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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Wishlist Wednesday: TpT Teachers Are Heroes SALE!

Woohoo, it's time for a site-wide sale on TeachersPayTeachers!

To celebrate, I'm linking up with Aileen Miracle for Wishlist Wednesday!

First, here's a product that I want to tell you about from my store:

My Japanese folk song lesson bundle just keeps growing! I just added the lesson set for the famous "Sakura" last week. If you already purchased the bundle, good news- you just got the "Sakura" lesson set for free! If you don't have it yet, the sale is a great time to buy the bundle- it's already 20% off the price of each individual lesson set, AND you'll be getting another 28% off with the sale! Each lesson set includes tons of visuals to project or print, lesson ideas to tie the songs to musical concepts, and recordings of a native speaker speaking and singing the text. Go check it out by clicking on the picture.

Next are two products that are on my wish list to buy during this sale:

Assessment Bundle for Music

I am so excited to get my hands on this assessment bundle from The Yellow Brick Road! I love her interactive notebooks so I know this will be a wonderful resource as well. There are assessments for form, dynamics, timbre, tempo, pitch, and rhythm, and each is printed 2 to a page. There are even study sheets, with the vocabulary they need to know for the assessment, included in each set as well! This will be an easy way for me to incorporate more written assessments, especially with my younger students.

Doodle Borders / Frames - Hand Drawn / Freehand 300dpi

I really love these borders from A Sketchy Guy- cute but not too cute, don't you think? I can't wait to use these for newsletters and visuals for my lessons!

What is on your wishlist for the sale? Don't forget to check out the other wish lists by following the link to the Wishlist Wednesday linkup at the top of this post!

Teacher Tuesday: ideas for Music In Our Schools Month

Well, the end of February is fast-approaching. Can you believe it? Time to get ready for March, when we get to celebrate Music In Our Schools Month! If you haven't celebrated before and you want to learn more about it, go check out the official website, run by the National Association for Music Education. They have music your students can learn and sing together with other schools, logos to print for newsletters or posters, advocacy materials, activity ideas, and more!

Today I want to share some of the things I do to celebrate Music In Our Schools Month (MIOSM) with my students. I have always tried to stay away from anything that requires any change in routine or other effort from any other staff member, because I want it to be seen purely as a fun celebration and not an inconvenience, or worse, an intrusion on their teaching content. With that said, there are three main areas on which I focus for MIOSM: hallway displays, music class activities and contests, and casual performances.

1. Hallway Displays

I've tried a lot of different ideas in the past to help promote the importance and value of music education to every person that walks through the building (and, to be honest, I'm targeting the adults more than the students with this one- the kids hear it from me all the time but this is my chance to be a little more obnoxious with the adults and get away with it!). Usually the students are involved in helping to create the display, and it becomes my activity for all the students to do the first time they come to music during the month of March to help them think through their personal connections to music.

Here are some of the displays I have done in the past:

What's Your Style: each student wrote down their favorite music genre

How Would You Like: students wrote their favorite ways to "do" music (dance, sing, listen etc)

Music Is Everywhere: students thought of places they hear music (elevator, radio etc)

Last year, I printed the logo for MIOSM 2014 shown below, and had students fill in the blank on a post-it and stick it around the logo. I wish I had a photo of the final product- it looked great with all the different colored post-its and the students had some great ideas (rich, calm, happy, smart etc)!

This year I'm going to be building on a display that I put up a few months ago:

I am planning to have the students come up with examples of each of the values of music I have listed (encourages movement, develops sense of beauty, expresses our feelings/souls, develops brains/intelligence, fosters connections to history, community, and other disciplines), and then put those up around the big letters. I've put this poster set in my TpT store here if you want your own set. 

2. Music Class Activities and Contests
The bulk of the MIOSM celebrating happens during music class. I am building it up this week to get the students excited about the special activities we will be doing only during the month of March!

The first is a game called Disco Duel, and it is a "just-for-fun" activity that we do each class period, with the students competing against each other in small groups.

Cards with the name of a movement (like "cowboy", "DJ", or "hop"), along with a matching picture, are on the whiteboard in a few columns (I usually do 3-4 columns). Before we try it the first time, I teach them the movements for each- they are all movements that can be done with the beat. The last card is always "boogie", which is free dance- students make up their own. To play the game, students perform each movement for 8 beats, reading from the left column, top to bottom, with the beat of the music that I play. BUT I start each group at a different time (I relate it to a canon for older students), so that when the first group finishes the first column, the second group starts. When all the groups finish, I pick the winning team that did the best job of performing the moves correctly and staying on the beat for the correct number of counts. I've updated the movement cards- you can get them here if you're interested.

The second game is called Rhythm Battle, and this one is a contest between the classes in each grade level. The winning class in each grade gets a prize (I usually have free choice time the following music class)! I choose a song with a clear, steady beat- usually the instrumental version of an upbeat pop song to rev them up :) We start class with this each time they come to class. They sit down, I start the music, and I put up a slide on my projector that says "Rhythm Battle!". When the intro is ending, I count off 4 beats and click to the next slide on "four". There is a 4-beat rhythm on that slide. If the class claps it correctly, I click to the next 4-beat rhythm slide on the 4th beat, and they have to continue clapping with no pause. They keep going until they make a mistake. When they mess up, they go back to the first slide and start over. Whatever their longest run is before the song ends, that is their class score for the day. I have a score board for each grade so we keep track throughout the month, and the class with the highest total score at the end of the month wins. If you want to see the slides I use, you can get them here.

You would not believe how much the students LOVE both of these games. And, of course, I love that they are practicing musical concepts while they do it! I have a different set of cards for each grade, so they can practice the rhythms they are working on that year.

3. Casual Performances
This is the part that gets the most attention from the community. The last week of February, I start letting students sign up to perform in the lobby in the morning before school. It's basically like having a short talent show every morning. I tell students they can perform by themselves or in a group, they can sing, play an instrument, or dance, and they can use any style of music that is appropriate for the kindergartners to hear. I also limit the performances to 3 minutes each, because I generally have 2-3 slots filled each day. The students and staff love seeing the different talents that come out in this activity- because I tell them that there is no audience sitting there staring at them (just the people walking by on their way in to school in the morning), there are always a few students that sign up who never volunteer to perform in front of other people! It's a great way to lift everyone's mood in the morning too. If you want to read more about this performance program and how I set it up, I've written a separate blog post on the topic here:

And that's it! What are your favorite MIOSM activities? I can't wait to get started next week!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Mommy Monday: creating an entryway when you don't have one

Last week, I showed you my simple mail-sorting and happy mood-making area on the right side of my front door. Today I wanted to show you what I have on the left side of that door- and now you will have a complete picture of what I look at every morning as I get ready to leave the house! :)

So, as you can probably tell, I don't have an "entryway" in my small apartment. You open the front door and walk smack-dab into the middle of my living room. Still, with two messy toddlers and our wonderful East Coast winter weather, we really need the functionality of a mud room near our front door! This is what I came up with, and I have been really happy with it! So let me show you around: I'll start at the bottom and work my way up :)

When I first moved into my own place with the girls, I didn't have an income. I also didn't have any furniture (or, really, most any other personal belongings). So I scrounged Craigslist and yard sales for months looking for stuff to furnish my apartment. One thing I was able to pick up on Craigslist was this rug. Because it's made to be raggedy, it's perfect for our dirty shoes! Plus it has a lot of the colors I knew I wanted to use in the apartment. Easy to clean too- what more can I ask? Having a defined space for the girls to leave their shoes has been very helpful as they do more and more on their own- it's easy for me to remind them that the shoes stay on the rug to keep them from tracking mud all over the living room!

This storage bench was another Craigslist find, coming in at a whopping $10 (cue choir angels). The back piece is a little loose and some of the paint is chipped but what do I care? The back is up against the wall and I can always repaint if I feel so-inclined. But truthfully I kinda love the color, and it holds a lot of stuff! The top lifts up on hinges. Inside I have all of the girls' shoes, some of mine, and our outdoor stuff: sidewalk chalk, extra blankets, and an extra backpack. I'm a little embarrassed at how much stuff we keep on top of the bench- it has become the home for our gloves and slippers,and the drop spot for my purse- but the girls still use it to sit when they are taking their shoes on and off.

My father would like to make it very clear that he installed the last two items. He's very proud of his hanging/nailing skills, so please feel free to give him a virtual pat on the back ;)

I have one nail that hangs on the wall right next to the door where I keep my keys. I was almost suckered into buying or making one of those fancy key hangers with a bunch of nails or hooks on a cutely-painted piece of wood, and then I realized I really only have one key ring! :) It's perfect. I always know where my keys are, and they are always right there when I'm heading out.

