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Thanksgiving Ideas for Music Class

I've never been one of THOSE teachers.  You know, the ones that get the whole week of Thanksgiving off.  I'm always there until Wednesday at 1:15.  A couple of years we got Wednesday off completely and one year Monday was a snow day, but...yeah...I'm always teaching until the last minute before Thanksgiving.

Here are a few quick and painless ideas for getting through those three days or whatever time you'll be putting in.

Get your kiddos moving!
Probably my favorite movement activity involves putting on some awesome music and using these Thanksgiving Creative Movement Posters to let students create their own moves.  The kids love it because it is silly and let's them move around.  I love it because it is easy, can last as long as I want and really gets their creative juices flowing.   What you do is start some music (I like "Grandma's Feather Bed" by John Denver this time of year for this activity, but almost anything will work.), show them a card and give them 10-25 seconds to create a move that they think the card describes.  Here are few examples:
 Thanksgiving Creative Movement by Tracy King Thanksgiving Creative Movement by Tracy King Thanksgiving Creative Movement by Tracy King

What is a pumpkin roll?  What does "shake your tail feather" really mean?  Can you really tap dance in moccasins?  Who knows!  What fun it is to let their creativity express itself through dance!  This set also includes a freeze dance version.  I have several of these sets in my store.  These work really well with the Thanksgiving theme:  Food Fight Creative Movement    Everyday Creative Movement and Partners and Groups Creative Movement.

This is also a fun way to get kids moving.  Disco turkey moves always make me smile!

I also love some coloring options for kids during this short, but crazy week at school.
 Thanksgiving Color by Note by Tracy King
This Thanksgiving set includes pictures that require students to identify notes.  Actually, there are two levels.  One is for younger students and asks them to just find the note in the picture and color it.  The other version (same pictures) gives the symbol name and the color and students must find the symbol in the picture.  This is better for older students.  I'll put on some music while students work and it is an easy and peaceful lesson.

I'm also a BIG fan of workstations.  In addition to the Candy Corn puzzles, Xylophone Composing Station and iPad Station, I'm adding Music Clip-It.
Students look at a Thanksgiving themed picture and use a clothespin to clip the match.  Students match the number of syllables in the picture to the rhythms. I don't know what makes this so fun, but kids LOVE using clothes pins!

I hope this post gives you a few great ideas for being thankful and having fun in your classroom during the week before Thanksgiving.  I am so thankful for YOU!  Have a great holiday!

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Classroom Management - The Big Three

In my last post we discussed rules and I shared my rules and a rhyme that help with classroom management.  Be sure to read that post to catch up with our discussion.  This week we are going to talk about the three elements that I think are the backbone of good classroom management:  consistency, routine and organization.

If you’ve been teaching for very long, you know that being “organized” looks different in each classroom.  In my music classroom organized means there’s a place for everything, but that doesn’t always mean that everything is in that place.  In my music classroom I have an organized plan for seating students, getting supplies, returning papers, etc. but that doesn’t look like what it does in a regular classroom setting.  The week before concert time my room looks like a sparkly, rainbow unicorn just threw up all over every corner of the room.  It does NOT look organized, but…well… it is!  The apple and banana costumes are hanging on the back wall.  The glittered letter posters are stacked on the piano.  Coffee can drums and stacked neatly near the windows and extra copies of lyrics and lines are in folders clipped to the walls.  Everything is organized for functionality, not necessarily for beauty.

I can’t teach you the intricacies of organizing your supplies or your classroom.  Everyone’s needs are different.  My advice is to take some time to think about how things work in your classroom and arrange them accordingly.  Have a plan for everything. Make lists.  Be proactive.

 Just as it is important for everything to have a place, everything you want students to do in your classroom needs a protocol or routine.  How do you want students to find a seat?  Teach them how to do it.  Practice it.  (I recommend a seating chart for all classes, but that’s more for being consistent.)  How will your kiddos get supplies?  Teach them. Practice it.  How will they line up?  Teach them.  Practice it.

