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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Fermata Friday: October 30, 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 until 4:00am EST Saturday morning.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Teacher Tuesday: favorite fall music lessons



I'm linking up with some other wonderful music teacher bloggers today to share one of my favorite fall-themed music lesson. Make sure you check out all of the posts linked up at the end of this post- tons of great ideas have been shared already and I have actually used several in my classes already!

One of my favorite songs for fall is "Autumn Leaves Are Falling":

If somebody knows the source for this song, please let me know. This is another one of those songs that I picked up somewhere long ago and have no idea where it came from! I've done some research to no avail, but I would love to give credit if I can find the source!

I love this song because it is in a minor key, and it perfectly captures the mood of fall leaves. I use this song with Kindergarten to practice steady beat. Usually I start by having students pat the beat on their legs while I sing, then after we discuss the words, they keep the beat while swaying their hands back and forth, gradually going from high to low (mimicking a falling leaf), then do the same with a scarf. After that I add instruments. This year I used hand bells and boomwhackers on D and A and had them play on the beat, but I have also used it in the past with barred instruments, as well as adding some simple rhythmic ostinati on unpitched percussion. The students love the song year after year, and I love having a song in a minor key to add to their repertoire.

Do you have a favorite music lesson with a fall theme? Share your ideas by adding your blog post to the linky below!


Monday, October 26, 2015

Mommy Monday: my working mom purse essentials


Today I'm sharing the items that I always keep in my purse. These are the items I want to have with me at all times as a elementary teacher and single mother to twin preschoolers. And I want to hear what you keep in your purse too! I've included instructions to link up at the end of this post- I can't wait to see what you carry around with you! :)

So let's be clear: I am not by any means claiming that this is everything I keep in my purse. I can tell you for sure that I have plenty of other things in my purse right now, including lots of stuff that should be in a trash can, not a purse, and things that I have been meaning to take one time and take out, but have been riding around in my purse for weeks instead. No, this is not my purse dumped out on the floor, but these are the things that I permanently keep in my purse.


Some things you just have to have on hand as a mom (although that list has been shrinking as the girls have gotten older): wet wipes, tissues, and some medicine for scrapes, bug bites, burns, and anything else you can think of (this is the one I have- it's pretty awesome). Then there are the things that I have kept in my purse for myself long before I ever had children: oil removing sheets, gum, and body spray. I always keep a black ink pen for filling out forms, signing checks, and all those times you need a pen and nobody else seems to have one, and I keep a spare cell phone charger in my purse too. Because yes, it's true, I really can't survive too long without my phone. I also keep a small umbrella in there, a small box full of inspirational quotes and pictures (see how I made it here), and of course, my teacher / home / life planner (get a complete tour of mine here and see how I printed and set it up here). Because yeah, I am lost without that thing.

My newest additions to my purse mainstays are the two folders. At the beginning of the school year I got a big packet of information from each of the girls' teachers sent home in those folders, labeled with their names on the front. I've found it helpful to keep the most important information from each classroom (like contact info, school holidays, procedures and policies for when they are sick etc) in my purse so I can quickly pull it out and reference it when I need to. When I get something that I can't simply add to my planner or that I need to keep on hand for more than a few days, I put it in the folder so I don't lose track of the information. This way I don't have a bunch of loose papers getting crumpled up in the bottom of my purse either!

The one thing not pictured, of course, is my wallet. In my wallet I keep my credit/debit cards, my checkbook, medical insurance cards, and a few other odds and ends. And of course when I'm out and about my phone is with me too.

OK, now it's your turn! What are the things you always keep in your purse? Use the image below somewhere in your blog post, and add the link to your post to the linky below. It will be open for a week (until the end of the day November 1st). I can't wait to see your purse essentials!!




Thursday, October 22, 2015

Fermata Friday: October 23, 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 until 4:00am EST Saturday morning.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Back to the Future: Giveaway and Sale!!

Any "Back to the Future" fans out there? If you weren't already, you will be now! ;)


In the "Back to the Future" movies, Marty travels on October 21st, 2015- today!! To celebrate this auspicious occasion, several music stores on TeachersPayTeachers are hosting a giveaway and sale event.

To enter the giveaway, go here and find the letter at the top of the store page (and write it down somewhere)! Click on the letter to go to the next store and get the next letter, and write down each letter until you've found the secret message. Along the way, make sure to follow each store by clicking on the green star next to their name and check out their items on sale! Once you've got the secret message, come back here to enter the message in the giveaway.