The last part of my faux-entry is this set of wall hooks, which I found at a yard sale (tag sale? garage sale? I've moved so much I don't know what to call it anymore). Although it's not the same color as the bench, they're both solid wood so they coordinate well enough for me. We use these for coats, bags, hats, scarves, and anything else that comes through the door and isn't needed in the house. I purposefully put it up high enough that the girls can't reach it on their own- for now I like having a place to put things that I know they can't get on their own ;)

So there you have it: my entryway that isn't an entryway! You can click on the picture below to see last week's post on the other side of my door. Have a great week!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Teacher Tuesday: hand signals for quick transitions

I cannot take any credit whatsoever for today's tip- that goes to my cooperating teacher during my student teaching. This is totally and completely stolen from her, and I have continued to use it in every single class, every single day of my teaching career.

Transitions between activities, especially when the students need to move, can be one of the most difficult things to manage in the classroom. And in elementary general music, we tend to have a lot of those. Although this only covers one aspect of those transitions, it certainly does make things a lot faster and smoother.

I hold up 1 finger as a cue for them to stand, 2 fingers for sitting up/forward in their chairs, and 3 for sitting back. The great thing about having a hand signal for these actions is that I can get them ready for an activity while explaining the directions at the same time. These are also perfect to use in concerts, because the audience can't see me holding up one hand. I use this for everyone 1st grade and older, and they get very good at moving quickly and quietly. At the beginning of the school year we practice and I tell them they have to be fast, but if they make sound it doesn't count.

Not only is it great to have a signal for standing, sitting up, and sitting, but I have found that these specific signals are intuitive. When I hold up 1 finger, it is like I am motioning up, so it is easy for students to remember. When I use 2 fingers to have students sit up, I often find myself turning my hand upside down and motioning to a student's feet to remind them to put their 2 feet flat on the floor.

Besides all of the up and down we do for singing, playing recorders etc, the hand signals are very handy when we need to move to another part of the room. I use 1 finger to tell them to stand, then I turn that finger in the direction that I want them to turn, and they all turn at the same time. This is also excellent preparation for concerts, especially when students are on risers. Usually I have them then start with the first row to walk to the new spot and the next rows follow, or sometimes I will tell them to start at the back row. Having them all turn together makes it much easier for students to smoothly follow the line and know exactly where to go. Plus it looks very impressive to classroom visitors and concert audiences! 

Do you use any hand signals in the classroom?  What routines do you have in place to make transitions go more smoothly?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Mommy Monday: a simple and happy mail drop spot

I live in a pretty small apartment, so I don't have an actual entryway, let alone a mud room or anything else of the sort. But I do still single-handedly manage a busy home, so I have found my simple and happy mail drop spot by my door to be very helpful for keeping things in order!

This is right inside my apartment, on the wall next to my door. This area serves two important purposes for me: helping me organize my mail, and helping me maintain a positive frame of mind. 

I know a lot of people like to sort their mail into more categories, but since there's only one adult in this house, I really don't need to sort it too much- I just need a place to put it so I don't lose it and/or get toddler messes all over it, and a reminder to deal with it before it turns into a mountain of no return. I put everything that hasn't been dealt with in the "in" box, and put anything that I need to mail in the "out" box. I got these simple file holders and then put washi tape around the edges. I labeled them with black contact paper and a chalk pen. 

I love having little reminders next to my front door that help me stay positive and focused on what's important. I actually got the collage of the girls and I for free when Walgreens ran a promotion, and hung that up with the same washi tape I used on the mail folders. The frame is from the dollar store, with some leftover scrapbook paper inside. I write different verses and quotes that I come across to inspire me. 

It's nothing fancy, but I love how functional and happy this space is. What do you have closest to your front door? 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Teacher Tuesday: world music- finding "authentic" music for the classroom

Music from around the world is an integral part of my teaching, but I don't own a single book that is a "collection of songs from around the world" or something similar. I also don't have much of a classroom budget, so I get most of my music for free- both for general music and for my choirs. When I share my ideas with fellow music teachers, I have found that many don't feel confident in their ability to find "authentic" pieces on their own- they would much rather use something from a trusted source, such as a textbook series or music education magazine. The problem is that even in those sources, there is a lot of misinformation, and many of the songs are presented with lesson suggestions that take the song completely out of its cultural context and throw it into an activity that is supposed to make the music "more accessible" for the teacher and the students.

