First Day Music Lessons {BTS Blog Hop}

I have been super busy lately preparing for the new school year in my music room! Since Back-to-School has been on everyone's mind lately, I am teaming up with a group of great music bloggers for a Back-to-School Music Blog Hop!

Back to School in the music room: A blog hop with TONS of ideas for your music lessons!

The blog hop includes six blog posts about Back-to-School in the music room, from lessons, to organization, to games, and more! To continue on the blog hop, keep clicking the picture at the end of each post to hop to the next blog!

Here are my tips for first day lessons in the music room:

First day lessons in the music room: Blog post with lots of ideas for your first day music lessons!

#1: Play some name games!
Whether you've been teaching at the same school for ten years, or are at a brand new school with hundreds of new faces, it's super helpful to play name games, to get to know their names, and for them to get to know each other's names!
One of my favorite name games for Kindergarten-Second grade is called "Rickety Rackety," and goes like this:

Students put the beat on their laps as they say it, then each child says their name, and we all echo. (So we say the chant, a kid says his/her name, we echo, we say the chant again, etc.) I love this name game because it's great for steady beat and it's a GREAT way to get their names in my head! I also have had them clap their names, which is a great way to prepare/ practice rhythm!

Another one of my favorite name games, for grades 3-5, is "Jump in, Jump out." Here is a video of the game:


Any student who wants to says, "My name is ________," (everyone says, "yeah"), "I like ________," ("yeah"), "And I'll keep liking it," ("yeah"), "For the rest of my life," ("For the rest of your life!") I love that I can learn more about each student as we play, like that Abigail likes gymnastics, Corvin likes cookie dough, and Evan likes music!

#2: Set rules and procedures
After we play a name game, I always take some time to discuss rules and procedures. My music rules spell "MUSIC," and this year, they look like this:

Music rules for the music room: Blog post includes other great ideas for your first day music lessons!
(For more details about my room this year, see this post.)

After I have student volunteers read each rule, we discuss what happens if we are doing what we're supposed to, and then what happens if we are not. I choose a star student at the end of every class, so this gives me an opportunity to talk about that, as well as to talk about points I will give the class for good behavior. It also gives me the chance to discuss behavior that's not desirable. I've been using this set to discuss rules and procedures in the music room:


Another great set for discussing rules is Linda McPherson's Back-To-School set.


Linda's set includes a pentatonic song about music class, and she weaves her rules into the performance of the song, along with movement and an Orff arrangement! Such a wonderful way to make music on the first day of class, which brings me to my next point...

#3: Make music
Once I play a name game with students and go over rules and procedures, I make sure to make music! With my first and second graders, I played "Bee Bee," which for first grade was a great way to practice beat, and for second grade, was a great way to practice ta and ti-ti!

Here is the notation for the game, and the game directions:

To play the game, the teacher holds a bee puppet, and students stand in a circle with one fist out. As the chant is spoken, the teacher touches students’ fists to the beat. After the word “out,” the teacher buzzes 4 students; those students are out and sit down. Repeat until only one child is left; that child is the winner. 

#4: Review concepts
After we play a game, it's easy to pull out concepts to review. As I said with "Bee Bee," we reviewed ta and ti-ti with first grade. I like to start with the first concepts I taught the previous year in the first lesson of the year (in this case, ta and ti-ti and sol-mi), and then in the second lesson, begin reviewing the later concepts (rest and la.) I make sure to start with pretty easy activities, like having students switch between the beat and rhythm, or having students read the rhythm of the song. This way, if they are a bit rusty because of summer break, they can still feel successful.
A great set for reviewing at the beginning of the year is C Major Learning's "Back to School Write the Room."


With this set, students have to find rhythm flashcards around the room (like a scavenger hunt) and then write down the patterns they find on their worksheets. The kids have SO much fun, and it's such a great way to review rhythm writing at the start of the year!

