Bulletin Board Ideas


Today I'm excited to link up with David Row from Make Moments Matter, for his Back to School Bulletin Board Ideas in the Music Classroom Linky Party!

I'm going to post some of my past bulletin boards. Here goes!

Bulletin board ideas for the music room: Great ideas for your music classroom!

#1: Music around the world
Bulletin board ideas for the music room: Great ideas for your music classroom!
I used this bulletin board to post any songs we learned from around the world. For example, when we learned "Ye Toop Doram" from Afghanistan, I posted a slip of paper with the title of the song, with yarn tied to a pushpin, which was pointing to Afghanistan. When learning songs from the United States, I figured out exactly which state the song was from and labeled it here. This is a great visual for geography, and for giving context to multicultural songs!
#2: Wild about composers
Bulletin board ideas for the music room: Great ideas for your music classroom!

I used this bulletin board to post any composers that were currently being studied. For example, if my second graders were using "Rondo Alla Turka" to practice sixteenth notes, I could post Mozart, like shown above, and if my first graders were studying Beethoven for "Symphony No. 7," movement 2, to practice quarter rest, I could add his picture as well.

#3: Musicians from Ohio (or from any state!)
Bulletin board ideas for the music room: Great ideas for your music classroom!
A couple years ago, my school did a "Wild about Ohio" theme, so I did some research and found out which musicians came from Ohio, then created this bulletin board. You could do this for any state or province, though! To create the map of Ohio, I simply projected a map on a wall, taped some paper on the wall, and traced. I used pushpins to show the musicians and from which city they came.

#4: Black History Month
Bulletin board ideas for the music room: Great ideas for your music classroom!
The visuals from this set are from my "Songs and Activities for Black History Month." In the future, I think I'll post this on lighter paper so the visuals pop more, but still, this is a fun way to teach about legendary musicians during Black History Month!

#5: First Fingerings
Bulletin board ideas for the music room: Great ideas for your music classroom!
I used my fingerings sets for the instruments I was teaching last year to post this set. It was a nice way to review the first fingerings for each instrument!
If you are looking for other bulletin board ideas, make sure to check out David's post by clicking on the linky party image below.


Looking for more music bulletin board ideas? Check out these!

Have fun creating and posting bulletin boards, and have a great week!

10 Strategies for Melodic Reading and Writing

10 strategies for melodic reading and writing: Great ideas for your music classroom to extend learning of melody and solfa!

A few days ago, I wrote about 10 strategies for rhythmic reading and writing, in hopes of giving you ideas for your year plan. Today I will blog about 10 strategies for melodic reading and writing! As in the last blog post, some of the ideas I will describe in this blog post, some will link to other blog posts, and some will link to freebies and other products. Here goes!

10 strategies for melodic reading and writing: Great ideas for your music classroom to extend learning of melody and solfa!



#1: Ghost Melodies
Ghost melodies: A great idea for having students compose vocal exploration patterns! Blog post includes other great ideas for melodic reading and writing!
In this blog post, I wrote about how to do ghost melody composition on dry erase boards. This is a great precursor to having students listen for and begin writing specific pitches, like sol and mi.

#2: Staff writing
10 strategies for melodic reading and writing: Great ideas for your music classroom to extend learning of melody and solfa!
In this blog post, I wrote about how to introduce the staff to first graders. You could use chips (math counting chips work well because they are see-through, and students can see the line running through the note) or you could use cute seasonal erasers like I did in the blog post.

#3: Whole group stick to staff
Once students can sing from stick notation patterns (with only rhythm and solfa written underneath the rhythm) and staff notation patterns, they can begin to see the connection between the two. Here is a freebie I posted for help with transferring stick to staff for sol-mi (just click the picture to be taken to the download!)


#4: Small group stick to staff
10 strategies for melodic reading and writing: Great ideas for your music classroom to extend learning of melody and solfa!
Once students have worked as a whole group transferring stick notation to the staff, they can work in small groups to do the same. The above picture was taken while students were working with my Penguin Stick-to-Staff set for low sol; students had to work with the small group to match up the stick notation patterns with the corresonding staff notation patterns. It was so cool to hear their conversations about why cards matched or didn't match!

#5: Dulcimers
Playing dulcimers in the elementary classroom: Ideas for using them to extend melodic learning. Blog post includes lots of other great ideas for melodic reading and writing in the music classroom!
Playing dulcimer can be a great way for students to transfer their knowledge of solfa to an instrument! You could put the staff notation or stick notation for "Hot Cross Buns," for example, on the board, show them where do is, and see if they can figure out how to play it on their dulcimers! My students are using cardboard dulcimers in this picture; you can purchase them here, and see my set below.
Playing dulcimers in the elementary classroom: Ideas for using them to extend melodic learning. Blog post includes lots of other great ideas for melodic reading and writing in the music classroom!


