Monday, September 29, 2014

The Singing Goat Saga

Two weeks ago, I stumbled upon a great find! Our district participates in Books Are Fun, a company that brings books, gifts, toys, etc. to teachers at a discounted price. They post up their monthly items in our lounge for a week and then they're delivered. Normally, I don't find much I like, but this month, it was meant for me! 

Enter, this "Cuddly Crooner" puppet! 
Apparently, there are a few different varieties out there, but this one is a singing goat from The Sound of Music. He actually sings a part of "The Lonely Goatherd" as you move the mouth - so cute! I was in love!

Now, for the chaos that ensued afterwards:
  • I waited over a week for the delivery man, as he apparently didn't want to be on time this month or communicate that with everyone. 
  • It didn't even work! 
  • When trying to open the battery compartment, it was sealed with a bolt - a bolt, in plastic!
  • Our lovely custodian, Keith, pried it open after several attempts with various tools (thanks Keith, you rock!)
  • We replaced the batteries; it still didn't work
  • I taped the battery compartment back together with new batteries; still no success
  • Finally, I ripped the seam of his mouth open to find the connection wires
  • SUCCESS! The plates weren't colliding right, so I realigned them and he sings!

So, his mouth is still unstitched. However, my mom has assured me he can be fixed right up. Also, the company is sending me another one for all of the trouble. Our representative still hasn't contacted me about the whole situation.
Finally, after a lot of trouble, time, and energy, we have a working, singing goat! I can't wait to share this with my primary students.

Why, though, am I so excited about just one singing puppet? Aren't there a hundred others out there which don't require as much work?

The answer is yes, but, I have an additional resource I've been wanting to use for a long time now. My husband found this adorable pop-up book from Half Price Books a few years ago:

It even includes the songs in the corners, with moving pieces and pull outs! Even my 5th graders have spotted it in my collection before and been excited for it. Now, I can use it with my puppet, as well as show some clips from the musical. Eeek! I can't wait to pull this out in the spring for my primary students. Here are some more pictures:

It doesn't touch on why the Von Trapps left Austria, but for younger learners, I think it's fine to not dig into the history too much yet. Plus, my goal with this set is to capture the students interests and lead them into the world of musicals. 

I'll leave you with another darling picture of my puppet - isn't he precious?

How do you introduce musicals?  I'd love more ideas and resources to teach them, as well as any new ideas for "The Sound of Music!" Please, chime in :)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Throwback Thursday! (and an update)

Here's a "Throwback Thursday" to one of my first blog posts! I've also added some new things to it today, so check out the update at the end!

Bounce High, Bounce Low

I love the song "Bounce High, Bounce Low." It has so many things in it for the students to learn! I am using it with 2nd graders for concepts, but I hope to glue it to the 1st grade curriculum by the end of this year.

To start, we play a singing game. The students are in a circle, with one person holding the ball. We all sing "Bounce high, bounce low. Bounce the ball to Shi-loh," but replace "Shi-loh" with a student's name. The ball is bounced to that student and we keep going. Granted, it is not the most exciting game ever but the students like it and it is awesome for helping with names at the beginning of the year.

Next, we take it apart. I got this wonderful powerpoint collection of Penguin Songs from Emily F. at

The students review steady beat, as well as "ta" and "titi." Then, I introduce our new solfege hand sign "la." The students have already heard of "La" through the book series "So-Me" by Stuart Manins. I highly recommend you purchase these books. They are great! The kids love singing So-Me's name and remember it forever. They are pricey, but they introduce rhythm, melody, different sounds and high vs. low. They are also awesome for a sick voice day because the author reads the stories on his CD that comes with the books.

Anyways, we learned about "La-Me" who is So-Me's older brother. They now get to see where La is! We use the powerpoint to see the picture relationships, sing the song, show the handsign and see it on the staff.

Finally, we add instruments! The students love the boomwhackers and they are a great way to reinforce our district goal of student-centered classrooms. I divide the students, explain to them about boomwhacker notation and we get started! They are given 10 minutes to work together before performing in front of the class. It's also a nice way to introduce and reinforce audience etiquette. The students listen to one another, clap, and encourage each person's playing. I love it! They are so brave to get up in front of their classmates and play - I couldn't even do that until middle school! It really helps them out as we prepare for our program in December.

What other ideas do you have for Bounce high, bounce low? I love songs that teach so many different things :)


So, I was preparing to do this lesson again (it's a classic!) and found some new improvements! I stumbled upon a great blog post from Beth's Music Notes. Here, she uses movements to demonstrate the different levels of sound throughout the song. I love kinesthetic learning! We added in tennis balls to create this string of movements:

Mi = bounce to the floor
So = hold ball at stomach
La = hold ball straight up in the air

Once I modeled and we practiced together several times, I had them choose a partner/group and bounce to their partner on "Mi." When we received the song, discovered "La" and added the handsigns, it was so easy for them because they were used to moving their hands and adjusting to different levels. We also finished with the boomwhackers in small groups again. I really enjoyed this lesson! I thought I had it all figured out, but then more wonderful ideas from amazing teachers. Here's some updated pictures of my students in action:

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Christopher Kazoo and Bongo Boo - Review!

It happened and way too early in the school year. What is this occurrence, you ask? 

The dreaded SICK DAY!

I really hoped it wouldn't happen this early in the year, but it did. Our secretary was sick at school, and I was in the vicinity right after she was. Also, I started studio lessons this week, so I'm getting a double case of germs. Either way, I had a 24 hour bug and left before school started Friday morning.

Cue scrambling to get sub plans together for the morning. My afternoon was empty, as the 4th graders were on a field trip, so I just needed lesson plans for kindergarten and 1st grade. My subs are rarely music subs and most of the time, the recommendation is to "throw in a movie." This bugs me, but I understand. Subs are few and far between, plus many don't feel comfortable because they believe music class is difficult to teach. Anyways, I have an extensive supply of educational music videos to choose from. Yesterday, though, my substitute was a retired kindergarten teacher who loved music. AWESOME! She actually passed along her CD set of rhythm sticks and activities. I love using these with my primary students! They are great to review beat, rhythm and making music in a small group. 

This was also a great chance to test out the resources I received from my first project. I had requested resources for "Christopher Kazoo and Bongo Boo" from Little Schoolhouse Books. The video looked great for interactive learning and introducing instruments to my little ones throughout the year. 

I have both sets that the company has put out. Each set is around $40, but comes with the story book, teacher's supplemental lessons and DVD. The DVD has the telling of the story, along with extra mini lessons to teach or reinforce concepts. My kindergarteners are beginning to learn about steady beat and the first two lessons on the DVD are all about steady beat. Win win! The kids had to clap, jump, pat, march, etc. to the steady beat to help the characters on the screen. Eventually, we can add instruments and other things to these mini lessons. 

With both grades, the students were able to see the book come alive, review steady beat and then use the rhythm stick activities to add a little extra to it. I heard wonderful things from the substitute about the lessons being fun and interactive. I'm really happy that these resources are a part of the music classroom! Yes, it is a video (I know, I know), but it is soooo much better than many of the choices I've had in the past. I'm also very excited about using this as a jumping off platform to begin integrating the mini lessons and teacher supplement lessons into my own teaching and lesson planning. I bet the students were super excited when they saw the bongos and kazoos. There's also a mini-musical that came out last year! Hmmm...the possibilities :)

Have any of you heard of Christopher Kazoo and Bongo Boo? If you have, what do your students think of it? How are you implementing it in your classroom? I'd love new ideas!