Turkey Rhythms



Turkey rhythms: Great way to practice rhythms during the Thanksgiving season in the music room!

A few weeks ago, I found a pin on Pinterest that I thought was really cute for classroom teachers:


I wondered if there was a way I could adapt this idea to rhythm. I was excited when I found foam turkeys on Oriental Trading. When they came in the mail, each set looked like this:


They actually came with one more smaller paper plate, but I discovered that overlapping and then gluing paper plates together was much harder than it looked, so I turned it into a one-paper-plate craft!

After gluing all the parts on, the turkeys looked like this:

Turkey rhythms: Fun rhythm activity for Thanksgiving in the music room

Each turkey came with six feathers, but I only used five. For the "Miss White" turkey above, I wrote out each 4-beat pattern of the chant on four feathers. On the fifth feather, I wrote a trick pattern that didn't belong to the chant. I made five turkeys for each of the five songs/chants: Miss White, We are dancing, Apple Tree, 2, 4, 6, 8, and Bee Bee. Then after singing/speaking each song/chant with the first grade class, I split the class into five groups, and each group got a turkey with five feathers. I told them to figure out which patterns went in which order, and to fan them out. They had lots of fun writing! They simply placed the feathers where they thought they should go--no glue needed!

Turkey rhythms: Fun rhythm activity for Thanksgiving in the music room

Turkey rhythms: Fun rhythm activity for Thanksgiving in the music room

After each group was done, I had them stand up so I could check their work. If a group got done earlier than other groups, I told them they could then put the feathers into whatever order they wanted. One student suggested that they take turns clapping rhythms, and the members of the group would have to figure out which feather they clapped. Love it! I used this for ta and ti-ti, but with my leftover turkeys and feathers, I still have enough to make another set for next year for a different rhythmic concept!

Looking for more Thanksgiving activities for your music room? Check out this set:



Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Hope you are all able to spend some quality time with your family and friends. Enjoy!


Five Favorite Pins of November

I've been so busy lately participating in the linky parties of other teachers that I forgot about my own! Here goes my monthly linky party, this time for my five favorite pins of November.

Five favorite music education pins of November, including a picture book, a folk dance, and more!


If you are a teacher blogger and would like to participate, see the link-up directions at the bottom of this post.

#1: Before John was a Jazz Giant

I love children's literature, and I love jazz, so I was super excited when I found this book on Pinterest! The illustrations are beautiful (by Sean Qualls, the illustrator of Dizzy, another jazz book) and the text looks poetic. I just bought my copy (you can view it on Amazon by clicking on the picture above) and I think I may play John Coltrane in the background as I read.


#2: Italian Folk Dance
This is actually a pin that I pinned to Pinterest myself. I was searching for Italian folk dances, as I was writing a program for my third graders based off the music of Europe. (At my school this year, we have a school-wide theme of continents, so that each grade level is assigned a continent. Since third grade's continent is Europe, I am creating a program based off of European music for them.) Anyway, I couldn't find any Italian folk dances in any of the resources I had, so I decided to search You Tube, and I found this really cute dance!


The group of students who performed this are in pre-school (which, if you ask me, is pretty impressive given the part of the dance where they were creating bridge after bridge!) I think the dance could work well with grades 2-3, so I am going to teach this to my third graders for their program. The music is "Tarantella," and can be found on Amazon here.

#3: Teaching Music



This looks to be a very comprehensive music education site, based out of the UK. It's free to join, and has lots of great articles. I especially enjoyed the article on creativity and Kodaly's principles by Mark Penrose. I will have to continue to dig deeper into this site!

#4: Letters to Students



I've talked about David Row's blog before, but hadn't read all of his blog entries to date. I found this on Pinterest, and really liked his idea of writing personal letters to each student throughout the year. (Click on the picture above to see his original blog post.) With 500 students, this would take a long time, and since it's November, I might choose to only do one letter per student, but it is an ambitious and wonderful idea to really connect to every student. Thanks to David for the idea!

#5: Practice makes progress
I found this on Pinterest and just love it!


So many of us have grown up hearing that "Practice makes perfect," but how many of us have been frustrated when practice didn't make perfect? Perfection is pretty unattainable, so I love this saying, and will post it in my room soon! If you click on the picture above, it will take you to a blog where you can download the sign as a PDF.

Before I give instructions about joining the linky party, just a reminder to enter into my 700-Followers Giveaway if you haven't already! I will be announcing the winners next Tuesday, November 26 (oh, I just realized...that's my birthday! Perfect timing!) You can click on the picture below to enter the giveaway.


Directions for the linky party:

If you are a music teacher (or a classroom teacher whose ideas could work in any classroom), and you are interested in joining the linky party and blogging about your five favorite pins this month, here are the directions:
  • Save the linky party graphic above onto your computer (by right clicking), then include it into your post, with a link to this post.
  • Blog about your five favorite pins. Include pictures with links when possible.
  • Click this button to join the linky party!


Autumn Manipulatives

Today, I'm excited to be joining Lindsay Jervis' linky party, to blog about autumn manipulatives for rhythm writing!

I just love the dollar shelves at Target, not just for fun goodies for my daughters, but for teaching! Recently, I found bags of pumpkins, gourds, acorns, and leaves and decided I had to use them in my classroom!

I bought seven bags and stored them in fun buckets I also found at Target, like this:

Autumn manipulatives: Cute way to practice rhythmic concepts during fall!

Then I used them in learning centers with my first graders. They just learned ta and ti-ti, so at one of the centers, the students found the two buckets. Then, they emptied the buckets and individually created 4-beat patterns, using any of the autumn manipulatives they wanted. Sample patterns are below:

Autumn manipulatives: Cute way to practice rhythmic concepts during fall!

The first pattern would be leaf acorn gourd acorn, and the second pattern (read from left to right as the student wrote it) would be gourd acorn pumpkin acorn. 

After the students wrote the patterns, I told them to say the pattern while clapping the rhythm, and then after that, the students had to figure out the pattern with ta and ti-ti. For the patterns above, the first pattern would be ta ti-ti ta ti-ti and the second pattern would be ta ti-ti ti-ti ti-ti. 

After the students wrote a 4-beat pattern, they put the manipulatives back into one big pile, and then wrote another pattern! Some of the students started writing patterns that were longer than 4 beats, which was fine with me--as long as they could figure out the patterns with rhythm syllables!

This was a fun, hands-on way to practice ta and ti-ti. Although it's past Halloween, the manipulatives seemed more autumn-themed to be than Halloween-themed, so I will keep using them...at least until after Thanksgiving!

Thanks to Lindsay for hosting this party! Make sure to click the picture below to read the other posts about manipulatives!


New Ideas


Once again, I'm excited to join the Blog Hoppin' Linky Party, this time to blog about new ideas!


Often, when I get new ideas, it's from collaborating and sharing with other teachers. I have a few friends in my district who I absolutely love bouncing ideas off of. Whether we are chatting about something we tried in our classrooms, or something we are thinking about trying, we can share ideas without fear of judgment. I encourage you to find a friend who teaches the same subject/ grade level as you do, and share ideas with them! 

Here are three new organizational/ management ideas:

#1: Melodic and Rhythmic Containers
My friend Matt shared this idea with me...and I'm so glad he did!  His idea was to organize all of his rhythmic and melodic materials into milk crates, filed by concept. I couldn't find milk crates, but I did find these handy containers at Staples:


Inside each crate, I placed a hanging file folder for each grade level, and then individual file folders for each concept, like this:


Inside each file folder, I placed activities for that concept. For example, in the rhythmic tub, for ta and ti-ti, I placed ta and ti-ti rhythm flashcards and my walk and running cards (which you can download for free.) In the re folder, I placed re stick notation cards, re staff notation cards, and Do Pentatonic Bingo.

Matt also had the idea of placing a sheet in each folder for new ideas for that concept. While I was organizing tonight, I found a really neat name game for syncopa, so I put it in the syncopa folder. Hopefully that way I will remember to use it!

I love how much more organized I feel with these tubs! (And thanks to my friend Matt for sharing this awesome idea!)

#2: Partner Poster
Shawn, the P.E. teacher at my school, shared this idea, and I'm very excited to use it! He has a poster in his room that is labeled "Partner Poster." Here is one I created that you can download for free (just click on the picture):



The idea is this: when students are finding partners, you can tell any students who can't find a partner to go to the partner poster. Whoever ends up at the partner poster can then partner off! Such a simple way to fix the problem of students not being able to find partners! Thanks to Shawn for the great idea!

