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
Themed activities are great for young children, especially when it comes to the holidays. Some of the themes I use with my students during this time of year include snowmen, Santa, giving and sharing, and Christmas trees. The more creative, the better!
With just a few props and some special tunes, you can easily create a reindeer theme for your classroom. Here are some suggestions:
Listen to "The Other Eight Reindeer" in the audio player below, from Listen & Learn: Christmas
If you've read my previous entries, then you already know that my favorite way to begin a new month is with a song dedicated to it. December is no exception, especially since it's a month chock-full of special days and reasons to celebrate.
Like all of the songs in my Listen & Learn: Months series, the December Song emphasizes the number of days in the month, where it fits numerically (number 12, of course!) and the important events that occur during December.
Most children associate the month of December with Christmas, but as you and I know, not all of our students come from similar cultures, religions and backgrounds. That is why I'm always sure to include other traditions, such as Hannukah and Kwanzaa, when I talk about the holidays. Both of these celebrations are included in the December Song, and it would be simple to substitute any other holidays that your students may celebrate, as well. This is a wonderful learning and sharing opportunity for the classroom, as many children love to talk about their families' holiday traditions.
And then, of course, there is New Year's Eve. There are so many interactive discussions to be had concerning this special day, from new year's resolutions to the different ways everyone rings in the new year.
December is, without a doubt, a fun month for planning lessons and activities. While my own lessons span a wide array of topics, it's nice to have a comprehensive song to tie them all together. From the first of the month to the last day of 2009, here's wishing you a wonderful December!
Written by Rachel Rambach
Listen to "December" in the audio player below, from Listen & Learn: MonthsPlay Audio:
Kwanzaa (“first fruits of the harvest’) is a holiday celebrated by African-Americans. First created by Ron Karenga in 1966, Kwanzaa is a celebration and fusion of African heritage and culture.
Kwanzaa lasts six days, from December 26 to January 1.
There are seven principles (nguzo saba) of Kwanzaa:
▪ Collective work and responsibility
▪ Cooperative economics
Each day, participants ask “Habari gani” (“what is the news?”). Each day, the answer to this question highlights the principle of the day. A special candelabra called a kinara (kee-na-rah) is used; one candle on the first day, two on the second, etc. Homemade gifts - underscoring the principle of creativity - are often exchanged.
One of my favorite books on Kwanzaa is Seven Candles for Kwanzaa by Andrea Davis Pickney, beautifully illustrated by Brian Pickney. Penguin Books: 1993.
Several years ago, I was asked to write a song to honoring Kwanzaa: Kwanzaa is Here is both simple to learn, and easy to use as a performance piece.
When I first teach the song, I present it in a “call and response” pattern. I “call” the first and third lines; the class or audience “responds” by alternating the second line (“habari gani”) or the fourth line (“Kwanzaa is here.”). It doesn’t take long for the students to learn all the words. Then, you can play with arrangement: have half the class “call” and the other half “respond.”
This becomes a wonderful performance option! The caller may be a soloist, a group solo, or ½ of the class. You may have the call/response pattern only in the verses, and have everyone sing together (tutti) for the chorus. Or you may have the call/response all the way through the song.
Discuss what each of the principles mean.
▪ Kindergarten and first graders may do this together, while the teacher records on chart paper.
▪ 2nd grade and higher: After the first discussion, each student chooses one principle to write about: what does this principle mean to me? How do I observe it or experience it in my life?
Music has patterns just like math. A song with a verse and chorus has an ABAB pattern. The pattern for Kwanzaa is Here varies, depending on how you sing it! A simple call/response, alternating each line, would be ABAB.
Call and response - a musical pattern in which a one person or group begins one phrase and another person or group responds with another phrase.
Solo - one person singing (or playing an instrument) alone
Tutti - everyone sings together.
Written by Greta Pedersen
Listen to a short sample of Kwanzaa is Here in the audio player, below.Play Audio: