine up. Have a great end of the year!

  2. Thank you! They are so awesome - I love all of your resources. I just noticed you will be in Branson this summer as well. I am really trying to push my school to pay for the registration to the workshop. I just hope it doesn't fill up before I can get in.

  3. Hi Christine! Great tips for the end of the year!! Thanks for posting my new mystery songs, I'll be posting more soon :)

    1. Thank you, Cori! I love your resources and am happy to share them with other teachers. Thank you for following and commenting on my blog :)