George Washington was commander in Chief of the army that won American independence from England in the Revolutionary War. He was also president of the convention that wrote the United States Constitution and he was unanimously voted the first President of the United States. At first, people wanted to call him “Your Highness,” but he said, “Call me Mr. President,” and that’s what Presidents have been called ever since.
One week after Abraham Lincoln became our 16th President in 1861, the southern states formed the confederacy and the Civil War began. The Civil War ended four years later on April 9, 1865. Five days after that, on April 14, 1865, after Lincoln had freed millions of slaves, he was assassinated. Lincoln’s life was one of many challenges, but he showed great determination in keeping our country together.
The first verse of We Salute the Presidents honors two great men in American history, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. A February national holiday was established to honor these men whose birthdays were both in February: Lincoln – February 12th, and Washington – February 22nd.
The second verse of We Salute the Presidents honors all the Presidents who have served our country.
The Presidents have the role of not only
(1) Chief Executive and
(2) Commander in Chief of the nation’s armed services,
but also that of
(3) Popular Leader.
As the lyrics of this song explain, Presidents give words of hope and encouragement to all Americans at all times. We should always be grateful for their dedication in serving our country.
Listen to a sample of We Salute the Presidents in the audio player, below. (The instrumental sing-along version is also included.)
Fun Valentine's Day activities from Months of Music
by Karen Rupprecht & Pam Minor
The Valentine Card Shop Game
Will You Be My Valentine?
Materials: red and pink construction paper, glue, glitter, scissors, cut up doilies, lace, yarn, torn tissue paper, ribbon, and bits of fabric.
Method: For every Valentine card the teacher or child cuts a heart shape from construction paper. Glue on any of the materials assembled. Write "I love you" or any message on the back. Ask children to make several Valentines, one to take home and some for the group's "card shop."
Fun Valentine's Day Fingerplay: A Kiss
There's something in my pocket
(reach into pocket)
Could it be a moose?
Could it be a train with a bell and a caboose?
Could it be a snake or some sticky glue?
(put hands in pockets)
It's a kiss from me to you.
Make a Valentine Shake!
Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a special, fancy glass and top with whipped cream. Garnish with a sliced strawberry.
You will love this Valentine slurpy treat!
Miss Pennypack's Valentine Poem
Why should we have only one little day
To tell people we love them in a special way?
I send cards and flowers any time of year
To remind people that I hold them dear.
But my friends don't really need a gift...
Just a hug now and then and maybe a KISS!
Winter has arrived full-force in the Midwest, bringing half a foot of snow and counting. We do, however, take advantage of this winter weather by incorporating it into lesson plans and activities. I include a weather song in each and every one of my music classes, and it's a rare treat when the opportunity arises to sing the Snowy Day song.
This song has lead to many different conversations about the weather and its implications for both students and adults. Here are just a few teaching points that can stem from a snowy weather song:
Sure, an occasional snow day is nice, but just think of all the fun and educational opportunities you'll miss out on! If you are facing treacherous winter weather, be careful out there and stay warm!
The third Monday of January was made a national holiday by
President Ronald Reagan in 1983 to honor Dr. Martin Luther King.
That day is around the time of King’s actual birthday, January 15th.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a black American minister who was the main leader ofthe civil rights movement in the United States during the 1950’s and 1960’s. He was a wonderful speaker
and was able to express well the demands of black Americans for justice.
He had a dream that our nation would rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed that all men are created equal.
A speech he gave on August 28, 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. called “I Have a Dream” was especially memorable. In it, he proclaimed, “Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the slopes of California. Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from the Lookout Mountain of Tennessee…From every mountainside, let freedom ring!”
He continued to say that when we allow freedom to ring from every village and every city, all of God’s children, no matter what color, will be able to join hands and sing the words of an old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” These words are immortalized on his tombstone with one slight change. At the end it says, “I’m free at last!”
Listen to a sample of Dr. Martin Luther King.Play Audio:
As an elementary school music teacher, I’m required to integrate core subjects into my curriculum. Since I only see each class for 30 minutes a week, I introduce one song per month and we play games to reinforce what was learned.
I take about 5 minutes before beginning my usual lesson to either play a song or to play games. We play partial games throughout the month (just for about 5 minutes) for practice. We only play full games about once a month and the winner of the game gets a prize.
The Multiplication Freeze Beanbag Game uses the same rules as the "hot potato" game.
- One beanbag or a ball
- Skip-counting multiplication songs, such as those on Multiplication Jamz
Play a song from Multiplication Jamz while passing the beanbag. This can be done in a circle, or students can stand in their own personal space. When the music stops, the person holding the beanbag must say the next word in the song to stay in the game. For example, if the song is Counting by 4s, and the words are 4, 8, 12, the music stops and the next word would be "16." If the student answers correctly, he or she stays in the game, if not, he or she is out. Then the music begins again and the winner is the last one standing.
The Multiplication ‘Round Game is a circle game.
Material(s): No materials are needed for this game.
Everyone stands in a circle. Each person has to skip count beginning with any number from 1 to 12 to begin. For example, if the first person begins with the number 4, the next person would say 8, then 12, and so on. The sequence may be repeated over and over (4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, 36, 40, 44, 48, 4, 8, 12…).