Search TeachersPayTeachers for #BTFMusic to find tons of awesome products on sale today only for $1.21 (for 1.21 gigawatts - go watch the movie!). There are tons of great items and this is an unbelievable price so don't miss these! In my store, you'll find a brand new product on sale for $1.21 today: a growing bundle of composition worksheets!


In the bundle I have included all of the treble and bass clef melodic composition worksheets, plus the rhythm composition and beat strip composition worksheets I use in my classes, plus several other versions for different assignments in different time signatures or keys. Many of the worksheets include a pitch and rhythm bank for students to reference. There is plenty of space for big writing, and the parameters are limited to make it more accessible for young students. As I create more worksheets they will be added to the bundle, and you can re-download the new worksheets for free! There are already 49 worksheets in the file so that's a good start already :)

Don't forget to enter the giveaway- go grab your secret message and enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Teacher Tuesday: classroom jobs in elementary music

As part of my effort to build community in my classroom, I introduced classroom jobs in my elementary music classroom this year. I have found it to be a very effective way to encourage students to work together, take ownership of the equipment and materials, and feel connected to the community in my classroom.


I have 6 jobs in my room- one for each color group in my class. The students are assigned to a color team according to where they sit in the classroom, and we have actually rolled out the team system building-wide in a quasi-Harry Potter house system, where we do team-building activities and contests by team (so the students on the red team in every class work together), and it has been fantastic (read more about my color teams here). I assigned a job to each team and switch the jobs halfway through each trimester, so everyone will do each job once by the end of the year.

My 6 jobs are: teacher helper, line leader, supplies, cleanup, attendance, and compliment. Teacher helpers do any odd jobs that come up- closing the door, running an errand, turning off the lights, etc. The line leader team is the first to line up at the end of class (read about my end of class procedures here). The supplies team passes out supplies like pencils, clipboards, mallets, and papers, and the cleanup team cleans up those supplies when we're done. The attendance team doesn't actually take official attendance- I don't record attendance in my room- but when students are missing I ask them to find out if they are absent, in the bathroom, or somewhere else (to make sure I have everyone in my room that I should!). 

The compliment job is my favorite. I give out a happy note to one student at the end of each class (read more about that here) and it has been my number-one motivator and community builder since I started the system almost 2 years ago. This year I decided that, instead of just receiving compliments from me, students should be practicing giving compliments to each other as well. At the beginning of the year I explained that, at the end of each class, someone from the compliment team would be responsible for giving a specific compliment to someone else who is not on their team. I made the compliment open to anything they wanted- clothing, general personality traits, things they did in music class, or anything else that they knew the person would appreciate hearing. So far the students have been doing pretty well! And I am noticing that they are getting better at being specific in their compliments, and the students look forward to the compliment each day almost as much as they do the happy note :)


The students take their jobs very seriously. There are several classes where the compliment team will start whispering to each other, deciding on who and what to compliment, as we are lining up. If I ever fall back into my old ways and start passing out supplies, the supply team will actually get offended and insist that they should be handing them out! It does sometimes take more time initially when they are learning how to pass things out or how to give a compliment, but I think overall it has actually saved time because I can take care of other things while they help out. More importantly, the students are working together and contributing to the music classroom community, and that is building respect for each other and for the things we use, and it is building self-esteem and cooperation as well. I'd call that a win!

Do you use classroom jobs in your music classroom? I'd love to hear which ones you use as well- share your ideas in the comments below!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Mommy Monday: inspirational quote box for your purse

Last year, I made a little box to put in my purse for those days when things are just a little too crazy and life feels overwhelming. I made one for my sister as well and it was a great gift to give for Christmas! I have pulled it out a few times and I love having it there with me.


This was a pretty simple DIY project. For the box, I took an empty Altoids mint tin and covered it in duct tape, then added a few gold stickers that I had in my stash. It would probably look nicer if you spray painted it, but duct tape was what I had on hand so that's what I used! ;)


I do like that the tin is small and unassuming, so I don't have to worry much about someone else opening it. Not that people are digging through my purse or anything... But still.

I designed the images for the cards on my computer. You could use colored paper and hand-write on them, or you could use pretty much any software on your computer to print your own. I added some quotes- Bible verses, song lyrics, and other inspirational quotes I love- to some, and put photos of my favorite people on others. So when I flip through the cards, I am reminded of the people that I love (and love me back!), focus my thoughts on what's important and valuable to me, and remind myself of why I am doing what I am doing every day.

