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10 Ways You Might Be Sabotaging Your Classroom Management


Why does classroom management seem to come easily to others while you are still struggling?  Why don’t the brilliant plans you read about work for you?  Why are you so stinkin’ exhausted at the end of every school day?  You might just be sabotaging your classroom management plan and not realize it.

Here are a few things to think about if you are struggling with classroom management.

Jumping in Without a Plan
Remember that old saying “Look before you leap!”?  That is good advice for classroom management too.  If you are starting your school year or semester without a plan for managing your classroom, you will end up struggling with it the entire time. 
Think about classroom procedures, how you will redirect students that are off-task, what attention getting signal you will use and what you’ll do when a student is out of control.  Write it down.  Thinking about it is a great start but write it down so that you have a reminder for your students and for yourself.

You may be sabotaging your classroom management and not even know it!  Learn how to figure out a plan that works with teacher tested techniques. Preschool, middle school, high school?  These strategies work for controlling transitions, talking and can set your substitutes up for success too.Fred Jones, author of Tools for Teaching, says that teachers with the best run classrooms spend most of the first two weeks teaching procedures and routines.  My favorite quote: "Do it right or do it all year long."

Being Inconsistent
It is hard for students to know what behavior is acceptable if you aren’t consistent with what you are telling them.  If it is not okay for students to interrupt your lesson to ask to go to the restroom, but someone does, and you let them go, smile and then continue your lesson, your students will assume that it is okay.  

When I first started teaching being consistent was exhausting.  Why?  Because I had rules for every single thing and I was running around like a crazy woman trying to enforce them.  After much reflection (and too many headaches) I realized that I just didn’t care about some things and I could let them go.  For example, I don’t mind if students are chatting during workstations or center time.  If they are working and completing their tasks, I WANT them to have conversations about that learning.  I don’t care if they get up and get a Kleenex without permission or if they sharpen their pencil when it needs it as long as they aren’t disruptive. I used to have a rule for all of those things and I didn't really want to enforce them.

Now I have three classroom rules and my life is easier: Respect yourself.  Respect others.  Respect the property of all.  This allows me to be more relaxed AND more consistent.

You may be sabotaging your classroom management and not even know it!  Learn how to figure out a plan that works with teacher tested techniques. Preschool, middle school, high school?  These strategies work for controlling transitions, talking and can set your substitutes up for success too.Trying to Be Like the Teacher Down the Hall
A great mentor can make you a better teacher, but what works for them may not work for you.  Don’t get bogged down by trying to imitate every great idea you see someone else do.  Find what works for you.


Laughing a Little Too Much
I like to laugh, and I like kids.  I especially like funny kids.  Sometimes I find it difficult not to smile or laugh when kids say something to get us off track.  Laughing too much or smiling and chasing those off-topic rabbits can derail a lesson.  Use quick phrases to keep it light to refocus your group before you have to hear twenty funny cat stories.  I use statements like “Great story!  Let’s get back to Beethoven now.”  or “Thanks for making me smile.  You know what else makes me smile? Music theory!”

Not Taking it to the Hall
Guilty.  On occasion I have corrected a student in public rather than taking it to the hall.  This can be embarrassing for the student and is not a good way to prevent this behavior from happening again.  It can build resentment toward you and others. Always try to correct a student in a private way if possible.  Speak quietly to them at their seat or call them to your desk.  Ask them to step outside of your classroom and chat with them there if possible.

When directing large groups or rehearsing intensely I will pause and say “David, please see me after class.  I need to talk to you.”  Although this is a signal to David to stop the behavior I’ve noticed, it doesn’t let others know what’s going on unless they noticed it too.  I often have students stay after class for positive reinforcement, treats from the goody box or personal messages of encouragement.

Being Front and Center
You may be sabotaging your classroom management and not even know it!  Learn how to figure out a plan that works with teacher tested techniques. Preschool, middle school, high school?  These strategies work for controlling transitions, talking and can set your substitutes up for success too.Stop it.  Move around the room.  Always be a few feet away.  Even as music teachers we can step away from the music stand and be closer to our students as they work and perform.  This stops misbehaviors before they start and gives you a chance to redirect students and help them individually.

