24 June, 2015
Pool noodle rhythms

Pool noodle rhythms


Today I'm once again linking up with Tracy King/ The Bulletin Board Lady at mrskingrocks.blogspot.com to write about a summer project: pool noodle rhythms!

Pool noodle rhythms: A great way to have students write and compose rhythms!

My summer project is actually inspired by the one and only Tracy King! I found this awesome blog post about pool noodle rhythms on her blog and decided I had to try it out.  There are so many reasons I think her idea is fabulous, but to list a few:
  • It's a GREAT activity for those tactile learners!
  • It's a wonderful way to show length of rhythms.
  • It's a great way to practice meter/ time signature.
  • It's a brilliant way to do group work AND composition at the same time!

So I set off to Meijer and bought four pool noodles (and a couple more for our new pool, because hey, you can never have enough pool noodles!) and gathered up some other assorted items, shown above.

My thinking is that I would do them for ta, ti-ti, quarter rest, tika-tika, and half note, and that I'd make enough for four groups (so if I have 24 kids in a  class, 6 would work in a group.)

Tracy is exactly right that not all pool noodles are made the same. The blue and purple noodles had the same length and diameter, but the green noodle was quite a bit thicker. I decided to do blue for all my rhythms, purple for the barlines, and green for the time signature. I also used clothesline rope for stringing the rhythms (Tracy used jump ropes, which is also a great idea!), a knife for cutting, a sharpie, a measuring tape, and two more things not in the picture: a towel to place underneath the noodle while you are cutting and scissors for cutting the rope.

I measured the blue pool noodles, and they were around 55.5". Tracy's one-beat rhythms were about 3", but since I only bought 2 noodles for rhythms, I decided to do 2" for the one-beat rhythms and 4" for the two-beat rhythms. I cut 1" barlines out of the purple noodles, and 2" noodles for time signature/ meters. Here are the totals of everything I cut:

Eight 4" rhythms for half note
Twelve 2" rhythms for ti-ti
Twelve 2" rhythms for ta
Eight 2" rhythms for tika-tika
Four 2" rhythms for quarter rest
Eight 2" noodles for time signature
Twenty 1" noodles for barlines
Four 64" pieces of rope (I changed this from my original 32" length...that was too short! 64" is probably more length than you need for 4 measures but gives kids room to work and if the rope gets frayed, you can cut and still have plenty!)

I did this so that each bag for each group/center would have 2 half notes, 3 ti-ti's, 3 ta's, 2 tika-tika's, 1 quarter rest, one 2/4 noodle, one 4/4 noodle, 5 barlines (so that students could compose/ write 4 measures and have two barlines for the double barline at the end), and could string all of that onto the rope.

Here is what it looked like as I was cutting:

Pool noodle rhythms: A great way to have students write and compose rhythms!


And here is what it looked like when I composed my own four measures!

Pool noodle rhythms: A great way to have students write and compose rhythms!

I am SO excited to use these with my students! There are so many ways to extend their learning...and once students know 3/4 and/or 6/8, or different rhythms, you can add more noodles to the set!

Thank you to Tracy for the awesome idea AND for the linky party! Make sure to read her ideas by clicking on the picture below, and read her original post, as she did the noodles slightly different, and you can decide how you will do them for your own students.


Have a great rest of your week!


14 June, 2015
Musical Road Trip: Rhythm

Musical Road Trip: Rhythm


Hi everyone! I'm excited to be the first stop on a blog hop with other music teachers, called "Musical Road Trip"!


The idea of a blog hop is that each stop will be about a different musical topic. The first stop will be with me, in Ohio, about rhythm!


If you are a blogger and/or TpT seller, make sure to read the directions at the end of the post to link up a blog post and/or a rhythmic product for sale!

Rhythm is such an expansive topic. I've blogged many times about different aspects of rhythm, but today I thought I'd blog about different ways to approach reviewing and practicing rhythmic concepts.

