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Monday, August 31, 2015

Mommy Monday: re-organized entryway- back to school

Well, this is finally it, folks- the day I've been talking about for weeks now- my girls officially start preschool today! Crazy. I've been doing a lot of organizing in preparation- setting up a meal planning system for their lunches, reorganizing their toys, their closets, and their visual calendar and chore chart, setting up school memory binders and more- and today I have one last change to share with you: our newly reorganized entryway. The changes are small but significant enough to make our mornings smoother, and I think I'm as ready as I'll ever be to get these kids to school today!


So, obviously, the first change I made was to add some hooks for the girls' backpacks. I had purposely put the original hooks up high enough so that the girls couldn't reach them when we moved into this apartment 2 years ago, but now I wanted them to have a place to put their backpacks away without my help. Some simple command hooks were all I needed!


The other change I made is something you can't see in these pictures: I finally organized the inside of the bench! Maybe I'm crazy for even showing you this, but let's look at the "before" shot:


Yep. There were literally shoes, blankets, backpacks, and anything else you can think of just thrown in there. This picture is actually better than what is was at one point- the girls' shoes from the previous summer and winter (which, of course, no longer fit them) were still in there until sometime in July when I finally pulled them out. Yeah. So now here's what it looks like after some simple TLC:


Bins. The answer is always bins. Doesn't it look so much better?!? These cute little bins are from Walmart. They were super-cheap and they have a ton of them for back-to-school season. I love that they are so bright and colorful too! There is one bin for each girl's shoes, one for mine, and another for random stuff like sunscreen, sidewalk chalk, and bubbles. Because everyone needs bubbles in their entryway, just in case. Since there wasn't a good way to fit another row of bins or reconfigure them to fit more, I decided to leave the blankets and extra backpacks (and my comparatively-giant sneakers) around the outside of the bins. Since the bins all hook to each other, they don't really slide around, which is awesome.

So, that's it! A couple of command hooks, 4 bins, and a little de-cluttering later, I think our entryway is now school-ready. If you want to see what my entryway was like before the makeover, you can read my original post about my entryway here. And with that, I'm off to the races- wish us luck! :)

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Planner Share: August-September 2015

Welcome to my first (hopefully monthly) planner share! Now that my planner set up is pretty much a well-oiled machine (which, granted, I do keep tweaking, because I'm obsessed), I'm dipping my toes into the planner decorating world. I certainly do not have plans to start covering my weekly pages in stickers, putting washi tape all over every page, or painting nature scenes with watercolors around the page borders- I honestly don't have the time or the funds to do that, nor is it really my style- but I have always been a bit of an artist at heart and am definitely a lover of color.



My secret love is watching videos on YouTube of people sharing their planners, or doing "plan with me" videos where they decorate their planner pages on camera. Most of the people who do these videos regularly are using their planner as more of a scrapbook (and, as I've come to find out, many of them keep a separate paper or electronic planner that is their actual/practical planner), but it is amazing to see what they come up with- if you're a planner addict like me and you've never seen any of these videos, go search for "plan with me" on YouTube. Just make sure you have a few hours set aside of this purpose (don't say I didn't warn you!).

For now, my idea is to try to add a little color and fun to my monthly calendar pages and share those with you each month. After trying it out for the first time this summer, I've already discovered some things that I thought I would like that are definitely not my thing, but I'm going to share them with you anyway so we can learn together. Alright? OK!

The first month I attempted to decorate was August (I've hidden some of the information but you get the idea):


So yeah, you can see I was going for a summer theme and a back-to-school theme in one... I do kindof like the cute little teacher owl in the corner but I do not love the other flower sticker. I actually had some other ones on the sides too that I didn't like- I managed to get those off without ripping the page but that flower was pretty stuck so it stayed. I'm also not a fan of the fact that you cannot read a darned thing I wrote on the patterned washi tape. I won't be doing that again. What I do love are the little banners/flags, which I made myself from scrapbook paper (here's my tutorial for making your own sticky notes), and the strip of scrapbook paper that I put at the top of the month to write down a "summer bucket list". I also like the little icon stickers I made (here's a tutorial on how I made those), but I'm not completely thrilled with the larger stickers, like the green one you see towards the bottom. I use different colored pens for different categories- one for the girls' schedule, one for social events, another for appointments, etc. In the past, that was pretty much all the color that I had on my monthly pages, but it does help me quickly find the information I need when I am looking for something.