Getting Emotional…In the Bad Way
Music is such a passionate thing.  Sometimes it gives me goosebumps or brings a tear to my eye.  Students are passionate too.  Sometimes they give me goosebumps or bring tears to my eyes.  Sometimes they make me want to stomp and scream!  Your students know when you are frustrated or upset.  Don’t let it get out of hand.  Take a break.  Sip some water.  Breathe.

Be honest with them.  Plenty of times I have a heart to heart with them and say “I really want to try this activity again because it is a great way to learn *insert whatever skill we are working on* but it is too loud and too chaotic.  I don’t feel like everyone can learn and I’m getting frustrated.  Let’s talk about what we can do to make it better this time.” It works more often than not and gives me a chance to sit down and use a quiet, calming voice.

Decorating a Classroom without the Students in Mind
I see my students once a week for 50 minutes.  They are in my room less time a week than they are in the restrooms!  So for many years I decorated for myself.  I used colors and themes that I liked because I was the only person that had to be in the room all day long every day.

When I started decorating with my students in mind I created rooms that were bright and colorful, but not dripping with text everywhere.  Some students are overwhelmed and will spend their entire class time reading your walls.  Keep it simple and useful.

When I thought more about what my students needed in my classroom I added flexible seating options for centers, an easy access point for getting supplies and positive messages for them to read and reread on the walls.  If you are interested in learning more about setting up your room you might enjoy this blog post:  Questions to Ponder as You Set Up Your Music Room

You may be sabotaging your classroom management and not even know it!  Learn how to figure out a plan that works with teacher tested techniques. Preschool, middle school, high school?  These strategies work for controlling transitions, talking and can set your substitutes up for success too.Making it Personal
When kids are angry, embarrassed, scared or frustrated they can say some pretty mean things.  It is a symptom.  Something is going on.  Maybe it is something you can see: They aren’t understanding what you are working on, they are being picked on or they have a physical need that isn’t being met.  Yes, they could be hangry or uncomfortable.  Maybe it is something you can’t see like the big fight mom and dad had last night.  Don’t take it so personal.  Be professional.  Move on.

This isn't to say that you should allow them to be disrespectful.  Speak to them privately if needed.  Then move on.

Not Making it Personal
I know I just said not to take things so personal, but this tip is for your relationship with the kiddos.  Get to know them.  Smile at them.  Ask questions.  Help them make connections.  As a specialist I feel like this one is hard.  I see students for such a short time each week and there often isn’t time to chat as we cram in curricular and performance goals.  
To combat this I go out of my way to chat with them before school in the hall, at lunch or recess or any other duty I may be assigned.  Students need to know you care in and out of the classroom.  This helps classroom management issues disappear.  Seek out that attention stealing student and start a conversation.  Compliment that shy student when you see them in the morning.  Make connections.

If you are a new teacher or a veteran teacher looking to up their game, you might enjoy this blog post too: Advice for the New Music Teacher.   You can do this.

 If you liked these ideas for classroom management PIN them for later!
You may be sabotaging your classroom management and not even know it!  Learn how to figure out a plan that works with teacher tested techniques. Preschool, middle school, high school?  These strategies work for controlling transitions, talking and can set your substitutes up for success too.



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Take Music Class Outside

Outside activities for music class can be just as engaging as activities that you plan for inside the music room.  Sing, dance, play and assess in the sunshine.  Nine practical ideas for beautiful days in music class.

Take your music classes outside!  No, not just for an extra recess.  Take them outside for an extra special music class!  When the days are sunny and warm, you can go outside to sing, dance, play and even assess.  Here are 9 practical ideas for beautiful days.

Outside activities for music class can be just as engaging as activities that you plan for inside the music room.  Sing, dance, play and assess in the sunshine.  Nine practical ideas for beautiful days in music class.

1.  Musical Hopscotch
There are plenty of ways to play musical hopscotch.  With a little sidewalk chalk, create a hopscotch board.  What you put inside each square depends on what skills you want students to practice.

Note Values:  Draw note with values from smallest to largest on the blocks if you wanted to work on note values. Students would pause on each block as they counted the notes or said the syllables.  Add multiple notes to get all the way to ten or create a hopscotch board in a different shape to accommodate your needs.
Solfege:  I created a hopscotch board (pictured above) with the syllables of a major scale.  I added sol and do in the spaces of 9 and 10 on the board.  To warm up, we hopped and sang the syllables ascending and descending.  Then the game started.  Students would roll their rock and skip whatever syllable it landed on.  They hopped through the board singing each syllable except the ones that were covered.  This game was challenging and so much fun.  What I discovered was that when I wasn't actively engaged with a group, their singing skills weren't very strong.
Pitch:  I haven't tried this with students but I would love to try a version where some students jumped and other students played corresponding Boomwhakers.  That would be lots of fun too!