I have experimented with different routines in my classroom for lesson time.  I often plan the same sequence of events for the first 5 minutes of class.  This is how my K-2 classes start:

1. Sing a good morning song.
2.  Attendance with a purpose.  (This means that I will have them clap one of the three rhythms I have on the board, answer a question on the board or sing an answer.  I may sing “Good morning, Joey!” (sol mi mi, sol mi) and Joey echoes back “Good morning, Mrs. King”.)
3.  Songs We Know (2-4 short songs that we know well)
4.  Beat or Rhythm activity. 

This works well for me and students know what to expect.  Experiment with ways to create a routine with your classes.  This is often a time that I assess students ability to match pitch, keep a steady beat or read rhythmic notation.  I just note it as I am taking attendance.  Done!

Routines like this won’t work every class period (Hello, fire drill.) but you may find that having one helps your students behave better and helps you focus more. 

This one is tough.  I’ve been teaching for twenty years and every year I feel like I’m trying out something new.  There are still ways to be consistent even when trying out a new strategy or philosophy in your classroom.  What I have learned those is quite simple.  Never, ever create a rule that you are not willing to enforce every time.  EVERY TIME.

Let me say that again and put it in another paragraph because it is that important.  Don’t make a rule that you are not willing to enforce every single time it is broken.  It is the key to being consistent in your classroom.  It is also the key to not going stark raving mad in your classroom.  

It’s fine to let kids know that when you are teaching, lecturing or conducting that they should not be out of their seats to sharpen their pencils.  It is a general expectation.  For me, it falls under classroom rule 2, respect others.  I know teachers that take 5 minutes off of recess each time a student does this.  Seriously?  Isn’t that exhausting?  For music teachers with limited class time with students, how do you keep up with that and enforce it?  Bleh.

It’s okay to let students know that you expect them to be quiet when leaving the music room, but having a rule that says “If you talk in the hall, you get this specific punishment.” might be more work than you have considered.  Are you willing to discipline every single time someone talks in the hall every single day the same way for every single student?  Overwhelming.

When considering classroom management and how to be consistent, you need to be realistic.  Some things are a matter of safety, other things are a matter of sanity.  Choose wisely or your sanity may not be safe!  Consistency is one of the reasons I have only three broad classroom rules.  See them here.  Create rules that focus on creating a safe, functional learning environment. 

So how does all of this play out in my classroom?  Let’s go back to little Joey who finished up his echo singing and has now moved on to annoying his neighbor by putting his finger in her ear.

Me (stopping what we are doing and staring quietly but intensely at Joey for a full ten seconds): Joey, you are not being respectful of Mariah’s personal space.  Stop. 

I continue with my awesome, well-prepared, practically perfect lesson plan.  Joey continues.

Me (stopping, staring quietly and intensely again):  Joey, please move back to the empty carpet square on the back row.  I’m very disappointed that you are being disrespectful to your neighbors.  If you are not going to be respectful so the rest of can learn you may have to leave music class.  I would hate that.
Back to my awesome, well-prepared, practically perfect lesson plan.  I’m being consistent by reminding Joey and the rest of the class of our rules and that we have them so that everyone has a chance to learn.  I’m also using my very best, no-nonsense, I-mean-business voice.  It can be very convincing!

Me:  It is time to get crayons, paper, clipboard and return to our carpet square.  Please say “Crayons, paper, clipboard, carpet.”  (Students repeat and are reminded of the procedure they have been taught for getting supplies.)  Back row, you may go.  Joey, can we talk at my desk while your row gets started?
While I direct each row to get supplies and get back to the carpet square, Joey stands by my desk and we chat about what is going on.   This part doesn’t always go well, but it does let me know if Joey needs to leave class, if he can be separated and still complete his work or if he can go back to his regular seat.