If you or someone you know is going through a difficult time, or just has a lot on their plate, this would be a great thing to make for you or your loved one! Do you keep anything in your purse to keep you inspired and focused on what matters?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Fermata Friday: October 16, 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 until 4:00am EST Saturday morning.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Teacher Tuesday: rhythm monster magnets for music composition

I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am to share my latest project with you- I've been working on it for a couple of months now, trying to figure out the whole system before I present it to my students, and I'm finally ready to use them in my classes this week!

Presenting: rhythm monster magnets!


I love doing composition with all of my students, even as young as Kindergarten, and when I saw Jennifer's idea for rhythm monsters last summer on her blog, The Yellow Brick Road, I was intrigued. Don't those little critters just look so darn cute?!? And I love the idea of showing the number of notes in each beat iconic-ly (Is that a word? Whatevs, you know what I mean). You can check out her post on her original epiphany (using googly eyes and puff balls) here:


My problem: I didn't like the idea of trying to glue stuff to puff balls. Trust me, I've done stuff like that before, and it's not pretty. You get little strings all over the glue bottle (or gun, or stick, or whatever you're using to administer adhesive), and it's a struggle to get the bottle away from the strings of glue each time without creating a sticky cobweb all over your face and clothing. I also wanted something more durable- if I'm gonna take the time to make so stinkin' many little monster thingies, they better last for years (and be used by hundreds of students)!

So these thoughts have been percolating for about a year, and this summer I finally landed on my solution: magnets! If you've been around a while, you know that magnet boards have become one of my standard fall-backs. They are durable enough for little hands, the materials are pretty cheap, and there are a wide variety of options readily available for materials as well. I will admit, this is no one hour project. If you're ready for a commitment it could probably be a weekend project, but for me I needed to pace myself so I didn't get mad and throw the whole thing out the window- it definitely requires some patience to make everything. But I am THRILLED with the results!

To make the basic set with quarter notes, paired eighth notes, and magnet boards, you'll need some magnets (I got these), googly eyes (I had some laying around from my kids' craft supplies but these are the same variety/sizes), craft glue, and cookie sheets (I found mine for 88c at Walmart). You'll also probably want electrical tape, but you could achieve the same effect with a black sharpie/ paint pen too (more on that later).


You can see the trial versions I made, to see how well the glue would hold, in the above picture. So far they are holding up just fine- definitely get glue like the kind you see in the picture. I borrowed some from my art teacher colleague, but you can find it at any craft store.

I wanted to be able to use my monsters for melodic composition as well, so I made one quarter and one paired eighth in each color and made 7 sets (one for each color group that I have set up for small groups in my room, plus one extra).


Since there are 5 colors, I can assign each color to a note in the pentatonic scale for my older students to create melodic compositions. For kindergarten I won't attach any meaning to the colors, and for first and second grade I will give them only enough colors for the notes they are using (sol and mi or mi-sol-la, respectively) if I decide to do anything melodic with them.

You could do plenty of fun composition activities if you just stop there, but I really wanted to have quarter rests and half notes as well. I spent a lot of time figuring out the best way to represent those with monsters- I wanted the half note to show one sound that takes up the "space" of two beats, and I wanted the rest to show the "space" of a beat but with no sound. For the half notes, I finally figured out my solution when I saw some mini popsicle sticks at Walmart. I enlisted the help of my 3-year-old's and colored the sticks to match the colors of the magnets (one of each color for each set):


I attached the popsicle stick to the bottom of the magnet (yes, the magnet is still strong enough to hold through the stick) and added a single (larger) eye to the top. My idea is that the sticks are like the monsters' tail? I may try to make them look more "realistic" at some point but for now they work ;)


For the quarter rests, I bought some clear marbles that have a flat base (made for aquariums and vases and such) and stuck a magnet dot on the bottom.


I love this idea because the students can see that the rest takes up a beat but it has not sound- I thought about just using magnets with no eyes but having something transparent seems clearer to me (no pun intended).


Time to set up the magnet boards (aka cookie sheets)! This is where things got a little sticky for me (seriously, I'm full of these puns today). You could easily write staff lines, beat boxes, or whatever you want directly onto the cookie sheets and call it a day, but I (in my infinite wisdom) decided that I wanted to use electrical tape so that I didn't have to worry about the lines fading or scratching off, and I could easily change the lines/boxes if I wanted. At first it seemed easy enough: I found these rolls of electrical tape for some ridiculously cheap price like 77c at Walmart and started cutting and taping:


The magnets fit perfectly on top of the width of the tape and I was ecstatic!


