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Resources I'm Using for Distance Learning

Music resources are shared for distance learning in this article by a veteran elementary music teacher.  Music room distance learning.

Back to school feels different this year.  I am starting classes face to face, but I am already putting together plans for the possibility of moving to distance learning this semester.  I want to share some of the resources that I'll be using.

Music resources are shared for distance learning in this article by a veteran elementary music teacher.  Music room distance learning.

Boom Cards
Where have they been all of my life?  To students, they feel like a game.  A variety of activities ask students to name notes, identify note values, do musical math, identify and classify instruments and more. When students get an answer right they hear a happy "ding" and when they get it wrong a silly "ooops".  I love that!

Boom Cards are meant to be played online so I'll send students a link to their file via Google Classroom or email.  Some of the activities that I assign, I'll use as assessment grades.  Others will just be great review and practice.  

Music resources are shared for distance learning in this article by a veteran elementary music teacher.  Music room distance learning.

Depending on the kind of account you have, depends on whether or not you can track your students' progress.  For a small fee, you can assign a deck (that's a group of the question/activity cards) to your students.  They set up an account (easy and private) and you track their progress.  Assessment couldn't be easier!

With the free account, you don't get to track students but you assign a "quick link".  This allows students to complete the activity but you don't get to track the results.  I use this option often.

Music resources are shared for distance learning in this article by a veteran elementary music teacher.  Music room distance learning.

Boom Cards are hosted on BoomLearning.com but you can also purchase them at TeachersPayTeachers.  You can try each of the games in full screen mode to experience what your students will experience.  Check out my Boom Cards on TeachersPayTeachers or on Boom Learning.

Poison Rhythm Games
My students LOVE to play poison rhythm games in my classroom.  Poison Rhythm can be played but I play in two specific ways.  In the first way I clap a rhythm and students echo it.  I declare this the poison rhythm and once the game starts, they should echo clap every rhythm except the poison one.  Whoever does is out or we play so that if they get it right then the class gets a point but if anyone messes up the teacher gets the point.  FUN!

We also play with visuals.  I have several Poison Rhythm Games in my TeachersPayTeachers store.  These PDF files are fun to use and have fun clipart too.  The rules are the same except instead of clapping a rhythm I say "One, two, ready, clap" and students clap the rhythm they see unless it is the poison rhythm.

For distance learning I will either record myself with the cards like in this sample video or I will send them the pdf and have them practice themselves or a family member.

Check out some poison rhythm games HERE.

Google Slide Activities
My district is a Google Classroom district which I am learning to love.  My 3rd, 4th and 5th graders know how to use it and I can assign activities there, post questions, share videos and more.  Last year I created some activities to use in Google Slides. When I assigned these to students I forced a copy to them that way they weren't editing my original.  Learn more about that in this video by Sherry Stanton. Students use them in "edit" mode and then send their assignment back to my via Classroom.  It was so much easier than I imagined and I hope to use even more activities this year.

Music resources are shared for distance learning in this article by a veteran elementary music teacher.  Music room distance learning.Music resources are shared for distance learning in this article by a veteran elementary music teacher.  Music room distance learning.
You can take a look at my Google Slide activities HERE.

Flip Grid
In the spring of 2020 the "teaching" I did felt more like emergency teaching than teaching virtually.  If the need arises this fall, I think it is important to find ways to let students sing some of our favorite songs!  Flip Grid is free for educators and allows teachers and students to create and share privately videos and video responses.  It is an easy and safe way to actually HEAR what students are composing, singing or playing.  Aileen Miracle has a great post that discusses FlipGrid.  Check it out HERE

You Can Do This!
I know that this year may seem daunting, but you can do this and I will help in anyway I can.  Best wishes, friends.  Stay safe!

Save these ideas for later by PINNING them now!
Music resources are shared for distance learning in this article by a veteran elementary music teacher.  Music room distance learning.

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DIY Crayons to Use as Classroom Rewards

An inexpensive idea for classroom rewards is creating your own cool crayons from old ones.  Students, teachers and principals love them!

I keep a goody box in my classroom.  I use it to reward exceptionally great behavior, actions that demonstrate kindness and inclusivity and for brave performers that share with the class.  I'm always looking for cool things to put in the box and this year I'm filling it with custom designed crayons!  Read on to learn how to make them and to avoid some of the pitfalls that I fell into.