The keys to good classroom management and good discipline are being consistent, having routines and being organized.  Plan, prepare and put stuff in a place that makes sense.  That’s organization.  Teach them what you want them to do, how you want them to do it and then do it.  Create a routine or a rhythm for how learning activities flow in your classroom.  Make rules that you can follow through on.  Do it every time.  Every single time.  That’s being consistent.  You can do it!

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Classroom Management - The Rules and a Rhyme

Do you ever wonder why good teachers quit?  Why dynamic, energetic teachers decide they would rather work at McDonalds than mold our future leaders in the classroom?  I must admit, I’ve thought about it more than once.  When talking with teachers that were reaching their limit or considering walking away several issues were mentioned including too much testing and needless paper work, lack of administrative support and their inability to motivate and control their classes.

Classroom management is something that experienced teachers think very little about.  Fred Jones calls those teachers the "naturals".  They are the ones that just intuitively do what needs to be done in the classroom.  They always seem to get the "good kids" and they always seem to cram a couple of years worth of learning into one.  When interviewed, these teachers may not even realize that they are doing all sorts of strategies that keep their students on task.  Natural.  They just get it.  If you aren't familiar with the work of Fred Jones and are struggling with classroom management, I highly recommend his material.

For the rest of us, we may need a little more direction.  As a music specialist, I don't get several hours a day to work on procedure and routine.  I get mere minutes a week.  Classroom management is also quite different than it was twenty years ago.  When I started teaching I was told that I needed to have classroom rules and consequences for each one.  I was also told not to smile until Christmas and never, ever, raise my voice.  

Uhm…what?  I teach music.  That means that sometimes my room is loud.  Good loud.  Productive loud.  Musically loud.  Awesome loud.  I have to raise my voice to get attention, because clapping ta ta titi ta can’t always be heard.  Don’t smile?  I teach MUSIC!  Do you know how joyful that is?  Do you know what an impact music can have in the lives of the students we teach?  Don’t smile?  Honey, I can’t stop smiling!  I love what I do!

So I started with three rules that I have used every year.

Classroom Rules by Mrs. King

Simple, right?  Here’s how I break this down with students:

1.  Respect Yourself
If you walk into music class and knock over all of my chairs are you going to get in trouble?  *wide eyes and lots of nodding here*  If you come in and smack your neighbor in the back of the head are you going to get in trouble? *gasps and more nodding*  Those are not smart decisions are they?  We can respect ourselves by making good choices and not doing things we know are going to get us into trouble.

Another way to respect yourself it so not put yourself down.  Some people in here are already amazing singers.  Some people in here can already play an instrument or dance like a rock star.  Most of us aren’t like that yet.  We are still learning.  There are somethings that we will be great at and other things that we will need to practice before we are good.  I don’t ever want to hear you say “I’m stupid!” or “I can’t get anything right!”  Respect yourself by thinking positively and not putting yourself down.

2.  Respect Others
Remember that I said that some of us are already good at things and the rest of us are still learning?  Well, it is not okay to put your neighbor down either.  Find a way to be encouraging, not insulting.  If someone is singing too loud or not very well instead of saying “You sound like my hound dog!” you could say “Maybe you could sing a little softer.  Keep trying.  I know you’ll get it!”  Respect others with your words.

Other ways to respect others is to respect their personal space, their time to talk and their ideas.
Mrs. King is ALSO an “other” person.  Don’t touch her things without permission, in fact, the only things you should touch in music class are the carpet and your chair.  Everything else needs permission.

3.  Respect the Property of All
If you look around the music room you will see some pretty amazing things!  Beautiful instruments, puppets, drums, books, craft supplies, games and…oh my goodness…it is a very exciting place to be!  Unless you have permission you shouldn’t touch anything.  Mrs. King’s property and the school’s property are just as important as yours. 

Respect the property of your classmates.  Don’t move their supplies, touch their jackets or take their things.  Treat your neighbor like you would like to be treated.

At the beginning of every school year (and sometimes mid-year) I go over these rules with my students.  With some classes this conversation lasts just a few minutes.  With other classes we might spend 10 minutes or more talking about them.  Is it worth it?  Absolutely!  Classroom management starts with a plan.

