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Teaching Patriotic Music - What to Do

In a previous blog post I asked the question "Why teach patriotic music?"  There are several reasons and I hope you'll take a moment to check out that article.  In this post I'm going to talk about my song and activity choices for my Kindergarten through 6th grade students.

I must admit that when I first started teaching I didn't focus much on patriotic music.  For the first two or three years I really just did a little something with the national anthem and that was it.  I was looking to incorporate music that really connected with students and really got them excited about what we were doing in class.  Silly me!  Patriotic music does just that!

I decided that I would come up with just a couple of songs that each grade level would learn.  By the time my students left me to move on to middle school or high school they would have a solid repertoire of patriotic music under their belts.  Then I added a few activities with patriotic music including a large unit on the "Star-Spangled Banner" for third graders.

Every August, our song of the month is the "Star-Spangled Banner".  All students review the three rules of etiquette when listening to or performing our national anthem.
1.  Stand up (and take your hat off if you are wearing one).
2.  Hand on your heart.
3.  Eyes on the flag.

This is a tough song for my youngest learners, so we usually just use this time to practice listening and being respectful.  I often put up a bulletin board in the main hallway or near the flag in my room that reminds students about national anthem etiquette.  This one is my favorite.  I've used it a couple of times.

So now, let's break this down by grade level.  Here are the songs and activities I do K-6.

"You're a Grand Old Flag"
We learn the words and sometimes a very simple plate routine that focuses on them following my directions. (Nope, don't have these written down because they are mostly steady beats with plastic plates.  Think up, down, left right, etc...)
"Yankee Doodle"
We talk about march and lullaby in Kindergarten so this is one of our favorite marches.  We also use it for steady beat practice with rhythm sticks.  We don't really talk about the history of the piece.

In Kindergarten we use several Sousa marches too.  We keep the steady beat, freeze dance (well...freeze march) and sometimes write/draw about what we hear.  Since we only talk about a few instruments in Kindergarten this is a great addition to our listening repertoire.  We identify drums, trumpet and flute easily!

First Grade
"You're a Grand Old Flag"
"Yankee Doodle"
We can read most of these words by the end of first!  Hurray!  We don't really do anything new with "You're a Grand Old Flag" in first grade.

With Yankee Doodle we learn a very simple stick passing routine.  We sit in a circle and use the pattern "tap tap cross pass".  Tap on the floor.  Tap sticks together.  Pass to the right.  After we've done this activity in class, I can add it as a workstation.

"My Country 'Tis of Thee"
We learn the words to this song and talk about them.  "land where my fathers died" can be a bit confusing.  Some years we create a patriotic song quilt with these lyrics.  I'll talk more about that when in a bit.

Second Grade
"God Bless America"
Kids LOVE this song!  We listen to a couple of different performances, red and talk about the lyrics and sometimes create drawings/sentence writing to show our favorite things about America while listening to it.
"You're A Grand Old Flag"
We love this song.  It is a part of our "second grade songs" PowerPoint.  This file contains the lyrics to songs that we sing often.  I can leave this for a sub to use because it is essentially click and go.
"Allegiance Rap"
This song is by the talented folks at Music K-8 Magazine.  It is mostly the Pledge of Allegiance, but seriously cool.  The kids learn this quickly.  Some years we add a plastic plate routine with it.

Third Grade
"America the Beautiful"
I have a book with the lyrics of this song that stays in my student bookshelf.  Students can read/sing through it when they are at this station during centers days.  I take it out early in the year and we read/sing through it as a class.  Some years we will create a patriotic song quilt with it.

To make the quilt, I give them squares of paper and assign them a line in the song.  Some kids draw "Oh, beautiful for spacious skies" while others draw "for amber waves of grain" and so on.  We display them on the wall so that they look like blocks from a quilt.  Such a great display!  Some years I will print out squares with the lyrics, other years I just give them the squares.  I think 8 x 8 works best so I just cut a couple of inches of a standard letter sized sheet.

This works with "My Country 'Tis of Thee" and several other patriotic songs. LOVE the finished display.  If I can, I try to have it up for the first parent-teacher conferences.

"God Bless America"
We really just review this song and all of the other songs since Kindergarten.

"Star-Spangled Banner" Unit
I take about 4 weeks during September/October to focus on the "Star-Spangled Banner" with third graders.  We learn about the history, decipher the lyrics, work on memorizing it and more.  After experimenting with this unit for a few years I came up with some workstations that I love!  This set is available in my store and contains ten different workstations.  HERE are several blog posts about Star Spangled Banner Workstations that will let you take a peek at them in action.

I like these workstations because there's a little bit of everything in them.  Students learn about Francis Scott Key, work with vocabulary from the song, review the history of it, work on memorizing the lyrics, singing and more.  Good stuff.  Students are on task and really walk away with a great deal of knowledge.

I used to give a 10 question quiz at the end of this unit.  Instead of doing that now I use exit tickets.  We do one at the end of each class period that we are studying the "Star-Spangled Banner" and sometimes randomly throughout the rest of the year.  I use THESE with 3rd graders but honestly they would work for 3rd through 6th with ease.

Fourth Grade
"God Bless the USA"
I have a PowerPoint for this song that I use.  Kids love singing it and we add it to the list of patriotic music we know.  You can download one by Patty Oeste on THIS page.  (Scroll down.)
"This Land is Your Land"
We sing this from the "Get America Singing" books.  Some years we will learn a little descant part (from an old text book series...sorry I can't remember which one!)
Music of Missouri
Fourth graders focus a great deal on Missouri history so I try and add a few folk songs from the area, we touch on musicians from Missouri and listen to the "Missouri Waltz".  I'm always looking for new resources for this, so if you are a Missourian please let me know what you do!  I feel like I barely touch this topic.
Star Spangled Evaluations
Last year we did a huge unit on our national anthem.  This year I want to make sure they remember some of it!  In fourth grade we review the story, etiquette and vocabulary from our study of the "Star-Spangled Banner" in third grade and then we do Star Spangled Evaluations.  This activity takes one 50-minute class period and is a huge hit with the students.  I just blogged about this activity HERE.  Take a look and download the freebie to use with your class.

Fifth Grade
"Fifty Nifty"
All year.  Workin' the fifty nifty so that students leave with this song (and the alphabetical presentation of the states) memorized.  You can watch a YouTube video of this student favorite HERE.  Get a real copy from Hal Leonard.

My 5th and 6th graders performing "Rap of the Presidents" at a patriotic concert.  It makes you smile, right?

"Rap of the States" and sometimes "Rap of the Presidents"
Depending on the groups and the year I use these two gems from Teresa Jennings with 5th and 6th graders.  They are a little long, so unless we are using them for a concert performance we don't memorize them.

Songs of the Westward Expansion
A large portion of the year is spent learning folk songs from the time of the westward expansion in America.  Songs include  "Erie Canal", "John Henry", "Home on the Range" and cowboy and pioneer songs.  We sing the Music K-8 versions, watch videos of their performances by a variety of folk singers and musicians and complete a favorite project of mine, the rewriting of "Home on the Range".

This activity is actually the idea of my pal Kristin Lukow.  Check out her blog HERE and download this worksheet HERE.  The idea is that students re-write this classic song to fit their tastes.  They must work to use the original tune and keep as close to the syllabication of the original song to make it work.  Here's a good one:
Oh give me a phone, with extra minutes to roam,
with more storage than I can fill up!
With a rockin' ringtone
and a case made of chrome,
and data so I can text you "what's up?"

Phone, phone of my own,
with more storage than I can fill up!
With a rockin' ringtone and a case made of chrome,
and a camera for my selfie close-up! 

Sixth Grade
Music of the Armed Forces
The music of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard are studied in 6th grade.  We use some patriotic and armed forces listening glyphs.  The big kids don't get to color as much as they would like and really enjoy the listening glyphs.  It is also a chance for them to get really familiar with these pieces because we listen to them as we work.  You can get the listening glyphs HERE.

