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Teaching the "KNACK" of Note Reading

Learn a fun manipulative for teaching rhythm called Note Knacks.  Use them as a whole class visual aid, in small groups or workstations.  So much fun!

I am always on the look out for manipulatives that keep students engaged.  If you are a regular reader of my blog you know that I am also found of manipulatives that work well as part of workstation rotations.  In this blog post I am going to talk about the awesome blocks called Note Knacks.  (This is not a sponsored post, I just LOVE these!)
Learn a fun manipulative for teaching rhythm called Note Knacks.  Use them as a whole class visual aid, in small groups or workstations.  So much fun!

Note Knacks are wooden blocks that are strategically cut so that note value is represented by block length.  So a half note is half the size of a whole note and a quarter note is half the size of a half note and so on.  The set comes with 3 different frames to hold the Note Knacks.  They measure 4 beats, 3 beats and 2 beats.  One side of the block has a note and the back side has the corresponding rest.  
Learn a fun manipulative for teaching rhythm called Note Knacks.  Use them as a whole class visual aid, in small groups or workstations.  So much fun!

I am lucky enough to have a magnetic set of Note Knacks and I keep them on my dry erase board.  They are much larger so that they can be seen by an entire classroom.  I've used them to decipher rhythms in familiar songs and to create ostinatos for various activities.  I've also used them in workstations.

Learn a fun manipulative for teaching rhythm called Note Knacks.  Use them as a whole class visual aid, in small groups or workstations.  So much fun!

For the workstation, I had one student sit at a desk with the wooden blocks.  We put up an empty notebook to create a privacy screen.  The student at the desk composes a rhythm and then claps it for the rest of the group.  The other group members re-create the rhythm using the magnetic blocks on the board.  Students LOVED using the blocks.

I must admit that I like using them too!  There is something lovely about they way they feel and being a visual learning, I totally dig the visual representation of duration.
Learn a fun manipulative for teaching rhythm called Note Knacks.  Use them as a whole class visual aid, in small groups or workstations.  So much fun!
I've also had students trace the outline of the blocks on long strips of bulletin board paper.  I only have one set of the blocks, so I could only do this activity with small groups as they rotated through workstations.  I hope to get a few more sets because I have SO many ideas I want to try out!

I bet I know what you are thinking.  Couldn't you just make something similar?  Well, sure.  I've made Noodle Notes which are similar.  The tactile experience of Note Knacks is what I like.  I mean, who doesn't like playing with blocks?

You can get Note Knacks from Rhythm Band Instruments.  If you liked these ideas PIN this post for later!
Learn a fun manipulative for teaching rhythm called Note Knacks.  Use them as a whole class visual aid, in small groups or workstations.  So much fun!

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Fidget Spinners in Music Class

Fidget spinners can be a useful and exciting manipulative for music class.  Your students can use them as regular spinners or as timers to practice their musical knowledge assessment.  Wow your administrator with fidget spinning assessment!  Music teacher WIN!

There seems to be a great debate among parents and educators about the value of fidget spinners in the classroom.  This blog post is NOT about that.  Instead, I'd like to share with you a few ways that you can use the spinners for practice and assessment in music class.

I've created a set of activities that use the fidget spinner as a timer and as...well...just as a spinner!  The best way to show you how to use them is in this video below.





You can find the Music Fidget Spinner Fun set HERE.  Enjoy!

Fidget spinners can be a useful and exciting manipulative for music class.  Your students can use them as regular spinners or as timers to practice their musical knowledge assessment.  Wow your administrator with fidget spinning assessment!  Music teacher WIN!



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Flexible Seating in Music Class

Flexible Seating in the Music room is a great idea for all of your classes!  Learn about what solutions worked best from this veteran teacher and how to add inexpensive options to your classroom.

I am a big fan of thinking outside  of the box.  I am also a big fan of helping my students do exactly the same thing.  This year I considered ways that I could help meet their individual needs more completely during music class.  Although I plan lessons and workstations that are differentiated, I was interested in using flexible seating that would also meet their needs.  In most of my previous classrooms I have had a large rug or a carpeted room.  This automatically meant that I had two good seating choices:  chairs or the carpet.