#6: Recorder tic-tac-toe
Speaking of instrument playing, I love this game by Amy Abbott from Music a la Abbott! Students can play in teams, see the staff pattern, play it on their recorders, and try to collect points! The interactivity of the powerpoint is really cool--after they play the pattern, you can click X or O, and watch it appear on the tic-tac-toe grid. Anytime you can make a game out of building a skill is a great opportunity for improving their learning! Click the picture to see the product.

#7: Sight reading
To have students sight read a melody, you could just have them try singing through it...but unless they have lots of experience, it might fall apart! I often go through this process for sight reading, whether from stick notation or from the staff:

  • Read the rhythm with syllables
  • Speak the solfa (I have heard that some people think that solfa should never be spoken, but speaking from experience, this is a good way to get students to understand how the solfa fits with the rhythm!)
  • Inner sing the melody: Give students a starting pitch and have them do the hand signs, singing inside their heads 
  • Sing the melody aloud
Going through this process really seems to help break down the sight-reading into manageable steps and helps them be successful!


#8: Solfa manipulatives
10 strategies for melodic reading and writing: Great ideas for your music classroom to extend learning of melody and solfa!
In this blog post, I wrote about using solfa manipulatives with my students. I LOVE to use these as a precursor to writing or reading on the staff, and to really target their inner hearing. They also work really well as an assessment during whole group or centers!

#9: Hand staff
Having students use their hands as a staff is a very helpful way for them to kinesthetically understand lines and spaces on the staff. To use the hand staff, I have students look at the inside of their hands, and point to their pinkies for the first line, ring finger for the second line, etc. The first space can be between their pinky and ring finger. You could have them sing solfa while pointing to the correct spots on their hand staff. You could also do the hand staff incorrectly and see if they can figure out the mistakes!

#10: Poison Patterns for Preparation and Practice



I just posted this fun set for playing melodic poison during preparation AND practice. Poison is one of my students' favorite games, and with this set you can project on your SMART board, white board, or print out the cards. Click on the picture to see the product.

Which strategies do you like for melodic reading and writing? Comment below, and happy teaching!

10 Strategies for Rhythmic Reading and Writing



With this blog post, I'm hoping to give you lots of ideas to specifically address rhythmic reading and writing! Some of the ideas I will describe in this blog post, some will link to other blog posts, and some will link to freebies and other products.

10 strategies for rhythm reading and writing: Includes games, activities, and lesson ideas for your music classroom!



#1: Popsicle stick writing:
10 strategies for rhythm reading and writing: Includes games, activities, and lesson ideas for your music classroom!
I wrote in detail about popsicle stick writing in this blog post on my collaborative blog, the Kodaly Corner.

#2: Dry erase boards:
10 strategies for rhythm reading and writing: Includes games, activities, and lesson ideas for your music classroom!

Having students dictate on dry erase boards can be a great way to practice rhythmic writing. I ordered my own set of 30 individual dry erase boards and markers, but I've heard that some people will buy a big sheet of dry erase board from Lowe's and cut it up themselves. Either way, you can hand out the materials, clap rhythmic patterns, and have students dictate those patterns. You can also have students create their own patterns, and/or write the entire rhythm to a song or chant.

#3: Turkey rhythms:
10 strategies for rhythm reading and writing: Includes games, activities, and lesson ideas for your music classroom!
I write about this fun small group project in this blog post. You could do something like this at any time of the year, but I have to say, the turkeys were pretty fun!

#4: Post office
10 strategies for rhythm reading and writing: Includes games, activities, and lesson ideas for your music classroom!
The idea of post office is that you as the teacher could clap a pattern, and then students have to look for that pattern and put it into the mailbox. I wrote about the activity in this picture in this blog post, and you can download a ta and ti-ti post office freebie for Valentine's Day here.

#5: Rhythm manipulatives
10 strategies for rhythm reading and writing: Includes games, activities, and lesson ideas for your music classroom!

I learned about rhythm manipulatives from my Level III teacher Joan Litman. She required us to complete these as a homework assignment, and I'm so glad she did! I have used these countless times over the last eleven or so years since I took Level III. The manipulatives are a great way to have students work in pairs or individually to dictate and/or compose a rhythm. And I love the arguments they have...instead of "He cut me in line!" I hear, "That's not a tika-tika, that's a tika-ti!" 

#6: Rhythm Carousel
I wrote about this awesome game which I learned about my friend Sue Leithold-Bowcock here.

#7: Rhythm Manipulatives
I wrote about using these manipulatives during learning centers in this blog post.