#5: Build in time to get to know students (and for them to get to know each other!)
As I build relationships with students, I want to make sure to take time to just listen them talk about their lives. Yes, I only see them once every five days for fifty minutes, but I still think that it's important to set aside five or ten minutes to hear them talk about their summer. This year, I had them raise their hand and tell me a bit about their summer, if they wanted to. I had fun listening to them talk about their vacations, and also got to hear from students who are new to my school!
I also have my third, fourth, and fifth graders play "Icebreaker Bingo," which is a game I created to have students get to know each other, and for me to get to know them as well! They circulate and ask each other questions, such as "Do you play soccer?" or "Do you want to be in choir this year?" and the first few who get a bingo (five down, five across, or five diagonal), get a prize from me (one of our good behavior certificates.) My icebreaker bingo sheets can be found in this set, which also includes first day lessons for K-5! (I recently updated the bingo sheets, so if you've already purchased this set, make sure to re-download under "my purchases.")


I hope this post was helpful as you prepare for the new school year! To read great tips about classroom decor in the music room, click the picture below to hop on over to Lindsay Jervis' blog.


Make sure to keep on hopping to the next blog post, to read all six posts about Back-to-School in the music room! Feel free to comment below with your tips for first day music lessons. Thanks for reading, and have a great start to your year!
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Music Room Reveal {2016-2017}

I'm really excited to link up with Tracy King from Mrs. King Rocks to blog with a tour of my classroom!

Music Classroom Tours: Tons of pictures of great music classrooms! Check out for decorating ideas, organization ideas for your music classroom, and more!

Here is a view of just outside my door. I chose a monster theme for my classroom this year! I had this personalized at this Etsy store.

Mrs. Miracle's Music Room Reveal: Monster-themed classroom!

Here is a view of the first part of my classroom. I am really lucky to have LOTS of cabinet space as well as movement space! I hung the hand drums with 3-M hooks, and my word wall is included in my Monster-themed music classroom set. On the far left of my counter are bins with tennis balls, manipulatives, and more, and on the far left of the wall are my Levels of Understanding posters, which are also included in my monster-themed set (for other non-monster levels of understanding posters, see this set.)

Mrs. Miracle's Music Room Reveal: Blog post includes tons of pics, and solutions for organizing your music room!

I love these letters from Joann Fabrics! I saw a Pinterest picture with light-up marquee letters from Target that said "#READ," and wanted to use those in my classroom to say "SING," but couldn't find a "G" anywhere, so I'm using these instead. The bins hold my materials for each grade level, for each lesson; they have saved me from running around the room trying to figure out where I left puppets, books, etc.! You can read more about the bins here.

Mrs. Miracle's Music Room Reveal: Blog post includes tons of pics, and solutions for organizing your music room!

Here is the front of my classroom. I bought the monster chart on Amazon, and the fun piano sticker on Amazon as well. It was super easy to put up! The schedule cards show my schedule for the day; you can purchase those here.

Mrs. Miracle's Music Room Reveal: Blog post includes tons of pics, and solutions for organizing your music room!

Here is my musical symbol wall; it's a great way for students to make connections as I'm teaching! The symbol signs and handsign posters are included in my monster-themed set. (If you'd like a set like this without the monster theme, check out this set.) I created the monster with a paper lantern and this cute clip art by Melonheadz; it's hanging with a push pin and wire.

Mrs. Miracle's Music Room Reveal: Blog post includes tons of pics, and solutions for organizing your music room!

I'm trying flexible seating this year...more on that to come soon! I bought the flexible seating posters here. I'm organizing my materials by concept on this bookshelf; you can find the concept labels in my Music Room organization set.

Mrs. Miracle's Music Room Reveal: Blog post includes tons of pics, and solutions for organizing your music room and your flexible seating!

This is my back wall. I was SO excited to read Jena Hudson's post with her room reveal, with info about how to create big posters from clip art! I used the site BlockPosters to create the monster; here is the tutorial by Jena. The "Welcome" sign is a fun find from the Target dollar section; I think it was $3. The table is from IKEA, and the crate seats I made using this tutorial. The second picture shows a close-up of the seats.
Mrs. Miracle's Music Room Reveal: Blog post includes tons of pics, and solutions for organizing your music room!

Mrs. Miracle's Music Room Reveal: Blog post includes tons of pics, and solutions for organizing your music room and flexible seating!

I'm really excited about my Student Center! Here, students can get letters about choir, band, and strings, and can also get prizes from the prize box, crayons, pencils, erasers, and more! I bought the mailbox at Lowe's; students can turn in their work to the mailbox (so I'm not running around trying to figure out where all the papers are!) I bought the cute monster bin on Amazon, and the speech bubble cork board in the Target dollar section. You can download the cute girl for free here; next year, I think I'll make her bigger with Block Posters!