Several years ago, my friend Linda, from Floating Down the River, wrote about how much her students loved these crayons.  Recently David Row, from Make Moments Matter, also wrote about his experiences making crayons.  I was reminded of all of the molds that I bought and never used.  Armed with old crayons, inspiration and a few seasons of the Gilmore Girls I set out to make my own crayons.  Here's how to do it:

1.  Gather Crayons
I always buy 30 new packs of crayons each year for my classroom and at the end of the year I dump them all in a bag and take them home to craft with or donate or whatever.  If you don't have your own crayons, just put out an email at school or a post on Facebook requesting some.  It doesn't matter what brand, if they a broken or what size they are.  They all melt.

2.  Sort the crayons by color.  Don't get too picky here.  All the various reds can go together and all the variety of blues can go together.  I matched papers to decide what color group they belonged to.  This worked well for me.

3.  Get the paper off.  I've heard a few ways to do this and I've hated them all.  No kidding!  This part just stinks.  You could soak the crayons in warm water and peel the paper off.  Soggy, yucky mess.  You could take a knife or box cutter and cut the paper off.  A pain in the booty.  This is the method that I chose, but it made for a long, tedious task and I spent hours and hours doing it this way.  I'd love to say that I have a great solution, but cutting the papers off with the utility knife worked better than other ways I tried.

4.  Now you'll have baggies of similarly colored, paperless crayons.  If you chose to cut the papers off, you might also have your crayons in small pieces already.  If they aren't in small pieces, use a small hammer to break them into little pieces.  You don't have to have hammer them to dust, but smaller pieces work better in the molds.

MOLDS:  Before beginning this project you'll want to collect a few silicone molds in fun shapes.  Make sure that your molds were designed to go in the oven.  Most candy molds are, but you should check before you purchase them.  Most of my molds are made by Wilton and are very sturdy and easy to use.  Here are a few molds that I've used or can't wait to use on Amazon.

5.  Load your molds with the crayon pieces.  You'll want to put in enough so that it piles about the well.  When they melt, it looks like much less.

6.  Place the crayon filled molds onto a sheet pan and bake for 8-10 minutes at 350.  WARNING:  This stinks.  Literally.  It smells gross, but looks delightful.

7.  Let them cool before turning the mold over and popping them out.

8.  I decided to group my crayons together in little treat bags and add a themed saying to the bag.  Some examples of what I used:

An inexpensive idea for classroom rewards is creating your own cool crayons from old ones.  Students, teachers and principals love them!

These stickers are Avery Label 22806 (These are on my suggested Amazon list.)  You can get copies of the sticker templates that I created (and other freebies) by joining my email list.  Just print them on the sticker paper and they are ready to go!

  Enter your email address here:
I hope you have a great time coloring your students world with music!  If you like these ideas, PIN THEM for later.
An inexpensive idea for classroom rewards is creating your own cool crayons from old ones.  Students, teachers and principals love them!

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Dollar Store Bulletin Board Hacks

Like many teachers, I love a great bargain.  Dollar stores and discount stores are great ways to decorate and stock your classroom without breaking the bank.  Here are a few dollar store hacks for decorating your room and adding some pizzaz to your bulletin boards.

Many dollar stores already carry education supplies like flashcards, letters, charts and border.  They can help put up bulletin boards, class job charts and come in handy when creating folder activities or workstations.  Let's walk a litter farther through the store and see what we can find that may be a little out of the box.

Wrapping paper makes excellent bulletin board backgrounds.  Many are fadeless and instantly add color, texture and interest to your bulletin board displays.

Another great bulletin board background source is tablecloths.  Most dollar stores carry a variety of inexpensive plastic tablecloths.  Patterned tablecloths are great to use when decorating with a theme or color scheme.  My favorite is to use the birthday tablecloths and then add Music K-8's composer and musicians' birthday calendars

Of course, solid colored tablecloths provide a bright pop of color and don't fade like regular bulletin board paper if you are using it in a sunny area.  These flannel backed tablecloths are quite sturdy an you'll want to use a box cutter or scissors to trim the edges.  Be sure to look for a rectangular one to fill all of your bulletin board.
BONUS:  I use these to define areas on the floor for centers.  In this way, students keep all of their things in this area and it is a snap to clean up!

Pom poms are a great way to add texture and dimension to your bulletin boards.  Add one in each corner or staple them up close together to make a border for the entire board.  I like these pom poms because they are inexpensive, but they are a little frustrating to pull apart and fluff.  With a little patience, you'll have them ready to go in no time.

