Mrs. Miracle's Music Room

Favorite Kindergarten Music Activities

As I wrote about in this blog post, teaching Kindergarten is so different than any other grade! They are at times so sweet, at other times so needy...and their attention span is about as short as they are! That being said, I truly enjoy teaching Kindergarten music. Today, I thought I'd blog about my favorite activities to do with Kindergarteners...the activities that I look forward to teaching, and the ones that they ask for lesson after lesson!

Favorite Kindergarten activities for the music classroom, including a singing game, movement activities, and more!

#1: Grizzly Bear
I first started teaching this song several years ago, to practice the musical opposites loud and quiet, and oh my goodness, I'm so glad I did! It's one of their all-time favorites, and there is something so magical about waking the bear!

Grizzly Bear: A FUN singing game for loud and quiet! Blog post includes other activities for your music lessons!

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).

And here is a video of my students playing the game:

#2: Engine Engine
This is such a great chant, because it can be used to teach loud/quiet ("Let's say it like a baby is sleeping on the train!" "Now like there's a party on the train!"), to teach fast/slow ("Let's say it like a train going uphill!" "Now like a train going downhill!"), to teach steady beat, and for vocal exploration (when students make a train whistle sound.) I often lead students into the room chugging like a train, then have them say "Engine Engine" much, in fact, that they often start chugging like a train as soon as they see me! Here is the chant notation:

#3: Freeze dance
What kid DOESN'T like freeze dance? I'd been doing freeze dance for many years, and then I read this blog post by my friend Karla Cherwinski on our collaborative blog Kodaly Corner, and she referenced these free freeze dance signs by Artie Almeida. I LOVE them! They can be used with any freeze dance, and are so good for gross motor movement and critical thinking (when they see the signs with 2 or 3 kids on them, you can see the wheels turning very quickly in their heads as they figure out what to do!) I like to do freeze dance with the "Potpourri" recording from any of Eric Chapelle's CD's, like the one below, as the track includes several different pieces of music with pauses built in:

#4: Bunny Game
This might be my very favorite Kindergarten activity! I created this while taking pedagogy lessons with Dr. Timothy Caldwell at Central Michigan University. They beg to play it, and it's a great activity to prepare and practice high/low, as students have to figure out whether you are playing a high or low trill to wiggle their nose or tail. You can get the bunny game directions for free by subscribing to my email list (and if you've already subscribed, no worries, I won't be sending you duplicate emails!)

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The directions should have everything you need to know to play it, but if you would like to see it in action, I plan on doing a Facebook Live on my Facebook page on Thursday, October 27, at 9:15 p.m., to demonstrate what I play during the bunny game!

#5: Mr. Stingy Man
I learned this songtale while I was student teaching, with Paul Rose, in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. I've used it every year since, and I have to say, there is something truly magical about just telling a story. No technology, no pictures, just me and the story and a group of kids listening and singing along! Here is the story, but I do plan on doing a Facebook Live soon on my Facebook page to tell the story, so you can hear how it goes!

Once upon a time there was a farmer who lived on a big, big farm. He had lots of animals—cows, pigs, sheep (ask for student suggestions)—and he also had a rooster. The rooster’s job was to wake him up every morning. The rooster loved doing this for the farmer, but there was something else he loved—his silver dollar. He loved this silver dollar so much that he slept with it under his wing every night so that no one would steal it.

Across the street from the farmer, there was a very rich man named Mr. Stingy Man. Mr. Stingy Man lived in a huge house called a mansion with hundreds of rooms. He had so much money, but as much money as he had, he wanted even more. One day he found out about the rooster’s silver dollar, and do you know what he did? He waited until the rooster was sleeping, and then he gently lifted the rooster’s wing and took his silver dollar! Then he went to one of his secret rooms, and inside was a safe. He opened up with the safe with three numbers. (Take student suggestions for the three numbers, and tell them to lock those three numbers inside their heads for later.) Then he put the silver dollar in the safe and locked it up!

The next morning, the rooster woke up and stretched, and then he realized, he was missing his silver dollar! He just knew that Mr. Stingy Man had taken it, because Mr. Stingy Man was the stingiest man in the world. He flew up to Mr. Stingy Man’s bedroom window and started singing:

(Lyrics: Hey Mister Stingy Man, listen to me holler, Cock a doodle doodle do, give me back my dollar!)

