Sunday, October 28, 2012

Veterans Day Music Lessons

As I'm winding down my Halloween lessons, it is time to honor two holidays in November! Here are my activities for Veterans Day

For 1st grade, we are going to read Pepper's Purple Heart. Then we will discuss what a veteran is and why we have a day to honor veterans. We will then transition to discussing heroes. I want the students to give me examples of people they consider to be heroes. Once everyone has given me an example, we will each illustrate a hero on a stamp template.

I am also teaching the 1st graders My Country 'tis of Thee.

In 2nd Grade, we are discussing the story of Veterans Day. We will also discuss the lyrics of My Country 'tis of Thee and sing the song, but we are also going to illustrate a line from the song. Each student will be able to pick the line they want to illustrate and a template to do so.

In 3rd -5th grades, I will be varying the level of difficulty, but the general design of the lessons is the same. In the upper levels, we are going to discuss the origin of Veterans Day.

We are also going to watch this  video about the origin of the Star Spangled Banner. We will look at the lyrics, define new words and sing the song. I am going to let some of the students play the finger cymbals when they listen to the recording of the National Anthem. I am also doing an illustration sheet with these students. They will illustrate a line from the SSB.

In addition, we are going to play a game with songs for each branch of the military. 
The students divide into “teams” of the five armed forces branches: Navy, Coast Guard, Army, Marine Corps, Air Force. We will listen to the corresponding songs for each branch and discuss each song. 

Navy – “Anchors aweigh my boys, anchors aweigh…"  (define aweigh)

Coast Guard – “Semper Paratus, duh, duh, duh (these words help them remember the motto and the melody)
Army – “And the caissons go rolling along…" (define caisson)

Marine Corps – “From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli…" (listen for the leap in the melody)

Air Force – “Off we go into the wild blue yonder" (point out that the melody ascends like a plane)

After you have spent time on each song play one randomly. Have students listen for their listening clue. If they think that the march belongs to them, have them stand. They do not have to stand as a team. Their vote is individual. 

There are also some really great resources for teachers available from 

Ultimately, great examples of our student work completed during these lessons will be displayed with our "Wall of Remembrance". This idea came from Music K-8. Families are asked to submit information about veterans in their family. I am asking for name, branch of service, years served and student relationship. I will transfer this information to "bricks" to build a wall in our hallway. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Halloween Activities

12 Days of Halloween Rhythm and Lyrics Cards
Thanks to Pinterest, I found an awesome resource for Halloween from Pinamation. Since we have done word rhythms with the Pizza Love lesson, the kids should pick this up pretty easily.

The gist of game is that the lyrics and the matching rhythm patterns are hung throughout the room. The students must work together to match them up.

I loved the lyrics to this tune, so I made a slideshow for the kids to sing along with. I added pictures after each verse to help them remember the order when we could backwards through the days of Halloween.

 12 Days of Halloween Slideshow

Trick or Treat
Another game I am playing with 2nd grade is Trick or Treat rhythms. I found this game at Layton Music
This game has the student to draw a card: Trick or Treat. If they draw a trick, they must perform the rhythm. If they draw a treat, the receive a piece of candy.

There are printable cards at the website; however, I made my own cards. I colored them and wrote my own rhythm patterns, cut them out and laminated them so I could reuse them.

Trick or Treat Game Cards
(The formatting is off since I uploaded the file using Google Docs. Once you open it, download the file and open it with Powerpoint to print. Or, you can change the font and the size in Google Docs)

Halloween Games
For fun, I am going to play 2 different Halloween games with K-2: Pumpkin Walk and Pass the Pumpkin.

Pumpkin walk is similar to a cake walk. There are colored pumpkins on the floor. The students walk around until the music stops. I'll call out a color and students on that color receive a piece of candy.

Pass the Pumpkin is a steady beat game. I have a plastic pumpkin trick or treat bucket that the students will pass around. We will say this popular chant: "Pumpkin, pumpkin round and fat, turn into a Jack o'lantern just like that!" Whoever is holding the pumpkin when we finish, can reach inside and take a piece of candy.

Halloween Videos

5 Little Pumpkins

The Skeleton Dance

The Little Old Lady Who Wasn't Afraid of Anything

Also, another good book for Halloween music lessons is the Skeleton Cat. It is about a cat who gets a second chance at becoming a drummer. I've been able to incorporate rhythm instruments such as sticks, shakers, and finger cymbals. The book gives great opportunities to include these instruments.

Sample page

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Pete the Cat for Kindergarten

Today, I had a super successful lesson. I recently picked up the newest Pete the Cat book and it is so adorable! It's called Pete the Cat: Rocking in my School Shoes.

As you can see, this one is really music friendly. I showed them the video of the song. They really got into it, singing and dancing along. I liked showing them the video first so they could sing along when we got to the song in the story. Here's the song:

Once we heard the song, I read the book and each time we came to the song in the story, we sang it together.

Next, I showed them a Pete the Cat video of The Wheels on the Bus

We did all the typical motions for this tune, then we sang a verse without the music.  I handed out rhythm sticks and we changed the words to "The sticks on the bus go tap, tap, tap (scrape, drum, pound, hammer and roll).