When I first started teaching, my principal was a big fan of using writing as a punishment.  Sentences, paragraphs or definitions were all favorites.  I was a little worried, because I really wanted my students to love writing, but that was their recommendation for students in 2nd grade and up. Instead of sentences I created a poem about the classroom rules for students to copy.  Three hundred and thirty one words of pure poetic magic!  Well, that’s what I told my students.  After we talked about the rules, I would read this poem (or project it and have them read it).  When they got in trouble, this is what they copied.  (This is actually an edited version of the classic poem.  I took out the section about rocks and tire from the playground.)

After a couple of years I moved to a new district and this kind of fell to the wayside as a punishment, but I used it each year as an introduction to my expectations.  One year I had a group of boys beatbox and rap it for me!  LOL.  What fun!

I hope that you’ll join me for the next few blog posts on the topic of classroom management. In my next post we will dive into consistency, routine and organization-the backbones of great classroom management.

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Tips for Improving Audience Behavior at Your Next Performance

Tips for Improving Audience Behavior at Your Next Performance

The music is ready.  The lines are memorized.  The stage is decorated.  It is concert time!  The next thing to consider is how to keep the audience entertained and under control during the entire evening.  Let's face it.  Your students know what your expectations are for the evening.  They have practiced walking in lines, being quiet and using good audience behavior in your classroom all year.  The audience?  In all likelihood, they have been to more ballgames than concerts and may need a little prompting to be a good audience.  This doesn't mean that they aren't there to be supportive or that they don't like the arts.  It may just be that they don't know what is expected of a great audience.

1.  Add a little reminder about audience behavior in your program.  Something like this:

2.  I always have students welcome the audience and introduce songs.  On occasion, I've had them rap or recite a poem about audience etiquette.  I love THIS one by Tami Mangusso.

3.  Use slideshows and videos before the concert to help students and audience members know what's going on.  I also use this as an opportunity to remind concert goers about good audience behavior.  Here is a sample from about 7 years ago.  I set the show to loop and have thematic music playing in the background.  This concert was easy as there are many great country Christmas songs out there.

4.  It's not usually before a concert that I have problems with noise.  It is during the time that students are getting on and off the risers.  With large groups this takes a few minutes no matter how much we practice.  During this time the audience starts chatting and moving around.  This is fine (I would rather they do that when we are not performing!) but it can be hard to get them back to a reasonable level before the next group starts.  My solution?  Entertain them!

I play slideshows with pictures of class activities, trivia (related to the theme of the concert) or other thematic content.  As soon as the first group of students takes their bow, the slideshow starts and we transition to a new group.

5.  Decorate with a purpose.  You may have noticed that I kind of LOVE bulletin boards!  LOL.  Well, I've got one for audience behavior too.  Check out Thankful for Good Audience Behavior.
 Thankful for Good Audience Behavior

I hope these tips help you have a great performance!  Best wishes!
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Thankful for YOU Celebration

It's time to celebrate!  I've reached a follower milestone on my Teachers Pay Teachers store and have a fabulous celebration planned for November 1st-5th.  To keep up to date and not miss out on any deals, freebies and fun you'll want to follow my Facebook page.  Click HERE to go there now.   Facebook doesn't show all of my posts to all of my followers so to make sure that you see them you'll want to go to the page, hover your mouse over the "liked" button and make sure "Get Notifications" is selected.  

Now on to celebration week!  Here's what to expect:

 Sunday's Freebie: Thanksgiving Vocal Explorations

Sunday, November 1st:  Kicking off this week with a fabulous FREEBIE and a fifty percent off deal on a brand new bulletin board for Thanksgiving:  Where Does Your Dinner Go?  Letters are included in this kit so that you can make the title say "Where Does Your THANKSGIVING Dinner Go?"

Makeover Monday, November 2nd:  I have recently remodeled a few bulletin boards and resources.  Each one of the made over masterpieces will be 50% off today only.  If you have already purchased them from Teachers Pay Teachers, just re-download to get the newest version.  Check out my Facebook page for the links to these products OR head over to my store and look to the custom categories on the left side of the page for the daily deals.