#8: See Saw composition
10 strategies for rhythm reading and writing: Includes games, activities, and lesson ideas for your music classroom!
I absolutely love this composition set by Cori Bloom! In small groups, students compose a B part for the song "See Saw," with playground words and rhythms. So much fun!

#9: Activities to practice rhythm using flashcards
If you thought there were only a few ways to use rhythm flashcards, this awesome set by my friend Karla at C Major Learning will have you thinking again! It includes rhythm flashcards and King of the Mountain sets for many different rhythmic concepts, as well as a huge list of strategies and games for using rhythm flashcards. I love how detailed Karla is with this set...she is very experienced and gives you tons of tips for how to teach each game/ strategy as effectively and smoothly as possible. Just click on the picture above to see the product.

#10: Poison Patterns for Preparation and Practice



I added a new poison pattern set to my store...these games can be projected onto a SMART board, white screen, or printed out, and can be used for rhythmic preparation OR practice. 

Click here to read my post about melodic reading and writing.

Which rhythmic reading and writing activities do you like to use? Feel free to comment below, and happy teaching!

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Five Favorite Pins of July

Since we are over halfway through July (eek! Where is the summer going!?!?) I realized it's time for my favorite pins linky party!

5 favorite music education pins of July, including scale blocks, movement activities, and more!


If you are a teacher blogger, feel free to join the party!  Directions are at the end of the post. Also make sure to follow me on Pinterest by clicking on the Pinterest icon in the right panel on my blog (the section that says "Button up.")  Here is my list for this month; just click each picture to view that pin.

#1: Scale blocks

I love this idea for having upper elementary, middle school, and even high school students build scales. Perfect for piano players (as it shows white key/ black key) or any other student learning music theory!

#2: Desktop wallpaper
Looking for a way to keep yourself and your computer organized? I wrote this blog post a few weeks ago about how much I love this desktop wallpaper!

#3: The guide to google drive sharing
I know that there are probably LOTS of things that I don't know about google drive that I should know, so I put this on my list of things to read!

#4: Creative movement guidelines
This is a great post about teaching creative movement in your room. I need to go back and give this one another read!

#5: Newspaper Dancing

Speaking of movement, I love this idea by Mrs. King's Music Room to help students move. This could be a great strategy for discussing non-locomotor vs. locomotor movement!

Those are my five favorite pins of this month...what are yours?  If you'd like to share, here are the directions:
  • Save the "Five Favorite Pins of July" collage graphic to your computer, and include it in your blog with a link to this blog entry.
  • Blog about your five favorite pins. Include pictures with links when possible.
  • Submit your information by clicking on the button below.
Also, just as a heads up, I plan on having a linky party in early to mid August for teachers to post their classroom set-up. If you are a blogger, please consider taking pictures of your room so we can share ideas!

 Have a great week!





Song and dance {Three great activities for your older students}



The week before last, I finished up teaching Level I for the Kodaly program at DePaul University in Chicago. My class had 18 music teachers, and they were a GREAT class...so cohesive and supportive of each other!  A few days before the class ended, one of my students mentioned that he couldn't find the song "Oboshinotentoten" on YouTube (as they have to check YouTube during the retrieval process for any versions of that song) so he suggested we make our own video. I thought this was a great idea, so we recorded ourselves playing the song, as well as performing two other dances!

Song and Dance: Three great activities for older students, including two great folk dances and one singing game!

Here is "Oboshinotentoten":


...and here is the music (thanks to my friend Sue Leithold-Bowcock for teaching it to me!)


Since we were having fun recording, we thought we should go ahead and record the dance for "Sesere Eeye," which is folk dance from the Torres Strait Islands off the coast of Australia. I learned this many years ago from an Australian teacher at the International Kodaly Symposium Conference in Columbus, and my students have enjoyed learning and performing it!



Here is the music for the song; you could perform it with a recording (many can be found on Itunes; this recording is by the OAKE children's choir and I don't think it can be found on Itunes) or you could have students sing as they dance:


One last dance we recorded was Dandiya Raas, a folk dance from India that I learned from my friend Meghan. The recording is "Chakkardi Bhammardi" by Manoj Dave/ Kishor Manraja/ Raghuvir Kunchala/ Forum Mehta/ Himali Dholakia, and can be purchased on I-tunes. 



Click here to read more about the traditional Dandiya Raas dance. This particular dance is done in an ABCB form, with A being the slow part (bend/ tap/ bend tap), B being step/circle/step/circle, etc., and C being faster (tap right 2x, tap left 2x, etc.)

Thanks so much to my class for being willing to videotape in order to share these wonderful songs and dances with other music teachers! I have done all of these with my older students (3rd-5th grade) and the activities are well loved by all!

Please comment below if you have any questions, and thanks!