In my current classroom my floor is completely tiled.  I teach only grades 3-5 so I'm not sure that I want to put out several hundreds of dollars for a large rug.  In my K-6 classroom, I used it most often with K-2.  I think eventually I may get one, but it is not at the top of the wish list.

At the beginning of the school year I read a brilliant blog post from Aileen Miracle about flexible seating in the music room.  You'll definitely want to check it out.   This was just the motivation that I needed to start implementing my own plan for flexible seating in my classroom.  For me, the most obvious way to get started was to add multiple seating options to my workstations rotations.  I plan workstations about every 4th or 5th class period so this would give me time to add new seats or remove ones that didn't work between workstation days.
Flexible Seating in the Music room is a great idea for all of your classes!  Learn about what solutions worked best from this veteran teacher and how to add inexpensive options to your classroom.

On a typical day, my classroom looks like this.  I have three rows of chairs that have a wide aisle down the middle.  This allows me to be in close proximity to any student within just a few steps.  When I have students in centers I focus on putting them around the edges of the room and possibly one in the middle if I need the space.  

Stools
The first new seating option I added were these awesome stools from Five Below.
Flexible Seating in the Music room is a great idea for all of your classes!  Learn about what solutions worked best from this veteran teacher and how to add inexpensive options to your classroom.
 These are NOT wobble stools and I found that I had to remind students not to rock them back and forth.  They are pretty sturdy, but some of my 5th graders are adult sized and I didn't want them to bend and break.  I bought stools that were all the same color so there wouldn't be arguments about getting a specific color.
Flexible Seating in the Music room is a great idea for all of your classes!  Learn about what solutions worked best from this veteran teacher and how to add inexpensive options to your classroom.
In this station above, students are working with a magnetic set of Note Knacks on a dry erase board.  Not pictured is a student at a table with the original Note Knacks which are wooden blocks.  They are creating a secret rhythm and the rest of the group is recreating that with the Note Knacks on the dry erase board.  Rhythm Band Instruments carries Note Knacks.  You can get them HERE.

Lap Trays
Flexible Seating in the Music room is a great idea for all of your classes!  Learn about what solutions worked best from this veteran teacher and how to add inexpensive options to your classroom.
These lap trays were my next addition.  I actually have 5 of them, but this class only needed 3 for each rotation.  The lap trays are from Hobby Lobby and were $6 each.  I think they would be great for leaving supplies for a center too.  You could put worksheets in the middle, clipboards in the large hole and pencils, rhythm sticks or whatever in the smaller compartments.  I bought all the same color for the same reason my stools are the same color.

Rugs
Flexible Seating in the Music room is a great idea for all of your classes!  Learn about what solutions worked best from this veteran teacher and how to add inexpensive options to your classroom.
 I think these are my favorite new option for flexible seating and they are the easiest to find and use.  These rag rugs are from Five Below.  They are large enough to fit students and an activity.  When we are finished using them, I have students roll them up and store them at the front of the classroom.  On days when we are watching a video, students can stack their chairs and sit on a rug instead.
Flexible Seating in the Music room is a great idea for all of your classes!  Learn about what solutions worked best from this veteran teacher and how to add inexpensive options to your classroom.
I think that I will pick up a few smaller rag rugs from a dollar store to use for individual seating options.  They are inexpensive and clean well if needed.

 Interlocking Foam Mats
Flexible Seating in the Music room is a great idea for all of your classes!  Learn about what solutions worked best from this veteran teacher and how to add inexpensive options to your classroom.
I've seen these mats around forever and really hadn't considered them useful in my classroom until this year.  When they are separate, they are great for individual seating.  When they are together they are perfect for small group work.  The set that I chose has four different colors.  This was PERFECT for sorting pictures of instruments into their instrument families.  It would also be great for creating 4 part canons or rhythmic pieces for 4 different instruments.
Flexible Seating in the Music room is a great idea for all of your classes!  Learn about what solutions worked best from this veteran teacher and how to add inexpensive options to your classroom.
I also love the way these foam mats very clearly define the space for workstations.  

 Just the Floor
Flexible Seating in the Music room is a great idea for all of your classes!  Learn about what solutions worked best from this veteran teacher and how to add inexpensive options to your classroom.
Why not?  The PE teacher does it every day!  Sometimes there just isn't a good way to put down a rug, stool or mat and that's okay.  This station is my Xylophone Composing Station.  We used the piano as a long music stand to hold the cards and students sat on the floor with their instruments.

