Sunday, February 12, 2017

Valentine's Day for All Ages & Abilities

This week is Valentine's Day! I'm excited to share with you some new activities I've stumbled upon and created to use in the elementary music classroom.

Upper Elementary

First, we'll start with the older kids. I think it's tough to find activities that are fun for them but not lovey-dovey or girlfriend/boyfriend focused. Even at 3rd grade, my kids are already thinking this and it stinks! It leads to hurt feelings, low self-esteem and so on. Here are two ideas you can use with your older kids that are a little more unique.

"One Love" is a great song by Bob Marley. His daughter took this famous song and created a beautifully illustrated story book about loving our friends, family and community. Sometimes we need to take a step back and think about what "love" really means. This book is a nice way to do that and promote friendship and creating a better place for everyone. I like to pair it with a listening glyph from my set of Listening Glyphs for Black History Month. This gets the kids listening and thinking of the meaning of the words, but you can also use this for review or assessment. 

I heard about the singing game "Ida Red, Ida Blue" my first year of teaching. I played the game with an envelope and it worked great. This year, though, I found this adorable felt mailbox at Target. I knew this would be perfect for Ida! Technically, you can play the game throughout the year, but I like to bring it out for the first time in February. I cut out some small hearts and wrote movement words on them. Then I stuffed the mailbox. Here's how the game is played:

As the song is sung, the teacher walks around the circle with the mailbox. At the end, the teacher "cuts" between two students with the mailbox. One student opens it, the other pulls out a movement card. I usually say "ready, set, go" and both students have to go opposite ways around the circle doing whatever movement was chosen (chicken dance, run, skip, etc.). I also slip in a few free choice cards. The first student to get back and touch the mailbox wins. The other student has to sit down. I put the card in my pocket and it can't be chosen again. The teacher keeps cutting between students and having showdowns until there are only two players left or a winner (sometimes I let the last two be winners so there isn't as much frustration). 
The kids love it and sometimes, it is pretty hilarious! After that, my older kids beg to play it at least once or twice a month for the rest of the school year.

Lower Elementary

These activities are geared more towards lower elementary, but you can always use or adapt them for older students. 

I've always enjoyed using the finger play "When You Send A Valentine" with my little ones. However, I decided to put it to music this year. As I was working on it, I planned on using our hand/desk bells to make the sound. But, I decided to bring out a metallophone instead since we had just been using them with Freddie the Frog. It would work with any kind of ringing instrument, though, so please use what is available in your classroom. Here's what the set up looks like:

That envelope was another Target felt find. After teaching the students the song, I have one student sit in the chair, facing away with their eyes closed. As we sing, I hand the envelope to a student who places it underneath the chair quietly. After the first "ring the bell and run," the student gently taps a few notes on the instrument. Then, they run back to their spot and sit until the song is over. The student in the chair turns around and gets one guess to figure out who gave them the valentine.

It's pretty hard to guess the right person, but the kids think it's a hoot! It's also a nice lead-in to "Doggie, Doggie" where we begin solo singing with a similar set-up.

This last activity is great for really little ones including special needs students. It uses the song "Viva Valentine" from Music K8. If you don't have the song in your collection, you can stream a sample of it from their website. I strongly suggest getting it though - it's so versatile! 
I do this activity on two consecutive days. The first day, I pair students up and have them face each other. With my special needs class, I have them sit across from their para or helper. I give one partner a maraca. During the song, they shake and play their maraca. Occasionally, I say the word "pass" or "switch" where they give the maraca to their partner to play. They are actually switching every time the song says "valentine." The second day, we identify that and then they have to listen to know when the pass. It's a nice way for students to understand sharing, passing and listening while also playing their instrument correctly. Egg shakers work well with this, too!

I hope you are able to find an activity in this post to use with your students. 
Have a Happy Valentine's Day!

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