Here's what I have so far for September:


I decided to do the scrapbook paper strip again, and I also stuck a few stickers in, just to give them another chance (by the way, the stickers in both month's layouts are from the $1 sticker books at Michael's). I'm still on the fence- they're definitely cute but it feels too cutesy for me. I might just give the sticker books to my girls- we'll see. I did switch to using only plain colored washi, with a black sharpie pen, for longer events I need to note, and I like that much better. The yellow strips are sticky notes, just because I wanted to try it. I think I like the washi better.

That's it for this month- I'm hoping to share the previous month and the upcoming one at the end of each month. I'm enjoying the creative process of figuring out a way to add some more color and fun to my planner in my own way. Have any of you tried to decorate your planner? What do you use?

I'm linking up with Keeping Up with Mrs. Harris for her Plan With Me Sundays linky! Make sure to click on the picture below to see all the awesome planners :)

Plan with Me Sundays - Linky Party

Friday, August 28, 2015

Fermata Fridays: August 28, 2015


Welcome to this week's installment of my weekly linky party, Fermata Fridays! This is a chance for music education bloggers to share blog posts with readers and bloggers alike, so we can all mingle and learn from each other. Readers, you are going to love all of the awesome blog posts that are out there- I hope you discover some new blogs to follow and get some new inspiration for your teaching! Bloggers, make sure you read the directions carefully before linking up to make sure we keep the party fun for everyone. Thanks! :)

Here are the rules for the linky party:

1. Add the linky image to your blog post, blog sidebar, linky party roundup, or other similar location on your blog and link it back to the party. Copy and paste the code for this button, or use the image above and link to the label "Fermata Fridays".

<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://caldwellorganizedchaos.blogspot.com/search/label/Fermata%20Fridays"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-8g8YQudJiB8/VaoWoBnpJ3I/AAAAAAAADuU/GeG51-nOB0Q/s1600/fermata%2Bfriday%2Bbutton.jpg" /></a></div><br />





2. Add up to two blog post links to the linky. The posts can be old or new (but no posts that have already been linked up to Fermata Fridays in the past), on any topic related to music teaching, but must not be primarily featuring a product. It's fine to have a link to a relevant product within a post, but that should not be the primary focus of the post. I reserve the right to delete a link that is too product-focused. If you're not sure, just ask! :)

3. Leave a thoughtful comment on at least two other links, including the one right before yours. Add #fermatafridays to your comment so bloggers know where you found them!

4. Pin at least one other link to one of your Pinterest boards.

5. Make sure you are following me on Pinterest. I will be pinning every link to the Fermata Fridays board each week.

6. Make sure you are following me on Facebook and check back next Friday- I will be featuring one of the links from the previous week's linky on my Facebook page each Friday!

The linky will be open every Friday starting at 4:00am EST and will be open for links all day.



Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Teacher Tuesday: long range planning for mixed methods elementary music

OK, I can already tell you that this is most likely going to turn into another one of those multi-post topics. Long-range planning is a huge topic in elementary music, and understandably so- there is just so much to consider, so little standardization in how, when, and even what we teach in the United States, and inadequate training to do it in most teacher training programs. In spite of all of this, I believe that long-range planning is an essential component of effective teaching. So today I'm going to attempt to just scratch the surface of how I go about my long-range planning each year.


The first thing to note is that I am not a die-hard proponent of any one music education methodology or philosophy. I have taken a few levels and training courses in Kodaly, Orff, Dalcroze, and Suzuki, and I have incorporated elements from all of them into my teaching. I will admit that, while I do believe strongly in the effectiveness of my "mixed methods" approach, it also does not make my planning any easier. If you are a follower of one methodology, there tend to be sequencing and curriculum guides to go with that approach. So if you are someone who primarily follows a particular methodology, I would suggest that you start there. If, however, you are like me, you have a bit more juggling to do.