Student center: Can be used to organize pencils, papers, crayons, letters to parents, and more!


Here is a close-up of the plate to the right of the student center bulletin board; it is for students to write their names when they use the restroom. I bought the plate from Target; it is called a Melamine plate, and can be written on with dry erase marker. I velcroed the ribbon to the plate and am hanging it with a 3-M hook. I really like using this for restroom breaks, because I can see very easily who is in the bathroom! The dry erase markers to the right of the plate have an eraser on the end of the cap.

Melamine plate: Great way to keep track of who is in the restroom! Students write their name on the plate, then erase when they come back!

Here is another bulletin board, which can be purchased with my monster-themed set:

Mrs. Miracle's Music Room Reveal: Blog post includes tons of pics, and solutions for organizing your music room!

Here are my instrument visuals, also included in my monster-themed set. If you'd like ones without a monster theme, check out this set.

Mrs. Miracle's Music Room Reveal: Blog post includes tons of pics, and solutions for organizing your music room!

Here are some of my organizational drawers; you can get the labels in my Music Room Organization set.

Great way to keep supplies organized in the music room! Post also includes room reveal pictures!

I am really excited about the theme of my classroom, but also the functionality! I also wanted to make sure it wasn't super overwhelming (read this article about the benefits of "plain" classrooms) so I have plenty of blank wall space so as not to distract students. Here is a video, so you can see how everything looks put together:



Make sure you check out Tracy's blog post for a tour of her classroom, as well as a tour of many other music rooms! Have fun! And feel free to comment below with what's on your wall!
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Music Classroom Finds at Five Below

Today, I took a trip with my three-year-old to Five Below, and I've decided it's one of my favorite stores. There are SO many fun items to buy! Since it's almost August, I had Back to School on my mind, and saw tons of items that could work well in the music classroom, or any classroom!

A little disclaimer: I'm not getting any kickback from Five Below (although wouldn't that be nice?) You also might be able to find some of these items for cheaper elsewhere; I just wanted to give you some fun ideas! According to the Five Below website, there are 430 stores nationwide, across 27 states. If you don't have a Five Below near you (you can check if you do on the website), then you can likely find something similar at a dollar store, Target, or Amazon! Here goes!

Music teacher finds at Five Below: Great buys to help you organize and teach in your music room!



Plush locker Rugs
Music teacher finds at Five Below: Great buys to help you organize and teach in your music room!

I'm going to do flexible seating in my music classroom this year, which I'll blog more about soon. I bought 5 of the black rugs so students would have something soft to sit on during centers, group work, etc., instead of my hard linoleum!

Plastic milk crates
Music teacher finds at Five Below: Great buys to help you organize and teach in your music room!

These were a good deal, at only $5 (I spent $6 each on Amazon.) I bought mine to make crate seats for my classroom; here's one of them:

Music teacher finds at Five Below: Great buys to help you organize and teach in your music room!

Like I said, I'll blog more on that later. The great thing about these seats is they are cute, comfy, AND great for storing scarves, manipulatives, tennis balls for movement, and more!

Binders
Music teacher finds at Five Below: Great buys to help you organize and teach in your music room!

These are pretty cute, especially if you love everything black and gold!


 Pillows and rugs
Music teacher finds at Five Below: Great buys to help you organize and teach in your music room!

Music teacher finds at Five Below: Great buys to help you organize and teach in your music room!

Like the locker rugs above, any of these would be great for flexible seating! They could also work if you want your bass xylophone players to have something soft to kneel upon.

Dry erase markers with erasers
Music teacher finds at Five Below: Great buys to help you organize and teach in your music room!

These are GREAT to either have on the board, or to have for student dictation. I have a set of class white boards and markers, but have tried different things for erasers, such as felt and even Kleenex. I love that these markers have the erasers on them...one less thing to pass out!

Containers
Music teacher finds at Five Below: Great buys to help you organize and teach in your music room!

Music teacher finds at Five Below: Great buys to help you organize and teach in your music room!

Any of these containers would be great for storing recorders, manipulatives, holiday materials, mallets, and more.


 Hanging clipboard

This would be a really cute way to hang student work in your classroom! It could also work for hanging drawings and/or nice notes students bring you.

Colored Dice
Music teacher finds at Five Below: Great buys to help you organize and teach in your music room!

