20 December, 2016
Choir Songs for Christmas

Choir Songs for Christmas

This past week, my choir performed their holiday concert, and it got me thinking about my favorite songs for this time of year, as well as songs I'd like to perform next year. Today, I'm teaming up with my friend Amy Abbott at Music a la Abbott to blog about our favorite Christmas choir songs as well as ones we'd like to do for next year!

Choir songs for Christmas: Great unison, two-part, and three-part songs for your choir!

A couple notes:

My choir consists of third, fourth, and fifth graders. Many of these pieces could also work for middle school.

Many of the titles are linked to the octavos on JW Pepper or other sites; simply click to view!

#1: Christmas is coming
This is one of my favorites for this time of year. It's an English folk song that works well as a round. I've heard a few different versions of it, but this is the one I use:

Choir songs for Christmas: Great unison, two-part, and three-part songs for your choir!

You could also have one part of the choir sing "God bless you" on mi-re-do as an ostinato.

#2: "Minka" arr. by Jill Ann Jones
This is one of my all-time favorites for Christmas! It's a 2-part song that is pretty accessible, as you teach the first part, then you teach the second part, and then you have one half of the choir sing one part as the other half of the choir sings the second part! The piano part is also really fun to play. It's a wonderful addition to any holiday concert.
16 December, 2016
Holiday gift guide for music teachers

Holiday gift guide for music teachers

Are you looking for gift ideas for a loved one who is a music teacher? Or are you a music teacher trying to find gift ideas to give your family? I'm teaming up with my friend Amy Abbott, to blog about great gift ideas for any music teacher!

Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links.

Holiday Gift Guide for Music Teachers: Great list of items to purchase as a music teacher, or to buy for your favorite music teacher!

Echo Dot
I was super excited when my husband bought me the Echo for my birthday in late November. I hadn't asked for it and didn't even know what it was, but now, I'm hooked!
The idea of the Echo is that you can play music wirelessly just by asking. It will play genres of music ("Alexa, play classical music," or "Alexa, play holiday classics") and it will play specific songs. For some songs, you do need a monthly membership to Amazon music, which is $3.99, but there are lots of songs that it will play without that membership. You can also ask Alexa to add things to your to do list, ask her for the weather, ask for the items on your calendar for that day, and more!
It hadn't even occurred to me to use one in my classroom until I saw this post in the Feierabend Fundamentals Facebook group. And then I realized...you could simply say, "Alexa, play 'Chimes of Dunkirk'" and it will play! How awesome is that? You can also connect it to your computer or iPad though Bluetooth. I just ordered one for my classroom; as I write this, it's on sale for $39.99, so I couldn't resist!

08 December, 2016
Five easy (and free!) sub plans for the music classroom

Five easy (and free!) sub plans for the music classroom

We've all heard the adage, "It's easier to come to school sick than to write sub plans." Many of you, like me, have spent hours upon hours working just on one day of sub plans, so it IS often easier to come to school sick than worry about it.

A few years ago, though, I finally got my sub tub in order (read more about my sub tub here), and figuring out sub plans began taking 10 minutes instead of 2 hours! Since then, I've become passionate about figuring out ideas that would have students making music, have subs feel comfortable teaching, and allow me to not spend tons of time preparing!

Here are some ideas for quick and easy sub plans to leave for your sub. Make sure to scroll to the end of the post, to sign up for my email list and receive editable Word documents to edit and adapt the sub plans for your own music lessons (as well as a bonus file)!

5 easy (and free!) sub plans for the music room: Includes great ideas for sub plans, as well as a way to download the sub plans as an editable Word document!

#1: The rhythm trainer
This website is a wonderful way to practice dictation and audiation skills! On the first page, you'll see this:

You could have your sub choose A if students will dictate rhythm patterns (onto the SMART board, or on a computer projected onto a LCD projector) or B if students will choose from multiple choice patterns. Then, students or the sub can choose a tempo. Lastly, you can leave notes for your sub with which rhythms to choose from, which can be adapted depending on the grade level! So if your first graders only know ta and ti-ti, or quarter and eighth notes, then you can have the sub only choose the first two rhythms, like shown above.