Outside activities for music class can be just as engaging as activities that you plan for inside the music room.  Sing, dance, play and assess in the sunshine.  Nine practical ideas for beautiful days in music class.

2.  Treble Clef Twister
When I play Treble Twist Up in class, I use a shower curtain that I have created a treble clef staff on and students take off their shoes and play the game like regular Twister.  Outside the shower curtain could work, but it wasn't a different enough experience in my mind.  If you have a playground that has the large foam squares as the "floor" of the playground you could create a treble clef staff with chalk on it to play.  Another idea is to spray paint the staff onto a grassy area.  The next time the grass is mowed, the staff is erased.  (You might want to get permission before you do this!)  Add THIS spinner and you have a great outside game that reinforces pitch names.

Outside activities for music class can be just as engaging as activities that you plan for inside the music room.  Sing, dance, play and assess in the sunshine.  Nine practical ideas for beautiful days in music class.

3.  Yard Dice - Roll and Cover
I needed an excuse to buy a set of LARGE wooden dice.  *giggle*  Outside music class seems like a great reason!  I must confess that I already have a collection of large foam dice that I use inside and they would work perfect outside as well.  So, what do I do with them?  I use them with Roll and Cover worksheets.  In a milk crate, I pack a few clipboards, pencils and a stack of Roll and Cover worksheets.  This makes the entire station easy to transport and gives me a place to collect finished pages. Check out the Roll and Cover sets here:  Music Roll and Cover

4.  Parachute Games
Parachute games are perfect for outside music class.  My current music room doesn't have a high enough ceiling for very many parachute games so taking the activity outside is the only way I can use them.

When planning parachute activities think about using songs your students already know that utilize direction words like up, down, around, etc...   I like to use "The Noble Duke of York" and "The Itsy Bitsy Spider".

Add a football to the middle of the parachute and change the lyrics to "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean" and you have a fun singing parachute game. Just change the word "Bonnie" to "football".  Add more actions to make it even more challenging.

"Charlie Over the Ocean" is a fun song to sing with a parachute.  Before each round choose a weather forecast like: warm and sunny, windy, stormy, hurricane, blizzard, calm and cool.  Students sing and move the parachute to match the weather forecast.  It is even more fun to toss a ball in the middle and focus on keeping it on the parachute during any weather condition.

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Outside activities for music class can be just as engaging as activities that you plan for inside the music room.  Sing, dance, play and assess in the sunshine.  Nine practical ideas for beautiful days in music class.

5. Ukuleles
I am relatively new to teaching ukuleles, but they have proven to be a versatile instrument and are perfect for taking outside.  Take a few song books for students to work on in small groups or move your whole group instruction out to the lawn.


Outside activities for music class can be just as engaging as activities that you plan for inside the music room.  Sing, dance, play and assess in the sunshine.  Nine practical ideas for beautiful days in music class.

6.  Four Corners - Instrument Families
Four Corners is a game that has been around for a long time.  I use it to reinforce instrument families.  Draw the four corner boxes and in each one add the name of an instrument family.  One student calls out the name of an instrument and the players move to stand in the family box that it belongs in.  Anyone who is not in the correct box is out.

This game was great with second and third graders, but my 4th, 5th and 6th graders were too good!  To make it a little more complicated I created instrument cards for the caller to use.  I included many instruments from around the world, pictures of those instruments and then their name and family to make the game more interesting.  If the game gets to the point where no one gets out for 3 turns, then the caller turns around giving the players a chance to stand in ANY box and then chooses a family.  Anyone not in that family is out.  Play continues until there is one winner and that person becomes the new caller.


Outside activities for music class can be just as engaging as activities that you plan for inside the music room.  Sing, dance, play and assess in the sunshine.  Nine practical ideas for beautiful days in music class.