I love these dice! I used them last year, when students worked in small groups with Cori Bloom's listening freebie. It was such a fun way to have them discuss different pieces of music in a small group and whole group setting!

Giant pufferball
Music teacher finds at Five Below: Great buys to help you organize and teach in your music room!

This may be my favorite find at Five Below! This is a much bigger squishy ball than the one I use in my classroom. Here is another picture, with the ball next to my recorder, so you can see how big it is:


The kids (and I) are going to LOVE using this for SMART board games like this one, in which they throw the squishy ball and sing the pattern!

If you're looking for more organization ideas for your music room, I just created a set that helped me organize my recorders, manipulatives, and more! Click the picture below to see the set:


Here are some of the labels I created with this set:


This set, as well as everything in my store, will be 20% off Monday, August 1, and Tuesday, August 2! You can get an additional 8% off by using the promo code "BESTYEAR." 


Whether it be on TpT or at Five Below, happy shopping!

Six Musical Ways to Begin a Class

As we near August, you may be starting to think about your music lessons for the upcoming school year. Today, I'm blogging with six musical ways to begin your music class.

Please note that there is no right or wrong answer with how to welcome your class. It's totally up to you and what you think is best for your students! You might try changing it up a bit to see which way you like the best!

Six musical ways to welcome students: Great ideas for starting music class!


#1: Singing game
This is my preferred way to begin music. I want my students to be immediately singing and experiencing joy, so playing a singing game is a great way to do that! One of my favorites for Kindergarten is "Grizzly Bear":

Grizzly Bear: A great singing game for Kindergarten! The blog post also includes other great ways to start music class!

The kids love the song, as it starts very quietly and gets louder and louder, until they shout, "Roar" at the end! For the game, I have students walk in a circle, counter-clockwise, until they repeat the first phrase. Then on "Please be very quiet," students stay still and put a finger to their lips. For "If you wake him, if you shake him..." students step louder and louder to the beat until they roar at the end! (I have them put their hands up like they are claws when they roar!) One child pretends to be a sleeping bear in the middle as all of the movement is going on, and then on "Roar," that kid stands up and tries to tag one student. I have one spot that is the safe zone (my white board).

For more thoughts on singing games, see this blog post.

#2: Listening to music
I've heard of many music teachers beginning music class by playing a piece of music, such as Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever" or Mozart's "Rondo Alla Turka." As students come in listening to music, they could mimic your beat motions, they could echo your rhythm patterns, they could copy your choreography...whatever you'd like!

#3: Vocal exploration
Having your students echo you as they begin class can be a great way to warm up their voices. You can have your voice go from low to high, or high to low, or low to high to low, and students echo you. They could also echo you on different sounds such as "ch ch ch ch ch" (to the rhythm "ta ta ti-ti ta"), then change the sounds and/or rhythm and have them echo the new pattern. For more vocal exploration ideas, see these blog posts.

#4: Name game
I blogged about some of my favorite name games in this blog post. Name games can be a great way to welcome students AND learn their names better! I just found this name game on Pinterest; it looks super fun!


#5: Gathering song
I sing a gathering song with my Kindergarteners and first graders after we play a singing game, but I've heard of some music teachers starting immediately with a gathering song. The song I use is "Here we are together," to the tune of "The more we get together."  Instead of, "'cause your friends are my friends and my friends are your friends," I sing all the students' names around the room, so the lyrics are like:
"Oh here we are together, together, together,
Oh here we are together in music today.
With Jenna, and Macy, and Scott, and Aileen....
Oh here we are together, in music today."

This is a great way to welcome students to class, AND to learn their names better!

#6: Solos
You could begin your lesson by listening to students solo sing. You might want to have the entire class first sing back to you (i.e. "Hello class"/ "Hello Mrs. Miracle", "How are you today?" "I am great.") Then, you could listen to 4-5 students sing solos. I'll sing to them "Hello ________," using solfa we're preparing/ practicing, such as s-m-s-m or s-l-s-m, and they sing back "Hello Mrs. Miracle." Then I'll ask them a question, such as "What's your favorite color?" or "What did you do this weekend?" or "What's your favorite food?" It helps me get to know them better, helps me hear who well they are matching pitch, AND is a great way to welcome them to class.

You could also combine some of these ways, such as starting with a singing game, then going to solos, or starting with a piece of music, then doing vocal exploration. 