27 November, 2016
Tips for assessing with Plickers

Tips for assessing with Plickers

A few years ago, I discovered an amazing free app called Plickers, which allows you to quickly and easily assess your students with ONLY ONE device! Today, I thought I'd discuss tips for using the app. I just got done with an assessment for third grade recently, and realized there were some steps that make using the app much easier!

Tips for using Plickers to quickly assess students, including video tutorials on using the website and using the app!

Before using Plickers, you'll need to do the following:
  • Decide what assessment you want to use  (anything with multiple choices works; see some suggestions at the end of this post)
  • Get your students' class numbers from their classroom teachers (I would start with one grade level, and email that entire grade level for their class numbers)
  • Enter the students' names by number into the site (www.plickers.com)
  • Print out the cards on the Plickers site (you can laminate them for durability. I've heard some complain about the shiny quality for the cards making them harder to scan but I haven't noticed any problems)
  • Create your assessment (whether that be a slideshow, questions you'll write on the board or read to students, etc.) 
  • Create questions (this will allow you to name the question, then choose the correct answer for each)
  • Assign questions to each class
15 November, 2016
Props in the music classroom

Props in the music classroom

As a music teacher, we have the opportunity to buy some really fun things for our classroom! Perhaps you've seen tennis balls or ribbons in another music teacher's room, and you've wondered how they incorporate those props into their music classroom. Here are my five favorite props for the music classroom:

Favorite props for the music room: Ideas for ribbons, tennis balls, and more, for your music lessons!

#1: Stretchy band

I first saw a stretchy band as a way to incorporate movement into an early childhood music class. There are truly SO many possibilities for using the stretchy band (which you can purchase here.) My favorite way of using it so far is to help students learn how to stay in a circle during a circle dance. My second graders will be performing "Seven Jumps" for their performance this week, and the stretchy band is a GREAT tool for this (as otherwise, with that dance, kids might lose their balance!) Here is a video of "Seven Jumps" without the stretchy band; you can purchase the music on iTunes (my favorite recording is by the Shenanigans).

05 November, 2016
Flexible Seating in your Music Classroom {Part Two}

Flexible Seating in your Music Classroom {Part Two}

A couple months ago, I wrote about all of the flexible seating I purchased for my music classroom. Today, I'm blogging about how I've introduced the flexible seating in my classroom.

Introducing flexible seating in the music room: Blog post with many different ways to have students try out the seats in your room!

I have lots of fun seats in my room now, so of course, the students want to try them out! I decided when I first started that I would only use them for small groups and centers--otherwise, it would be a bit of a mess for whole group instruction, with students sitting at different levels. Here are a few ways I've let students try out the seats:

Star Students:
I choose two star students at the end of every music class, and they roll a die on my SMART board to find out what their reward is (i.e. prize box, Wild Ways certificate--which is a school-wide incentive, sticker, etc.) One of the rewards for 2nd-5th grade is "Special Seat." In the past, I only had one comfy saucer chair, but now I have lots to choose from. The students are always super excited to roll this! The student who receives this is allowed to try out more than one seat during the class, as long as he/she is not distracting when switching between seats. (I've had to have a few conversations with students about appropriate bouncing on the exercise balls vs. distracting bouncing!)

23 October, 2016
Favorite Kindergarten Music Activities

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).

09 October, 2016
Data-Tracking in the Music Room

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.

02 October, 2016
Ten Tricks and Treats for Halloween in the Music Room

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.

18 September, 2016
10 Picture Books to Sing

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. 

11 September, 2016
Ideas for Upper Elementary Music

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!

04 September, 2016
Flexible Seating in the Music Classroom {Part One}

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.

24 August, 2016
First Day Music Lessons {BTS Blog Hop}

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!

20 August, 2016
Music Room Reveal {2016-2017}

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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