When I went through my Kodaly training, I learned about the different types of learning styles, like physical, visual, and aural. Just like we need to adapt to different types of learners, we need to offer a variety of ways and strategies to practice rhythm to not only reach every type of learner, but to offer several opportunities for all students to solidify their rhythmic understanding. Here are my favorite ways to practice rhythmic concepts:

#1: Flashcards
Often, the first thing I do after students learn a rhythmic concept is simply to read flashcards. I often start with 4 beats in between each flashcard (I'll say "1, 2, ready and..." in between each card), and then I move onto 2 beats in another lesson, and then no beats in yet another lesson. Students love the challenge of having to memorize the last part!
There are so many things you can do with flashcards, though, besides just reading. Put them upside down, so students can practice reading stems upside down as they sometimes are on the staff. Have students move to the flashcards (jogging for ti-ti, walking for ta, freezing for rest, etc.) Have students change the pattern by one beat.
My friend Karla at C Major Learning put together this awesome set about all the different things you can do with rhythm flashcards!

#2: Games
Sometimes, the best way to practice a rhythmic concept is simply to play a game! Whether you play "I have/ who has," or have students throwing a koosh ball at the SMART board and reading a pattern,  or have students play a competitive game against each other or against you to practice rhythm, if you make a game out of it, kids tend to love it (...and kind of forget that they are learning!) Here is a list of my favorite free games on TpT to practice rhythm:


#3: Manipulatives
Students who are tactile learners benefit so much from using manipulatives. Whether you are using popsicle sticks to practice basic rhythms, fake fruit to practice more complex rhythms, or kleenex box manipulatives to dictate and compose, students LOVE working with materials that they can manipulate to further their rhythmic understanding.

#4: Playing instruments
There is some misconception out there that Kodaly-trained teachers never use instruments, but this is of course not true. We simply make sure to begin with the voice, and when that is solid, then we move onto instruments. Playing rhythm patterns on instruments can be a GREAT way to practice rhythmic concepts. A few ways to practice on instruments:
  • Have students play rhythm patterns on non-pitched percussion (especially helpful with quarter rest, as it really helps students remember to pause for a beat!)
  • Have students improvise in C-pentatonic on rhythm patterns (students have the Orff instruments set up in C-pentatonic; they all play the same rhythm pattern, but on whichever bars they choose)
  • Students play an ostinato on instruments as they sing and/or speak a chant
  • Students compose a piece of music using rhythms they know, then transfer that to instruments.
Again, there are so many possibilities!

#5: Create
I'll be honest, in the past, I have run out of time to have students create with rhythms they know. I was so focused on reading, writing, playing, dictating, etc., that we just didn't get to it...but I know now that it needs to happen no matter what! Just like in a language arts classroom, students are expected to write their own stories, students in music class should be expected to write their own compositions! There are SO many ways to do this, but I'll just outline a few ways to start.
  • Have students "babble," or say whichever rhythm they want in whatever order they want as you play the hand drum.
  • After dictating using manipulatives or pencil and paper, have students create their own pattern, then share it with a friend.
  • Have students create their own ostinato to play on instruments or clap as they sing or speak.
  • Have students compose 16 beats of rhythm, then play on a non-pitched percussion instrument. 

There you go...my favorite ways to practice rhythm! 

Since this is a road-trip themed blog hop, I am going to put my "Rhythm Road Trip" for tika-tika on sale for 25% off for the next several days! You can find the link below. If you are a blogger, feel free to add a link below to a rhythmic-focused blog post and/or a rhythmic product on sale for 25% off. Our next stop will be at C Major Learning with Karla Cherwinski, on Wednesday, June 17. She will blog about melody, and people will once again have the option of linking a blog post and/or a melodic product for sale!


And in case you're wondering where this musical road trip will go, here is a list!


If you are a blogger and/or music seller and want to link up, here are the directions:
  • Link up with a blog post specifically about rhythm/ rhythmic concepts, AND/OR
  • Link up to a rhythmic product on sale for 25% off (you can leave it on sale until Wednesday, June 17.)
  • You can do either simply by clicking on the button below!

What are your favorite ways to practice rhythm? Feel free to comment below. Thanks for making a stop on the musical road trip!


08 June, 2015
Solfa Cubes

Solfa Cubes



Hi everyone! I hope you are enjoying summer...or are very close to getting out of school!
So I'm excited to be linking up with Tracy King at Mrs. King Rocks for her Summer Project Linky.

I'm hoping to link up as often as I can, so I can force myself to prepare all of those ideas I've learned about at workshops, classes, or blogs, for use in my classroom this upcoming year!

