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!

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