Pillows
Flexible Seating in the Music room is a great idea for all of your classes!  Learn about what solutions worked best from this veteran teacher and how to add inexpensive options to your classroom.
Oddly enough, this was the toughest flexible seating option to find for my classroom.  I wanted something that an adult sized booty could sit on, but also had to be able to be wiped down or laundered with ease.  So many of the pillows I found would not be easy to clean and to get them large enough were too expensive.  Once again Five Below to the rescue!  These cushions are large and thick and only $5!  They are also covered in polyester which is easy to wipe down and dry quickly. 

Carts and Tall Tables
Flexible Seating in the Music room is a great idea for all of your classes!  Learn about what solutions worked best from this veteran teacher and how to add inexpensive options to your classroom.
Not every option for flexible seating needs to be actual seating.  I found that students really enjoy standing workstations and the more I researched flexible seating the more options I saw for creating them.  I have a rolling cart in my classroom that is perfect for a standing workstation.  I just wheel it to the area I want the station to be and put the supplies on it.  Easy!

What Didn't Work
So, I tried a few things that did not work well for me.  I may try them again some day, but right now they are back in storage.
1.  Yoga Mats - These adorable mats were comfy and inexpensive.  They were also much more than my students could handle.  They picked at them and left piles of little mat pieces every where.
2.  Lawn Chairs - I had several collapsible, camping chairs that I tried.  These are the kind made with a thick polyester material over a metal frame and can be stored in a bag with a shoulder strap.  The students liked these, but I didn't have a neat and tidy way to store them.  I also had a few students fall over in them.  I know.  I don't exactly know how that happened either but since I wasn't sure I liked them anyway, I took them home.

Flexible Seating Wish List
There are several seating options that are on my wish list.
1. Yoga Balls - My PE teacher has these and puts them in regular milk crates for Drums Alive.  So much fun!  I would love to have these in my classroom, but just don't have a place to store them.
2. Crate Seats - I think this may be a summer or weekend project.  I love the idea of creating a neat set of crate seats that can be used for seating and storage.  They stack easily so they should be easy to store.
3.  Wobble Chairs - I would love to have 4 or 5 of these for my classroom!  Right now it is really just their expense.  Each of these awesome seats can be $60-70.
4.  Bean Bags - I think these would be a great addition because they would be easy to clean and add a punch of color.  For me, figuring out a way to store them would prove problematic.
5.  Carpet Squares - I've used carpet squares before and really enjoyed them.  It might be possible to get these donated from a local carpet dealer.


I hope that you find these ideas helpful as you consider how to implement flexible seating in your classroom.  If you are already using flexible seating, I'd love to hear about the ideas that have worked in your classroom.

Flexible Seating in the Music room is a great idea for all of your classes!  Learn about what solutions worked best from this veteran teacher and how to add inexpensive options to your classroom.





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Teacher's Summer To-Do List


Been out of school for weeks, counting down your last days or right in the middle of a term I hope that you'll find my summer to-do list inspiring.  I've really thought about this list and I commit to trying to do everything single thing on it.