This week I am blogging about solfa cubes. I think I learned this from Joan Litman, my amazing Level III Kodaly instructor at Capital University....but I don't remember for sure. (And I just found out about this blog post by Amy Abbott...so maybe I learned about them from her!) Here's what I needed to make the solfa cubes:

Solfa cubes: A great way to practice melody! Blog post includes directions and visuals!
I bought the wooden cubes at Amazon (click here to see them.) I also needed two PaperMate pens, and enough ziplock bags for each set.

I made one set for re, and one set for low la (and I wrote the re set in orange and the low la set in purple so I could easily tell them apart.) On each side of the cube, I wrote solfa. For example, on the re cubes, I wrote sol, la, mi, do, re, and either another re or another do. 
I did six cubes like this. Here's an example of the six cubes:
Solfa cubes: A great way to practice melody! Blog post includes directions and visuals!

If I were using them with kids, I could have them write in a straight line, but then also write with melodic contour, like this:
Solfa cubes: A great way to practice melody! Blog post includes directions and visuals!
This is a GREAT way to practice steps and skips! (More ways to use them are listed below.)
After I wrote on six cubes, I bagged them up and had one set!

Solfa cubes: A great way to practice melody! Blog post includes directions and visuals!
I then made five more sets, so that students could work in groups of 3-5, depending on the size of your class. (And each bag only took me 2 minutes, so you can have six bags in under 15 minutes, even if you are multi-tasking, or watching "Love it or List it" while you work! Woo-hoo!) Here are some more ways to use the cubes; it is up to you whether you want students working in small groups or individually:
  • Students sing a pattern, then write that pattern
  • Students listen to a pattern played on recorder, then write that pattern.
  • Students compose a pattern.
  • Students compose a pattern, and then pair up with another group to have a longer composition!
  • Students dictate a pattern from a known song.
  • Students roll the dice and sing that pattern.
  • Students create a pattern: one person sings the pattern, and the rest of the group checks to make sure the pattern was sung correctly.
  • Students dictate or compose during centers, so that each student has his/her own bag.
  • ...the possibilities are endless!
Just like the solfa manipulatives I have, what's great about these is that you can focus on melodic understanding without worrying about the staff. (And to be honest, these take WAY less time to make!) I think it will also be a great tool to discuss what makes a melody easy or hard to sing. Perhaps I'll add rules at first that they have to compose stepwise melodies, and then once they've mastered that, they can add skips. I've noticed that when I've done composition with kids they often want to write disjunct melodies, which are very difficult to sing, so these could be a good tool to address that.

A few things to consider:
  • With my low la set, I had just enough sides of the cube to write sol, la, mi, do, re, and low la. If you are making cubes for harder melodic concepts, you'll have to leave out solfa, or have some dice with certain solfa and other dice in that set with the other solfa, so that all solfa are covered.
  • I loved the way the purple PaperMate pen showed up on the wood blocks, especially since some of the cubes were a little darker than others. If I had to re-do, I'd probably do blue and purple or black and purple instead of orange and purple.
  • You may have to sand down a few of the cubes, as some of them are a bit rough or have wooden strings hanging from them.
Let me know if you're able to try these out, and have fun working on your summer projects! Click the picture below to read Tracy's post as well as the post of others!


07 June, 2015
All About the Books

All About the Books


Hi everyone!
So I've had a few of you request lyrics for a video I recently posted to my Facebook page. I figured I'd post it here so that everyone can read!
Every year, my principal asks me to put together a skit for the end of the year, to either perform live at the end-of-the-year assembly, or record and show to the students and parents. The purpose of the skit is to promote reading throughout the summer.
I had several teachers request that we perform "All about the books," based on Meghan Trainor's "All about the bass." I found this skit recorded by the Nashville Public Library:


I loved it, but wanted to change the lyrics to make them more suitable for our reading program. Here are the lyrics we used:

You know I’m all about the books, ‘bout the books,
No trouble!
I’m all about the books, ‘bout the books,
No trouble!
I’m all about the books, ‘bout the books,
No trouble!
I’m all about the books, ‘bout the books.