Mr. Stingy Man was very upset the rooster woke him up, and told his brother Fred to put the rooster into the well, where there was lots of water! Fred grabbed the rooster and put him into the well. But the rooster was smart and started singing:

(Lyrics: Belly, belly, belly, suck up all the water!)

His belly got bigger and bigger and bigger. Then, he flew out of the well, back up to Mr. Stingy Man’s bedroom window, and started singing (“Hey, Mr. Stingy Man”.)

Mr. Stingy Man was again very upset the rooster woke him up, and told his brother Fred to put the rooster into the furnace, where there was lots of fire! Fred grabbed the rooster and put him into the furnace. But the rooster was smart and started singing:

(Lyrics: Belly, belly, belly, let out all the water!)

Then, he flew out of the well, back up to Mr. Stingy Man’s bedroom window, and started singing (“Hey, Mr. Stingy Man”.)

Mr. Stingy Man was again very upset the rooster woke him up, and told his brother Fred to put the rooster into the beehive, where there were lots of bees! Fred grabbed the rooster and put him into the beehive. But the rooster was smart and started singing:

(Lyrics: Belly, belly, belly, suck up all the bees!)

His belly got bigger and bigger and bigger. Then, he flew out of the beehive, back up to Mr. Stingy Man’s bedroom window, and started singing (“Hey, Mr. Stingy Man”.)

Mr. Stingy Man was so very upset the rooster woke him up, do you know what color his face was? (Take student suggestions.) It was so red it was almost purple! He told his brother Fred to put the rooster on the chair, and he was going to sit on him and squish him! Fred grabbed the rooster and put him into the chair. Do you know what the rooster started singing?

(Lyrics: Belly, belly, belly, let out all the bees!)

Mr. Stingy Man had so many bees stinging him. He had to jump on one foot, jump up and down 5 times, and spin around 3 times, before that last bee left him (change to whatever motions you want—each time can be different.) And then he sat down very gently because he was very sore, and he told his brother Fred to take the rooster to his secret room, and open up the combination. (Have students recount the numbers.) Then, open up the safe and give him his silver dollar. And then he decided, “No, don’t just give him his silver dollar…give him all that money in that safe, because I have a lot of money and I don’t need it all.” So the rooster went to the room, opened up the safe with the numbers (recount the numbers) and opened up the safe. Then he started singing:

(Lyrics: Belly, belly, belly, suck up all the money!)

And he flew back to the farmer and gave him all that money. Now cover up your faces and show me how you think the farmer felt when he got all that money! (Students uncover their faces and show happy, surprised, etc. expressions.) Show me how you think the rooster felt when he realized Mr. Stingy Man took his silver dollar! And show me how you feel right now. The farmer felt very happy too, and they lived happily ever after.

I have not seen this story anywhere else, and I'm not sure where my coordinating teacher learned it, but it is always a HIT. I should say that I did adapt the story a bit, because in the original story I heard, the rooster takes the money without being told he can, so I made the story a little nicer. :)

Looking for more Kindergarten activities and lessons? Check out these sets:


What are your favorite Kindergarten activities? Feel free to comment below, and happy teaching!

Data-Tracking in the Music Room

"Data" seems to such a buzz word lately in the education world. How well are students achieving? How much they have grown from year to year? And how does this apply to the music room?

Data-tracking in the music room: Strategies for making data-tracking easy and helpful! Includes a freebie for tracking data!

I first really delved into data when I first wrote my SLO, or student learning objective, a few years ago. I had never tracked data in such a specific way, and I admit, it was a bit scary! Since then, I've grown to really appreciate the information data can give me, and how it can improve my teaching!

So where to start with tracking data in your music room? Here are a few thoughts:

#1: Start with games!
Data-tracking doesn't mean you have to make your students take a pencil and paper test. Have them play a game to collect the information you need! Whether you play a solo singing game like "Come back home my little chicks" (notated in this blog post) or play a rhythm identification game like this freebie, you can collect data in a fun, engaging way...and kids will have no idea that's what you're doing!

#2: Try manipulatives
Manipulatives, like games, can be so much fun, AND a great way to collect data! Whether you are using popsicle stick rhythm manipulatives to see how well students can dictate patterns or songs, or solfa manipulatives to see how well students can hear melodic patterns, students can show you what they know in a very hands-on way! These can be done in a whole group or during centers.