If someone hesitates or says a wrong number, he or she is out. Then, the next person automatically begins with the first number of the sequence, which in this case, is the number 4. I like to begin each round by saying, “1, 2 start with you”, and I point to the student who’s next in line.
Make Your Own Videos!
In addition to games, if you know how to use any movie-making software, you can make your own music video featuring the students in your class. Just write the lyrics to the songs on construction paper and make a slide show or movie of the children holding them. Children love seeing themselves on television, so this a great way to get them involved. (As always, make sure that you have parent's permission to display this video outside of your classroom.)
As we return from the holidays refreshed and ready-to-go, remember that teaching isn’t just about teaching curriculum. It’s about teaching the child!
How do we respond to the moments in between the planned schedule?
When a boy I knew first started elementary school, he didn’t read and write on level with the class. The other children called him names like “stupid” and “dumb." He went to the teacher for help. The teacher's reply? “Don’t be a tattletale.” That teachable moment, when a seed of bully prevention could have been planted, was lost. Instead, seeds of low self esteem, doubt and failure began to grow.
That boy was my son. As time went by, we taught him new lessons to replace that lost opportunity: “Take your messes and make them into messages.”
Practicing what I preach (mess to message), my partner, Danny and I wrote a song so that other children can learn through music about the power of words and the choices we all can make.
Song: Don’t Tease
Choreography: During each chorus, find an inanimate object to shake a finger at. We can tease a chair, the wall, a table… but we shouldn’t tease each other.
Diversity: Bring a wheelchair into the classroom. Place an oversize doll in the chair. Explain to the children that this is a new student and everyone is responsible for making sure that this student goes to the playground, center, circle, music, etc.
Lesson: Stepping into Someone Else’s Shoes
Role Play for Older Children:
Using made up scenarios or historical ones, have a bag of story starters such as:
"You’re told to give up your seat on the bus because you aren’t the right color."
"You are an elderly person being teased for being too slow."
"You are the last person chosen to be on a team because you aren’t good
As the children pull out a story starter, have them step into a pair of empty shoes (or stand on some footprints). Let them tell the class how it feels to be in someone else’s shoes when they are teased or belittled.
As teachers, I know we probably didn’t choose this profession to make a huge living. Instead, we chose our profession to make a huge difference. Please share your ideas of teaching the bigger picture with us.
Listen to a short sample of Don't Tease in the audio player, below.Play Audio:
Happy New Year! I hope each and every one of you had a wonderful holiday, and that your 2010 is off to a great start. The new year and month offer new opportunities for learning. As usual, I'll be singing my "song of the month" with my students throughout January, which serves as a springboard to quite a few timely topics.
For me, the start of the new year is always a reminder to try new things, especially in the classroom. It's a time to look forward to the future and all that lies ahead. Enthusiasm is contagious, and unlike the flu, this is something you actually want to spread to your students!
According to neurobiologist Norman M. Weinberger, music exists in every culture. Parents all over the world sing to their babies. Music provides us with a natural and rhythmic way to learn. Do you ever wonder why children learn to sing their ABCs before they can say them? Do you notice that so many of our favorite children’s books have a certain rhyme or rhythmic pattern? Many studies show that there is a very strong connection between literacy and music. Through music, children learn to:
Does this mean that we pipe classical music into the background all day and expect preschoolers and kindergarten children to miraculously begin reading at a third grade reading level? Of course not! Here are some more reasonable and practical ways to assimilate music into the lives of young children:
I have a ton of favorite children’s songs – too many to list here. But some of my favorite children’s musicians are
Check your local symphony to see if their website has a link for teachers or children. For example, The Dallas Symphony Orchestra has the DSO Kids Club and The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has a link for BSO Kids
Written by Tonya Wright
Winter break is fast approaching, and for some of you, it may have already begun! My school is still in session, so I'm taking advantage of all the wonderful holiday songs and resources out there for children.
One song my students have been enjoying is one that I wrote, called Red and Green. These two colors are everywhere during the holidays, so there are many ways to incorporate our surroundings into this song. Here are just a few ideas that I've come up with for making Red and Green a fun hands-on activity:
Listen to "Red and Green" in the audio player below, from Listen & Learn: ChristmasPlay Audio:
When discussing the holidays with children, most are quick to share what they would like to receive as gifts. My students could spend hours on this topic if I let them, but to their disappointment, I don't. They are welcome to share one or two ideas, and then I lead the conversation in a different direction through song.
If You Could Give a Gift is a musical conversation starter I use to get the wheels turning in students' heads. What would you give, if it could be anything in the world, and to whom would you give it? I emphasize that this gift does not need to be something expensive, or even something from a store; it could be a favor for someone or a handmade item.
After I sing through the short verse, I ask for a volunteer to share with the class. Sometimes it takes a few minutes for the students to warm up to this activity, but usually by the time we're finished, each student has taken two or three turns. I've gotten some very interesting answers over the last couple of years, ranging from "Money for my mom to pay her bills" to "A big gold chain for my five-year-old sister" but no matter what, one thing is clear: children have extremely generous hearts. You just have to give them the opportunity to show it!
This musical activity can serve as a lead-in for other related activites. Younger children can draw pictures of the items they would choose to give others, while older students can write an essay about their answer. Often I turn this into a songwriting activity, where we compose new verses for each individual in the class.
Written by Rachel Rambach