And then I remembered the constant struggle I encounter with students who draw notes "on the line" either above the line or barely touching the line. I needed a way to have them practice and see the line going through the middle of the note head.  (Hi, have we met? I'm Miss Obsessive-Perfectionist. Nice to meet you.) So back to the drawing magnet board I went, and I started cutting the strips in half length-wise. Let me tell you, this is where the tantrum almost kicked in. I finally bit the bullet and got myself a paper trimmer for $10 at JoAnn's and there was peace throughout the land (seriously, why did it take me so long to get one anyway?).


The other advantage of the thinner lines is that I now had space to put some beat boxes (I had space for 8) directly under the staff lines. I measured the boxes with my half notes to make sure they would take up 2 beats and then split the boxes in half. Now I can have students create rhythmic compositions in the beat boxes:


And, if I want, I can have them transfer that to a melodic composition by assigning a solfege note to each color (and have them show me, for example, if do is on the bottom line, where the other notes should go):


Are you as excited as I am yet??? Because this is SO COOL!!! I also put a simplified setup on the back of each cookie sheet, with just a line (for unpitched composition) and 4 beat boxes, for my younger students to use.


I made 6 cookie sheets (one for each color group in my seating chart- each group has 2-4 students depending on class size). All together, I spent just under $30 for this project (I already had magnet dots and googly eyes on hand- add a couple of dollars if you need to purchase those), and I have a set of composition manipulatives that I hope to use for years to come! I am excited because I think my monsters will help students better understand the rhythmic and melodic concepts they are practicing, get them used to creating their own rhythmic and melodic lines, and engage them in a fun way!


I can't wait to use them in my classes this week. I will be having my 2nd graders compose a short rhythmic pattern in their small groups to practice half notes, and my 3rd graders will be creating their first melodic composition to practice the pentatonic scale! After some practice with the monsters I will have them transfer their compositions to a worksheet by writing them out in standard notation. I can't wait to see if I get as many light bulb moments as I expect :)

What are your favorite strategies for getting lower elementary students composing? Do you think you might want to create some rhythm monster magnets for your own classroom? Share your thoughts and ideas below!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Mommy Monday: lunchbox menu inspiration

In a sandwich rut? Today's post should help! :)

I've actually been quite enjoying putting together my 3-year-old girls' lunchboxes since they started school about a month ago. It has been fun figuring out new combinations to create a balanced meal that the girls will be excited to eat! I know I've enjoyed seeing what other people pack in their kids' lunches, so I thought I would share pictures of some of the girls' lunches from the last couple of weeks.


The girls' school (like most in the US, I think) is nut-free, and of course I want the girls' lunches to be healthy. As a single mom with twin preschoolers, though, I also don't have a lot of time. I hope these pictures will give you some inspiration for new ideas of things to pack! I've listed the foods included below each photo. If you're interested, I also have a lumchbox planning cheat sheet available as a free download, and I created a lunch menu planning board for myself- I'll link both of those posts at the end of this one.

**Sorry the lighting is not great- remember I'm packing lunches at 5:30am while the girls are still sleeping, and I'm rushing to get ready for work, so.... yeah. ;) **


Crackers, cheese stick, baby carrots, pineapple, avocado, and hummus


Crackers, red bell pepper, baby carrots, pineapple, pickles, and tuna salad (tuna, mayo, shredded cheese, bacon bits, and parsley)


Cheese slices, pretzels, black beans, apples, peas, and sweet potato


Cinnamon rice crackers, blueberries, apple sauce, edamame, hummus, and green bell pepper


Hummus, pretzels, kiwi, chicken, BBQ sauce, and green bell pepper


Banana, Ritz crackers, spinach, raspberry salad dressing, egg salad (hard-boiled eggs, mayo, shredded cheese, bacon bits, and parsley), and strawberries


Biscuit, green bell pepper, hard-boiled egg, hummus, pineapple, and sweet potato


Spinach, pretzels, kiwi, raspberry salad dressing, chicken, and butternut squash (cooked with cinnamon and brown sugar)

I hope you enjoyed taking a peek inside my girls' lunchboxes :)

You can see the lunch menu planning board I made, with instructions on how to make one, in this post.

Download a free printable lunchbox menu planning cheat sheet in this post.