My starting point for long-range planning is my district's curriculum. After re-writing it this summer together with some colleagues, our curriculum is now based on the new national core arts standards, and incorporating the old standards and benchmarks we had under the old national standards. I won't get into that here (maybe in a future post!), but suffice it to say that for each grade, we have mapped out particular concepts and tasks that should be covered. This document makes it a lot easier to figure out what I need to teach in each grade, but the process I want to discuss today is taking those concepts and mapping out a year's worth of lessons.


I write down my long-range plans in the front section of my planner by grade level, divided into months. Since we start at the end of August and finish at the end of June, I plan out my year from September through May. The beginning of the year is busy with establishing procedures and rapport, and the end of the year is just, well, crazy. Plus if I'm not able to keep up with my plans for some reason, I know I have some wiggle room at the end of the year.

The first things I fill in are consistent "units" that I do each year. For me, this includes review of rhythmic and melodic concepts from the previous year for all grades 1-6 in September, a focus on rhythm through some special activities during Music In Our Schools Month in March, and a focus on the music from an outside culture in April. For 3rd grade I also have focused time on Recorder Karate, and I introduce treble clef letter names right at the beginning of 3rd grade and bass clef letter names at the beginning of 6th grade, and I do some activities to lead into treble and bass clef at the end of 2nd and 5th grade, respectively.

Sidenote: see those sticky notes? Once I make my first draft (which is ALWAYS in pencil for obvious reasons), if I realize there are concepts that I need to include somewhere but I don't have time to figure out where to put it, I write it on a sticky note so I remember to add it in later. I also use sticky notes to note songs and activities that I come across online, on the radio, or somewhere else that I want to use in that grade level.

Once those are in, I take 1 grade at a time and start filling in all of the remaining skills and concepts that need to be covered. I'm not planning out every specific lesson or activity here- just listing the concepts I am overtly focusing on and noting specific songs or activities that I know I want to use for that concept.


When I am looking at all of the skills and concepts and deciding on when to teach what, I look for 2 things: 1) any skills or concepts that are fundamental to the rest of the concepts they will be learning that year and 2) anything that could easily be combined into a cohesive activity. It can be overwhelming to look at everything students are supposed to learn in one year, but many things can easily be combined and, in fact, complement each other- in our kindergarten skills, for example, one says that students will improvise sol-mi patterns, and another says that students will improvise answers to the teacher's questions in question and answer format. Those two practically beg to be combined into activities throughout the year where the teacher sings a question to students using sol-mi, and students respond on sol-mi- done, and done!

In terms of fundamental concepts, those are generally the melodic and rhythmic concepts that are new each year. After some time to review, I like to dive straight into new rhythmic and melodic concepts and spend some time practicing those, then I can use song material that includes those concepts to reinforce them throughout the rest of the year. Students can study Sonata form while reviewing sixteenth notes by studying a piece that is in Sonata form and has sixteenth notes in it.

Well, as anticipated, this post barely scratches the surface of my long-range planning, but I will have to save the rest for a future post before this turns into the longest blog post ever (and gives everyone a headache!). *update* Click here to see my post on figuring out what to teach in which grade based on the national standards! Do you incorporate a variety of teaching methodologies into your teaching? How do you go about planning out your year? Share your ideas in the comments and best wishes to everyone on this school year (whether you're already in the thick of it or still sipping drinks by the pool!).

Monday, August 24, 2015

Mommy Monday: school memory binders

Well, the day is quickly approaching: we are officially one week away from my girls' first day of preschool. I'm pretty nervous about keeping up with everything and about how the adjustment period will go (for them and for me!), but I am doing my best to put systems in place to make the logistical challenges of sending 2 children to preschool for the first time a little more manageable.


I have seen some amazing setups on other blogs for keeping track of everything- report cards, art work, memorabilia, school pictures, awards, you name it- in one place for a child's entire school career. And initially, I was considering setting up something similar. The thought of having one place to dump stuff and have it already organized so it's easy to find when you're feeling nostalgic is just amazing! But reality hit when I went to pick up the supplies: Setting up a sorting system for 2 children, 15 years of school each, with sub-categories for each year, is expensive! Not to mention bulky. So as much as I would love to have a place for anything and everything, I decided I was OK with having a place to organize the essentials for each year, and save the more sentimental things for scrapbooks, boxes in the attic, or some other less structured system.


