Friday, October 28, 2016

Tuneful & Trendy: October (#7)

Hello! With my previous Tuneful & Trendy posts, I've been featuring outfits that I wear during the regular school week. But, what about casual days?

Our district has PD every Wednesday, so we are allowed to wear casual stuff on Wednesdays AND Fridays. Most often I wear school spirit stuff, but occasionally, I mix things up.

Who? I picked this outfit but it was heavily influenced by the weather. We're back to almost freezing in the mornings as November gets closer. 


Why? I love boots in the fall because they keep you warm, but you can also crunch leaves! I know that's pretty random, but fall is my favorite season. The cardigan is super soft, stretchy and long. It's great to cozy up with at school. Plus, I love anything and everything plaid! I've mentioned LuLaRoe's Perfect Tees before as they are soft and flow from the body. As for the jeans, I have been a die-hard leggings lover (you'll see them a lot in my posts) for quite some time. Since I am shorter but curvy, it's been hard to find jeans that fit me correctly for work and play. Then, I tried on a pair from Torrid at the request of my husband. WOW! They fit wonderfully and didn't fall down. Celebration time! I have a couple pairs like bootcut and boyfriend along with my skinnys. The dark wash is also very flattering and appropriate for casual days at school. 

Something I love most about this outfit is the details! The cardigan has elbow patches - elbow patches! It reminds me of a grandpa sweater and is such a fun part of the outfit. The Perfect Tee is a little long against the cardigan, so I tied the end to cinch it a bit and make it more fitting to my figure. 

Thanks for reading! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Shoe Storage for Boomwhackers: A Tutorial

How many of you have boomwhackers in your room? *raises hand*

In the past, I have stored my boomwhackers in plastic coffee containers. My room was large but had a nice instrument cart for them to sit on top of. In my new classroom this year, I have very little storage. I barely have enough room for movement materials and classroom instruments, let alone eight separate containers of various sized colored tubes.

For the first month of school, my boomwhackers laid on the floor in the plastic wrap they came in. I was stumped and was about ready to create shelves or something. Then, I stumbled upon a genius idea from the Facebook group for music teachers: plastic shoe organizers!

I knew immediately that this was the answer. Thank you, Laurie E.!

So, how do you go about making this? Have no fear - I am here to share! My materials maxed out at about $20 and I completed the project in 15 minutes. 

To begin, you will need the following items:
  • plastic shoe organizers (I used two, which ended up holding 8 of each color)
  • scissors
  • hanging materials (I used command hooks, but over the door hooks were included)

Step 1:
Spread out your shoe organizer on your work area. Think of the top as row 1 all the way down to row 6 at the bottom.

Step 2:
For this step, you will be focusing on rows 3 & 5 of slots. Cut the fold at the bottom of one of the slots and then cut across. You are removing the slot from the organizer so it opens up. You should be able to stick your hand through it. This is where the taller boomwhackers will slide through. 

Step 3:
Repeat the process for all of the slots in rows 3 & 5. Pull the plastic out so it creates a shoot. Again, the plastic is attached at the sides, but the top and bottom are open. This will encase the boomwhacker. 

Step 4:
Prepare to hang your organizer. I attached basic Command hooks to the wall, using holes one and four. Included with mine was an "over-the-door" option. If you don't have a lot of space but have doors, this would be another space saver idea!

Step 5:
Fill and organizer! On my wall, I was able to fit two side by side. The longer tubes (C-F) should slide down through the hole you cut into the bottom slots. The shorter tubes just fit normally into the shoe slots. This is my set-up, but you are welcome to get creative and adjust it to your needs.

EASY! It actually took me longer to put together this blog post giving you directions than to make both of them, hang and stuff. We've already used them a few times and clean-up is quick. I love how it makes use of a blank wall with bright colors. 

Have you had to be creative with storage in your classroom? I'd love to hear new ideas - please share below!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Lights-Off Listening: A Unique Halloween Musical Experience

Today, I'd like to share with you one of my favorite Halloween activities to do with my older students: lights-off listening!

Many of the activities I do during the weeks prior to Halloween tend to be geared toward younger students. I've struggled to find something that appeals to my older kids. Then, I came across this great product from Music with Sara Bibee:

This guided listening unit is great for older students because it has information for a variety of spooky pieces, as well as videos and assessment worksheets. 

I immediately gravitated to the rating worksheets she provided. Students listen to certain pieces and give them a rating from 1-10 on how spooky they think the music is. You can also insert your own selections as the files are editable. I chose 9 of the pieces (and added a bonus one where they had to guess the title - it was "Jaws") for my students. I tried to include a variety so some were new, while others were recognizable for them. 

I felt bad about printing a page for every student when all they were doing is circling a number for their rating, so I used page protectors. This was awesome! I printed 25 pages in color and then slipped each one into a page protector. Every student was given a whiteboard marker and a small eraser (I have a set we use for rhythm writing) and spread them out around the room. They were able to circle their rating and erase it when we were all finished - no wasting of paper! Plus, I can use these for many years now! Hooray!