See all of my posts on packed lunches here.

What are your favorite foods to pack in your kids' lunches?

Friday, October 9, 2015

Fermata Friday: October 9, 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, October 7, 2015

October Small Goals

Today I'm linking up with Jennifer from The Yellow Brick Road to share my small goals for October. Check out the linky, by clicking on the image below, to see all of the other bloggers who have shared their goals for the month- you may even be inspired to set some goals of your own! ;)


1. Break out the soups!

I am going to try to enjoy fall again this year.... I'm determined. I say this because, for the first time in my life, I'm not feeling the joy right now. All I can think about is how close winter is and it makes me grumpy. You have to understand that I have always been a die-hard cold weather fan, so this is all new to me, but between the scary driving up the steep hill to my apartment in the middle of blizzards, shoveling out my car a bajillion times, and everyone getting sick, last winter officially made me a cynic. I'm hoping that if I start breaking out my favorite soups, curries, stews, and chili's, I will maybe be able to revive some of the joy of my youth?!? Hrumph.

2. Figure out that last song for our winter concert

Last year our district got a new superintendent, and he turned out to be a music-lover! My principal and I got him to come and play with my 5th and 6th grade choir at our winter concert and it was a ton of fun. Now I have invited him back and he has graciously agreed, but I haven't found a song I like to collaborate with him on! Anybody got some suggestions?? He loved the Beatles song I picked out last year, so something from that era would be good, but not necessarily. It definitely needs to be upbeat, though, to fill out our program. I am just stuck but I need to start rehearsing the song this week or we are sunk! 

3. Experiment with my new planner stamps

OK so this is probably my most exciting goal. I recently got some little icon stamps to use in my planner and I am in love! Right now I am using them with the DIY planner stickers and I already love them but I want to play around some more with the ink and maybe try stamping directly into the planner? I can't decide but I can't wait to experiment and see what happens! :)

Don't forget to check out the linky to see everyone else's goal posts! Happy October everyone!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Teacher Tuesday: ideas to teach 4 voices (vocal timbres)

This week I will be exploring the 4 voices (speaking, calling, whispering, and singing), and other vocal timbres, with my kindergarten classes. Today I thought I would share some of my favorite lesson activities to introduce and practice the 4 voices.


1. Apple Tree

This game is my favorite way to introduce different voices- I do this with kindergarten and I have 3rd graders who are still asking to play it! First we learn the song:



Once the students know the song, I have everyone spread out around the room, sitting down on the floor. Everyone sings the song together, and after we sing "knocks me out", the students pretend that an apple knocked them out and lie down on the floor. I tell them the only thing that can wake them up is my singing voice. Then I repeat the song with all kinds of different voices, switching between voices mid-song. When the students hear my singing voice, they sit back up and sing with me until the end of the song. The first student to be sitting upright and singing with me at the correct time wins (and if they sit up too early they are out for that round). They love it because I do all kinds of silly voices, not just speaking and whispering, and I love it because they get lots of practice distinguishing the singing voice from other vocal timbres!

2. Boom Chicka Boom

This is a great song for teaching echo songs, and I always bring it back when we are practicing echo format, but it is also another great song to sing in a variety of voices! Here's an example if you've never heard the song:


There are tons of variations you can do with this one, obviously, and I usually come up with one or two new ones each year. My favorites, though, are "custodian style", which I do in the low voice of our school custodian (who is great and the students love him) and change the words to "broom chicka mop-a chicka", and "baby style", where I change the words to "poop chicka mama-chicka" (which pretty consistently makes everyone fall on the floor laughing). 

3. Variations

I love using this opportunity to sing some songs that I either want to throw in but haven't found a good spot in the curriculum to put it, or that the students have requested (or have some connection to). We sing the song in our best singing voices, then we do the other 3 "main" voices (speaking, calling, and whispering), and then I have students suggest other voices. Giants, frogs, babies, and robots are usually popular choices :)

4. Voices Poem

Once we have spent plenty of time exploring our voices, it's time to actually label some of them. I found out about this cute little poem from another music teacher in my district and plan to use it this year to assess how well students can switch between voices:

This is my speaking voice - I use it every day
This is my whisper voice - it's quiet don't you say
This is my calling voice - I use it to say "Hey!"
This is my singing voice - I like it, it's okay!* 
        *1st part of this line is sung on "sol", the last note is sung on "do"

What are your favorite ways to teach and explore vocal timbre with your students? Share your ideas in the comments!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Mommy Monday: mini chalkboards for budding artists

I love having art and craft supplies for my preschool-age children to use. I grew up loving arts and crafts myself, and my girls are obsessed with creating right now! Painting, coloring, cutting, gluing, stamping, taping, drawing- you name it, they love it. But of course at this age, they don't stay focused on one medium for long, so having supplies for lots of different types of projects makes them more excited and inspired. I'm always looking for new ways to let them create, and my latest addition is probably the easiest and cheapest one yet: small chalkboards on the wall.