#3: Have students perform
Whether you are having students play "Hot Cross Buns" on the recorder or play a steady beat bourdon on Orff instruments, you can gather a lot of information by observing their performance in music class. Again, they are not sitting with a paper and pencil, but are showing what they can do through performing!

#4: Try written assessments
As much as I've said that assessments don't need to be paper and pencil, sometimes that is the best way to collect the data you need. I find paper and pencil works well for anything involving music notation, as we want students to be able not only to identify correct music notation, but be able to demonstrate it themselves (such as writing rhythm patterns, dictating melodic patterns on the staff, etc.).
In my SLO blog post, I wrote about how I give ta and ti-ti pre-tests to students who have never seen ta and ti-ti. It seems really silly, for sure, BUT they have a sense of accomplishment when they are able to do so much better on the same assessment at the end of the year! It is also super interesting to see how students write patterns before they know ta and ti-ti, whether it be with lines, with hearts, or with numbers!

Now what do you do with the information?

#1: Whole group teaching
One of my favorite ways to address gaps in learning is to simply discuss the most common mistakes as a class. For example, if in a formative or summative assessment, a lot of students identified the pattern mi-re-do as sol-mi-do, you could talk about how they both go from high to low, but with the first pattern, the notes are a step away from each other instead of a skip. Students hear from you that their mistakes are understandable, but here is why they are incorrect. This can be very helpful and even empowering!

#2: Track the data
Once I've collected the data, now I can sit down and track it! This year, I created a data-tracking binder, shown below:

Data-tracking in the music room: Strategies for making data-tracking easy and helpful! Includes a freebie for tracking data!

I printed out a rhythmic and melodic page for each class, and put students' names in the correct box under "pre-test," on the page below (please note for the sake of privacy the names don't actually belong to any of my classes--I made the class up to demonstrate how it can be used):

Now I know which students need the most help, and which students perhaps need opportunities for more advanced learning! As the year progresses, I will keep tracking the data, and then can also track from year to year! I have created a free data-tracking binder; you can download by filling out the form below:

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#3: Intervention
Now that I have a data-tracking binder, I use the binder to help organize students into heterogenous groups for centers. I will be trying to have a variety of learners in each group and then can pull students who are struggling to work with them one-on-one (like detailed in this blog post). This has been SO helpful in figuring out where each student's breakdown of understanding happens! I've seen some students go from developing to advanced just from me working with them one time. Other students, of course, still need quite a bit of individual help and still may struggle, but by sitting down with them, you can not only figure out what is confusing to them, but you can build a better relationship with each student!

Looking for more ways to track data? Try these sets:


What has worked for you with tracking data in the music classroom? Feel free to comment below, and happy teaching!

Ten Tricks and Treats for Halloween in the Music Room

Today, I'm blogging about ten tricks or treats for the music room...ten ways to integrate Halloween into your music lessons while engaging your students and improving their musicianship!

Ten tricks and treats for Halloween in the music room: ten fun activities to try in your elementary music lessons!

#1: Skin and Bones
This is truly one of my favorite folk songs for Halloween! Here is the notation:

This is a call/response song, with the first part being the call, and the "ooo" part being the response. Here are the additional verses:
  • She lived down by the old graveyard, ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo!
  • One night she thought she'd take a walk, ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo!
  • She walked down by the old graveyard, ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo!
  • She saw some bones a layin' around, ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo!
  • She went to the closet to get a broom, ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo!
  • She opened the door and BOO!
I learned a great game from my former colleague Jenna that my students love:  students lay on the ground with their eyes closed. As you sing, tap two students, who then go and hide! The rest of the students have to figure out who is missing.

A really wonderful way to extend understanding of the song is to use this set from David Row at Make Moments Matter:

I love all of David's favorite folk song sets...they are such a great way to bring a song to life!

#2: Halloween rhythm writing
If you love the dollar section at Target as much as I do, you'll appreciate this post by Amy Abbott about rhythm writing in the music room (click on the picture to read):

Amy also has these fun beat strips to practice rhythm during Halloween!

#3: Miss White
One of my favorite chants to use during Halloween is "Miss White":

Check out this freebie by Emily F to practice ta and ti-ti (please note that her version starts with "Missus" instead of "Miss," so there is a ti-ti at the beginning.

#4: Ghostie Dance
If you've ever bought any of Linda McPherson's games, you know how fun they are...and how much kids love them! This ghostie dance game is such a great way to practice and assess re!

#5: Brain breaks
A great way to integrate Halloween into your music lessons is to play freeze dance to some ghoulish music, like "Monster Mash," "Thriller," or "In the Hall of the Mountain King"! This file by I Heart Teaching Music is such a fun way to play freeze dance with your favorite piece of Halloween music!

#6: Listening lessons
...Which brings me to my next point: There are SO many great pieces of music to listen to this time of year! Check out this blog post about Halloween listening lessons in the music room. Here are some great sets to bring classical music into your Halloween music lessons:


#7: Bulletin boards
If you're looking for a cute way to bring Halloween into your music room decor, Tracy King's bulletin boards are always a hit! Check out her Halloween lines and spaces bulletin board:

#8: Vocal exploration
Halloween is such a great time for vocal exploration! At a book fair a few years ago, I found this wonderful little book:

As I read the book, I have students make their voices go high and low with their voices, like the ghosts, and also have them yell "Boo" in their head voices.
Check out this blog post for more ideas for vocal exploration during Halloween.

#9: Melodic and rhythmic practice
If you're looking to practice melodic and rhythmic concepts during Halloween, using songs students are singing this time of year (like "Naughty Kitty Cat" and "Pumpkin, Pumpkin, Round and Fat,") check out this fun worksheet set by Lindsay Jervis:

#10: Halloween lesson plans
Many years, I've created an entire lesson plan for each grade level revolving around Halloween. For example, with 1st grade, we can do "Miss White," explore our voices like ghosts, read "Ghosts in the House," keep the beat to "In the hall of the mountain king," and more! If you're looking for lesson plans that are already created, check out this set, which could work for any music teacher or for a sub!

What are your favorite songs and activities for Halloween? Feel free to comment below, and happy teaching!

10 Picture Books to Sing

Today, I'm blogging about my 10 favorite books to sing. There are so many out there, but these are the ones I've used year after year, both in my music classroom and as a parent!

These books are a great way to end a lesson, or to provide a calm environment after an exciting activity. Singing these books can also be a great way to teach students a new song, to improve students' listening skills, and for parents and children, can be a great bedtime routine! It can also be a great way to build their literacy and language skills, as you could ask them what happened in the story, what they think will happen, who the characters were, etc.

Please note that there are affiliate links within this post; I included links to most of the books on Amazon. Here goes!

10 picture books to sing: Great list for music teachers and for parents!

#1: "Hush Little Baby" by Marla Frazee

I've had this one in my library for years; it's one of my favorites to introduce lullabies to students. The illustrations are beautiful, and the words are nice and big at the bottom of each page, so students can read or sing along.

When I first read it to students, we first discuss what good listening behavior looks like. This is a good way to introduce audience etiquette! Then, I simply sing the song. 

Honestly, you can hear a pin drop when singing this book to them! Even those high-energy classes sit quietly and listen. Many parents sing this song to kids, so it has a really nice calming effect on them!

After I sing the book, I ask them if they know what kind of song this is, and many are able to define it as a lullaby. Then we discuss who lullabies are sung to, who sings lullabies (parents, grandparents, babysitters, etc.) and why (to get the baby to go to sleep, to calm them, etc.) 

After introducing this book, in another lesson, I play the song on dulcimer and sing it. I simply finger pick a pattern (melody string, second string, third string, second string), with the strings tuned DDA, moving back and forth between mi and fa. Again, kids are transfixed and very quiet when listening! I love hearing their stories, like "My mom sings that to me every night!" It's so sweet! 

#2: "All the Pretty Little Horses" by Linda Saport
This is another great book to reinforce the term "lullaby" (and is one of my favorites I've sung to my own daughters!) The chalk illustrations are beautiful, and again, the book has such a calming effect!