Letter stickers are an easy way to add a headline or captions to your bulletin board.  Here's how to keep them straight.  First adhere just the bottom to a ruler or yardstick.  Sticking just a quarter of an inch or so, make sure the letters and words are spaced how you want them to be on the bulletin board.  Press the yard stick to the bulletin board and press the top of the letter stickers to the bulletin board.  Gently roll the yardstick towards you so the letter stickers come off and then press them firmly to the bulletin board paper.  

I am a big fan of adding dimensional objects to bulletin boards.  I have tied them, stapled them, hot glued them, tacked them and once even added packing peanuts behind bulletin board pieces to make them stand out.  I look for objects that are easy to staple to the board like hats, flags, plates, balloons and pom poms.  Summer is a great time to find patriotic objects to use for your patriotic music or American composer bulletin boards.  I like THIS bulletin board that is simply lyrics to some popular patriotic songs that you may teach in your classroom.

I have an unusually large collection of paper plates in various sizes, shapes and colors.  I use them for movement activities for props when deciphering form and for bulletin board borders.  Yes!  They make the easiest and fastest border ever.  I start with a plate in each corner and add the other plates to fill in.  They are fast to take down and you can reuse them time and time again.

Just like paper plates, paper hats as a border are just fabulous.  They add extra interest and color. I've used a variety of hats and my students always love the displays.  In addition to dollar stores, I have found many great options at Oriental Trading and local party stores.

Occasionally I will post a bulletin board that is interactive.  When I do, I usually ask students, parents and teachers to color part of the board, leave a message, answer a question, etc...  With a couple of Command Hooks, this basket could hang near the board and hold markers or crayons.  FUN!

Poster board is a great way to create bulletin board pieces, letters or signs that you'll place on your bulletin boards.  For teachers on a cart, a piece of poster board could be turned into a bulletin board on the go.  You can evening use poster board to create a clever awning for your bulletin board.  Check it out here.

This is a weird one, but stay with me.  Playing cards make a creative border for your bulletin board.  Any order, number side up or back design up they are eye catching.  Try a title like "A Great New Year is in the Cards" or "Stacking the Deck for a Great Performance" and you've got a great bulletin board.

The last great dollar store find for bulletin board is tissue paper.  It makes a great background, but with a little bit of creativity you can make an even bigger statement.  Fold the tissue paper into paper fans and staple to the corners of your bulletin board.  Take individual pieces of tissue paper, crumple them and staple as a 3-D border.  Follow THIS tutorial and create beautiful flowers.

Looking for more dollar store hacks?  Check out these Dollar Store Deals for Music Teachers.

I hope you've been inspired to decorate your bulletin board with some of these tips.  PIN THIS for later!

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Friday Favorites: Pillows, Chickens and Music Stuff

Fridays are for favorites!  I hope you enjoy reading about some of my favorite things this week.

Customized Pillows - I use a reading center in almost every one of my center rotations.  I usually have some kind of rug, a few pillows, a funky lamp and books!  This year I made a few customized pillows with Vista Print.  I LOVE the way the turned out and they colors are bright and beautiful.  To create your own just upload a logo, graphic or picture.  You can put the same picture on both sides or mix it up a bit.  Don't purchase anything on Vista Print without a coupon.  There is always a coupon!

Squeezy Chickens -  Look what I found at Walmart this week!  They are cheaper than ones I have found on Amazon.   I love squeezy chickens and so do my students!  I use these as fun props in relay racing games.  On their feet I right a letter from the musical alphabet.  Then I create tiny rhythm cards or tags and tie them on to their necks.
Next, I lay them in a line at the front of the room.  If we are working on pitch names, I'll show a flashcard or pop one up on the screen that has one note on the staff.  When I say "go" a student from each team runs to the front and grabs the chicken with the correct letter and squeezes the chicken.  If we are working on rhythm, I clap one of the rhythms on the chicken then say go.  This is great for review and for times when you might have a few extra minutes.  My students ask for the game all the time!

We Shall Overcome - I learned this song in elementary school and a few years ago I added this beautifully illustrated book to my classroom library.  I think I am going to read/sing it to my classes this year.  I found a video on Youtube video of an elementary music teacher reading and singing this book that you might like to hear.  Click here for the video.  

Rainbow and Clouds Bulletin Board Border - I really have SO many sets of border that I don't need to buy any for another ten years, but they keep making the most beautiful sets so I keep buying.  This year I used it with a black and white scribble patterned border for my Have a Magical Time in Music bulletin board.  I think that next year I may use it to border my desk. It is created by Creative Teaching Press.  LOVING it!

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