I know I've seen tons of AMAZING pictures, blog posts, and pins of entire walls painted with chalkboard paint for kids to go crazy on. As much as I love that idea, it's not practical for us since we are renting a small apartment *cue sad trombones*, so I had always drooled over those wonderful photos and moved on. Then I was looking for a way to keep a little memo board near my bed (more on that in a future post...) and I had one of those "duh!" moments.


I used up most of the rest of my roll of black contact paper to cut out some circles, tracing the outline of one of our plastic plates to get the right shape. Then I just peeled off the backing paper and stuck it on the wall next to their art table! I gave them each some white chalk so I don't have to worry if some of the chalk gets on our white walls.


Such a simple concept but the girls love it! And when it gets old, I don't have to feel sad about throwing it away- no serious time or money wasted!

Do any of you have a chalkboard wall at your house? Or are you a renter who drools over chalkboard walls like me? Or maybe you don't get all the fuss about chalkboards to begin with? Share your thoughts in the comments :)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Plan with Me Sundays: October 2015

It's time for another planner share post- I seriously canNOT believe it is already October! My goodness, I was just getting used to the idea that August had ended...

I'm linking up with Kreative in Kindergarten and Keeping Up with Mrs. Harris to share my latest planner updates. Be sure to check out all of the planners by clicking on the picture below- I am always amazed at the beautiful spreads and inspired by the awesome tips each month!


So.... you may remember that last month (my first time sharing any sort of attempt at decorating my planner) I told you that I would most likely never be decorating my weekly spreads- just my monthly calendars at most.

That was a lie.

In my defense, I didn't know at the time that it would become a lie, but still.

So yes, this month I have some weekly spreads to share with you! For those who are new to my planner- I use a teacher/life/home management/blog/TPT/everything planner-in-one system that I created myself. You can see an in-depth tour in the video at the bottom of this post, and check out this post to see how I set everything up using the discbound Arc system and tons of DIY's.

I'm going to go back to the first weekly spread that I ever decorated and show you each week's layout up through this coming week to give you a quick tour of what I've been doing. I am still experimenting and finding my groove, but I definitely look forward to my quality planner time each weekend and it really helps motivate me to plan out my lessons and keep track of all my appointments and to-do's! (I apologize in advance for the lighting in these pictures... We've had cloudy, rainy weather for so many days I finally had to give up on decent natural light.)

This is September 7-13. I tried layering some washi on top of each other. I sortof like it, but it made the page too thick (in my already thick planner!). I had been writing all of the lesson plans for each grade level in a different color (to match my color-coding in my classroom), but since I was adding color to the page itself I just wrote each grade/class name in the assigned color and wrote the lesson plans themselves in black.


Here is September 14-20:


I started using some of my DIY stickers in the weekly layout for the first time and I liked it! The crazy washi color overload at the bottom: not so much. Oh well.

Moving on to September 21-27:


This was the first layout that I really liked. I felt like it was pretty to look at but more sophisticated- I wasn't embarrassed to pull it out at our staff meeting and worry about looking too cutesy or something. I started using washi tape (cut into flags) as well and loved that too.

Now we're on September 28-October 4:


I experimented with some other stickers I had (the tan colored ones you see towards the top) and didn't like it quite as much as my other stuff but I don't hate it. You can also see here how I often use the notes section to hold sticky notes with song lyrics- I keep the sticky notes together after I use them so I can pull them out and stick them in my plan book the following year. Yeah, I'm fancy like that.

And this is the upcoming week, which I just finished planning out yesterday:


Obviously I have been into the brown washi. I also brought back some of the stickers from the $1 sticker books at Michael's and stuck them in the notes section, which I am liking so far. We'll see if it bothers me come staff meeting time ;)

I hope you got some inspiration for your own planning! Don't forget to check out all of the other linkups this month by heading over to the linky party! Oh, and if you are new to these parts and want the complete tour of my planner, here you go: