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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Fermata Friday: July 1, 2016


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 post 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!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Teacher Tuesday: new ideas for lower elementary lessons

I'm back with another post about my favorite new ideas I tried and loved this past school year. Today I'm talking about lower elementary, which for my purposes today will be referring to grades 1, 2, and 3. I did quite a few different lessons that I liked between those three grades, but I narrowed it down to my top 3 favorite ideas from this past year: a lesson with the song "Bickle Bockle", a new way to teach whole rests, and my DIY rhythm / solfege monster magnet manipulatives!


The more seriously- Kodaly people are probably shaking their heads at me right now, but I had never used the song, "Bickle Bockle" in my classes before this year. Sad, I know. For those of you who may not be familiar with it either, click here to see the notation and lyrics of the song. I had heard mention of the song before in my Kodaly training and in other resources, but had never paid much attention to it until I was searching for a good song, preferably with a game, that had half notes and only used mi, sol, and la. This song fit the bill perfectly! There are many versions of the lyrics, melody, and even the title, but I basically used the second version noted on the page linked above so that my 2nd graders could practice mi, sol, and la while preparing to learn about half notes. Here is a video I found that shows how the game is played (skip to the end to see this one- he shows two other game songs before this one):


The kids loved it, and it was simple and short enough to be perfect for practicing solfege and rhythm. First I had them learn the song by walking around the room on the beat while I sang. Then I had them sing with me while still walking, we stopped to practice clapping the rhythm while singing, and then we sang while walking and clapping. I showed them how to pretend like they had bubble gum stuck to their hands and pretend to stretch it out for the "long notes" (which we later went back and labeled as the half notes). Once they could do all of that, we played the game, and in the next lesson we reviewed the song and figured out the solfege notes for the melody (and played the game again, of course).

The next new idea I loved this year was this video I stumbled across on YouTube that is just a genius way to teach whole rests:


It starts off a little weird but trust me, keep watching and you'll see what I mean. 

Does anyone else struggle to teach whole rests? I have found it so difficult to teach for some reason, and to be honest sometimes I lose confidence that I am remembering the difference between whole and half rests myself and have to look it up just to make sure before class! No more guys, no more. I will never go back to the "hat on the head" vs "hat on the floor" analogy (anyone else remember that one?). This is so much better! You're welcome.

The final idea is one that I've mentioned before, but it's worth repeating: my rhythm monster magnets! If you haven't read about how to make them and how I use them in class, you must go check out my post now- they are seriously one the most awesome thing I have ever made for my little guys:


Basically there are different monsters that signify different note values and solfege pitches, and students use them to compose their own rhythms and melodies or practice dictating ones I give them. They love the monsters and beg to use them all the time ever since I brought them out!

What were some new ideas you tried and loved with this age this past year? I'd love to hear your favorites- I'm always on the lookout for new ideas to try next year! Share your thoughts in the comments below or link up a blog post if you're a blogger :)


Monday, June 27, 2016

Mommy Monday: DIY gratitude wall

I've mentioned a few times that I promised myself a beautiful, clean bedroom when I moved into our new house- doesn't it seem like our own bedrooms get the least attention when we're cleaning / organizing / decorating our houses? So I'm very happy with the latest update in my bedroom: I'm calling it my Gratitude Wall.


This is one of those projects that ended up killing two birds with one stone. I decided I wanted a place to display some of the cards and little pictures that my daughters and other friends and family have given me- I never wanted to throw them away but I didn't have a good place to put them (and I didn't want to just put them away in storage somewhere). I had also picked up some things from Michael's when I've had good coupons or seen things on sale that coordinated well with my bedspread and I knew I wanted to include them in my room decor somehow, but hadn't figured out how yet. Everything ended up coming together perfectly with some supplies I had on hand and it's my new favorite spot in the house!