#3: Grade-Level Containers
On Pinterest and other blogs, I've seen lots of teachers use day of the week containers (one container of materials for each day of the week.) I liked this idea, but it doesn't really work in my classroom, because on Monday, I teach third grade, fifth grade, first grade, and Kindergarten, on Tuesday, I teach third grade, fourth grade, fifth, grade, first grade, and Kindergarten, etc. I did try containers that said "Lessons for today," and "Lessons for tomorrow," but that still didn't work all that well for me. The containers ended up being a mess and I couldn't find anything, because I teach so many different lessons in one day (and even if I teach two third grade classes in a row, they aren't usually on the same lesson!) So I had an a-ha moment and realized I needed containers for each grade level, like this:


I feel so much more organized now! The materials for each grade level are right there-- I just need to go to the container and get what I need. At the beginning of each day, I make sure all the materials are in the containers, and I also take out materials that I don't need anymore. Love it!

Also, thanks to Deanna Jump for her cute labels (which I used with the concept boxes and grade-level containers.) Her Organization Station is very helpful!

I hope you found something useful. I had fun participating in the Blog Hoppin' Linky Parties all this week. Thanks for reading!

Centers for rhythmic practice

This week, I started learning centers with my fourth graders to practice syncopa (or eighth/ quarter/ eighth combination.) It's been a lot of fun for the kids (and I was able to individually assess every student!) so today, I'm sharing the four centers:

#1: Rhythm Carousel
This is a wonderful activity I learned from my friend Sue Leithold-Bowcock. I recently blogged about her sessions at the MKMEA conference; she is always full of amazing ideas (and I have to say, she is VERY entertaining!)

The idea for Rhythm Carousel is this: the class is split up into small groups, and each student has their own popsicle stick (I used foam sticks from Oriental Trading) . Each stick has a rhythm pattern written on it. A child is chosen to start, and each class says/claps their pattern until they are all done. At that point, they stand up and wait for directions from the teacher. The teacher can then tell them to go one step to their right, two steps to the left, etc., sit down, and read their new stick, starting again with the starter.

The sticks look like this:

Ideas for rhythm centers: includes some great games and activities to practice rhythm in your music room!



Before using this as a learning center, I made sure the students were familiar with the activity in the lesson beforehand. I modeled first with six volunteers, then had students get into groups of 5-6. One student from that group came and asked for enough sticks for everyone in their group, and then all students set their sticks down in front of them as they were seated in a circle. I chose starters for each group and away they went!

I absolutely loved how student-centered this activity was! The kids helped each other out--especially if a student was struggling. They had conversations with each other about the rhythms, like "ooh...this one is hard!" or "Oh, I got an easy one!" After the first time they stood up and rotated to the next sticks, I just let them go for a few minutes, rotating whenever each group was done so they didn't have to wait for the other groups.

When we did this in learning centers, I had only six sticks set out, since I have classes of 24, and they were split up into four groups. I also added the challenge during centers of one of the sticks being blank, so whoever ended up at that stick each time had to create a 4-beat pattern. Fun!

Thanks to Sue for this awesome activity! You can visit her blog at http://bowcockmusic.blogspot.com/p/stuff-for-music-teachers.html.

#2: Rhythms on Recorder

At the second station, students had several syncopa flashcards set up on music stands. First, they had to play all of the patterns on B, then on A, and then on G. If they had time, they could decide which pattern they would play on which note. Great way to practice recorder playing and rhythmic reading!

#3: Thanksgiving Owl Rhythm Patterns

I'm lucky enough to have a SMART board in my room, so I like to include the SMART board in learning centers whenever I can. That way, everyone in the class can touch the SMART board during one lesson! (In this case, everyone can throw a squishy ball at the SMART board during one lesson!)