I used some cheap 1" binders, clear pouches, and double-sided pocket tabs to make my school memory binders. Since they were infants I have color coded the girls' things with green for one and purple for the other, so I got the closest colors I could find in the cheap binders to color code each binder. I may add some fancier, cuter covers eventually, but for now I've decided to go with a cover that has their name (covered in the picture to protect their information) and a place to put a small picture from each school year:


I think it will be really cool to see them grow up once the spaces are filled in!

Inside, I have one tab with pockets and one clear pouch for each grade (2 years of preschool through 12th grade). I wrote the grade on the tab and the sheet of paper on the front side pocket, with a place to put a picture of them from that year- I haven't decided yet if I'll put a picture from their first day of school here, or their school picture.


On the back side of that same tabbed pocket, I have a sheet to add in some basic information about the child. I am planning to fill this out at the beginning of each year- I figure the summer is the only time I'l have time to do something like that anyway. There's also a space to put a wallet-size photo (again, not sure if I'll use a first day picture or school picture- I'll put the opposite of whatever one I put on the front) and also space at the bottom for their handprint and/or a drawing.


In the clear pouches I am planning to keep report cards and any major awards or other really significant papers- no more. I figure I'll also have space in the pocket tabs to add other papers if I really want to as well, but the idea is to keep it to just the essentials, as a way to get an overview of their growth over time.

I really love the setup- it's easy to use, it's simple and relatively small, and it's all set up and ready so, unless I get bored or change my mind, I don't have to do this again. The one drawback for me that I didn't anticipate until I put this together is that the pouches stick out over the tabs.


The pouches are clear so you can still see through them a little and find your place, but it does defeat the purpose of the tabs somewhat. Oh well. I do like the colors of the tabbed folders and I do like the idea of the pouch, which will hold more in one place without getting bulky (including 8.5x11 sheets without folding them, which is something I wanted).

I'm trying to tell myself that I'm ready, but I'm not sure how well I'm convincing myself! If you missed it, you might want to check out the system I've set up for planning their school lunches in this post from last week. What organizational systems do you have in place for staying organized during your children's school year?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Fermata Fridays: August 21, 2015


Welcome to this week's installment of my weekly linky party, Fermata Fridays! This is a chance for music education bloggers to share blog posts with readers and bloggers alike, so we can all mingle and learn from each other. Readers, you are going to love all of the awesome blog posts that are out there- I hope you discover some new blogs to follow and get some new inspiration for your teaching! Bloggers, make sure you read the directions carefully before linking up to make sure we keep the party fun for everyone. Thanks! :)

Here are the rules for the linky party:

1. Add the linky image to your blog post, blog sidebar, linky party roundup, or other similar location on your blog and link it back to the party. Copy and paste the code for this button, or use the image above and link to the label "Fermata Fridays".

<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://caldwellorganizedchaos.blogspot.com/search/label/Fermata%20Fridays"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-8g8YQudJiB8/VaoWoBnpJ3I/AAAAAAAADuU/GeG51-nOB0Q/s1600/fermata%2Bfriday%2Bbutton.jpg" /></a></div><br />





2. Add up to two blog post links to the linky. The posts can be old or new (but no posts that have already been linked up to Fermata Fridays in the past), on any topic related to music teaching, but must not be primarily featuring a product. It's fine to have a link to a relevant product within a post, but that should not be the primary focus of the post. I reserve the right to delete a link that is too product-focused. If you're not sure, just ask! :)

3. Leave a thoughtful comment on at least two other links, including the one right before yours. Add #fermatafridays to your comment so bloggers know where you found them!

4. Pin at least one other link to one of your Pinterest boards.

5. Make sure you are following me on Pinterest. I will be pinning every link to the Fermata Fridays board each week.

6. Make sure you are following me on Facebook and check back next Friday- I will be featuring one of the links from the previous week's linky on my Facebook page each Friday!

The linky will be open every Friday starting at 4:00am EST and will be open for links all day.



Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Giveaway and Sale!