What are your favorite ways to begin your class? Feel free to comment below!

I'm very excited to announce my giveaway winners! Thanks so much to everyone who participated, and to the sellers who contributed products (see the full list here.) The winners are:

$50 credit to my TpT store and bundle of BTS goodies: Christy Gibson
$25 credit to my TpT store and bundle of BTS goodies: Stacey Hughey
$15 credit to my TpT store and bundle of BTS goodies: Blanca InezSuzanne Fleischmann Bishop

I have emailed all of the winners. Have a great weekend!
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Store Makeover and Giveaway

This summer, I've been VERY busy making over my entire store! Today, I'm sharing highlights of products I've updated, and also giving details about my 4,000 follower giveaway!

Store Makeover and Giveaway: Includes info about how to find revised products on TpT, and a giveaway of music education products!


I was motivated to make over my whole store for a number of reasons:
  • To make worksheets more printer-friendly (so less ink!)
  • To align all of my lessons with the NCCAS standards
  • To convert some of the SMART notebook files to PDF's, so more people can access them (although I just learned that you can open up SMART notebook files without having the software by opening them up at express.smarttech.com!)
  • To add some files and activities to some of the sets (in other words, to make the sets even more helpful!)
If you've bought any set from me that included worksheets, included standards, or included SMART notebook files, you may have revisions you can re-upload for free! Here is a video tutorial I made last year to show you how to check for revisions (as well as a few other tips about navigating on TpT!)


One of my most time-consuming revisions was of all of my "I Can" sets. Because the NCCAS standards came out, I had to re-do the checklist within each set to be aligned with the new standards. I also added several standards to each grade-level set so that all of the standards were represented. (And I also added a new border, to make it prettier!) Check out my bundled set by clicking on the picture below:

"I can" music statements bundled set: One of many revised products in Aileen Miracle's store! If you've already purchased, go to "my purchases" and re-download!

Another one of my favorite revisions was to "Songs and Activities to Teach Re." For this set, I added slideshows for "Hot Cross Buns" and "Let us chase the squirrel," made some of the worksheets more printer-friendly and added borders, and aligned the presentation lesson to NCCAS. Check it out by clicking the picture below:

Songs and Activities to teach re: One of many revised products in Aileen Miracle's store! If you've already purchased, go to "my purchases" and re-download!

I know no one is ready to think about Christmas right now, but I'm pretty excited about the revisions to my "Christmas around the world" set! I updated several of the YouTube links to connect to performances more representative of each culture. I also changed the fonts and design a bit. Here is the set:

Christmas around the world:  One of many revised products in Aileen Miracle's store! If you've already purchased, go to "my purchases" and re-download!

Make sure to check out the "my purchases" tab on TpT, to see if any of the products you've purchased have been revised. Many sellers continually improve their work, so you may find some other revisions you weren't expecting to see!

To celebrate my huge store makeover as well as reaching 4,000 followers on TpT, I am teaming up with some music friends to offer a giveaway! Each prize will contain a bundle of back-to-school goodies as well as a credit to my store. The goodies are listed below; you can click each link to see each of the products (and follow each store while you're there!)

"Beat Strips" 
from Amy Abbott

"Off to the races {August-December planning}"
from Lindsay Jervis


"EGBDF Stories" 
from David Row at Make Moments Matter

"Music Listening Worksheet Bundle" 
from Cori Bloom

"Music Worksheets: Treble/ Bass, Line/ Space, High/ Low" 
from Music with Sara Bibee

"What's cooking in music" bulletin board 
from Tracy King/ The Bulletin Board Lady

"Classroom Instrument Flipbook"
from Jena Hudson at Sew Much Music

"Back to School Write the Room {Bundled Set}"
from Karla at C Major Learning

The prizes will be:
1st place: The bundle of BTS goodies and a $50 credit to my store
2nd place: The bundle of BTS goodies and a $25 credit to my store
3rd place: The bundle of BTS goodies and a $15 credit to my store

You get one entry for each of the following:
  • Following me on TpT
  • Visiting my Facebook page
  • Subscribing to my YouTube channel
  • Following me on Pinterest
  • Visiting "my purchases," and downloading any revised products you see!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I'll leave the giveaway open until Thursday at 3 p.m., and then will announce the winners shortly thereafter. Good luck!