Here is my Thanksgiving Owl Syncopa Set (click on the picture below to see it on TpT):


The activity comes as a PDF which you can view as a slideshow, so it's full-screen like a Powerpoint. The home page looks like this:


Students take turns throwing a squishy ball at the SMART board. The ball hits an owl, and then that owl's pattern comes up, like this: 


After the student reads that pattern, he/she can touch the owl to be taken back to the home page. I know it seems a bit crazy (you're throwing something at the SMART board?!?!) but as long as the ball is soft, it won't hurt the SMART board (and it's so fun!)

#4: Individual Reading Assessment
At the last center, students got into a single file line, and each child read 5 patterns to me individually. A sample of the 5 patterns can be found in the Thanksgiving owls syncopa set, but you could also just take five flashcards and arrange them from easiest to hardest. I added a layer of difficulty to the assessment and asked students to read and clap the pattern (instead of just reading.) Now I have a individual reading assessment for every single student, and I was able to do it while all the other kids were engaged in other activities! I even had the students who were waiting to read or who had already read practice their recorders while waiting.

I spent 25 minutes on centers--for 5 minutes I explained the stations, then students spent 5 minutes at 4 centers. I really love to do centers every now and then as a way to foster a more student-centered classroom, to provide intervention, and to individually assess!

What are your favorite rhythm ideas for centers? Feel free to comment below!

Three Apps for the Music Classroom


The past two days I have been home with my sick 14-month-old Macy (poor thing has had a fever...she's starting to finally feel better, thank goodness!) I've poked around a bit in the app store and online and have found a few new apps I thought I'd share.

Music apps for the music classroom: Three apps that are great for the music room, as well as a link to a list of apps!

#1: Feedly


This app is actually not music-specific, but could be used to stream all of your music blog reading. I found out about this app when I was checking my blogger stats; it's so neat to see where my readers are and how they got to my blog. I noticed while checking out the stats that I had several views from Feedly, so I had to check out what Feedly was. From what I understand, Feedly is an app that you could install onto Chrome, install onto your Android phone/device, and install onto your Ipad/IOS device. You can populate your feed with whichever blogs you'd like, and then when you get a minute to sit down and want to browse your blogs, you can just open Feedly!

What I love about this is that I've not been great about continually checking the music education blogs of others. When I've had the chance, I've gone to my own blog, and clicked on links in my "blogs I love" list. This app makes that process so much easier! I also added a feed from NAfME and some other music education sites. It's also super easy to post something to Twitter if you find it useful. Definitely a time-saver!

#2: NotateMe


I actually found this app while reading my Feedly. It is currently in beta testing, so it is cheaper than it will eventually be as they work out the bugs. At $13.99, it still seems pretty expensive compared to most apps, but the possibilities are very exciting, and in my opinion, worth the money...even at a more expensive price! 

The idea of NotateMe is that you can hand write music with your finger or with a stylus, and it will generate computer notation above your handwritten piece. Although the app warns that it may take a while for it to adapt to your writing, it did a very nice job of notating what I wrote by hand (I tried "Lucy Locket," which you can see below! Sorry for my messy writing...I didn't have my stylus handy.) 


It also plays the notes as you notate, and can play the entire piece when you are done. From what I understand, they are continually adding features to the app (like the ability for it to notate what you sing, and the ability to save the notation as a PDF). I can see this working very well in a music classroom, for students to be able to see the difference between hand-written notation and computer notation. Computer notation can be daunting to do with students, as you are not only practicing where notes go on the staff, how to write rhythms, etc., but how to notate all of those with that particular program. This app removes those challenges while still allowing students to see both types of notation. 

I only have one ipad, so I'm thinking perhaps I might be able to use this in centers, after students have worked on their handwritten compositions. I will post how it goes!

#3: Melody Street, "My Musical Friends"


This is a really cute (and free) app for introducing instrument families. When you click on each instrument family, you can then choose one of the instruments in that family. If you touch the cartoon instrument, it will transform into a real instrument, and will play a short snippet. "Fun fact" will tell the students a fun fact about that instrument. I found the "Did you know" button not as helpful, as it tells you something about the instrument character the app made up. The treble clef buttons on the bottom will play different pitches from that instrument. I can see it being a great way to introduce families, perhaps taking a few minutes in each lesson to learn about different families. 

Melody Street also has other free apps available in the Itunes store, like Melody Street and Mozart Interactive. Very fun!

Looking for more apps for your music room? Check out this free list!


Happy teaching!