This is an easy way to incorporate instruments in Kindergarten. My students are trained to sit with the sticks in their laps, together, with both hands holding them, one at each end. I tell them to keep them quiet or I'll take them back. It only took once for them to realize I wasn't joking.

To end class, they worked on a Pete the Cat coloring page. I paired a reader with a non-reader and had them work together. The worksheet had the students color Pete's shoes different colors. The shoes were labeled with the color. By pairing the students, I wasn't answering a million questions, and it gave the students an opportunity to peer teach, even in Kindergarten. They took it so seriously and it worked like a dream.

Here is the coloring sheet and the link that I borrowed from

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pizza Love

I have been struggling with 2nd grade recently. I have two 2nd grade classes who are just perfect little angels and I have two other 2nd grade classes who are little demons. It is really hard to plan for them because I can never anticipate what the evil classes are going to do!

I was searching through the Music K-8 CD's and I found Pizza Love. I remember singing this song in elementary music and when I listened to it, I remembered all the words. So I decided to create a pizza lesson for 2nd grade.

Of course we will sing the song, which I'm sure they will love. Then I am planning a rhythm pattern composition activity that I have adapted from the Music K-8 idea bank. Using pieces of pizza with note values attached, the students will make a pizza. This will be a good way to start teaching the number of beats in a measure, without them knowing it.

I've been seeing a lot of activities relating rhythms and syllables of words on Pinterest and I think those are fabulous. I made one specifically for the pizza lesson using pizza toppings. I am pretty confident that 2nd grade will be able to do this because when I talked about syllables and creating lyrics in 1st grade, the students knew exactly what to do.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Composer is Dead

I absolutely love this book! I am going to use it with my 3rd grade unit on the instruments of the orchestra.

I found the book narrated by the author on YouTube.  A college music student created these videos as a project. The book is in three parts.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Instrument Scavenger Hunt

In 3rd grade, we are beginning our lesson on the instruments of the orchestra and their families. Being an instrumentalist, I am really excited about this unit. Thankfully, I am fortunate enough to have an instrument from each family to demonstrate for the kids (and hopefully spark some interest in band)!

Since the instrument lesson can seem rather "hands-off", I created an instrument scavenger hunt. We will do this activity after we have covered each family. The students will travel around our end of the building to search out riddles. Once we find a riddle, as a team, we will solve it. The students will record the answer on their hunt sheet.

Here are my riddles.

1. We come as a pair, you could say that we’re twins.
We’re shiny and crash when you play us, my friend.
If you like to make noise and to march in a band,
You’ll love us ’cause we make those marches sound grand!
I’m a ____________________.

2. You can beat me and I won’t get red in the face.
I come in all sizes from snare down to bass.
All bands like to use me to keep a good beat.
As you march me along on your two little feet.
I’m a _________________.

3. I sit on the floor and you sit in a chair.
You play with a bow that’s made of horse hair.
I’m played in a orchestra, a nice wooden fellow.
My name is five letters, they call me a ____________.

4.  If you ask for keys ,you won’t get a car.
But they are black and white, on the bench sits a star.
I’m a _________________.

5. I’m played with a mallet, that’s easy to see.
And there are bars that are big and small across me.
I’m made of wood and come in different sizes.
My music makes lots of terrific surprises!
I’m a _______________.

6.  I have four short strings, but you can’t tie a knot.
I do have a bow so you can play me a lot!
I’m a  ___________________.

7.  I’m held in your hand, and sometimes I’m round.
I need you to shake me or I won’t make a sound.
I jingle and jangle with small metal pieces.
When you leave me alone, my melody ceases.
I’m a ________________.

8. I’m silver and narrow and held in your hands.
Just blow across me for you woodwind fans.
A piccolo’s my cousin, but I’m just a bit longer.
I bet you know now, or do you still have to wonder?
I’m a ________________.

9. Bugs Bunny has played me, charming that snake.
I am an instrument, a lot of work, I do take.
I am long and skinny and double of reed
My instrument is one that every orchestra does need!
I’m a ____________________

10. I am made of brass that slides up and down
If played too loud, you just might frown.
I have a low voice, this is true.
I am part of the brass, there is a clue.

I’m a _________________________

11. I am the instrument that Mrs. Butler plays
Curly and shiny, an instrument that pays.
You can see me at Christmas, on the tree
But that, my friends, is a silly version of me.
I’m a _______________________

Friday, October 5, 2012

Goin' on a Bear Hunt

Recently, I did a Kindergarten lesson on the book, "Going on a Bear Hunt." They kids loved it and have asking to play the game again and again.

First, I read the book to them. Then we watched this video from Greg and Steve. It is really awesome!

The kids acted out all the movements and got really into it. Next, we played Grumpy Grizzly. This was a total hit!

The kids sit in a circle forming a cave. One student is "sleeping" in the middle. He is the bear. While the we sang the song, the bear pretending to be sleeping. One student was the "sneaker", sneaking around the bear during the song. On the last phrase of the song, "never, ever, ever wake him UP!", the bear pops awake and tags the sneaker. Then the sneaker is the bear.

They have been asking to play this game again and again!