Yeah it’s pretty clear
I got no book fines
So I can take them, take them,
And read them on my time.
I got the book, book, that all the kids chase
All the right books in all the right places

I read the magazines
And the chapter books
I love biographies
Or stories with a hook
I love the book fair
Go have a look
Every book at Cheshire’s perfect
From the bottom to the top

Yeah my Mama she told me
Don’t worry about the fines (Waa, waa, waa-ooh, wah wah…)
She says make sure you read them
And turn them back in on time (stories, stories, books, and stories, stories)
You know reading a little each night isn’t really that hard (Waa, waa, Waa-ooh, wah wah…)
So if that’s what you’re into then go ahead and start.

Because you know I’m all about the books, ‘bout the books,
No trouble!
I’m all about the books, ‘bout the books,
No trouble!
I’m all about the books, ‘bout the books,
No trouble!
I’m all about the books, ‘bout the books.

I’m bringing books back
Go and put them in your backpack
Now I’m just sayin’ this is where it’s at.
I’m here to tell you
Every book at Cheshire’s perfect
From the bottom to the top

Yeah my Mama she told me
Don’t worry about the fines (Waa, waa, waa-ooh, wah wah…)
She says make sure you read them
And turn them back in on time (stories, stories, books, and stories, stories)
You know reading a little each night isn’t really that hard (Waa-ooh, wah wah…)
So if that’s what you’re into then go ahead and start.

Because you know I’m all about the books, ‘bout the books,
No trouble!
I’m all about the books, ‘bout the books,
No trouble!
I’m all about the books, ‘bout the books,
No trouble!
I’m all about the books, ‘bout the books.

You know I’m all about the books, ‘bout the books,
No trouble!
I’m all about the books, ‘bout the books,
No trouble!
I’m all about the books, ‘bout the books,
No trouble!
I’m all about the books, ‘bout the books.

And here is our video:



We used random books from the library, random puppets from my puppet collection, and made up the instrument parts. (I'm the one playing the triangle, and Jeana in pink made up the shakere part. Can you tell she used to be a music teacher??) I found the karaoke music for "All about the bass" by "Zoom Karaoke," and just had us singing over the music.

I have to say, I love the people I work with! They are so fun and willing to do whatever...and even though they were a bit nervous about singing at first, I think they sound pretty awesome! :)

If you do something like this, I'd love to see it! Feel free to comment below with any skits your school puts together. Have fun!
03 June, 2015
Five Favorite Pins of June

Five Favorite Pins of June


Hi everyone!
Today I'd like to bring my linky party, "Five favorite pins," back for the month of June!
If you are a blogger, feel free to link up. Just see the directions at the end of this post.

#1: Folk music anchor chart

Being a Kodaly-inspired teacher, I use folk music ALL THE TIME. So I love the idea of making an anchor chart all about folk music! Sometimes, when a discussion about folk music is not had, kids end up thinking that I make up all of the songs, which is really funny and endearing but of course not true. We want our kids to know all about folk music, and what a great way to do it!

#2: Mason jars with ribbons

I have a hard time organizing stuff, like pencils and markers. I have the urge to just throw everything into a drawer because I get overwhelmed, so solutions like this are GREAT for me! Since I'm going with a jungle theme this year, I'm going to find jungle-inspired ribbon for the mason jars. So cute! (If you are looking for jungle-themed decor, check out this set that I just posted.)

#3: Recorder reminders

If you've ever struggled to teach kids that the left hand goes on top, you might be interested in this set. Anything fun and catchy could really help them. This set is now on my wishlist (and I hadn't heard of this seller, so now I'm a follower!)

#4: Giraffe door

Since I'm doing a jungle theme next school year, I found this very adorable. I'm thinking about doing this to my door...just hoping I can make it look just like this!

#5: Giving students feedback

This picture alone is FULL of great ideas for the music classroom. Wonderful way to present partwork, good questions for feedback, strategies for self-assessment, criteria for evaluation, AND a way to teach chords. WOW! But then when you click on the pin you'll also find a very well-written blog post about giving feedback, with specific examples of how to teach your students to give feedback in a constructive way!

What are your five favorite pins of the month? If you'd like to share, here are the directions:
  • Save the "Five Favorite Pins of June" 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 at the end of this post.
I'll leave the party open until June 30.  And before I forget, I've collaborated with a bunch of other music sellers on an event called "Thrifty Thursday." TONS of music products will be $2 on Thursday, June 4. To find all the great deals, search for "ThriftyMusicFlashSale," or click the image below.


Happy shopping, and have a great June!







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