Take a Break Tuesday:  Everyone needs a break, right?  Today you can grab some great brain break activities for 50% off and snag a Thanksgiving activity for any classroom for free!

Workstation Wednesday:  I'm such a big fan of workstations that I couldn't help but add a day to celebrate them!  Several new workstations will be available for 50% off on Wednesday, November 4th only.  

Thankful Thursday, November 5th:   More dollar deals than you can shake a drumstick at!  This will also be the last day to enter my giveaway for a $30 Teachers Pay Teachers!

Wait...have I not mentioned that?  That's right!  You can win a $30 Teachers Pay Teachers gift card that you can use anywhere on TpT.  There are several ways to enter.  Check it out below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Veteran's Day Listening Lesson

Veteran’s Day can be such a special day at school.  I love the way students respond to learning about the rich and colorful lives of the veterans in our community.  I am moved by the way they show their respect and gratitude.   When possible, I love to spend several class periods working with patriotic music.  Here are a few other patriotic music posts that may interest you as you plan for Veterans Day:

A few years ago I had a retired Army officer ask me if I taught my students the songs of the United States armed forces.  Although I had taught some simplified versions in beginning band, I really didn’t use the songs in lessons with my K-8 general music classes.  As I set out to rectify the situation the next year I experimented with ways to introduce the songs and a little about the history of each branch of the military in a way that would engage students and help them remember these songs.

Last year I really felt like I did it!  Here’s a great plan for November, Veteran’s Day or any time you want to focus on some patriotic pieces.

I used Sara Bibee’s Our Musical Armed Forces-Guided ListeningUnit in combination with my Armed Forces Listening Glyphs for a complete unit on the music of the five branches of the U.S. military.  I used variations of this plan last year with several grade levels.  My 5th and 6th graders seemed to connect with it the most.  Sara's listening unit (PPT and PDF are both included) gives a brief history of each branch of the armed forces, lyrics for each of their songs and then links to listening examples and videos to use with your classes.  

I started with the music of the Army because this was the branch that most of our local veteran's was associated with.    Without introducing the song, I played "The Army Goes Rolling Along" leading the group to keep the steady beat in various places on their body (lap, shoulders, etc..).  About half way through I said "Create a quite percussion accompaniment on your lap."  They loved it and were quite good!

After we finished we discussed where they may have heard the piece before and then I introduced it with Sara's PowerPoint.

Then I explained that we were going to do a listening journal with this famous piece of music.  *insert student groans here*  They were delighted to find out that their "journal" was actually a coloring sheet.

 Armed Forces Listening Glyphs

Students got their supplies and we talked about the elements that we were going to listen for in the piece.  We listened to the piece without writing or coloring.  Then students completed their listening glyphs based on what they heard.  My last blog post was about using listening glyphs.  Check it out for tips to make this experience a positive one.

These listening glyphs are from THIS set.

This took about half of my 50 minute class time to complete with 5th and 6th graders.  I did a similar plan with each of the branches while still preparing their concert music.  It was so nice to come back to these pieces in January (after Veterans Day and after our December performance) and see what they retained from this experience.  Not only did they remember what branch each song belong to, they remembered other details about our lesson too.  My principal was most impressed!

Looking for more patriotic ideas?  You might like to see my Patriotic Resources Pinterest board.

Follow The Bulletin Board Lady-Tracy King's board Patriotic Resources on Pinterest.

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How to Use Listening Glyphs

What are listening glyphs?  It’s okay if you don’t know, but trust me you are going to want to use them to focus your students for listening activities.

I didn’t know what a glyph was until WELL after I graduated from college with a teaching degree.  Why?  At the time it wasn’t a tool that was used by music teachers for any practical purpose.  Classroom teachers had been using them like graphs for a long time.  They were a way to share information in a pictorial way that students could easily interpret.