I blogged a bit about my Music of the Armed Forces activities in THIS blog post.  I also like to use one of the five armed forces bulletin board sets I have when I display the listening glyphs.  I love to do this near Veteran's Day if I can.

Slave songs, plantation songs and traditional African American folk songs
Throughout the year, sixth graders learn about music of the American Civil War, slave songs and traditional African American folk songs.  In February we study American Jazz Musicians and do a short research assignment on them.  You can take a look at that HERE.

I hope that you've enjoyed the red, white and blue tour through my school year.  I have many patriotic resources on my Patriotic Resources Pinterest board.  Follow it to get new ideas.

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

I am so thankful that I am teaching in the digital age.  As a rural teacher, my students don't have an opportunity to see a variety of music performances.  YouTube has opened a whole new world of instruction.  If we are learning about bassoons, we can watch a video about bassoons.  If we read about a barbershop quartet, we can pull up a video and hear one in minutes.  Looking for an authentic folk song from New Zealand?  Hello, Internet.

One of my favorite patriotic activities utilizes the awesomeness of YouTube and encourages students to evaluate and critique.  I call it Star-Spangled Banner Evaluations.  I give students a sheet to fill out while listening or watching performances of our national anthem.  The worksheets ask students to write down the name of the performer, the genre, if it is acapella or accompanied and then rate it using a 5-star system.  There is also a place for a few notes that will help students write about the performance later.  At the end of class (I usually leave about 10 minutes, maybe less.), I ask students to write a paragraph (4-6 sentences) about their favorite one.

I use a wide variety of examples.  They hear soloists, groups, choirs, instrumental versions, classics, children and whatever else I can find.  I usually cue up these performances before they get to class, but sometimes we'll vote on the ones we watch.

I have most of my favorites saved on my national anthem Symbaloo board.   Check out this page to see all of the performances that I have bookmarked.  You can save this page too and use it in your classroom.

This activity leads to great conversations about vocal quality, how to classify genre, how to name groups (quartet, sextet, etc..), stage presence and more.  For some students this is an introduction the term "acapella".  This is also a lot of fun, so students often don't realize what higher order thinking skills they are using.  Love that!

Would you like to try out the Star Spangled Evaluations?  You can!  I've uploaded them to my Teachers Pay Teachers Store as a free download.  If you like them, please leave a little feedback.  I love 4 star ratings and your comments help me create more things that you'll love.

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Why Teach Patriotic Music?

Why teach patriotic music? 

Do you teach patriotic music in your classroom?  Did you know that not everyone does?  Is it written into your curriculum?  Today we will talk about one of my favorite topics to teach.  Let’s dive into patriotic music.

First, we have to decide what patriotic music is.  When I refer to patriotic music, I mean not only the traditional songs like the national anthem, “America, the Beautiful” and “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” but songs about our history and geography as well as songs of the armed forces, civil war songs, slave songs, some contemporary songs, songs about civil rights and more.

Why teach patriotic music?  It helps students learn about their heritage as citizens of America.  
I’m not sure about you, but the stories of my family only went back about twenty or thirty years before I was born.  My parents told stories about their parents and grandparents, but my “history” didn’t go much beyond that.  Why?  It’s what they knew.  What they were taught.  What was important to them. 

Our heritage as Americans is rich in lessons for us to learn, people to celebrate and stories and songs to repeat.  Fortunately, our stories go back much farther than twenty years!  Music of America is music by Americans.  It tells the stories of the birth of our nation, its struggles, its triumphs and most importantly its values.   It is important to teach Americans about America.  As a music teacher, I do this in several ways, but perhaps the most important way is through patriotic songs.

How did early American pioneers live?  There’s a song for that.  What do our service men and women in the armed forces do?  There’s a song for that.  What tragedies have we overcome as a country? There’s a song for that.  What are the capitals of each state?  There’s a song for that.  How do we celebrate our soldiers returning from war?  There’s a song for that.  What are some of our most beautiful landmarks?  There’s a song for that.  How do we learn to live together in a country as diverse as it is proud? There’s a song for that.  What does our mourning look like?  There’s a song for that.  How will we face the future?  There’s a song for that! 

Patriotic music helps students connect with their American heritage.   I teach patriotic music, because patriotic music teaches the history of America.

Why teach patriotic music?  Patriotic music creates a sense of community.
This kind of patriotism nurtures a sense of togetherness and common purpose.  Standing together to sing a song that has been sung for hundreds of years can be very moving.  To lift up our voices using the words that so many brave men and women have used before is powerful.  Kids get that!  It helps them develop pride in their country and often a sense of gratitude for the men and women who have bravely led the way in building our country.

Patrick Lollis, a music educator in Grapevine, Texas says “Patriotic music, if it only installs nationalism, is of minimal value, but teaching songs that convey the values of our republic creates informed and empowered citizens.”

I couldn’t agree more.  I teach patriotic music because patriotic music reflects the values of our country and strengthens the unification of Americans.  It’s more than just character education.  It is citizen education.

 Why teach patriotic music?  No one else is.  No, seriously.

As music educators, we may answer the following questions differently than the general public.  Think about the average parent and their response to these questions. 
Have you taught your child the national anthem or how to respond when it is performed?
Does your child know that tune as the theme to Barney or as “Yankee Doodle”?
How many traditional patriotic songs does your child know?  (And…uhm…Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A.” or Lynyrd Sknynard’s “Sweet Home Alabama” don’t count.)

What kind of answers would you expect to hear?  Students are not learning traditional folk songs, nursery rhymes or patriotic music at home.  The custom of parents teaching these songs to their children is slowly fading from our culture.  Ask them.  Heck, ask your students.  They hear the national anthem before ballgames and (in my neck of the woods) before the races, but they don’t know its story.  Often they don’t know how to behave when it is performed.

I teach patriotic music because I think it is important and my students aren’t learning it anywhere else. 

Want to change that?  Here are some things you can do:
1.        Teach your child the story of the national anthem.  Teach them the words.  (Explain the tough ones.)  Teach them to stand, with their hand on their heart, listening quietly or singing robustly when they hear it.
2.       Sing patriotic songs with them.  Even little ones can sing and move to “You’re a Grand Old Flag”.
3.       Play patriotic music while driving in the car.  There are plenty of fabulous CDs or collections to download.
4.       Encourage your children to listen to and learn about great American composers and musicians. 
5.       Model an attitude of thankfulness for the events and values that patriotic music exalts.  Talk about how to show gratitude for the freedoms we enjoy as Americans.

Why do you teach patriotic music?  Why not?  Let’s talk about it in the comments.  My next blog post will discuss the ways that I incorporate patriotic music in my classroom.  I’ll talk about some activities, workstations and break down a song list by grade level. 

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Fermata Friday-John Williams

Today I'm linking up with Elizabeth Caldwell from Organized Chaos for Fermata Fridays.  This week I've decided to repost an oldie but a goodie!  This post (from February) celebrates the music of John Williams.  Enjoy!

John Williams is the composer of the month!  I love sharing the music of John Williams with my students as much as they love learning about it.  A big Star Wars fan, my students are always impressed with how much I know about the Star Wars world.  Don’t worry.  Although I know a Wookie from a Bantha, I am light years away from being an expert.  I do however, know a thing or two about the composer of the music for these movies.  I hope you’ll enjoy learning about a few resources and activities that I use when studying the music of John Williams.

When we do this activity, I’ll call my steady beat swords “steady beat light sabers”.  I’m the coolest teacher in school for about ten minutes!  For this activity we practice keeping the beat with a partner and then use our steady beat swords (a.k.a. pool noodles with duct tape make to look like swords).  I use “Imperial March” by John Williams.
I’ve blogged about this activity before.  You can read it HERE.

These glyphs were designed specifically for the music of John Williams.  I use them with 1st and 2nd grades (guiding them through the listening activity) and with 3rd through 6th grades.  My older kids often miss the opportunity to color so they enjoy being able to complete a listening journal in this manner.  Check out some of their great work!

Well, of course there’s a bulletin board!  I use this John Williams Composer of the Month set to display in my classroom. Actually, this time it was in the main hallway.  Around Christmas I found some great Star Wars wrapping paper that wasn’t too Christmasy and I used it to add some interest to the bulletin board.  The rest of the board was just print and post.  One of my classes completed the writing prompt that comes in this set with a substitute.

Now what are you waiting for?  It's time to celebrate the music of John Williams!
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What's on Your Wall?

Shhh!  I have a secret addiction this time of year.  Yes, caffeine laden drinks and mini candy bars, but something else too.  I love peeking into the rooms of other music teachers!  I've always been the only music teacher in my school so I can look at other classroom teachers' rooms but I never get to see what other music specialists' rooms look like.  Fortunately others feel the same way and I've got to peek into some on Instagram and Facebook. 

In this post I'll introduce you to my new favorite decor theme-cooking!  Be sure to read all the way through to the end to learn about a special opportunity to get FREE Bulletin Board Lady merchandise and to link up pictures of your classroom.

The cooking theme was really something I've been wanting to do for a while.  There are so many inexpensive ways to decorate your classroom that look clever and inviting.  The bulletin board above uses a tablecloth for the background and 6-inch paper plates for the border.  You can find it HERE.

Teacher friend, Jeaneau Julian, also posted this board.  I love her background color.  It really pops!  Here are a few more pictures from Jeaneau's classroom.  I love how she has everything set up.

When displaying the Treble Clef Staff set she used laminated strips of bulletin board paper.  So smart!

With the National Music Standards - Cooking Theme she grouped each of the "I Can" statements under their category.  I love the way she utilized the cork strips to attach the posters.  It is definitely a smart use of space!

In this picture you can see (from left to right) the dynamics set, the tempo set and part of the music symbols set.  This is such a colorful eye-catcher!  I must admit I can never line my things up so neatly.  It is why I give them that "collage" look.  

This picture show more of the music symbols set and on the filing cabinet you can see the Ensemble Posters.  This set reminds me a little of Veggie Tales.  Oooo!  I should definitely find my Bob and Larry puppets!

Outside of the music room she has displayed part of this bulletin board set.  I bet she'll swap out some of the pieces as the school year goes on.  In the spot at the bottom she will post her class schedule.  I'm crossing my fingers that she does it like a menu!  Thank you for sharing your classroom with us Jeaneau!  It is beautiful!

So, let's go overboard.  What do you say?  I love working with themes and want to share a few more cooking/food ideas with you to carry the theme even farther.  First, you may want to check out these blogposts:  Dip and Chips Workstations, Dip Tray Workstations (Instrument Families and Note Values, and Dip Tray Workstations Bottle Cap Pitches.  The novelty of these workstations keeps students engaged and they totally match the cooking theme!

These hard, plastic plates were being clearanced at Wal-Mart.  I got 4 for $ .88!  Need to post daily/weekly I can statements?  This was so easy.  I attached a number doughnut (FREE download here) to the plate with tap and secured them to the wall.  Command strips or hot glue would work well for this.  If you would prefer to take them off the wall to write on them use Velcro.

Post them so that they are easy to reach and write your "I Can" statements for the week.  I see each class once a week so this is an easy way to display them all.
Dry erase markers wipe off these plates easily.  If you leave it on for a long time you might consider using some of that whiteboard spray on them and wiping them clean.

Like most teachers I love my local dollar stores!  These plastic, metallic-looking, platters work create with a dry erase marker.  This would be great to put outside of your classroom door for notes or announcements.
 Oh!  I also love yard sales!  Look at my latest yard sale score - plastic lunch trays.  I found a pretty big box of these for three dollars.  I used the 3 compartment trays for the grade levels that have 2 classes and the 4 compartment trays for the grade levels that have 3 classes.  My weekly schedule can be posted in a most unusual way.

These trays allowed the marker to be wiped off, but not easily.  When I'm finished with them I'll probably use fingernail polish remover or maybe spray paint them with chalkboard paint for use in a workstation.  The grade level labels are available HERE for free.

Attach them to your wall with Velcro, Command Strips or hot glue.
This theme lends itself to repurposing all sorts of things from home.  A peach box is now a basket for markers.  If I get board with that I may paint it to look like a woven wicker basket.
These cans that used to house veggies have been converted to pencil cans.  The labels are a FREE download HERE.  Plastic tumblers or coffee cups would work well too.
The spoons are attached to some of the pencils with clear tape.  I'm thinking that this may help me lose fewer pencils.  Maybe.  I spray painted the spoons.  I wanted to do them in a variety of colors, but just had black on hand.  Next I added a few dots with acrylic paint and let them dry.

After they were dry I attached them to the pencil and they are ready to go.  Students can't use the eraser this way, but I keep a box of erasers for just that purpose.  I take a regular sized eraser and cut it into three pieces to make them last longer.

Most of the displays for this theme shown above can be found in the Music Classroom Decor Bundle here.

What's cooking in your classroom?  I'd love to take a look.  Here are a couple of ways that you can share.  

Link it Up

First, write a blog post and link up with my What's on Your Wall linky party (at the bottom of this post).  Show off your space with lots of pictures and be sure to tell us what we are looking at.  Post the following What's on Your Wall graphic somewhere in your blog post with a link back to this one.

Not a blogger?  Post ONE link to a classroom decor item that you have on your wall using the same linky.  Advertise on the social media platform of your choice with a link back to this post.

#Hash it Out

Post a picture of a Bulletin Board Lady product being used in your classroom to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with the hash tag #thebulletinboardlady.  Each week for the next month, I'll pick at least one winner a week (probably more!) by searching that hashtag.  Winners will receive merchandise that they select from my store.  Follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to stay in the loop!

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14 Unusual and Incredibly Fabulous Bulletin Board Borders

I love bulletin boards.  Have I mentioned that?  I love making my bulletin boards art.  I love putting art on my bulletin boards.  Heck...I'll put almost anything on my boards!  Here are a few ideas for quick and funky borders using some non-traditional items that you may have laying around your house.

Poker Chips

I use poker chips for several different things in my classroom, so I have quite a few on hand.  They make a great border, don't they?  If you have a metal edged board, you can use a glue gun to attach them.  If you are working with a board with a wooden frame, the hot glue may damage it.  Use glue dots.  I like to layer them for more visual appeal.  This bulletin board is a free download which feature the old national music standards.

Poker chips hold spray paint well.  I've spray painted them gold to use for the gold at the end of a St. Patrick's Day rainbow before and was pleased with the result.


I did a movie theme in my room once upon a time.  It was so fun to find new ways to use popcorn boxes and bags.  They are inexpensive to purchase (I got mine on Amazon.) and could be reused.  Popcorn boxes would be great for movie themed bulletin boards, popcorn words, etc...

I have plans to do something similar with small Chinese takeout boxes with my Instruments of China board.


It seems that it is completely impossible to keep a full deck of cards at my house.  Any kind of cards!  That's okay, because they look GREAT as borders for bulletin boards.  Uno, Phase 10 and regular playing cards work great for math bulletin boards, rhythm or time signature bulletin boards or maybe even a great trim for a bulletin board that showcases your daily schedule.

This set is from a Go Fish set of cards I picked up at the dollar store.  Love that they work so well with an ocean or beach theme.  Kids love to stop and look for matches even when they are displayed on a bulletin board.

Cupcake Papers 

This is one of my go to looks for making a display really pop.  There are so many varieties of cupcake papers available that you can find any color and any theme that you may need.  Flatten them out and staple them to your board. 

I've found that buying complimentary patterns and layering them can really be beautiful. 

When working with my rock star theme I wanted something metallic that would be a little flashy.  It turns out that there is a cupcake paper for that!  These little baking cups are so cute at the corners of my rock star alphabet display.  I added some glittery foam stickers to embellish them a little.  (Classroom teachers see the rock star theme HERE.  Music teachers see it HERE.)

Duct Tape 

It doesn't get any easier than this!  Look at what a great job duct tape does to cover this older bulletin board.  Check out your local discount store for tons of duct tape options.  The bulletin board above is from my Number Posters - Rock Star Theme.

This is another example of the versatility of duct tape.  This is a light blue glittery duct tape.  It is displayed on my Soar Into Music board.


This is SUCH an eye-catching display!  The bulletin board is Minecraft inspired and the Legos (or are these Duplos?) go with the building theme.  I used Scotch tape to attach them to my board.  For some of the pieces I just laid them on top of one piece and then taped the next block on it so that not every block is taped.  This may work better on a board that students can't easily touch.
(Classroom teachers take a closer look at the board HERE.  Music teachers HERE.)

Pool Noodles 

Those of you that have been following my blog for a while know that I have a great love for re-purposing pool noodles.  I've made ponies, steady beat swords and even workstations.  I also just cut them up to make great bulletin board borders!  For this fishy bulletin board I wanted them to imitate bubbles.  I've attached them with glue dots.  You could also use a low-temp hot glue gun to attach them.  This bulletin board is called Making Music Together.


They aren't just for note taking!  I often use these little gems to add content to bulletin boards.  They also make a great (and inexpensive) border.  The iPod pad shown above came from Wal-Mart and the composer bulletin board can be found HERE.

Paint Chips

Paint chips are free and are a perfect way to add visual interest to any bulletin board.  On the border above I chose to use two different kinds of paint chips and to create a pattern with them.  Paint chips look just as great mixed up and stapled in any order.  Staple them so they hang over the edge of the board and overlap.  You can learn more about the Let's Talk bulletin board HERE.


Even more than I love pool noodles in the classroom, I love plates!  When I packed up my room this year I marveled at my collection.  I have Zoo Pals (photo above), baseball plates, basketball plates, beach ball plates, watermelon plates, heart plates, square plates, Santa plates and more.  I also have colored plates in 3 different sizes and every color you can imagine.
I use them for movement and composition activities, but LOVE using them on bulletin boards.  I pick them up at discount stores, dollar stores and party supply places.  Here are a few examples.

The What's Cooking in Music board can be downloaded HERE.

The watermelon plates are so fun!  This year I found them in a larger, oval size.  This bulletin board is part of my Music Burger writing display.

Puzzle Pieces 

Shhh! Don't tell my daughter but sometimes I swipe her old puzzles for school projects!  In this instance, it was a jumbo Barney puzzle that had several missing pieces.  For the display below I just attached them to the board with glue dots.  You might be able to use Scotch tape too.  I have painted them before to match a bulletin board.

Tissue Paper 

Like many teachers I have created flowers and pom poms to decorate bulletin boards.  They have a huge visual punch and are relatively inexpensive to make.  It's very easy to just scrunch it up together and staple it around your board.  Creating enough tissue paper flowers to use around the edge of a bulletin board is also pretty, but time consuming.  Braiding long strips of tissue papers creates an interesting look and lets you coordinate your border with whatever colors you may need.

Odds and Ends  

Really, I'll put anything on a bulletin board.  I've used socks, fishing poles, candy, lights, my son's overalls and more.  For this movie themed bulletin board I used a few View Master reels to accent the corners.

Wrapping Paper 

In my bulletin board kits I often talk about using wrapping paper as a background for your bulletin boards.  It can be found in many themes and patterns and often stays bright and colorful without fading for several months.  Reversible wrapping paper can also be used to create borders.

As you are stapling the paper in place, leave about two inches overlap on each side.  Fold this down to reveal the back side of the paper and staple into place.

What unusual things have you put on your bulletin boards?  I'd love to hear about them or see a picture!

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