#3: "Summertime" by Heyward and Wimmer
"Summertime" by George Gershwin is one of my favorite songs, so I simply love this book! You could either sing the song to students or play a recording. The lyrics are just stunning, especially, "One of these mornings, you're gonna rise up singing. And you'll spread your wings and you'll take to the sky." So powerful for children to hear, whether they are your students or your own children!
#4: "Cat goes fiddle-i-fee" by Paul Galdone
I love singing this book to my Kindergarteners, because it's a cute little song, and because it's a great way for students to explore their voices. Some of the sounds in the book are actually sounds animals make (like "moo" for cow), but some of them are just plain silly (like "chimmy-chuck" for a hen.) I talk about which ones are real and which are silly, and have students try all of the sounds! After several pages, Kindergarteners can sing along with "Cat goes fiddle-i-fee," which repeats at the end of each page.
#5: "The Tailor and the Mouse" by Feierabend and McGann
This is another one of my favorite songs, so I just love this book! The illustrations are really colorful and fun, and it's a great way to teach the song. After students have heard a few verses, you could have them sing the response each time!
#6: "I got two dogs" by Lithgow and Neubecker
This fun book includes a recording of John Lithgow singing the song. The kids absolutely LOVE this song about two dogs named Fanny and Blue, and I've used it to reinforce the concept of "echo." This is one they beg for weeks after we first read it!
#7: "Who killed Cock Robin?" by Kevin O'Malley
This is another one of my favorites. The folk song (which can be found here) can be sung along to the pictures in this book (although you may want to vary from the written text and repeat the last line on each page, as is done in the folk song.) I've sung this to fourth and fifth graders, and they love figuring out the mystery! The book is out-of-print; the picture above links to the book on
#8: "Sunshine on my shoulders" by Denver and Canyon
This became one of my favorites after Christopher Canyon and his wife came to my school several years ago for an author visit. The illustrations are beautiful, and who doesn't love the song "Sunshine on my shoulders" by John Denver? I've used the song to discuss the lyrics, and to discuss emotions. I've even had students create new lyrics of what makes them happy (i.e. "Candy in my belly makes me happy!")
#9: "Risseldy Rosseldy" by Feierabend and Poulin
This is another great picture book by John Feierabend; I suggest looking him up on West Music or Amazon to find his picture books AND his awesome music education resources! I've used this picture book with this octavo by Jay Broeker, with my choir. It was a fun and different way to learn the song, and third, fourth, and fifth graders still do love picture books!
#10: "Simple Gifts" by Chris Raschka
I also used this picture book with a choir, to help learn the song "Simple Gifts." Again, it's a great way to teach a song, and the illustrations by Raschka are so quirky and fun (almost Picasso-esque!) If you haven't checked out other picture books by Raschka, I highly recommend "Charlie Parker plays Be-bop"!
If you're looking for more picture books, check out my "Picture books" board on Pinterest:

If you're looking for more picture books to use in your classroom, check out this set:

What are your favorite picture books to sing? I'd love to hear...feel free to comment below. Happy reading and singing!


Ideas for Upper Elementary Music

Today, I'm blogging with a round-up of blog posts all about upper elementary music!

Ideas for the upper elementary classroom: Includes links to great blog posts with videos, songs, games, and more!

Song and Dance: Three great activities for your older students

Looking for folk dances and songs for your upper elementary students? This blog post includes tried-and-true songs and dances from my own classroom! These are some of my favorites...I hope you enjoy them too!

Picture books for upper elementary

This blog post is from my collaborative blog, the Kodaly Corner, and includes several picture books I love for upper elementary students!

New ideas for upper elementary students

This comprehensive blog post by Elizabeth from Organized Chaos includes lots of great videos for upper elementary students, as well as thoughts about teaching a keyboard unit, hand clapping games, and composition! I especially loved the video with a passing game for "Take Five" by Dave Brubeck!

The Telephone Song

This blog post by Jennifer at the Yellow Brick Road includes notation for "The Telephone Song," as well as a fun video of the song in action!

El Reloj de la calavera

This fun blog post by Amy Abbott includes one of my favorite chants for upper elementary! She includes notation, verses, and a really fun way to practice ti-tika with skeleton erasers!

Looking for more upper elementary ideas? I just created this Pinterest board with lots of ideas. Feel free to comment below with any other ideas you have for upper elementary. Happy teaching!

Flexible Seating in the Music Classroom {Part One}

After reading many posts about flexible seating in the grade-level classroom, I decided to give it a try this year! This post is the first in a series of posts about flexible seating in my music classroom; today, I'll write about what flexible seating is, why I'm using it, and what I'm using.

Flexible Seating in the Music Room: Great thoughts about why to use flexible seating in your classroom, and which seats to buy!

What is flexible seating?
Flexible seating is the idea that students don't all have to sit in chairs, at desks, or in the case of my classroom, on the floor. There are options for them to sit in a variety of seats, and for them to choose a seat that works best for them and their learning style. When I first read about it, I had a hard time wrapping my mind around what this would mean for my classroom. I still like to have students sitting on the floor for a lot of music class, because then it's easy for us to stand and play games! I decided to use the seating in centers, small group work, and for paper/ pencil work, which I'll write more about in another blog post!