Today they are a staple in my classroom.  I use them consistently with first through sixth grades as a way to focus their attention while listening to selected pieces of music in class.  For many years I used only listening journals, which were essentially just questions about the piece that students filled in like a form.  I asked them about tempo, timbre, genre, meter, mood and more.  This worked well for older students but in my younger classes, students that struggled with reading were often left behind.  Instead of listening to the music they were trying to read all of the questions and weren’t focused much at all. 

So, instead of 8 to 15 questions to answer I considered what 3-5 essential things I hoped they would hear in each piece.  Did it matter if my third grader knew that instrument was a trombone if they could identify the sound as brass?  Could I live with asking my second graders if the dynamics changed or stayed the same instead of having them write the words “forte” or “piano”? Would I be okay with asking my 5th graders if the beat of the music was grouped in twos or threes instead of asking them to identify the time signature?

Uhm…yes.  I was still using appropriate assessments AND I was using my precious class time more efficiently.  Students LOVED “just coloring” and listening to music.

The first listening glyphs I created were simple and could be used with any piece of music.  I used them mostly with first through third graders.  I had them color pieces of the picture based on what they heard in a piece of music.  What happened was MAGIC.  Active listening.  Engaged learners.  More time spent listening to music than talking about it.

Before i began using listening glyphs it was difficult for me to focus younger students for 2-3 minutes of listening time and nearly impossible to do it more than once without adding movement, props, drama, etc…  Don’t get me wrong.  I still do those things, but glyphs gave students an opportunity to respond individually to the piece rather than as a group. 

1.        Plan a piece that is interesting and has elements that your students can identify.  I have a couple of sets that I think are the easiest to start with.  I would recommend them because they are really just print and go. 
John Williams Listening Glyphs – Who doesn’t love his music?  This set has some kid favorites from Star Wars, Superman and Jurassic Park.
Nutcracker Listening Glyphs – Great for December and January or anytime really, these glyphs celebrate Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet.
Armed Forces Glyphs – I use these glyphs all year long.  This set contains patriotic songs in addition to the songs of the U.S. armed forces.  My 5th and 6th graders love this set the most.  They rarely get an opportunity to color so this is such a great change of pace.  I must warn you though.  The older kids love doing these SO much that they take MUCH longer than the lower grades to complete the same glyph. 

2.  If you haven’t already taught your students how to QUICKLY and efficiently get supplies and get back to their seat, do it now.  Plan it.  Teach it.  Practice it.  This is essential to doing any kind of writing or coloring activity.  If listening glyphs will be one of your first writing activities with a group, you need to have a plan for getting supplies and you need to teach them how you want it done.

In my classroom I send students to get their supplies by rows.  Traffic moves in a circle as students go to a table for paper and crayons, move ahead to a tub about 7 or 8 feet away with clipboards and then move back to the carpet or their chairs.  It is important to put supplies in a couple of spots so that the line moves quickly. 

In your classroom you may find that line leaders or row captains can get the supplies and pass them out quickly.  You might also consider having students get supplies on their way to their chair and just placing them under it until you are ready.  Whatever you decide, be clear with your instructions.  I often give the directions and then say something like “Paper, crayons, clipboard, carpet!” and have them repeat it.

I keep crayons in a plastic soap box.  Students can’t really see through them so there’s no picking through a pile to get the best box.  Storing them this way also keeps them from getting mixed up quite as much as other ways I’ve tried.  If possible, make sure students have their own supplies.  Sharing crayons for listening glyphs gives reason for conversations that you don’t want during listening time.

3.  Have students read through the worksheet with you.  Identify what you’ll be listening for and then have them put the sheets down.  Allow no coloring, writing or talking during the first listening.

4.  After we’ve listened to it the first time we talk about what we’ve heard using the worksheet as a guide.  For older grades this is brief.  For younger students, we will thoroughly go through each item following the items on the worksheet. 
 John Williams Listening Glyphs

5.  Listen again while students color their answers.  If the piece is short enough we may listen to it several times while they finish.