Now, here's where the fun part comes in! My students struggle with listening at times because they want to wiggle, move, talk, etc. Attention spans are getting shorter and shorter with kids every day. I knew I could hook them by creating a spooky (not scary) environment as we listened to each piece. It would also be a fun and unique memory for them. So, I stumbled upon this fun Halloween rotating light on Amazon.

It was only $10 and looked really fun! After all the students had their materials, I shut off the lights in my room and put this in the middle. It glowed and created some cool lighting on the ceiling as we listened to our music. Not only was it a spooky feature for our Halloween listening, but it was calming for several of my students that need to come down at the end of the day on a Friday afternoon. 

After we listened to all of the pieces, we came back together and talked briefly about things like composers, history, instruments, etc. I loved hearing the kids talk about music! They loved sharing their ideas with each other and comparing scores. It was a great introduction to listening and talking about different kinds of music.

Clean up only took a minute because each student wiped down their sheet with their eraser and put away the markers - EASY! 

I love this activity and so did the kids. It gave them a chance to celebrate Halloween music in a way that was more "mature" for them. Yes, they love playing Halloween music games but this got them thinking and interacting in a unique way. Turning the lights off helped them focus but also created a spooky way to listen. I know this experience will stay with most of them and that makes my heart happy!

Have you tried a unique listening experience before? I'd love to hear more ideas! Feel free to share below!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Tuneful & Trendy: October (#6)

It's time for another Tuneful & Trendy outfit post!

This week's weather has been insane in Iowa. The beginning of the week was 70's which is pretty normal for this time of year. By Thursday, the temp in the morning was below freezing and I had to scrape frost off my car! But by Sunday, it was up to the 80's again - weird. 

I had a variety of outfits this week to adjust to the changing weather, but this one was by far my favorite. My husband wasn't able to get a picture of me, so please ignore the smudges on my school mirror. 

Who? I had been eyeing this dress for a month or two before actually purchasing it. My husband liked the casual look of it, too.

  • dress: Torrid
  • leggings: Torrid
  • shoes: Tieks

Why? The entire dress is soft, stretchy cotton. It is so comfortable! It works well with a light cardigan in the cool mornings, but doesn't get too hot while moving with my students. It's a little hard to see but the empire waist gives me a little more structure than just a basic shift dress. I love the raglan look because 3/4 sleeves are more flattering for my arms. Plus, the rose pattern is something that I normally don't wear and I've been trying to branch out a bit. I tend to wear leggings under every dress because it allows me to bend over, pick up instruments, folk dance, etc. These have some lace at the bottom which classes it up a little bit more than just basic black. Finally, I'm wearing my Tieks again because they are comfortable and chic. If you want more information on Tieks, check out my post from last week. I normally like to mix things up and not wear the same thing too much. This dress, though, I will be wearing a lot! I saved up coupons from Torrid to purchase it, so it was definitely great to have this versatile piece in my closet at a discounted price. 

Have an amazing week!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Shaking It Up in Music!

I love egg shakers! They are great for students of all ages and abilities. Today I'd like to share with you some of my favorite activities using egg shakers in the music classroom.


Shake It Baby from Rachel Rambach
I use many of Rachel's songs for my Severe & Profound students. She is a music therapist and writes songs that work well with her students' needs. One of these is "Shake It Baby" which helps students go fast and slow as well as high and low. 

I Know a Chicken by Laurie Berkner is a fun song for egg shakers but also echo singing. 

"Shakey Shakey Egg" from Music K8 17/4 is a nice song to let kids just shake away how they'd like. With older students, you can practice shaking on the beat or inserting rhythmic patterns. You can sample it on Music K8's website to see if it's the right song for you before purchasing.

Shaggy Dog and the Terrible Itch by Bedford & Williamson
I love this story! It is so silly and has wonderful pictures. You can use the egg shakers in different ways with this story. One way is to use it any time Shaggy Dog itches. My students like using it when "the itch came back" because he wiggles and they giggle.

Ol' Mama Squirrel by David Ezra Stein
I just got this book and can't wait to use it soon. Squirrels are one of my favorite creatures, so this book is perfect for fall in Iowa. I plan on having the students use the egg shakers every time Mama Squirrel says "chook chook chook."

Baby Rattlesnake by Moroney & Ata
I found this idea from another music education blogger. The Kodaly Aspiring Music Classroom has a neat way to tie in rhythm practice with this story. On the "ch ch chhh" part,  she suggests using the rhythmic pattern "ti ti ta." This works well for my first graders who are learning ta and titi. You can also just have the kids use the shakers on that part without a clear rhythmic element. 


Check out Sing-Play-Creatively for a fun activity about colors! She has a video, music tracks and printables for kindergarten through 2nd grade. Great as a brain break or lesson!