I started off with some twine, clothespins, and pushpins, which I had left over from a baby shower I hosted recently (you can easily find this stuff at most dollar stores, craft stores, etc):


I basically created two clotheslines on the wall to hang cards and pictures from. One tip if you decide to try this in your own home: I tied a knot in the twine before each pushpin, and I think that will help keep the twine from unraveling or sagging. Then I picked out some of my most cherished items from over the years and figured out where I wanted to hang them:


I initially stopped there, but decided I needed more color (obviously. why would I not add more color?) and pulled out the same roll of washi tape I had used to decorate my light switch (click on the picture to read my post on that):


I also pulled out the other items I had picked up on sale to go in my room (some paper flowers and a set of paper lanterns) and just started adding stuff :)


The washi tape I just stuck straight onto the front of the clothespins:


I layered some of the paper flowers on top of each other and stuck them to the push pins with some left over foam mounting squares that came with something I bought years ago (you know when they give you mounting tape and screws so you can attach things to the wall either way? yeah that stuff). The mounting squares actually give the flowers extra dimension and they ended up being one of my favorite parts. I'm already thinking of other places I can add more flowers.... ;)


The small little tassels that I hung under some of the push pins came with the set of paper lanterns. I used more left over ribbon from the baby shower decorations to hang the lanterns from the ceiling with push pins, and voila!


I feel like the pictures don't do my happy little corner justice, but hopefully you can tell from my writing just how much I love it! I'm sure I'll continue to tweak it, but I'm glad to have this space that makes me so happy in my room.

I love this idea of having a place to hang up things that remind me of all the people I have to be grateful for. It's perfect because I can easily change out what I have hanging, add more, or take things down without any fuss. And art that also serves another purpose is my favorite way to decorate!

What do you do with the little trinkets and cards that you get from loved ones? Maybe a gratitude wall is in your future? :) If you decide to make one, I'd love to see it!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Fermata Friday: June 24, 2016


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 post 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!


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Teacher Tuesday: things to make this summer for your classroom next year

Although it's important to take some time to relax and chill over the summer and spend time with family, summer is also a great time for teachers to check off some of those projects that you never have time for during the school year but would make your life so much better and improve your students' learning experiences too! A few weeks ago I shared some summer tips for making next school year easier, and one of the things I mentioned was putting together materials to use in your classroom. Today I wanted to share some of the things I either put together in past summers or will be putting together this summer to use in my classroom. Each of these projects takes a bit of time but has made a big difference in my teaching (or will next year, I'm sure!).


Rhythm / Pitch Manipulatives

There are so many great ways to make composition more engaging and help students understand pitch and rhythm concepts using simple manipulatives. It's how much more young students are able to understand when they can physically manipulate something instead of trying to write it on a piece of paper! Here are some great ones I used for the first time this past year. I am making more this summer because they worked so well!

Rhythm Monsters- these are basically magnets with googley eyes on them, but they are so much more than that in the music room! I used the colors to show different solfege pitches and the number of eyes to show the number of sounds in a beat. I even had special monsters for quarter rests and half notes! Click on the picture below to see a more detailed explanation of what I did, how I used them, and get directions and supplies for how to make some for yourself.


Solfege Stickers- these are even simpler than the rhythm monsters but worked great with my upper elementary students. I just colored some Avery labels different colors to match the colors of the boomwhackers in my classroom and had students use them to turn a rhythmic composition into a melodic one! Check out the post for more details:


Games to Use in Centers

I use centers as a reward for my students, so I try to make the center activities as fun as possible. One of my students' favorites is Kaboom, which is played by pulling sticks out of a jar. I know, sounds exciting, right? I can't believe how much my students love this game. The best part is you can use it to practice almost any concept imaginable! Details about how to play the game and how I use it are in this post:


Another type of game I put together last summer that my students enjoyed was the card games I got from Music a la Abbott. I got this music symbol UNO game, along with a few others, and the students have gotten a kick out of them. All I had to do was print on card stock, cut, and laminate. This year I picked up this set of music board games from her store and I am planning to put some of these together too- I think it will be a great change of pace and another great way to practice concepts while still having fun! These are another simple print/cut/laminate project.

There are lots of other board / card games you can put together pretty easily by adapting a pre-made game to make a musical game to use in class. Shelley Tomich from Pitch Publications has several games where you simply adapt a pre-made game, like this take on "Don't Spill the Beans". Sally Utley has some music games using the letter tiles like the ones from Bananagrams. Or you could make a musical Twister game like the one Jennifer shared on her blog, In My Music Class (this one is also on my list to make this summer!):


Other Center Materials

Of course there are plenty of other centers that aren't games per se but still require some making. For me the queen of centers is Tracy King. She has so many creative ideas for centers, it's insane! One I am thinking about making this summer is her Dip Tray Workstation- so simple, but such a great way to practice basic concepts!


Visuals for Behavior Management

For whole class management systems, you usually need some type of visual to help both you and the students see how they are doing and motivate everyone to do better. I love the board I made two summers ago (and have adapted a few times since). I've rounded up a lot of my behavior management ideas in this post, which you may want to read if you're looking for a new behavior management strategy (or just want to tweak your existing one). You can read about how I made my board (it's pretty easy and cheap, trust me!) and how I use in these two posts:



Other Classroom Tools

One of the biggest projects I've ever taken on for my classroom was my DIY SmartBoard. If you don't have an interactive whiteboard system but would like to have one (and you really should, it can help students so much and make your life easier too!), this is a great option. Not counting the projector, the system costs under $50. Get all the directions for how I set mine up here:


My last project idea is just for you, teachers! I love my little teacher toolbox that I put together. It saves me so much time when I'm looking for those pesky little things that always get lost when they're just stuck in a desk drawer, and I can even send students to fetch things themselves because everything is labeled and in its own drawer. This is a super easy project and will save you tons of drawer space. I seriously downsized my teacher desk last summer and this was one of the reasons I was able to do it comfortably. See how I made it here:


Whew, that's a lot of summer projects! I hope you found some inspiration to get your crafting on this summer and get ready to have an even more fabulous year next year :) Which project is your favorite? What other things are you making for your class this summer? Leave a comment!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Mommy Monday: flavored water recipes

You know it's gonna be a good time when I get to team up with Jennifer at The Yellow Brick Road, and today is one of those days! We're sharing our favorite cold drinks for this summer. Jennifer has an awesome recipe that reminds me of my childhood in Japan- head on over to check it out!

We have had a string of hot days recently so I am fully immersed in cold drink season and I couldn't be happier! Last year I shared my top four favorite summer drinks to make at home, including iced coffee, flavored lemonade, and two kinds of tea. I've been more than happy to break those out again but this year my girls and I have also been enjoying making flavored water. It's fun to come up with new combinations, it looks so pretty in the pitcher, and even my 4-year-old daughters can help me make it! I thought today I would share some of our favorite flavor combinations (and some that we are planning to try soon).


The basic idea of flavored water is pretty simple: take a pitcher of water, throw in some fruit, herbs, etc, and let it sit in the fridge for a while. The longer it sits, the stronger the flavor will be, obviously, but if it gets too strong just take out the add-in's and mix it with a little more pain water. It's a great way to use up fruit that's about to go bad, plus it's a yummy way to get more water each day (which is even more important in the summer months). 

Here are some of our favorite flavor combinations:

strawberry kiwi
lemon mint
orange lemon
strawberry mint
raspberry orange
watermelon rosemary
strawberry basil
blackberry ginger
lemon lime honey


The girls and I have decided that strawberries are our favorite way to add sweetness to water, and it seems to go well with almost any other citrus / herb we add. Mint is another favorite- so refreshing! There are, of course, endless combinations here- what are some favorites you have tried? Let me know in the comments! And make sure to check out Jennifer's recipe for matcha green tea latte- you won't regret it! 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Fermata Friday: June 17, 2016


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 post 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!


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Teacher Tuesday: new ideas for music classroom organization

I hope those of you who are on summer vacation are enjoying some time with family and friends, and I hope the rest of you are enjoying your time with your students! Today is my last day of classes and I am happy to say that, for the most part, I have truly enjoyed my time with my students these last few weeks. Today I wanted to share some of the new ideas I implemented for classroom organization and really liked. I'll be keeping these ideas to use again next year for sure!


