22 October, 2017
Halloween Picture Books for the Music Room

Halloween Picture Books for the Music Room


Since Halloween is just around the corner, I'm blogging today with four of my favorite picture books for the music room during Halloween!

Halloween books for the music room: Favorite picture books for your elementary music lessons!


Two of the four books I'm blogging about aren't specifically Halloween books, but because of their theme, can work really well during this time of the year! Here goes!

Go Away, Big Green Monster


A few years ago, I saw this book being read at my daughter's daycare and fell in love with it! I decided it would be a great book to add instruments to...so here's what I do:

First, I just read the book to students and we discuss it. Before the second reading, we decide as a class which non-pitched percussion instruments should be played for each body part. For example, for eyes, a few students might play the finger cymbals. For the nose, a few students might play wood blocks. For the mouth and teeth, some students might play the gathering drum, and so on! Every student would have an instrument and a specific part.

 Here is a video of the book being read, so you can get an idea:



On "Don't come back!" all students could play three times (like three quarter notes.)

You could also have it be cumulative, so that for eyes, the students with finger cymbals play, for the nose, finger cymbals AND wood blocks play, etc. Then, when the body parts are going away, those students assigned to that body part stop playing.

This is a fun way to have students make musical choices, AND become more comfortable with playing instruments.


Who Killed Cock Robin?


The song "Who Killed Cock Robin" is one of my favorites. Here is the notation:

Who killed Cock Robin: a great song for Halloween. Blog post includes three great picture books for Halloween in the music room!

I sing all of the verses in the book to this melody. The book does not repeat all of the same phrases as the song does. For example, in the book, "Who killed Cock Robin?" only happens once, but I repeat it so that it matches the song.

The kids absolutely love figuring out the mystery in this picture book. They try to figure out who killed Cock Robin...was it the sparrow? The dove? Or is Cock Robin even dead?? There are clues spread throughout the book, and it's a great way to teach the song!

Disclaimer: I would save this gem for third grade or above, as little ones tend to get a bit scared!

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat


There are tons of books in these series, based on "There was an old lady who swallowed a fly." This is a great version--with the old lady swallowing a bat, a cat, a ghost, a goblin, and more! Singalong books are great for improving students' listening skills, and for having them sing along! (Read this post for more of my favorite singalong books!)

Ghosts in the House

I found this one at a book fair several years ago. The illustrations are just beautiful, and it's a great book for vocal exploration. You can have students make ghost sounds each time a ghost appears in the book, and you can also them create their own ghost pathways, like described in this blog post.

Looking for more Halloween activities for the music room? These no prep worksheets are great for this time of year!


What is your favorite book for this time of the year? Feel free to comment below, and Happy Halloween!


15 October, 2017
Beat passing games

Beat passing games



I've been posting lately about great games and hand jives for upper elementary, and in today's post, I'm writing about beat passing games, which are also a favorite of upper elementary students!

Beat passing games for the music room: Great singing games for the upper elementary music classroom!
So what are beat passing games? They are games in which the beat is passed from one person to the next. Typically, at the end, the last person to be hit is "out."  They are GREAT for reinforcing steady beat. It is so much harder to pass the beat than it is to keep it on your lap, so whether your students have a solid foundation of beat since Kindergarten and need a challenge, or if students are just learning steady beat, these can be very fun and rewarding games for upper elementary!

A lot of my students seem to play "Down by the banks of the hanky panky." Although I don't play the game with my students, I sometimes refer to it so students understand how we'll be playing a beat passing game. Here is a video of the singing game:



One of my favorite beat passing games is "Oboshinotentoten." It is an African-American folk song that I learned from my friend Sue Leithold Bowcock. Here is the notation:

Oboshinotentoten: A great beat passing game for upper elementary! Blog post includes a couple other beat passing games!

For the game, students stand in a circle with hands facing up, their left hands under their neighbor’s hand and their right hands above their neighbor’s hand. When the song begins, one student crosses their right hand over their body to tap the hand of their neighbor on their left. The beat continues around the circle until “1, 2, 3, 4, 5.” If someone gets their hand tapped on “5,” they are out; if they pull their hand away in time, the person who was trying to tap their hand on “5” is out. The person who is “out” goes to the middle of the circle until more people join him/her, and two games can occur at the same time.

And here is a video of my students from my graduate course at DePaul University playing the game:

The game is great for teaching syncopa, and for practicing re and/or the do pentatonic scale.

Another favorite beat passing game is "Freddy Oaka," which I also learned from Sue! Here is the notation:

Freddy Oaka: A great beat passing game for upper elementary! Blog post includes a couple other beat passing games!


The game is a twist on the typical beat passing game: everyone sits in a circle with their left hands palm up under their left neighbor’s hand, and right hands palm up over their right neighbor’s hand. One person starts at the beginning of the song, crossing their right hand over to their neighbor’s left hand to the beat. That person hits the next person, who hits the next person, etc. Whomever is hit on the word “no” chooses a number between 2-20. That person starts, taps the neighbor’s right hand, and the tapping continues until the designated number; that person who is about to be tapped pulls their hand away. If the person does not pull their hand away, they are out and they go into the middle of the circle. If the person does pull their hand away, the person who tried to tap is out and goes into the middle of the circle. Another game begins in the middle when there are three students, so that two games are happening simultaneously!
The song is great for teaching tika-ti and low sol (and fun side note--the beginning sounds just like "Old MacDonald Had a Farm"!)

These games are wonderful for passing down songs, because kids will often play them on the playground, teach them to their younger siblings, etc., which is exactly what we want them to do!

What are your favorite beat passing games? Feel free to comment below, and happy teaching!

08 October, 2017
Liza Jane: A great song for upper elementary

Liza Jane: A great song for upper elementary

Today, I'm sharing another one of my favorite songs for fourth and fifth grade...an old standard called "Liza Jane."




I learned this song while in Kodály Level II at Capital University, with Bruce Swank. Here's the notation; it can also be found in 150 American Folk Songs.


Additional verses:
I’ve got a house in Baltimore, Lil’ Liza Jane.
Street car runs right by my door, Lil’ Liza Jane.
(Chorus)

I’ve got a house in Baltimore, Lil’ Liza Jane.
Brussels carpet on the floor, Lil’ Liza Jane.
(Chorus)

I’ve got a house in Baltimore, Lil’ Liza Jane.
Silver doorplate on the door, Lil’ Liza Jane.
(Chorus)

The song is great for several concepts. Typically, like I said in my post about the song "Sandy's Mill," I would only pull out the hardest rhythmic concept from a song to teach it, which in this case would be tam-ti, or dotted quarter/ eighth. But because the first four measures only have syncopa, or eighth/ quarter/ eighth, I've used it to teach that. Melodically, it works really well for high do! I've also used it for mi-re-do, for older beginners, by only using measure 4 (for more materials for older beginners, click here.)

As far as games go, when I learned it from Bruce, here's the hand jive he taught us: 

Students face partner.
Clap own hands, clap partner’s right hand,
clap own hands, clap partner’s left hand,
clap own hands, clap front of partner’s hands, 
clap back of partner’s hands, clap front of partner’s hands
Repeat

Clap own hands, clap partner’s right hand,
clap own hands, clap partner’s left hand,
Clap own hands, clap partner’s hands (one hand up and face down, the other hand down and face up), then switch 2x.
Repeat

I presented in North Carolina several years ago, and took video of two of the attendees doing the hand jive. Here it is in case you are a visual learner and need to see it in action!


 Pin this if you want to refer to this post later:

Liza Jane: A fun song for upper elementary music! Includes a video with the hand jive!

Looking for visuals for this song, or for ideas for syncopa? Check out these sets:

     

Happy teaching!

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01 October, 2017
Sandy's Mill: A fun song for upper elementary

Sandy's Mill: A fun song for upper elementary

Today, I'm sharing one of my favorite songs for fourth and fifth grade...a fun song called "Sandy's Mill."




I learned this song while in Kodaly Level III at Capital University, with Joan Litman.  Here's the notation:

Sandy's Mill: A fun singing game for upper elementary!

The song is great for several concepts. Typically, I would only pull out the hardest rhythmic concept from a song to teach it, which in this case would be ti-tam, or eighth/ dotted quarter. But because the first two measures only have tika-ti, or 2 sixteenths/ 1 eighth, I've used it for tika-ti. You could use it for tim-ka, or dotted eighth/ sixteenth, but it's not the best song for it, since the sixteenth note is an inner anacrusis. Melodically, it works really well for high do! I can't think of any other songs that have the motive d' l s m, so it's great to use for that.

The song also works beautifully in a round!

As far as games go, when I learned it from Joan, here's the game she taught us: 

Students sit in a circle, passing a playground ball to the beat. On the word “pom,” they switch directions. Any time the teacher plays the hand drum, they also switch directions! A student volunteer can also play the hand drum.

This is great for practicing steady beat, and for that reason, the song would also work really well with older beginners who need practice with steady beat (click this link for a set for older beginners.)

Last year, before a choir concert, as I was waiting for all my kids to come in, I saw a group of students play a game called "Silent Ball," and immediately was in love with the game. The idea of silent ball is that one student starts with the ball, and throws it to another person, who throws it to another person, etc. The trick is, students have to be completely silent when they do this. If they don't, they are out! Other reasons they can get out are:
  • If they giggle
  • If they "chuck" the ball (or throw it so hard/ high/ low that a student has a hard time catching it)
  • Does "snake eyes," or looks at one person while throwing to another
  • Throws to the person next to them
Since the game seemed to be such a hit with my students, and since we were already playing a playground ball game with "Sandy's Mill," I decided to use it as a second game. Students sing the song, then play one round of silent ball until one person is out, then sing again, etc. I typically do it several times until maybe 5-6 students are out.

I hope your kids love it as much as mine do! Pin this if you want to refer to this post later:

Sandy's Mill: A fun singing game for upper elementary!

Looking for more ideas for tika-ti or high do? Check out these sets:

    


Happy teaching!


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