Why use flexible seating?
For the past two years, I've had a really comfortable saucer chair in my room that is one of my "Star Student" rewards, and the kids LOVE it. I liked the idea of having more choices from which students can choose.

Another reason is my experience with my own daughter Macy, who just turned four years old. Macy is so joyful, fun, and silly! But she's had some difficulties with her development. At two, she had tubes put in her ears, because of the back-up of fluid, and the fluid caused her to be delayed in her speech, since she couldn't hear us very well. On top of that, I think she had genetic predisposition to be a late talker, as I didn't talk clearly until I was five, and speech delay can be genetic. She also has been diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder. She is a seeker, so she often spins, puts herself upside down, lays down, etc., to regulate herself so she can learn better. We have a few options for her at home to help her balance and spin, and it's helped her a lot!

After reading about flexible seating, and more closely observing my own students, I realized that there were several students in each class who would benefit from having options for seating, whether it be because of SPD, ADHD, or just a different learning style that makes sitting perfectly still on the floor difficult.

The best reason, though, in my mind, is that it honors students as learners. Having options in my classroom tells students that I realize that everyone learns differently, and that there is no right or wrong answer to how we learn best!

What I'm using
So now onto what I bought for my classroom!

Crate seats
Crate seats: Includes video tutorial on how to make! Blog post also includes info about other flexible seating options!

I made these crate seats using this tutorial:
I have six of them in my room. The awesome part about these seats is the opportunity to also use them for storage! The table in the picture is from IKEA.

Wobble seats
Flexible Seating in the Music Room: Great thoughts about why to use flexible seating in your classroom, and which seats to buy!

The wobble seats (also called Hokki stools) are the purple chairs above. I have one of these for my daughter and she loves it!  The idea of these is that kids can sit on them and wobble to and fro as they sit. It helps those kids who need the sensory input to move as they learn. I bought the wobble seats for my classroom from Amazon. The purple seats in my room are being borrowed from a Kindergarten teacher who is not using them in her room this year. She suggested gluing shelf liner to the bottom so they don't slide around on the floor.

Bouncy bands
The bands you see on the blue chairs above are called bouncy bands. The idea of these is that students can put their feet on the bands and bounce their feet. I am constantly shaking my leg when I sit still, so I think this is a good option for students like me! Just be careful when buying these from Amazon that you purchase the ones for chairs, not desks (as I made that mistake!) Also, the bands only work on small chairs, not on the standard size chairs I have in my room.

Stability balls
Flexible Seating in the Music Room: Great thoughts about why to use flexible seating in your classroom, and which seats to buy!
The green balls you see in the picture above are called stability balls or balance balls. Students sit on top, and can bounce up and down as they sit. The kids LOVE these...but you have to lay the ground rules that they can't bounce so much that it's distracting for other students!

Disc seats
One of my favorite purchases are the black disc seats you see in the picture above. One side is slightly bumpy, and the other side is bumpier. Students decide which side to sit on, and when they sit on them, it's a bit like the wobble seats, because they can move to and fro on them as they sit. They can be placed on the ground or on a chair.

Locker mats

I bought these at Five Below (read more about my finds in this blog post.) They are super soft, and students can sit on them or lay on them.

Memory foam bath mats

These mats are super soft, and meld to to the shape of your body as you sit or lay on them! I bought them from Amazon.

Also note that I had to purchase clipboards, since with many of these seats, students wouldn't be able to use the floor when writing. Here is a picture of my student center, where I keep my clipboards. I found a great deal on Amazon!

Here is a picture of the corner of my room where I keep a lot of the seats. I bought the flexible seating posters here.

Flexible Seating in the Music Room: Great thoughts about why to use flexible seating in your classroom, and which seats to buy!

I considered putting in an application for Donors Choose to buy all of these seats, but many of the projects on there were for schools in need, and my school is not. I decided to go ahead and purchase these myself, knowing I'd have them for the rest of my career!

There are options, though, for asking for funding. Donors Choose is probably the most popular option for asking for funding for your classroom. Check out these flexible seating projects on Donors Choose for ideas on how to word your project.

In the next few weeks, I'll be blogging about how I'm introducing the flexible seating in my classroom, and later in the year, I'll blog about how I have students let me know which seat they like best.

Have you used flexible seating in your music classroom, or your grade-level classroom? Feel free to comment below!

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!