Every year I like to spend some time at the end of the school year reflecting on things that went well and areas that I want to improve for next year (read about the specific prompts I use for reflection here). Over the summer, I collect new ideas (including ones I've come across during the school year and haven't had time to implement) to try the following school year. Sometimes the new ideas aren't great, sometimes they are amazingly awesome, but either way trying new things helps to keep the class fresh and interesting for me and for the students. A couple of weeks ago I shared my favorite new ideas for kindergarten lessons (make sure to check those out, I found some real gems this year). Today I wanted to share the new ideas I tried and loved for classroom organization!

The first and biggest change I made to my classroom setup was removing the big teacher desk from my room. I went from this:

To this:


That table was already in my room so I really did gain that much extra space in my room by migrating! I took most of the stuff that was in those giant drawers into the closet and set up my essential desk supplies on the small desk where I already had my computer setup to connect to the projector. I have LOVED having the extra space this year and I have not missed the old desk even a little bit. In fact I had forgotten that I had done that last summer until I sat down to write this post, to be honest! The key to having a smaller desk is the teacher toolbox with the little drawers to sit on top of my desk- I had it even on my old huge desk because it is so much easier to find all of those little things like paper clips, magnets, and bandaids. Read about how to make your own in this post. If you want to see in more detail where I moved everything else, you can read my post on the desk removal process here :)

Another new classroom organization idea I set up last summer was my new triangle storage:


I was inspired by the new hand drum storage idea I had set up the year before and finally figured out, after much thinking, that I could use a jewelry organizer for my triangles. It has worked beautifully! No more holders falling off, tangled instruments, or digging through piles of triangles to find a beater. And all of my students as young as kindergarten have been able to get and put back the triangles independently without much difficulty. I love it! You can read more about how I set it up, including links to the organizer I used, in this post.

The final organization idea I want to share is not so much a room organization idea but it did make a huge difference in my organization so I thought it would be a good idea to share it here: my new centers log!


It seems simple enough but it has made a big difference in my classroom! I printed off a copy of this chart, with the names of every class I teach down the left, and each time I did a day of centers I wrote down the names of the centers across the top and wrote in the date in the box next to their class. I use centers as a classroom incentive that the whole class works towards (read about that in this post) and I found that it was hard for me to keep track of which classes had done which centers, so I was either having classes do the same center they had already done 3 times that year or finding out at the end of the year that certain classes hadn't done certain center activities at all! This year I was able to keep track of who had done what when, and it made everything much easier. If you want to see some of the centers I use, as well as my tips for organizing and running center rotations, you can read through my posts on centers here.

I hope you found some new ideas to try in your own classroom next year! I'd love to hear some of the new ideas you tried in your own rooms this year. Leave a comment below or link up your own post if you're a blogger. 


Monday, June 13, 2016

Mommy Monday: planning for the perfect summer

There is a lot to balance when you're planning for the "perfect" summer vacation with your family! Of course you want to have that balance between having enough to do while still having the flexibility to relax and DO NOTHING. Then of course, if you're a teacher on summer break like I am, you want to be productive and get things done for work that you don't have time for during the school year, but also have time to, for once, DO NOTHING. And how much are your children going to be involved in camps, lessons, and other extracurriculars? What about all of the events happening in your community? And then there's the trips.... It's enough to need a vacation from vacation planning! Here is how I have gone about planning our summer so that we can hopefully have as best of a balance of all those elements as we can.


1. Start with a blank calendar

Of course you knew I was going to write this all down! If you are in need of a blank calendar yourself, I have a free 2016 calendar that you can get here, or you can get in the summer spirit with this summer organizer, which has the summer month calendars as well with a more summery look, plus tons of other tools to organize your summer ;)

2. Write in trips and visitors (and visitation)

I first went through and wrote in all of the days that we would be out of town for trips, days when I knew we had family and friends visiting from out of town, and days that the girls had visitation with their dad. Obviously I need to know first when we are going to be at home, and when we need to be available for visitors first before I can plan anything else!