One thing I love about egg shakers is that you can use them all year long! Here's a great activity you can use this month with "In the Hall of the Mountain King." Music with Miss W has an interactive lesson for reviewing half notes including choreography and composition.
You can also do a fun twist on Grieg's tune with a freebie from The Learning Groove. Eric Litwin (Pete the Cat) is half of the group and inserts movement words to add with the shakers.

This last activity is great for older kids! Amy at Music a la Abbott has a full blog post dedicated to this awesome song including ways to expand upon it. Find it here!

I hope you have found something new to use with your egg shakers. Many of these activities can also be done with maracas or homemade egg shakers. You can find directions for making your own egg shakers here. Have a great week shaking it up!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Tuneful & Trendy: Tieks (#5)

It's Tieks time!

If you've been following my Tuneful & Trendy posts, you'll see some colored flats I've been wearing with several of my outfits. These are an amazing shoe from the company Tieks. Tieks are ballet flats that come in a wide variety of colors, textures and patterns. The bottom soles are the signature blue Tieks color on every shoe, however. There is padding and support throughout the shoe also, but more on that later!

I had seen posts, comments, etc. about Tieks for months on teacher boards and blogs. As a music teacher, I am on my feet dancing, moving instruments and handling classroom management almost all day. My feet are killing me! So, I finally broke down and bought a pair. 

I have three pair of Tieks currently: black, mustard and poppy. Black is most common and versatile. Mustard fits my school district and Poppy was limited edition for spring. I've only done the original leather, but maybe some day I'll venture into the lace or vegan fabrics. 

The price tag is steep which is why many people want to try Tieks but aren't sure. Depending on the pair, you will pay $175-$350. I saved up money to buy my first pair and my husband treated me late for my new job. You can find some on eBay that have been used for a cheaper price, but they won't mold to your feet.

You can only purchase Tieks online but they are great about customer service. I ordered mine on a Friday and they arrived by Tuesday - crazy fast! If you experience any problems with them, they will help you as much as possible to fix the problem. This handy guide and bag is also included to answer any questions you have about the shoes.

I love these flats! They are great to wear to school for comfortability, but also because they go with almost everything and look very professional. Did I mention they were comfortable?

Now, down to the nitty-gritty details about these flats!

  • Day 1:  I am obsessed with the packaging of these flats! Look at that bow! Eeek! I also swear that these flats gave me good luck. I interviewed for my current job this past spring. Their colors were yellow and black. The week of my interview my first Tieks came (Poppy). The bow on top of my package was yellow - it was a sign! I am so happy at my new job and that bow was just the beginning. You are receive a personalized note with every purchase. How nice! 

  •  Day 2: After the first day, I was finally able to open the beautiful package and see what was inside. The flats come folded up for easy storage and travel. When wearing them, you don't notice the crease or ability to fold at all. Immediately when putting them off, they fit like a glove. The leather is so soft! Make sure nothing is cutting or restricting your feet and toes. As a wide footed person, my first pair was too small. I'm normally an 8 in flats, but I went up to a 9 with other pairs and they fit much better. Just be aware if you have a wide foot - you might have to size up.

  • Days 3-10: These next few days differ from person to person. Some people have no "break-in" period at all. I sure did with all my pairs of Tieks! The blue soles and leather inside provide support but they needed to mold to my feet. However, they never caused bleeding or blistering like other flats especially on the back of my heel. As you can see well on my right foot, my feet tend to turn out. This is something that would bother me with other shoes because the fabric wouldn't move to fit my feet. Tieks do! The leather is stretchy and eventually bends around my outside little foot permanently. If your feet sweat, they will sweat in these just like any other shoe. You can wear liners if it's a big deal, but they don't smell like anything other than your feet or leather.

  • Future: As the shoes mold to your feet, they should become more comfortable and easy to wear during the day. You should see darker leather and crinkles where your feet normally sit. This happens with each pair, so have no fear. The bottoms stay pretty pristine as well minus a stray pebble here and there in the crack. The only thing to be aware of is rain and snow. On my poppy Tieks, I got some water on it and the leather turned purple for a bit. It was strange but dried back to the normal color. They're not made for weather extremes, so I wouldn't recommend wearing them for such.

So, what's my honest opinion of Tieks? They aren't perfect but for a plus size teacher, they are so much better than any other flats I've had. The break-in period can be painful, but that is the case with most of my shoes. I love the colors and patterns that they have to match my wardrobe. Tieks are also so easy to pack and go! The price tag is high, but if you have lots of foot issues, I would give them a try. Or, see if you can find a friend that has them to just test them out for a minute. Tieks aren't an all-weather shoe, but they make a comfortable and fashionable statement for this lady!

I'm already saving up for my next pair - metallic bronze! These are beautiful for fall and winter (indoor) events. 

I hope I've given you a better idea about Tieks ballet flats. Please email me or comment below if you have questions or feedback about Tieks. Thanks for reading this week's Tuneful & Trendy!

Note: This post was not sponsored by Tieks, but does contain links for purchase if you choose. All opinions are solely my own and were given after personal use.