Lots of great news today- I have a sale AND a giveaway going on! Make sure you read all the way to the end of this post to enter the awesome giveaway- it ends on 8/25 so hurry! :)

TeachersPayTeachers has announced a one-day-only site-wide sale today, August 19th, at a Back-to -School 'boost sale". This sale is perfect timing for those of you who are, like me, about to go back to school next week (aaaahh! not ready!). Make sure you use the code MORE15 at checkout and you will get 28% off of everything in my store!

http://i885.photobucket.com/albums/ac55/RebeccaB_2009/more%20love%204%20back%20to%20school%20ig.jpg

If you haven't already, this is the perfect time to get organized for the school year with one of the Entire Life Planners. If you haven't seen them yet, here's an overview of what's included:


I've recently added a new lesson planning format at customer request, so here's a rundown of all the options you now have for lesson planning formats to help you find the one that best fits your planning style and teaching schedule! The photos link to the Entire Life Planners, which include planner pages for lesson planning, music teaching, home, and budget/business tracking, but you can also mix and match just the parts you need- the link to each included portion is included in the description in my store so just click on the ones you want to purchase them separately :) Every planner has the same contents except for the weekly lesson planning pages- you can see a preview of more of the pages in the other sections by clicking on the pictures.

Dated Five Lessons:
This is the one I use personally. It has space for 5 lesson blocks (which are big enough to split in half if you have more classes on some days etc) each day, and includes space to note life events etc for weekends as well. Each day for the entire 2015-16 school year is dated in the planner.

Dated Six Lessons:
This one is almost the same as the first one but just has 6 lesson blocks per day.

Dated Five Big Lessons:



This version includes more space for lesson planning, and has space for just the weekdays. If you don't need to keep track of many life events in your weekly planning but you do want more space for lesson plans, this one might be the best fit. I know many people who use this one plan their "life stuff" on the monthly calendars and that is enough space for them.

Dated Eight Big Lessons:



This version is for people who need a LOT of lesson planning space ;) Like the previous version, there are only weekdays, but there are 8 lesson planning blocks each day. There is also just one space at the top that is not labeled- you could use it for life events, prep work, or anything else you need.

Dated Weekly:
This version is for people who see classes on a weekly basis (so, for example, you see Ms Smith's 3rd grade class every Monday and Thursday) and only want to write down their lesson(s) for each grade or subject once for the week. The lesson planning boxes are big enough that if you see some or all of your classes twice a week, you could split the blocks in half with a line and write both down in that space. Weekends are included in this one as well.

Rotational:


This version is for people who see classes on a rotational basis (so, for example, you see Ms. Smith's 3rd grade class every A day and C day) and want to plan by rotation rather than by the dates you will see each class. There is a place to write down the start date of each rotation at the top of each page.

And now for the GIVEAWAY! :)

I am giving away a set of planner swag to one lucky winner! This set includes all the extras that I have in my store to add to your planner: some inspirational teaching quotes (for dividers, journaling cards, stickers etc), perpetual calendars (for those who may want a different monthly or yearly calendar format), and two seasonal planners- a holidays planner and a summer planner! Click on the pictures below to see what is included in each one. You can enter the giveaway twice, and you have 1 week to do so, so make sure you enter! Whether you are the proud owner of one of my planners or not, you will find some wonderful stylish and organizational items in this set! Happy planning, and best wishes to all of you who are starting the new school year- let's make it a great one! :)





a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Teacher Tuesday: triangle storage and organization

I love having lots of small percussion instruments for my students to use in class, and I am thrilled with the open shelving space that I have in my room to keep everything. But no matter what storage space you may have, some percussion instruments just don't lend themselves to neat and tidy storage, while making the instruments easily accessible for students to take out and put away independently. Last year I tackled one of my biggest offenders: hand drums (read about what I did in this post), and LOVE my new system. This summer it was time to tackle the other big issue: triangles! 

I used to have all of my triangles stored in a small plastic bin- the kind with holes in the sides- and it was terrible. The beaters were always falling out of the holes on the sides of the bin, the holders were always getting caught on other triangles or falling off and disappearing into the great abyss, and students had to dig around to find the holder before pulling out the triangle. 

My solution:


Can you tell what it is?


Yep, the hooks are for hanging necklaces bracelets, and the tray at the bottom is for holding earrings, rings, and other bits of jewelry. 

I wanted a way to hang the triangles so the holders wouldn't get tangled or lost, a place to keep the beaters, and I needed the whole thing to be portable so I could bring all of the triangles to the class if we were using them in another part of the room. This fits the bill perfectly! There are lots of jewelry organizers with the same functionality that should work equally well (just make sure the hooks are high enough to hold a triangle), but I got mine here.

How do you organize and store your triangles? I'm excited to have this new system ready for this school year- I think it will make it a lot easier to get them out and put them away quickly and easily!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Mommy Monday: lunchbox menu planning board

As a teacher, back-to-school season has always been an important time in my life. But this year I'm participating as a mom as well, and it is freaking me out!! My girls are 3 and will be starting full-time preschool in just 2 weeks. I know I know, it's *just* preschool, but just the fact that they now need backpacks alone is mind-blowing! I am excited for them in many ways, but there are going to be a lot of additional organizational challenges for me, with 2 kids going to school for the first time in 2 different classrooms. My biggest worry is the food. For the last 2 years, a wonderful lady watched the girls in her home during the day, and she fed them both breakfast and lunch. Although the school does offer both meals as well, they are... shall we say... not the food I would choose to feed my children on a regular basis. Plus breakfast would be too late for them- they are used to eating much earlier than when they serve breakfast at preschool. So, in an attempt to relieve my anxiety, I came up with a plan to stay organized with the girls' packed lunches!


When I first started thinking about what I needed to have in order to pack 2 lunches as quickly as possible each morning, there were 4 things I knew I needed: 1) lunch boxes with separate compartments, because my girls are in a phase where no foods must touch other foods, 2) a way to plan out what I needed for lunches a week at a time so I could continue to grocery shop once a week, 3) a way to try to make sure I have a balanced meal each day, and 4) a way to figure out where everything would go in the lunch box, so I don't have to complete a jigsaw puzzle each morning. 

The first thing I did was buy my lunch boxes (and some cupcake liners for smaller foods in bigger slots and, let's be honest, to add some fun color):


I love these lunchboxes because they are colorful, they don't leak between compartments no matter how you turn them, they are dishwasher safe, and they are pretty easy for the girls to open and close themselves. Also, they're not too expensive. I got them here (and the cupcake liners here).

After considering several different options, I landed on my latest favorite organization method: magnet boards! I picked up some 88c cookie sheets at Walmart and got to work.


I cut out shapes from the scrapbook paper to look like the 5 compartments in the lunchbox. I traced around a small cup for the circle, and just eye-balled the rest. Then I taped the shapes down with double-sided tape, and ended up with this: 


The next step was to make magnets with different foods that the girls would eat. I wanted to have a list of vegetables, fruit, protein, carb/snack, and dips. I asked the girls to tell me what they liked and we made a huge list together. Then I wrote each one on a piece of regular white paper that I stuck to these self-adhesive magnet sheets. I used a different color pen for each category.


Then I just cut out each word. I have plenty of space leftover to add more foods as we think of them, or to use with other projects. It was after I cut all of the magnets out that I realized that there were a lot of them, and they were going to take up a lot of space on the magnet board! Originally I had wanted to have the whole thing on one cookie sheet, with the extra magnets off to the side and the shapes for the lunchbox compartments on the other. There was no way they would all fit, so I just used another cookie sheet, made column for each food group with more scrapbook paper to match the colors I used for the words, and ended up with this second board:

I used some command strips to hang them up on the wall right in between the cabinet where I keep the lunchbox supplies and my command center where I plan out my week and our dinners.


Woohoo! My plan is to use them to plan out lunches for a week at a time. I'm planning to pick out 3-4 items from each category and re-use some of them a few times during the week (as well as using the veggies and fruits for other meals). The reason I want to have the compartments as a visual is because I can't assign a category to a particular compartment, because some things are too big or too small for each area. So if I have a banana in the big section, I can put some meatballs in one of the smaller ones. My plan is to put all of the items for each area on the board, then move them off to the side as I use them. That way I can avoid repeating foods too much (we all know how 3-year-olds feel about eating the same food 2 days in a row!! unless it's ice cream...).


I'm sure this system will evolve (and potentially be completely replaced) as I find my rhythm, but for now I am happy to know I have a system and a plan to follow, so hopefully I won't be running around on a Thursday morning trying to figure out what to pack for lunch!