If you are teaching a group of students how to complete listening glyphs for the first time,  you may find it helpful to have them discuss what they heard and then color that item.  Move through each item on the worksheet in the same manner.  This takes more time, but will save you time the next time you work with listening glyphs.  I usually do this longer version only with kindergarten and first grade.  The other classes can be successful without this extra time.

Nutcracker Listening Glyphs

Be lenient with choices that could be right.  For example, in “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” you can hear a celesta.  One of the items on my listening glyphs asks if you hear percussion instruments.  My younger students may think that percussion just means drums, triangles, tambourines and other classroom percussion instruments they have played.  I usually accept any answer for that.  With older students I may expect them to know what instrument is playing that part.

Speaking of being lenient, you may have to be lenient with color choices too.  All crayons are NOT created equal! 

Listening glyphs can be graded in the traditional way.  I have found that it is quick and easy to walk around the classroom while students are working and note on my seating chart if a student doesn’t understand.  I can talk them through the problem and note a score for the activity without actually collecting the papers. 

I hope that you will consider adding listening glyphs to your lesson plans.  Please let me know if you have any questions about using them in your classroom.

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Music Class and Halloween

Can I tell you a secret?  I have not always been a fan of Halloween.  I’m not really sure why, but I’ve come around and now feel comfortable teaching a Halloween song or two.  As I prepare lessons for my K-6 classroom I try to incorporate songs and activities that feel like Halloween without being too scary or creepy.  We do many songs about pumpkins and spiders and so on.

At one district we avoided everything Halloween and even called the classroom celebrations on that day “Fall Parties”.  At another school we celebrate with a big parade, all students and most staff members dress up and hang decorations in our classrooms and on bulletin boards.  You probably know which end of the spectrum your district falls into and can adjust some of the activities below to suit your needs.

Below you’ll find a small compilation of ideas for October and some fun ideas for Halloween in the music room.

There’s a Spider on My Head
This fun song is great for Kindergarten and First Grade.  It is sung to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It”.  I start by modeling this song, but honestly by the time I get to verse three they can’t resist singing along, pausing to hear the new part of the verse.  Because this song isn’t specifically a Halloween song, I often tie it into the change in the weather and how spiders and flies want to come in to our warm houses instead of staying out in the cold.  This gives us an opportunity to sing the song another day.  The second time we’ll make up new (and often sillier) verses.

Pumpkin Patch

This is a fun song to sing with 1st and 2nd Graders.  We learn the song by rote adding actions with each phrase.  Next, we sing and move with a partner. 

Pumpkin Patch Lyrics
Pumpkin patch, Pumpkin patch.  Looking for a pumpkin in a pumpkin patch.
Here is one, nice and fat.  Turn into a Jack-o-lantern, just like that.

Pumpkin Patch Tune
Sol sol mi, sol sol mi, do do do re mi mi sol fa mi re do.
Sol sol mi, sol sol mi, do do do re mi mi so fa mi re do.

Pumpkin Patch Actions: 
“pumpkin patch” =clap hands twice on “pumpkin” and in the air on “patch”.  Later transfer the air clap to a partner’s hands.  Do this for every “pumpkin patch” in the song.
“looking for a pumpkin”=Put hand over eyes and on your forehead as though you are shading your eyes
“here is one” =right hand out as though you were hugging a giant pumpkin
“nice and fat” =left hand joins the right as though you were hugging the giant pumpkin with two hands
“turn into a Jack-o-lantern” =turn around with arms still outstretched.  Later join hands with a partner and turn in a circle.
“just like that” = clap clap air pat (that later becomes a partner clap)

Music K-8 Songs
I just love Plank Road Publishing!  My kids really connect with my kids and they are easy to sing.  This is a list that I use 2nd through 6th grades.  Here are a few of my favorites for October:
Eight Legs (We actually sing this one all year round.)
Halloween Rap  (The groove on this one is too cool!)
The Apple Song  (LOVE this catchy tune that names a bajillion different apples.)
Dweller of the Cave (Spooky and mysterious, it leads to great conversations about what the dweller could be.)
Hey Jack  (A favorite of my 5th and 6th graders.)
Pumpkin March (Mostly for the younger crowd, this is great for teaching dynamics.)
Mwa Ha Ha  (Seriously, can’t stop singing this one.)

Scarin’ Alive (Disco grooviness is alive!)

Sing Along Videos
I have a Symbaloo page with some of the songs we might add at the beginning or end of class if we have time.  They are short and simple and are probably most useful for 2nd grade or younger.  The link to this Symbaloo page is at the bottom of this blog post.

Jazzy Jack-o-Lanterns
Such fun!  I don’t always do this each fall, but it always seems to work its way in for at least one grade level do to an oddity in scheduling or special events.  Often I’ll do this activity during the week of parent teacher conferences with the one class that I will see from a specific grade level.  Students use the chart that I give them with music symbols to create an interesting jack-o-lantern face.  They can use them in any fashion, upside down and in any color.  I walk around while they are working on them and quiz them on the names of the symbols or explain what they are if they are new to them.

I have a bulletin board kit for this project too.  It looks great mixed in with the student projects.  The chart that I give them is in this kit too.

Candy Corn Puzzles

I do centers at least once every four times I see students so seasonal workstations are so much fun!  With the Candy Corn Puzzlers I actually had the whole class do the same puzzles in small groups.  Fourth graders worked pitch names, 5th grade worked on recorders, etc…  I allowed about 10-15 minutes for this activity including the time it took us to break into groups and get supplies.  If you have the puzzles in a little baggie you could probably do this in less time.

 Recorder Candy Corn Puzzlers Dynamics Candy Corn Puzzler

Pumpkin Patterns
This is a quick and easy game to create and to play.  It is essentially a matching game.  The pumpkins have four-beat rhythms on the back side of the jack-o-lantern.  I created a duplicate of each pattern so that students could match them up.  I created this set specifically for what fourth graders would know this time of the year.  You could create multiple sets that were usable with more than one grade level.  Students turn the pumpkins so that the rhythms are face down and take turns turning over pairs of pumpkins.  If they find a match, they keep it.  The person with the most matches wins the game.  Often they will have time to play multiple times before our time is up.

Ideas to Shake Your BOOty  (see what I did there? *grin*)
Oh my goodness!  This set of creative movement cards is so much fun!  I turn on some awesome seasonal songs and then hold up the posters for students to imitate.   It is so fun to see students do the “The Broom Dance” or the “Zombie Wobble”.  The idea is that students get to interpret the move named on the poster in any reasonable way.  Wow!  What creativity!   In this set there is also a freeze dance setof posters too.  If you like them, I haveseveral more themes that you can use.  They are also fun to mix and match.

 Here are some of the songs I like to use for this activity:
“Monster Mash” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett
“Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr.
“Purple People Eater” by Sheb Wooley
“Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees
“Thriller” by Michael Jackson

Pass the Pumpkin
I buy a bag of mini pumpkins at Walmart each year for Pass the Pumpkin.  I divide students into small groups of 4-6 and we say the pattern “Bounce, 2, 3, Pass”.  This allows students to pass every four beats.  This is fun for Kindergarten and 1st.  With older students we make the pattern shorter with “bounce, pass” or “pass, pass, pass, pass” on each beat.  The word “bounce” doesn’t actually mean bounce it on the floor!  Messy!  It means to bounce it in the air to show the beat.

Here’s a video of a 1st grade group from a long time ago.  This was their first attempt at “bounce, pass, bounce, pass”.  *giggle*  Not perfect, but certainly fun!

Dance Videos
I think it is so important to keep kids moving so I have several go to movement activities and videos.  I’vegrouped some of the Halloween videos on a Symbaloo page.  You’ll also find the links to a few sing along songs for the lower grades.  Enjoy!

 Mrs. King's Halloween Symbaloo

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