3. Register for any camps/lessons 

I ended up not registering my girls for any camps or lessons this year, mostly because of the way our summer is broken up with trips and such, but in the past I have put them in swimming lessons, and I'm sure in the future the girls will be more interested in doing some of these types of things during the summer. It's a good idea to get those on the calendar before adding anything else because you have to make a time and financial commitment for those, and often registration fills up early!

4. Gather dates for community events

I love doing things in the community over the summer. So many things are free, they make me feel like we're connecting with our town, and they are a great way to keep all of us interacting with people, which is especially important for my kids when they are out of school for a couple of months. I grabbed fliers from the public library, local parks, and Lakeshore Learning. Home Depot, Lowe's, Michael's, and other chains also have awesome free activities for all ages.

I go through and figure out which ones fit our schedule and age bracket and write down the ones that sound the most interesting on the calendar. That doesn't mean we'll do them all, but if we are looking for something to do, the information is all there. I write these in a different color than the trips/visitation so that I can easily see what things are important and what things are optional.


5. Make a bucket list

I always have in my head all of these ideas of things that we will do over break. I sat down and made a list of all the things, big and small, that I would like to do this summer as a family. I had everything from visiting the zoo to picnics, spending time with a certain friend to making homemade ice cream. I also made a list of home projects and tasks for school that I'm hoping to get done this summer.

6. Split up fun activities, home projects, work, and other categories into weeks

I'm not putting the bucket list activities and projects on my monthly calendars, but I counted up the number of weeks I have this summer, not counting the weeks we have visitors or are out of town, and split up each category into smaller tasks and activities for each week. This way I have a kind of goals list of things I hope to accomplish, and by having a variety of things each week from home, family fun, and work, I'm hoping I will be more motivated and feel more balanced. I've tried before doing all of my school-related tasks in the weeks at the very beginning and end of summer and doing everything else in between, but I found that method overwhelming and well, not fun.



7. Be flexible but inspired!

The idea behind writing in options for activities and loosely scheduling projects and goals by weeks rather than days is to allow for some flexibility- one of the great things about summer break is that you don't have to be tied to a calendar or alarm clock! But I also feel so much better about my summers when I'm able to do fun things together with my family and check off some of those bigger projects that I can never seem to get to during the school year. The key to making my plans work this summer will be to be open to spontaneous changes but also remind myself regularly of the hopes and dreams I have for the break!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Fermata Friday: June 10, 2016


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 post 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!


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Teacher Tuesday: summer tips to get ready for next year!

Today I'm linking up with Linda at Floating Down the River to share the things I will be doing this summer to prepare for next school year (and hopefully make my life easier when school starts back up!). Click on the picture below to see all of the other helpful tips linked up by other bloggers- it's a great way to get inspired and kick off a great summer break!


1. Reflect, celebrate, and plan

I always take time at the beginning of the summer to reflect on the past year. The school year goes by so quickly, it's hard to ever stop and think about what is happening during the year! I find it so helpful to look back and think about all of the things that went really well this year, all of the great memories, as well as things that didn't go well that I want to work on for next year. I wrote a whole post about the specific questions I reflect on over the summer- you can read those here.

2. Refresh my classroom

I try to find some ways to refresh the look and feel of my classroom each year, since I know most of the students will be returning and I don't want them to feel like it's the "same old thing" each year. Sometimes I decide to completely reconfigure my setup, sometimes I just hang a few new posters, but I always try to find ways to freshen the look of the room so that it seems new and awesome when the kids walk in the first day of school.

