Thursday, January 26, 2017

Celebrating 100 Days!

So, apparently the 100th day of school is a BIG DEAL! This was something that no one ever told me about in student teaching or even my first year or two in the classroom. I've finally started to understand that for lower elementary, the 100th day of school is awesome!

The kids start the day by breaking through a big banner. How cool is that? The rest of the day is spent counting, moving, and creating with 100. As a music teacher, I've always wanted to be a part of the celebration, but couldn't figure out what to do.

This year I've come up with a few ideas of things to do tomorrow (our 100th day) and I want to share them with you!

Music K8 has some great songs for the 100th day of school. Some are easier and some a little harder. I usually like to project the lyrics through Powerpoint so the kids can see them nice and big. Here's a few suggestions:
  • One Hundred Days! (22/3)
  • The 100th Day of School (9/3)
  • One Hundred Days of School (3/3)
  • Happy 100 to Us! (3/3)
  • See How Much We've Learned (27/3)
You can also find free songs on Pinterest that take a traditional tune (Oh Christmas Tree, I've Been Working on the Railroad, etc.) and give it different words to celebrate the 100th day.

If you haven't heard of GoNoodle, you need to check it out ASAP! They have dances, yoga, brain breaks, and more stuff for kids. A lot of our teachers use the "Indoor Recess" mixes to give the kids some activity when they can't go outside. I love using the Kidz Bop guided dance videos or the calming ones at the end of a lesson. 

They've created two fun videos for the 100th day! You can choose Skip Count to 100 or Count to 100. Both look great for a quick mention of the 100th day if you have other things planned. Share with your classroom or PE teachers, too - they will thank you for it!

The final suggestion is the activity I'm going to be using with my students this year. I love "The Peas" series by Keith Baker. I've mentioned in a past blog post about using his other story "Little Green" for vocal exploration. He's a wonderful author. His "Peas" series includes books about the alphabet, seasons, and counting. It just so happens that his counting book goes from 1-100 in ones and tens - perfect for the 100th day!

I like to use books with drumming, but you can use any percussion instrument in your classroom. First, I read the story to the class. Then, I introduce and place the drums in different groups (i.e. bongos station, gathering drum, lollipop drums). From here, I read the story and have the students echo the text on their drums. Example: One pea searching (tap tap tap tap); I find that it's easier to project the Kindle version (Amazon) up on the whiteboard as I read so I can walk around and help the kids. Once we've read & played through the story, the kids move to the next station and we do it again. 

The story gets tedious by the last class of the day, but the kids love it! It also helps them work on hearing a steady beat, playing with others and working on sounds. You can always branch out into what rhythms would represent the text or have the kids create their own ideas for the 100th day. Then, have them write it and play it on a nonpitched percussion instrument. 

Best of luck on your 100th day! Make it great!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Making Sense of Major & Minor

Today, I'd like to share about a topic that I think is overlooked in music education: major & minor. 

Being in Iowa, there are very few opportunities for elementary music teachers to meet and collaborate. A small group of us started having a workshop day twice a year (late summer & winter) at a centrally located spot. Two of the teachers involved were gracious enough to host and plan it out the first time. From there, we've started tweaking certain things, but overall have had a wonderful day of sharing, planning and just being grateful for the chance to talk with others in our field.

I met up with a few of these teachers at our yearly state conference this past fall. One of them, Anne, shared with me (because she knows I love books in music!) about the story called "Fortunately" by  Remy Charlip. Each part has a good thing that happened followed by a not-so-good outcome. Here's a sample:


Anne explained how she used this book to present and review major/minor to her students. I had a eureka moment! The kids always catch on to when something is "happy" or "sad" but they need to know the terminology. I feel uncomfortable just springing stuff on them, so this kind of connection would be perfect! I also wanted to introduce my new handbell/deskbell sets. More and ideas kept coming to me and I was so excited!

I sat on this lesson for a bit. I wasn't quite ready to bring it to my kids just yet, as the holiday season approached and then program practice. 

Then, one day I was at Half Price Books with my mom (we love this place). I stumbled upon a cute book in the CLEARANCE section, no less called "Good News, Bad News" by Jeff Mack. Those are the only words in the entire book and it shares a similar idea as the "Fortunately" book.

Another eureka moment - I could introduce major & minor to my younger students with this book. Then, bring it back in the later years with "Fortunately." HOORAY!

I haven't been excited about lessons like this since I discovered Artie Almeida's movement activities. So, I wanted to share this idea and how I'm going about it with you all!

The ideas below are merely suggestions - I'm sure you all have your own way of teaching, additional materials, assessments, etc. You can use these ideas as a whole lesson or break them into parts and do other things. Click below for the freebies you can use with this unit! As always, make it accessible for your classroom.

Lower Elementary:
  • First day: introduce & read the story "Good News, Bad News"

  • Second day: project story (kindle version) and play major or minor chords for each page of the story - I'm a pianist so I'd just play it and click through the story as the kids watch.

    After the story, play the chords one at a time and talk about how it makes the students feel (happy, sad, mad, etc.)

    Stick up or project the two faces (without words) on the board; play sounds and have students use their own faces or point to the right picture

  • Third day: bring the faces out again and play examples (mp3 or piano) - can the children pick the right face?