7.  Singing Rocks
Singing rocks are great inside or outside.  There's just something fun about taking them outside.  I explain how to make these rocks in this blog post:  Singing Rocks

Basically the rocks are used for singing improvisation.  Put the rocks in a bag or box that isn't easy to see into.  Pull out a rock and start singing about what is on the rock.  The song doesn't have to rhyme.  The next person pulls out another rock and continues the ballad by singing about what is on their rock.  This is a great way to introduce the idea of opera too.  I've used this activity as a workstation and as a whole group activity.

8.  Singing Games/Folk Dancing
Ah!  Finally enough room to do all of those dances as an entire class instead of a couple of different groups taking turn!  A sunny, grassy area is the perfect place for folk dancing and singing games.


9.  Music Symbols Chalk Drawings
My daughter and I love going outside to create chalk art and so do my students.  I give them a sheet with music symbols on it and challenge them to create art using ONLY music symbols.
 Purchase this as part of the Jazzy Jack-o-Lanterns bulletin board.
I love the results!  While students are creating I engage them in conversations about the symbols they are using.  Win!  Here are a couple of examples:
Outside activities for music class can be just as engaging as activities that you plan for inside the music room.  Sing, dance, play and assess in the sunshine.  Nine practical ideas for beautiful days in music class.
A tree composed of a whole note trunk.

Outside activities for music class can be just as engaging as activities that you plan for inside the music room.  Sing, dance, play and assess in the sunshine.  Nine practical ideas for beautiful days in music class.
I think this was really just a beautiful picture.  Although it wasn't a picture of something made with music symbols, it was a beautiful picture made only of music symbols.  The next picture is an example of one of "those" kiddos that technically followed the rules, but was obviously pushing the boundaries.  It made me laugh so while he was going to get more chalk to clothe the musical man below I snapped a picture.  I must admit that it was pretty good AND used only music symbols, but you know.


I hope that these ideas have inspired you to take your music class outside to enjoy a beautiful day.  Do you already take your classes outside?  I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments below.

If you like these ideas, PIN them for later.
Outside activities for music class can be just as engaging as activities that you plan for inside the music room.  Sing, dance, play and assess in the sunshine.  Nine practical ideas for beautiful days in music class.



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Musical May


Great ideas for showing musicals in your classroom and making it a special, educational event your students look forward to every year.  Great for music classrooms or any classroom! Musical theater is for everyone.
Make it a musical May!  Every May (sometimes every March if the year is shorter) I plan to show a musical to all of my classes.  Many students are not exposed to musicals at home and this is a great time to introduce them to a genre they may just fall in love with!
Top 5 Reasons to Have a Musical May
1.  Most students are not familiar with traditional musicals and introducing your students to them now can create a life long love of musical theater.
2.  It's May.  It is possible that your schedule is just crazy with rescheduled classes from testing, field trips, assemblies, end of the year dodge ball tournaments or whatever.  Musical May is a great way to give your kids awesome musical content with little prep and maximum flexibility.
3.  It doesn't really matter if you finish the musical or not.  If you do, awesome.  If you don't, encourage your students to finish the musical on their own.
4.  It's a great excuse to try out some flexible seating options to see it is for you.  Students can use rugs, cushions and other flexible seating options while watching the movie.
5.  Musicals make people happy.  Don't you need a little more happiness during what can be the most stressful month of they year?
Great ideas for showing musicals in your classroom and making it a special, educational event your students look forward to every year.  Great for music classrooms or any classroom! Musical theater is for everyone.
How to Make Musical May Special
I like to promote Musical May during the last week of April with signs posted around the school.  It's an easy and fun way to get students excited about it.  Sometimes I'll include quotes from the movie too.  For example before I showed "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" I hung up this sign:
Great ideas for showing musicals in your classroom and making it a special, educational event your students look forward to every year.  Great for music classrooms or any classroom! Musical theater is for everyone.
When Musical May (or March) begins, I create a mini bulletin board on my door to highlight it and post some general questions. These questions about the musical really spark some great discussions as students wait in the hall.  Even teachers and staff members pop their heads in on occasion to see if they could remember the answers.  Fun!
Great ideas for showing musicals in your classroom and making it a special, educational event your students look forward to every year.  Great for music classrooms or any classroom! Musical theater is for everyone.
Sometimes I'll have a little snack for students during one of the times they visit my classroom for Musical May.  At my local supermarket, they often have gigantic bags of popcorn for just a few bucks.  One bag per class was usually more than enough and it made Musical March feel like an event.  Another year (at a MUCH smaller school) I purchased ice pops for each class.  They were inexpensive and the lovely ladies of lunch stored them in their freezer until I needed them.  At another school I had an amazing PTO President that volunteered to come in every day for a week to pop enough popcorn for each student in music class.  What a blessing!
Weekly trivia questions over the intercom can be another way to make Musical May a special event.  Read the question and then give students a few second to think about it before giving the answer or have them drop their answers in a bucket or can and draw a winner for a small prize at the end of the day.
How to Make Musical May Educational
I do several things to make Musical May educational.  When working with third grade and up, they watch their musical with a viewing guide.  The viewing guides don't always focus on the musical aspects of the story, but more on setting, plot and interpreting the lyrics and motivations of characters.  
Great ideas for showing musicals in your classroom and making it a special, educational event your students look forward to every year.  Great for music classrooms or any classroom! Musical theater is for everyone.
When the musical is finished we may play a melody from the musical on Orff instruments, sing a song from the musical, write a parody of one of the songs or even write our own review of the musical.  Older students enjoy creating slideshows that show the history of the musical too.
Great ideas for showing musicals in your classroom and making it a special, educational event your students look forward to every year.  Great for music classrooms or any classroom! Musical theater is for everyone.

 With younger students, we watch the musical for part of the period and then do an activity from one of my sets.  They may write about a character or a song or do a coloring sheet.  They next time they come we will do the same thing.  We will watch the musical for most of the period and then do a short activity related to it.  I have found that this works best for younger learners.
Great ideas for showing musicals in your classroom and making it a special, educational event your students look forward to every year.  Great for music classrooms or any classroom! Musical theater is for everyone.
Making Musical May Happen
I have created several resources that you might find handy during your Musical May or Musical March.  They are all actually bundled up in one bundle in my store (or you can purchase just what you need too).  Check out this Musicals Mega Bundle which includes tons of resources for these musicals:
Wizard of Oz 
Oklahoma
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers 
The Sound of Music Mega Pack 
Mary Poppins Mega Pack of Activities 
The King and I Mega Pack of Activities 
Bye Bye Birdie Mega Pack of Activities 
Annie Mega Pack of Activities 
West Side Story
The Music Man
Singin' in the Rain

Other Musical Goodies:
My Book of Mary Poppins
My Book of The Wizard of Oz
Musicals Word Search Puzzles
Great ideas for showing musicals in your classroom and making it a special, educational event your students look forward to every year.  Great for music classrooms or any classroom! Musical theater is for everyone.

Frequently Asked Questions
Do you show the same musical to all grades?
Right now I am teaching 3rd, 4th and 5th grades so I do.  When I taught K-8 I showed two different musicals.  One for the lower grades and one for the upper grades.

Do your admins support this?
You bet.  I show them the worksheets and other activities that we will do with the musical and they are all on board.  Sometimes they'll sneak in to watch them too!

Do you need special permission to legally show a movie in class?
Yep.  In all likelihood, your district or building already has one.  Learn more about copyright for schools here.
Do you show the whole movie or just clips?
It really depends on many factors.  The group I am showing it to, the amount of time I have to celebrate Musical May and the length of the musical are all things I take into consideration.  As a general rule, yes.  I try to show the entire musical.
I hope that these ideas help you have a happy Musical May!  If you liked these ideas, 
pin them for later:

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STEAM in the Music Room: Makey Makey

The Makey Makey is a great invention tool!  Help your students use it in the music room with these music class tested ideas.  STEAM learning can be fun!

I'm a gadget girl.  I have always been a gadget girl.  My heart leaped the first time I saw the Makey Makey in action and I knew I had to give it a try.  Makey Makey is an electronic invention too.  It allows you to connect everyday objects to computer programs.  It uses a small circuit board, alligator clips and a USB cord to connect to your computer and the objects you choose.  Essentially it is creating an electric circuit and sends closed loop electrical signals to the computer.  The computer responds in virtually any app because the Makey Makey uses mouse clicks and key strokes.

The Makey Makey is a great invention tool!  Help your students use it in the music room with these music class tested ideas.  STEAM learning can be fun!