Those of you with more experience than I with packing lunches every morning: do you have a system for planning out lunches? What do you use? I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Fermata Fridays: August 14, 2015


Welcome to this week's installment of my weekly linky party, Fermata Fridays! This is a chance for music education bloggers to share blog posts with readers and bloggers alike, so we can all mingle and learn from each other. Readers, you are going to love all of the awesome blog posts that are out there- I hope you discover some new blogs to follow and get some new inspiration for your teaching! Bloggers, make sure you read the directions carefully before linking up to make sure we keep the party fun for everyone. Thanks! :)

Here are the rules for the linky party:

1. Add the linky image to your blog post, blog sidebar, linky party roundup, or other similar location on your blog and link it back to the party. Copy and paste the code for this button, or use the image above and link to the label "Fermata Fridays".

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2. Add up to two blog post links to the linky. The posts can be old or new (but no posts that have already been linked up to Fermata Fridays in the past), on any topic related to music teaching, but must not be primarily featuring a product. It's fine to have a link to a relevant product within a post, but that should not be the primary focus of the post. I reserve the right to delete a link that is too product-focused. If you're not sure, just ask! :)

3. Leave a thoughtful comment on at least two other links, including the one right before yours. Add #fermatafridays to your comment so bloggers know where you found them!

4. Pin at least one other link to one of your Pinterest boards.

5. Make sure you are following me on Pinterest. I will be pinning every link to the Fermata Fridays board each week.

6. Make sure you are following me on Facebook and check back next Friday- I will be featuring one of the links from the previous week's linky on my Facebook page each Friday!

The linky will be open every Friday starting at 4:00am EST and will be open for links all day.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Teacher Tuesday: kindergarten lesson for "Going On A Bear Hunt"

I love using books and stories in my music lessons, especially with the younger students! Today I'll be sharing my favorite activities to use with the book, "We're Going On a Bear Hunt" by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury.


First of all, this book is just the best. I have never met a child who doesn't like this story. You can get the book here:


The first thing I do when I use this book with kindergarten is read the story to them out loud. Before I start, I tell them to listen for "sound words". I read the story with a steady beat, and show the steady beat with my arms (swinging back and forth like I'm marching) which I say the words. I don't explicitly tell them to, but the students usually start keeping the beat along with me while they listen.

Afterwards, we talk about the "sound words" in the story- wonderful words like "swishy swashy" and "squelch squerch". Then I ask for volunteers to try making the sound with their own voices. I read the story again, but this time I ask all of the students to march on the beat during the refrain ("we're going on a bear hunt...") and make the sound with their voice when I get to the sound words. They love this! I love it too because besides being silly, it helps reinforce the concept of voice timbres, found / nature sounds, and steady beat.

Next we review the steps in the journey that they heard in the story. By now they have heard it twice, so they can usually remember the different parts of the excursion, like going through the grass and into the cave. Then I introduce our own bear hunt through the classroom! I use this activity to assess and practice their ability to follow a set of directions, their gross motor skills, and their understanding of directional vocabulary. I just use whatever I have laying around the room- this past year we had the following steps:





There's nothing fancy about it at all, but the children react as if it were a real adventure- they get so excited to take their turn! I demonstrate it once for them, emphasizing the direction words (over, through, etc), then have them go through all of the steps one at a time. Last year I had quite a few students that struggled with directions, so this was really good practice for them! Remembering 4 things in sequence like this is not as easy as it may seem for this age.

After our adventure through the classroom, we went over to the projector and copied the motions while we watched the video of Michael Rosen, the author, reciting the story. If you've never seen this video, you have to watch it- it is absolutely mesmerizing!


You can use these activities over a period or several lesson, use all or some of them in one lesson, or incorporate various parts into other lessons and revisit the story. I've done it all different ways and had great success with each. The activity where students listen for sound words and use their voice to make those sounds is a great lead-in to a deeper study on timbres in general. I recently posted some ideas for using another book about a bear, "The Bear Snores On", in this post, which is a great way to study timbres.

I'm linking up with Jennifer Bailey at Sing To Kids to share some of my favorite lessons to use with children's literature. Head on over to the link to see tons of other amazing ideas from other music teacher bloggers!

Have you ever used this book in your music classes? I would love to hear any other ideas you might have to go with this book! Leave a comment :)