    Let students create their own happy/sad face cards; attach to a pencil, popsicle stick, etc. for easier flipping!

    Replay the examples and have the students use their own cards

  • Additional ideas: add instruments; introduce terminology; create listening examples & place the identification cards at a center; introduce & practice borduns, use beat buddies with different examples; make half the group happy & other half sad - have them stand when they hear "their music"

Upper Elementary:
  • First day: introduce & read the story "Fortunately" - if previously talked about in lower elementary, bring up the faces & happy/sad idea

  • Second day: stick up faces and have the students identify as they listen to different examples

    Then, introduce the terms "major" and "minor" ; write the words on the faces or swap with terminology faces

    Identify the examples again, using the vocabulary

  • Third day: bring out "Fortunately" and talk about the different pages using major & minor

    Introduce the handbells/deskbells (from here, you can talk about scales, chords structure, etc. but I just group them for the kids already) and play the major sounds, then minor

    Read the story, having half of the group be major for fortunately & the other half be minor for unfortunately; switch groups

  • Fourth day: From here, I would use Linda McPherson's Major/Minor games. You can buy the games separately or as a bundle.

    First, the kids would make their own major/minor assessment tool and as I played the examples in her product, they would use their card to share their idea (instead of shouting it out)

  • Additional ideas: introduce scales, chord structure, etc.; create listening examples & place the identification cards at a center; written/aural test; mystery patterns & chords; students creating their own pattern or chord & having other students label major/minor

I know there are tons of ideas out there for teaching major and minor but none ever really spoke to me for introducing it. I love both of these books and my students enjoy using those two words to start describing music. They even use them as they talk about their favorite pop songs - it's awesome!

If you introduce or teach major and minor in a different way, please share below. I love having multiples ways to bring something to my students. Don't forget to click upon to get that freebie with the ideas and materials mentioned above!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Tuneful & Trendy: January (#9)

This week's outfit included pattern mixing - something I'm not quite comfortable with. I am a type A personality and need everything to go together nicely. Pattern mixing confuses me because there is no specific focal point. However, pattern mixing is really in this season and I need to venture outside of my comfort zone every now and then. 
The easiest way to start pattern mixing is to go with stripes and a floral print. This dress is just that!
Who? I picked this dress out but my husband really liked it. Bonus!


Why? Like I said above, this dress is pushing me out of my comfort zone. I also struggle with pairing browns and blacks. This dress does that as well. While it made me uncomfortable trying it on, I immediately fell in love with it! It has pockets (awesome) and is nice and flowy. I also like the pop of pink in the flowers against the taupe and black. It is 3/4 sleeved, but pretty warm considering the lightness of the fabric. I wore it with black leggings and brown boots, but you could easily pair it with brown or pink leggings and black boots. I received a ton of compliments on it when I presented at a conference last year. At the end of the day, I felt like a million bucks!

This dress is from an online boutique which can be a little daunting. When you order online, it's hard to get the sizing right. Paisley Grace has been quick about orders and returns, but you won't get money back - just store credit. I don't mind it most of the time because I get unique pieces that stand out. Do you have an online boutique you adore? Share below!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Tuneful & Trendy: December (#8)

Happy New Year!

The previous month is a busy time for a lot of people. I was also blessed with getting the stomach flu on Thanksgiving. So, needless to say, I haven't posted in awhile.

Hopefully you had successful programs, holiday lessons and a relaxing break! When I wasn't sick, busy or completely exhausted, I did have time to snap a few Tuneful & Trendy photos for you all.

Who? The kids and teachers at school LOVE this shirt! 


• jeans: Torrid
            • fleece: Columbia
            • shirt:

Why? Elf has become a staple at Christmastime. This quote from the movie is perfectly adjusted for teachers - "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is teaching music to everyone here!" I really should wear this more than once during the month of December because the kids love it and the teachers recognize it. I just might decorate my door with that theme next year...hmm...

Who? This is one of my go-to comfy outfits for casual days.

          • jeans: Torrid
          • sweatshirt: Maurices
          • scarf: 

Why? Our school colors are yellow/gold and black. Luckily, the "in color" this season is mustard. I snagged this comfy pullover sweatshirt as soon as I saw it. I wish I would have bought two in hindsight. Anyways, I found this super soft infinity scarf on Two-day shipping brought this beauty to my house and wardrobe. I could also pair this outfit with skinny colored pants, khakis, black pants, etc. It really looks put together but comfy on casual Fridays.

Who? My husband (bless his heart) encouraged my addiction to damask with this dress.

        • dress: Perfectly Priscilla Boutique
        • leggings: Maurices
        • boots: Torrid

Why? This tunic dress had to be in my closet! The base color is a dark hunter green with the print allover in a cream. It's super flowy and flattering over my curves, too. Best part: POCKETS! Paired with my super soft brown leggings from Maurices and comfy boots, this outfit is great for most of the year. I loved it so much that I wore it for conferences and received tons of positive compliments!

Again, sorry for being so quiet lately. I hope to get back in the swing of things as the second semester starts up. Look for a post coming later this to introduce and/or reinforce major & minor. Enjoy!