So what, right?  Well did I mention that it can connect to simple percussion and piano apps?  This let's you essentially play the piano on bananas, Play-Dough or even hot dogs.  FUN!  The Makey Makey can allow your students create new "instruments" to play with every day objects.

The Makey Makey is a great invention tool!  Help your students use it in the music room with these music class tested ideas.  STEAM learning can be fun!

The Makey Makey comes with instructions that are ridiculously easy to follow so I won't go into a step by step.  Basically you plug the USB cord into the Makey Makey and your computer.  You connect yourself to earth (which is a section on the circuit board) and then you connect the circuit board to some other object.  You can choose any of the arrow keys, space bar or click.  When you touch the everyday object (like a banana) you complete the circuit and the computer receives the command.

The Makey Makey is a great invention tool!  Help your students use it in the music room with these music class tested ideas.  STEAM learning can be fun!

Actually, you can connect to much more than just those basic six.  If you turn the circuit board over there are more options.  I have played with this advanced option but I haven't used it with students yet.  One of my struggles with STEAM lessons is that my students don't always have the tech skills that they need to complete projects like this.  To ensure student success, I have to plan time to teach the technical skills they will need and THEN we can focus on the musical part. 

In a perfect world, students would already have experience with the Makey Makey and understand the basics of how it works.  They would have experimented with different objects to see what choices conduct electricity.  They don't come to my classroom with these experiences under their belt. At least, most of them don't so I take the time to teach them about the science and the technology portions of this lesson.

I have created a few mats for students to use.  They contain the same notes as the Makey Makey piano.  I place some simple song sheets with them and students can play songs on marshmallows, hot dogs, gummy worms, etc...

After students are able to use the Makey Makey, the next step is to set them free!  Inspire students to compose a simple melody based on the objects they have connected to the computer.  For example you might challenge students to compose a melody with the Makey Makey connected to spoons and then also create a percussive ostinato on more spoons to play with it.  My students always love creating punny titles for their composition.  I imagine this one might be "SPOONlight Sonata" or "The Spoon Tune".  

Here are a couple of my favorite ideas:
The Makey Makey is a great invention tool!  Help your students use it in the music room with these music class tested ideas.  STEAM learning can be fun!
This composition was based on a Play Dough keyboard.  They used different colors of dough and formed them into different shapes and then connected the Makey Makey.  They used stick notation to indicate how many times to play each pitch.  The title is "Dough a Deer, A Playdo Deer".

The Makey Makey is a great invention tool!  Help your students use it in the music room with these music class tested ideas.  STEAM learning can be fun!

Can you guess what this composition was played on?  Gummy bears!  I love that they included a key at the bottom of their composition.

The Makey Makey is a great invention tool!  Help your students use it in the music room with these music class tested ideas.  STEAM learning can be fun!

The set that I have for the Makey Makey in my TpT store has 3 task cards for getting the Makey Makey setup and trying it out, 3 different staff and keyboard displays (I laminate these and students set their objects on the note they will play.), 4 simple songs and a workstation sign.  You can download it HERE.

You can find more information about the Makey Makey on their website.  If you liked these ideas, PIN them for later:
The Makey Makey is a great invention tool!  Help your students use it in the music room with these music class tested ideas.  STEAM learning can be fun!


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STEAM in the Music Room: Found Sounds

Learn how to use a found sounds box to engage your students in classifying and describing sounds, composing rhythm pieces and even creating their own new instrument. STEAM in the Music Room at its best.

Found Sounds Workshop has always been one of my favorite ways to teach about the science of sound.  Actually, this magic little box is more than just a toy box.  It is part of a larger, more comprehensive project that can end with instrument design and construction. 

Learn how to use a found sounds box to engage your students in classifying and describing sounds, composing rhythm pieces and even creating their own new instrument. STEAM in the Music Room at its best.

To begin, I collected many different items from around my classroom and home.  I made sure these items would be safe to use in the classroom, made an interesting sound and were not valuable items.  In considering safety I did not include forks, rubber bands or anything with a sharp, pointy edge.  I didn't include anything valuable because kids break stuff.

Learn how to use a found sounds box to engage your students in classifying and describing sounds, composing rhythm pieces and even creating their own new instrument. STEAM in the Music Room at its best.
 I also purchased a few items from the dollar store because I wanted them to be new.  For example, the scrub brush is a great addition to the Found Sounds Box, but a dirty one would not be fun!  I also purchased a couple of cheese graters (that were not very sharp) and some gum in a plastic wrapped container.  Every thing else was found at home or school.

