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 www.alibris.com.
#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!

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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!
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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!