1.  I am going to take a nap in the afternoon.  Maybe every afternoon.  I may even start the nap before noon.  Just because I can.
2. I'll eat breakfast sitting at a table, maybe even the patio table.  I won't shove food from my fist to my mouth as I frantically try to make it to work on time
3.  I will have longish and meaningful conversations with grown-ups. 
4.  I will pee at will. AT WILL. 
5. I will cook real meals with real ingredients that require more attention than a microwave or crock pot. I mean microwaves and crock pots are fine, but it might be a treat to eat something that I didn't have to cook all day or cook in just a few seconds.
6.  I will go braless and shoeless for days and not care at all.
7.  I will go out on Friday evenings in cute and completely impractical shoes and not worry about getting rocks and tire from the playground in them.
8.  I will replace the fumes of bus duty with the fragrant and inspiring fumes of my essential oil diffuser that I can't use at school.
9  I will not care when I have to count backwards from church day to figure out which day of the week it is.
10.  I will lay in the sunshine and read something funny, smutty or both and not feel guilty about it.
11.  I will not say "Show me your hallway expectations." not even one single time.
12.  I will stay up late and bask in the great world of late night TV, weird infomercials and interesting text conversations with people who can stay up late like me.
13.  I will shop for groceries in the middle of the day.  IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY.  And when I shop for groceries in the middle of the day I will take my time and fill my cart with food I can cook for a normal amount of time.  (See #5.)
14.  I will take extraordinarily long showers at any time of the day I choose.  Heck...I might even skip a few days.
15.  About two weeks before back to school time I will allow myself to start obsessing about my classroom.  Not before that.  Not even if the back to school sale ads come out early.  Not even if I make it to IKEA for the first time.  Not even if a dump truck load of beautiful school supplies is dumped onto my porch.  (Okay...well.....maybe that last one.)
16.  I will listen to whatever kind of music I want.  Loudly.  I won't screen it for cuss words. I am such a rebel.
17. I will spend time near water.  Maybe I'll reflect on my school year or reflect on my reflection or maybe I'll just throw rocks in the creek.  Maybe I'll just breathe in the fragrant, intoxicating scent of chlorine and dream of endless summers.  Maybe I'll join that Aqua Zumba class.  Bwahahaha...uhm...maybe.
18.  I will be thankful for a job I love and sunny days to share with my awesome family..






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Confessions of a Border Hoarder

Hello. My name is Tracy and I am a bulletin board border hoarder.  And I just don't care!  Read this article to learn how I turned my crazy wad of borders into an organized system of beauty.

The first step is to admit that I have a problem.  Seriously....how can having so many beautiful borders be a problem?  It is definitely NOT a problem.  The real problem here isn't my huge collection of borders, but how I'm storing them.

I am about to share something very personal with you.  Something that I just don't show anyone.  It's dark.  It's messy.  It might even make you think less of me.  This is how I store my borders.  Don't scroll down unless you really think you can handle it.


Hello. My name is Tracy and I am a bulletin board border hoarder.  And I just don't care!  Read this article to learn how I turned my crazy wad of borders into an organized system of beauty.

It was a really long box that some specialty paper I ordered came in.  When it was barely full, this was a great and inexpensive solution.  Well...it was great for about 2 weeks.   I just kind of laid the borders in after I pulled them down and dug through them to find what I needed.  It created a beautiful mess.

Hello. My name is Tracy and I am a bulletin board border hoarder.  And I just don't care!  Read this article to learn how I turned my crazy wad of borders into an organized system of beauty.

Look at that!  Isn't it beautiful?  Can you see the bright colors, the brilliant designs, the clever, realistic images, the wavy scrolls of happiness?

It was pretty and it was fun to dig through but it really took an enormous amount of time to find what I wanted.  More importantly, it was quite a distraction.  As I started digging for the border I was looking for I would find a couple of packs of border that I bought with a specific bulletin board in mind and would start dreaming of that instead of searching for whatever I was in there for.  It is like going into Target for just one thing.  *laughing*  I can't even type that without laughing!

Recently I decided to organize my bulletin boards.  I would love to say that I researched it for hours, but nope.  I had a few great blog posts about this topic pinned.  You might enjoy reading about David Row's tidy organization tips or this cute container idea from the Primary Peach.  I didn't use those ideas.  I knew what I wanted.

Hello. My name is Tracy and I am a bulletin board border hoarder.  And I just don't care!  Read this article to learn how I turned my crazy wad of borders into an organized system of beauty.

I wanted a way to organize my borders by theme.  I considered a large under the bed plastic container, but the ones that I found wouldn't accommodate my longest borders and they did not have a flat bottom. This meant that if I used it, the borders would still be a little messy.

My local teacher had a solution that worked with how I wanted to organize them.  I bought 4 long border boxes and one set of dividers for these boxes.  Then the real work started.  In the picture about you can see some of my sorting.  I decided to put the borders in four different categories: Music (because I teach music), Rainbows/Patterns, Seasonal and Solids, Everything Else

This worked for my collection and worked with how I think about bulletin board displays.  You may need to choose a different way to organize based on your classroom needs.  For example your categories might be: Reading, Math, Nature, Solid and Patterns 

Hello. My name is Tracy and I am a bulletin board border hoarder.  And I just don't care!  Read this article to learn how I turned my crazy wad of borders into an organized system of beauty.