Learn how to use a found sounds box to engage your students in classifying and describing sounds, composing rhythm pieces and even creating their own new instrument. STEAM in the Music Room at its best.

I wanted to make sure that I included 4 types of items:  shakers, strikers, scrapers and mallets.
Shakers:  gum or candy containers in their plastic wrapping, cups of ramen noodles, Tic Tacs, a box of paper clips (that I taped closed) and keys on a key chain.
Scrapers: cheese graters, wire cups, beaded necklace, metal jar ring, scrub brush and combs.
Strikers: small lids from deodorant, spray paint, perfume bottles, etc..., tins and small boxes, miscellaneous containers, toys or pieces from toys and cups.
Mallets: pencils, pens, straws, chopsticks, etc...

Learn how to use a found sounds box to engage your students in classifying and describing sounds, composing rhythm pieces and even creating their own new instrument. STEAM in the Music Room at its best.

Over the years, I've used several different kinds of boxes to store my found sound objects.  Right now I'm using a small file folder box.  Plastic shoe boxes are a great size to start with.

Activities

Learn how to use a found sounds box to engage your students in classifying and describing sounds, composing rhythm pieces and even creating their own new instrument. STEAM in the Music Room at its best.

I most often use the Found Sounds Workshop as a workstation.  Students can complete one activity in the time they have at this center.  I have worksheets that ask students to categorize objects by how they make the best sound: strike, shake or scrape.  Other worksheets as them to distinguish between pitch and unpitched, high and low and what material they are made of.  Students love exploring the different objects in the box and often come up with some creative ideas for how to use them.

This activity works well with a variety of grade levels.  With Kindergarten and 1st grade they often drew pictures of the objects than coming up with a name or description for them.  My 4th and 5th graders were able to name (sometimes with great detail) the objects in the box.

   

After students have had an experience with classifying the objects in the box, the next activity is to create a composition and perform with their found sounds.  I've experimented with this activity and discovered that it saves a great deal of time if I give them a framework that their composition can be created within.  This includes a 16 block grid with room for writing/drawing their "instrument" choice.  With some classes I chose to complete most of the grid for them so that they only have a few choices to make.  This really is just a time saver, as students are able to complete the entire composition themselves.  This ensures that everyone is ready for performance during the same class period.

The composition worksheets and all of the ones I've mentioned above are available for download HERE.

Learn how to use a found sounds box to engage your students in classifying and describing sounds, composing rhythm pieces and even creating their own new instrument. STEAM in the Music Room at its best.

After students have completed the composition and have experience with what works best, it is time to create their own instrument by combining found objects.  I've done this many different ways.  If your school has a dedicated maker space, you may already have all of the raw materials that you will need.  If not you'll want to send out requests to co-workers, parents and possibly some local factories for items your students can use for instrument construction.  I have a large list of items that you can reproduce and send home with your students in the Found Sounds Workshop download in my TpT store.

One way to approach this project is to have students examine the materials that they have available to them and then sketch a design for an instrument.  (I have them use a planning sheet during this part of the project.)  Another way is to have them dream up a great idea, sketch it and make a list of needed supplies.  Next, students find their supplies from your found sounds collections, recycle bins or from their homes.   This way allows students the most creative experience but depending on students to bring in the needed supplies can cause problems.

In a small school district that I worked in, I had students complete their instruments at home and bring them in to class.  This was mostly successful, but it was quite obvious which students did the work and which students' parents did the work.  

If you are interested in using the worksheets that I use, they are available for download HERE.

Found Sounds Workshop by The Bulletin Board Lady-Tracy King Found Sounds Workshop by The Bulletin Board Lady-Tracy King


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Learn how to use a found sounds box to engage your students in classifying and describing sounds, composing rhythm pieces and even creating their own new instrument. STEAM in the Music Room at its best.


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STEAM in the Music Room: StikBots

STEAM in the Music Room Use StikBots to create easy stop animation videos in your music classroom.  Simple and intuitive to use, your students will be stars in no time!

Scientific and technological innovations continue to become increasingly important in our every day lives. To succeed in our new information-based and highly technological society, students need to develop their capabilities so much more than what was considered acceptable in the past.  As schools around the world focus on STEM initiatives, forward thinkers are looking to the arts to strengthen this focus to STEAM.

As music educators, how to we incorporate the idea of career readiness and technological proficiency in our lessons?  How do we provide problem solving, project based learning activities when we see our students one time a week for 50 minutes?  I must admit that I don't know all of the answers.  I'm about to embark on a STEAM journey and am inviting you to join me.  I'll be sharing some of my ideas for incorporating science, technology, engineering and math into my classroom.

STEAM in the Music Room Use StikBots to create easy stop animation videos in your music classroom.  Simple and intuitive to use, your students will be stars in no time!

I picked up my first set of StikBots at Target months and months ago.  I had a few ideas about what I wanted to do with them and then life happened and they just sat on a shelf looking at me with their half-smiles, waiting for me to pick them up.  When I did, I was delighted with how easy they were to use!

STEAM in the Music Room Use StikBots to create easy stop animation videos in your music classroom.  Simple and intuitive to use, your students will be stars in no time!

The studio pack comes with two StikBots, a simple tripod and a green screen stage.  I sat it up in just a few minutes and downloaded the app for my phone.  I was creating my first stop animation video before I knew it!  If you would rather not just jump in, you might like to watch this Stikbot tutorial I found on YouTube.

STEAM in the Music Room Use StikBots to create easy stop animation videos in your music classroom.  Simple and intuitive to use, your students will be stars in no time!

Although the StikBot figures are an obvious choice for creating your videos, you can actually use anything!  Barbies, figurines, LOL dolls, stuffed animals, action figures are great.  Be creative!  Try salt shakers, rocks, Play Dough blobs, shoes or whatever you want!

For class I chose to use the Stikbots because it eliminated one of the decisions that that students would need to make and it created the same experience for each group. Due to limited time, I had to plan for students to be able to find success in creating a video with as few choices as they could.  With more time, allowing them to choose different characters or even creating their own would be an excellent addition to these lessons. 

STEAM in the Music Room Use StikBots to create easy stop animation videos in your music classroom.  Simple and intuitive to use, your students will be stars in no time!

I had enough sets of the studio packs to divide my students into several groups.  I also had enough old phones with wifi that I could bring in on the days we worked with StikBots.  I've sent out a few requests to friends and family members for old phone donations.  I hope to get enough so that I don't have to bring mine in each time I want to use them.  If your students are allowed to use their own phones at school you may have a student volunteer to use their phone and just message or email their video to you when they are finished.

With minimal instruction, here's a video my 6 year old daughter made in just a few minutes.


When using Stikbots with students, their first experience with them is learning how to use them.  They can create any kind of video with them.  We take enough shots for a 9-15 second video.  This doesn't sound like much, but it takes quite a few photos of slightly different moves to create a video of this length.  I want students to understand how much they need to move the Stikbots and I want them to experiment and make mistakes.  Sometimes the best way to gain understanding is to make many mistakes and keep going!

After students have taken all of the shots they need, they can view their video and discuss things that need improving and things that worked well.  The next project that they do, they can include a background and music.  There are several different backgrounds included and there are also a few music tracks that work well with a variety of scenes.

This video uses one of the Stikbot animal characters and a picture of the elementary school outside my front window.

So, what can students use Stikbots for in music class?  Here are a few ideas:
1.  Demonstration of an original dance they have created.
2.  Demonstration of movement concepts like time, space, flow, shape, levels, pathways and more.
3.  Demonstration of a folk dance or play party game.
4.  Choreography for a song they are working on in class.
5.  Commercial and jingle for a teacher given scenario.  (Create a commercial and jingle to sell product X.)
6.  Music advocacy videos for promoting MIOSM
7.  Composer interviews.  (You can purchase sticker packs for the Stikbots or add your own details to them to create the composer of your choice.)
8.  Tips on performance posture.
9.  Music Theory Hour -discuss an element of music.
10.  Write a parody and create a video for it.  (Try this parody writing kit.)

There are SO many possibilities for using Stikbots in music class.  If you've tried it, I would love to learn how you are using them!

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STEAM in the Music Room Use StikBots to create easy stop animation videos in your music classroom.  Simple and intuitive to use, your students will be stars in no time!




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