3. Write long-range plans

This is actually what I consider the most important summer task for work. Each year I sit down and write out the main objectives (and any resources to accompany them that I know I want to use) for each grade level by month, mapping out the entire school year. I have never liked the idea of planning as you go- I feel like I would miss an important skill or concept, or that I wouldn't teach things in the most effective sequence, if I didn't take time to map out how I will be teaching things over the course of the entire year. You can see the pages I use to write down my monthly plans in my planner here, and you can see the templates I use to create my long-range scope and sequence for all the grades, based on the new National Core Arts Standards, here. I also wrote about how I go from the more general national standards to the specific, day-to-day lessons in this post.

4. Put together any new materials I want to use for lessons

It's hard to find time to make manipulatives, visuals, and other materials during the school year. I often have a great idea for a different way to teach a concept with a manipulative, or see a great center idea on Pinterest, but I can't use it that year because I don't have the time to put together the materials I need. Summer is a great time for me to put those together. One idea I had towards the end of summer and had to finish making over the fall was my rhythm monster magnets- they are time consuming to make but were a HUGE hit with the kids and so effective, so you may want to make a set for yourself this summer ;)

I hope you find these ideas helpful! I have all of the resources I use- monthly calendars, prompts for reflection, even vacation planning- in my summer organizer, if you need a little help getting started :) Make sure you click the link at the top of the post to check out all of the summer tips from other bloggers!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Mommy Monday: summer bucket list with preschoolers

Hard to believe, but summer is upon us! My daughters and I have just one and a half weeks left of school, so I've started to really think about what I want to do this summer beyond the big trips and home improvement projects. Although I am a big believer in using my summer break to be productive for home and work, I of course want to take advantage of the extra time to relax with my girls!


It's easy to daydream about all the fun little things I'll do over long breaks, but I've found that if I don't actually make some kind of list of the things I want to do, I get to the end of the break without having done much of anything, and I regret not getting more out of my time. Not that I think we always need to do more stuff and stay busy for time to be well-spent, but I enjoy doing new, fun things over break that we don't have the time for during the school year.

I've come up with a small "bucket list" of things I want to do with my preschool-age daughters this summer. You'll notice a lot of the items are low-key, quick activities, not big, expensive events. I'm hoping that keeping this list in mind will help us really get the most out of the summer break while still giving us the freedom to relax, rest, and be spontaneous.


What are some of the things you hope to do this summer? If you want some help organizing your thoughts, or even planning for a trip, check out my summer organizer.

Happy summer everyone! :)

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Small Goals: June 2016

Another month, another chance to reflect and set goals! I'm linking up with Jennifer at The Yellow Brick Road again to share my small goals for this month. Click on the picture to go check out what other bloggers are planning for the month ahead and get motivated!


1. Finish the school year with grace

My whole building has been very focused on improving the social / emotional climate in our school this year, and I think it has paid off. We are in a much better place than we were a year ago. Still many of our little people are emotionally fragile and needy, and although they don't always express it in the most positive ways, many of them are not looking forward to summer (especially the ones on free lunch). My goals is to not just survive the last couple of weeks of school but to show as much grace to my kids and my colleagues as possible.

2. Get started on Instagram

I know. I've tried to keep my focus on the most essential social media, because it's just so hard for me to keep up with everything, but I have two reasons for now attempting to join the rest of the world on Instagram: 1) I feel like I am settling into a rhythm with my other social media and it isn't such a chore for me to keep up anymore and 2) one of my best friends recently switched to sharing the majority of her family updates on Instagram. I'm not making any promises but I am going to try to get it going and see how it goes :)

3. Clean up the pile of clutter in my bedroom

Oh boy, this may be a bit ambitious but I am going to put it out there. After moving at the end of November, I did a pretty good job (if I do say so myself) getting things sorted and unpacked while still in the middle of all of the busyness of school. The biggest remaining pile of unpacked boxes is sitting in my bedroom, and I am determined to tackle it as soon as school gets out! I decided when I moved into the new house that I wanted my room to be a haven, not a dump, so this cleanup is a top priority.

Well I think that's it! I'd love to hear your small goals for the upcoming month: leave a comment below or, if you're a blogger, write a post yourself and go link up with Jennifer too! Happy summer!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Fermata Friday: June 3, 2016


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 post 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!