I must admit.  It is a little weird to see my wild, curly, colorful borders all lined up and standing at attention.  It is also wonderful!  I can flip through my categories and find what I need or just be inspired.  Yep.  That's right I let the borders inspire me!

Hello. My name is Tracy and I am a bulletin board border hoarder.  And I just don't care!  Read this article to learn how I turned my crazy wad of borders into an organized system of beauty.

Another confession:  I threw away old, yucky borders.  I threw away those little plastic sleeves that held one bulletin board border from ten years ago.  I threw away pieces of borders that had been cut to size, because seriously...what size was that board?  I'll never remember.  I threw away my old, beloved box.  I actually found fifty cents at the bottom of the box, so I bought myself a soda when I was finished.  That was nice.


Hello. My name is Tracy and I am a bulletin board border hoarder.  And I just don't care!  Read this article to learn how I turned my crazy wad of borders into an organized system of beauty.

Look at the pretty home my borders live in now!  Now that they are organized I have room to buy MORE borders.  That makes me happy.

Hello. My name is Tracy and I am a bulletin board border hoarder.  And I just don't care!  Read this article to learn how I turned my crazy wad of borders into an organized system of beauty.

Now that my borders are organized I have to do something with all of my other bulletin board goodies.  How do I store tablecloths, paper plates in lovely designs, notepads, recorders, posters...I think I've even got a pair of overalls in there.  I think this will have to be a project for another school year.

Hello. My name is Tracy and I am a bulletin board border hoarder.  And I just don't care!  Read this article to learn how I turned my crazy wad of borders into an organized system of beauty.

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Lap Packs - How to Use Them and Why You'll Want To

Lap Packs are inexpensive ways to get students writing in music class.  Customize them to include exactly what your music students need.  This article has some great ideas for their use and FREE downloads!

I am a a big fan of writing in my music classes.  You'll probably notice as you browse through this blog that I use many different strategies for incorporating writing.  I use exit tickets, oral writing, group paragraphs, writing prompts and more.  Most of these tools are for writing about music, not actually writing notation.  Lap packs are my go-to tool for writing notation in my classroom. 

Lap Packs are inexpensive ways to get students writing in music class.  Customize them to include exactly what your music students need.  This article has some great ideas for their use and FREE downloads!

Lap Packs are my name for page protectors stuffed full of templates.  I have 3 or 4 sheets per page protector and most of them have a template on front and back.  I use a piece of cardstock or two when I am making the copies so the lap packs are pretty sturdy and can just be used on a lap.  No clipboard or desk needed! 

Lap Packs are inexpensive ways to get students writing in music class.  Customize them to include exactly what your music students need.  This article has some great ideas for their use and FREE downloads!
When I first started using lap packs, I paid extra for page protectors that were described as "high quality" and "extra thick".  Yeah....turns out that the cheap ones work just as well!  Some years I switch out 2 or 3 page protectors and other years I switch out 30 or 40.  It really depends on my students, how often I leave lap pack activities for my sub to use and how diligent we are when erasing them.  

I use regular dry erase markers and we erase with a piece of a paper towel.  I get a pack of paper towels from the custodians and then cut them in thirds.  We don't erase very much so the small piece of paper towel is more than enough.  Someday I'd like to buy something else to use as an eraser, but until then this free option works well.

I store my lap packs in a magazine box.  I encourage students to put them back in the box with the open side on top.  When others pull out a lap pack with the open side on top they don't lose all of the pages on their way to their seat.

Lap Packs are inexpensive ways to get students writing in music class.  Customize them to include exactly what your music students need.  This article has some great ideas for their use and FREE downloads!
Most of the sheets in my lap packs have two sides.  This just makes it easier for me when copying and it also makes it easier to have students change the sheets that are on top.  

On one sheet I have a large staff (no clef).  We use this with bottle caps for learning pitch names and melodic dictation.  I also use this side to introduce line notes and space notes with younger grades and for composing simple ostinatos.  The back side of this sheet contains 2 smaller staves.

Lap Packs are inexpensive ways to get students writing in music class.  Customize them to include exactly what your music students need.  This article has some great ideas for their use and FREE downloads!

The green sheet contains a set of body percussion staves.  I like to use different colored pages because it helps students find the sheet they need and switch them quickly.  The back of this page (pictured below) contains a graphic organizer.  This graphic organizer is great for instruments of the orchestra, SATB, identifying characteristics of a musical and more.  

Lap Packs are inexpensive ways to get students writing in music class.  Customize them to include exactly what your music students need.  This article has some great ideas for their use and FREE downloads!

Another page (copied on pink paper) contains 4 beat boxes.  Okay, you can call them whatever you want, but I call them beat boxes because each box represents one beat.  In the picture below you'll see that beneath the beat boxes there are two lines.  I use this sheet for composition projects using sol/mi or sol/mi/la.  Students draw a quarter note or barred eighth notes in one of the beat boxes and then draw note heads on the lines to indicate sol or mi.  Students are immediately successful and there are many activities you can do with their compositions.

Lap Packs are inexpensive ways to get students writing in music class.  Customize them to include exactly what your music students need.  This article has some great ideas for their use and FREE downloads!

Lap Packs are inexpensive ways to get students writing in music class.  Customize them to include exactly what your music students need.  This article has some great ideas for their use and FREE downloads!

On the flip side of the pink page is Martha Stanley's Mighty Music Grid.  I use this grid for SO many things.  My favorite activity for this grid is rhythmic dictation.  For Kindergarten classes we practice writing quarter notes and quarter rests and clapping our patterns with a friend.  In 1st grade we create sound songs by drawing symbols for various sounds and body percussion in each block.  In other classes we take rhythmic dictation just like you did in college.  I clap a rhythm, they echo and write it down.  Students love the challenge of matching my pattern and become quite skilled at deciphering rhythm patterns.

Lap Packs are inexpensive ways to get students writing in music class.  Customize them to include exactly what your music students need.  This article has some great ideas for their use and FREE downloads!

I also include a blank sheet in each lap pack.  This page has been used with my youngest students to illustrate what they have heard.  With older students we have created vocal exploration patterns, choreography, graphic organizers and flow charts and listening maps. 

 The picture below was an example from a 5th grader.  Okay...this wasn't just an average student.  This student went above and beyond and created a pretty amazing listening map for the overture from William Tell.  I'm not exactly sure what the question marks were for, but they worked well with the song.
Lap Packs are inexpensive ways to get students writing in music class.  Customize them to include exactly what your music students need.  This article has some great ideas for their use and FREE downloads!

If you are looking for a way to incorporate any of these activities but hate getting bogged down with shuffling papers and stacks of pages to grade, I would definitely recommend using lap packs and dry erase markers.  Instead of grading papers, I walk around the classroom and make notes on my attendance sheet and record points later.  This makes assessment easy for me and stress free for students.

So have I convinced you of the awesomeness of lap packs?  Try them out!  I put together a few of my favorite pages for you to try in your classroom.  Follow THIS LINK to download them.  Let me know how lap packs are working for you in the comments!

Like these ideas?  PIN THEM for later!
Lap Packs are inexpensive ways to get students writing in music class.  Customize them to include exactly what your music students need.  This article has some great ideas for their use and FREE downloads!



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Music Lesson Ideas for Quiet Days

Music lesson plans for days when you need to be as quiet as possible.  These quiet activities include ways to teach pitch, rhythm, composers and more in a quiet music classroom.

"You want me to teach music QUIETLY?" I said in disbelief.  "Is that even possible?"

It was testing season and I was fortunate to have my schedule only moderately rearranged.  The problem?  I had to teach music as quietly as possible.  I laugh thinking about how dumbfounded I was at the very idea.  Now with quite a few testing seasons under my belt I have a few suggestions for how to teach musical lesson in quiet ways.  Read on, but shhhh! Let's keep it down.

Pitch

Music lesson plans for days when you need to be as quiet as possible.  These quiet activities include ways to teach pitch, rhythm, composers and more in a quiet music classroom.
One of my favorite quiet activities for teaching pitch is to use my bottle cap staff sheets.  I have them laminated and use them for a variety of lesson.  For this lesson I pass out the sheets and a hand full of bottle caps.  I will say a word that can be spelled on the staff and students "write" it by putting their bottle caps in order.  In the picture, we just spelled "cafe".
Although the staff sheets are easy enough to make, I have a whole set of the staves and word cards in my store that you maybe interested in:  Bottle Cap Staff

 Rhythm

Music lesson plans for days when you need to be as quiet as possible.  These quiet activities include ways to teach pitch, rhythm, composers and more in a quiet music classroom.
 There are many ways to work on rhythm quietly.  Consider using chopsticks instead of rhythm sticks to play on the back of chairs or even on the floor.  The sound is light and intriguing for even 6th graders.
Another great quiet drumming activity (I know...quiet drumming?) is to use drum sticks on  foam garden kneeling pads.  I found purple and blue ones at Dollar Tree and LOVE that kids can really beat on them, but they sound delightfully muted.  :-)
Music lesson plans for days when you need to be as quiet as possible.  These quiet activities include ways to teach pitch, rhythm, composers and more in a quiet music classroom.

Rhythmic dictation is a pretty quiet activity too.  I use dry erase boards or lap packs (staff paper or blank paper stuffed into a page protector) and dry erase markers.  You might consider using craft sticks, rhythm cards, mini erasers (matching the syllables in the name of the eraser to the number of sounds in the rhythm) and more.  Clap or tap the rhythms on an instrument, students echo and then write it down.  It is a great assessment and requires great listening skills.

Instead of writing the rhythms down, you might consider having students listen to the rhythm that you play and then circling the correct notation from a few examples.  I have an entire set of "What Do You Hear" worksheets that ask students to do just that.  They vary in complexity so you can use the set with multiple grade levels.  Click HERE to learn more.
Music lesson plans for days when you need to be as quiet as possible.  These quiet activities include ways to teach pitch, rhythm, composers and more in a quiet music classroom.

 Composer Studies

Music lesson plans for days when you need to be as quiet as possible.  These quiet activities include ways to teach pitch, rhythm, composers and more in a quiet music classroom.
If you are able to show videos, I highly recommend the Composer Series of movies about the lives of famous composers.  (not an affiliate link)  You probably already have these in your classroom.  

In addition to showing composer videos, you might consider planning time for your students to just listen to, read about and color pictures of popular composers.  I've talked about this kind of thing in a previous blog post: Coloring Composers.  You can get the set that I use HERE.

I also LOVE Jena Hudson's composer flip books.  You can find them in her store, Sew Much Music on TpT, or follow this link to try the American Composers Set for free!  

 Listening

Music lesson plans for days when you need to be as quiet as possible.  These quiet activities include ways to teach pitch, rhythm, composers and more in a quiet music classroom.

Another quiet, creative activity is listening and responding.  Choose a piece of music that inspires a story or vivid mental images.  Have students listen the first time.  For wiggly classes you may want to have them lightly tap the beat or follow you as you tap the beat in various ways.  
Next, have students lie down (if possible), close their eyes and imagine what kind of story the composer wanted them to "see" in the music.
Pass out blank pieces of paper and have them illustrate what they have heard.  For K-2, I often use THIS set of writing prompts that already have a few words written and blank writing lines.

A few of my favorite pieces to use are:
"Moonlight Sonata" by Beethoven (Be prepared!  This one sometimes brings pictures of pets that have passed away!)
"Bugler's Holiday" by Anderson
"Stars and Stripes Forever" by Sousa (Shh! You might want to turn this one down a little!)
"Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks" by Mussorgsky
"Funeral March of a Marionette" by Gounod
"Minute Waltz" by Chopin
"Hungarian Dance No. 5" by Brahms

 Instruments of the Orchestra


If you are able to show videos, I highly recommend the Instrumental Classmates set of videos to introduce the instrument families.  I found my set on Amazon.  Quaver also has a great series of videos about instruments that your students will enjoy.  

If you are unable to show a video, your students might enjoy putting together a book of instruments.  Students can color the instruments, copy their name or add information about the instrument (with the add-on sheets included).  Click the picture above to get the full set of instrument families or click HERE to get the sampler for free.  Although this takes some time to make all of the copies you'll need, it is a great activity for a quiet day in music.

Another great quiet day activity is to read the book "The Remarkable Farkle McBride".  My 5th graders enjoy this story, so I can use this lesson with all of my classes.  At the end of the story, we will review instrument families and I'll pass out these simple coloring sheets.  While students are coloring we will listen to my classical music playlist for some quiet background music.

 Quiet Games

Music lesson plans for days when you need to be as quiet as possible.  These quiet activities include ways to teach pitch, rhythm, composers and more in a quiet music classroom.
Quiet games are not usually favorites in my classroom, but over the years I've come up with a few that students will give a reluctant thumbs up.  They would much rather be drumming and dancing and singing, but quiet days don't always allow for that.

Telephone - This traditional game is played by having students sit in a circle and whispering a message to each other until it makes it all the way around the circle.  Hilarity ensues when the message at the end sounds nothing like the message that started.  The same idea can work with rhythms.  Have students tap a 4 beat measure on the back of the person next to them and then pass that around the group.  Students can usually master this in a couple of tries so then we make it a bit more difficult.  Instead of sending one rhythm around in one direction, start two rhythms.  One goes to the left and the other to the right and they all end up back at the same person.  Tricky!

Roll and Cover is a game for small groups.  Students take turns rolling the dice.  The key on each page says a note or rest name.  Students then find that symbol in the picture and color one piece of the picture.  Taking turns, play goes around the circle until someone has every piece colored.  It is a nice way to review notes and clefs.  You can find Roll and Cover sets in my store.  Any normal die will work, but I always try to get the large foam dice to use because they are so much more fun!

I hope that you are never asked to teach music quietly, but if you are I hope that some of these ideas will prove helpful.  Like these ideas?  PIN THEM for later.

Music lesson plans for days when you need to be as quiet as possible.  These quiet activities include ways to teach pitch, rhythm, composers and more in a quiet music classroom. 


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How to Get Preschoolers to Love Classical Music


Preschool music class can be such a delight, full of giggles and pure joy.  Of course this is a perfect age for simple folk songs, dance parties, and sing-alongs, but listening to classical music is extremely important too. Incorporating classical music into your preschool curriculum in age appropriate ways will begin a lifelong love of beautiful and complex music.

Everything is still new to preschoolers, they are hearing, seeing and experiencing things for the first time. They haven’t established an opinion about what music is good and what music is stuffy & boring. By pairing classical music with playtime, we can provide preschoolers with a positive and enriching classical music experience. This is the beginning of learning to listen and respond to music they will enjoy for a lifetime.

Here are some of my favorite pieces of classical music for preschoolers and how to incorporate them into playtime.  

Pretend Play

We know that preschoolers learn best by imaging and playing. Adding classical music can elevate pretend play to whole new level of excitement and learning. Try these classical pieces and pretend play pairings:
                -Listen to The Elephant from Carnival of the Animals while you move around the room like a slow, heavy elephant. 
                -Pretend to take an adventure through a castle as you listen to In theHall of the Mountain King, by Evard Grieg. Model sneaky actions like tip-toeing and crawling at first, then change to more energized movement when the music speeds up. 
                -Imitate the fluid, stretching movements of a cat as you listen to Duetto BuffoDi Due Gatti. 

Sensory Play


Preschoolers love to feel new sensations with their fingers and they are not afraid to get their hands wet and dirty. Add classical music to these sensory ideas for a combined auditory kinesthetic experience:
                -Squirt shaving cream into a tray or directly onto the counter top. With one finger, have them follow the sounds they hear as they listen to Bach’sCello Suite No.1 Prelude
                -Fill a large plastic bin with water, cups, and scoops of different sizes. Listen to The Moldau by Bedrich Smetana while students scoop and pour water.  
-Let your students draw with one finger in a sand box or a tray of sand while they listen to Air on a G Stringby Bach

Relaxing Play


Classical music is also a fantastic way to get preschoolers to calm down and relax. Use these ideas at the end of your music class:
               -Ask your students to lay on the ground while you walk around the room slowly dropping feathers around them.  Listen to The Swan from Carnival of the Animals. 
-Blow bubbles while you listen to TheAquarium from Carnival of the Animals. Let your students follow the bubbles and try to catch them.
-Listen to Clair De Lune by ClaudeDebussy while you float a few balloons around the room. Let students gently bat them around, trying to keep them from touching the ground. 


Cori Bloom is the author of some amazing music teacher resources! You can find her resources at her Teachers Pay Teachers store, Rhythm and Bloom  You can also connect with her on FACEBOOK.

Did you like these ideas?  PIN THEM for later.


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