I have found that students are perfectly capable of relating to an authentic presentation of a song from a foreign culture when they are given the right tools. 

I have also found that the best way to make music from a foreign culture accessible or relate-able is to use children's songs from that culture instead of the folk songs we find in so many textbooks.

So the trick is this: how can a music teacher with little background in these cultures (which is every single one of us, since none of us can have an in-depth understanding of every culture in the world) and little time to research and find appropriate resources, acquire the resources to give students that authentic presentation of a song from another culture? And how can we know, when we find a song or lesson idea, if it is "authentic" or not? 

Today I want to look at two aspects of this process: where to go to find free access to music from around the world, and how to determine if a source is "authentic" or not.

Wow. I absolutely love this website. This website is full of children's songs from around the world. The author is very good at linking to sources from the original culture, and usually has the song available in music notation, in the original language, in an English translation, and with pronunciation guides. Background information is usually given as well.

This is a great blog for music teachers in general, but it is a great source for finding new songs for the classroom just because of sheer numbers. The author is constantly adding new songs to the site, all notated and many with lesson ideas for the music classroom as well.

3. Google
OK, so this is an obvious one, but if you're not having much luck finding what you need, sometimes the best thing to do is to cast a wider net. How about the whole internet? :) See, for example, what comes up when I do a Google search for children's songs from Mongolia.

-Checking for Authenticity-
OK, so you've found a song somewhere from some culture in which you are not an expert. Maybe it's a folk song from your Kodaly song list, an activity in the latest issue of Music Express, or a children's song from one of the websites listed above. Now how do you know if it is an accurate transcription and/or translation of the song, and if it is being presented in an authentic context?

1. Google the lyrics*
If you have a transliteration of the lyrics in the original language, or a digital source for the lyrics in the original language, copy as much as you can into a search engine like Google and see what comes up. Sometimes I have done this with a song from a major publishing source and found that it was attributed to the wrong country! You should be able to find someone, somewhere, who has an original source to the song. If the only results you find are from non-native sources, or if you find different results giving differing information (like attributing it to different countries), you will quickly know that you need to do a little more digging to find your answers. If you find that all the top search results agree on the basic information, and you see native sources that confirm that information, you can confidently move on to the next step. 
(*If it is an instrumental piece, you will have to Google just the title and any other identifying information you have, but it may take a bit more digging.)

2. Try to find a video
There is absolutely no better way to find out how a song is actually used in a foreign culture than to watch people from that culture performing the song in a native setting. If you have already done a search for the song and found some reliable sources, there is a good chance you have already found a video recording of the song. If not, click on the "videos" tab in your Google search (right under the search box) or head straight to YouTube. 

The best sources are ones created by natives, for natives. Although it is intimidating to see a page with absolutely no English in it, if the performers and the audience are from that culture than you have a pretty good guarantee that the presentation has not been modified for Western audiences. Don't assume that, just because the performers are native to the culture, the song is being presented in an authentic context. Often musical groups will travel as "musical ambassadors" to Western countries and present their music, but will modify their presentation to make it more "accessible" for their audience. 

You don't need to be able to understand a single thing you are copying and pasting into your search box, or read the video description, to get a lot of information from watching the video itself! Here's an example of a video that has absolutely no English on the page, but still gives me a good idea of how the song could be used in the classroom. (If you want more information about this Chinese counting song, here is the Mama Lisa page with more information, and here is a recording with the lyrics and an adult singing on pitch :) )

The internet has given us the wonderful opportunity to connect with people from around the world. We no longer need to rely on ethnomusicologists to spend years researching, translating, and notating the songs for us- we can get straight to the source ourselves! 

If you are interested in the topic of teaching world music, you can read more of my general musings on the topic in my guest post on The Yellow Brick Road's blog here:

I have also slowly been adding world music resources to my TeachersPayTeachers store. If you're interested, I have this lesson set to use as an overview of music from around the world, and these lesson sets of children's songs from Japan. And if you aren't already, you can follow my store to get updates when I post a new resource!

I hope these resources and ideas will encourage you to find some new and authentic ways to introduce the students in your music classes to cultures around the world. And please, please, share your own resources and ideas in the comments below- I can't wait to hear from you!

*Update: I'm linking up with a bunch of bloggers to share ideas for teaching music from around the world. Click on the picture below to go check out all of the posts and get tons of lesson ideas!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Mommy Monday: quick potluck recipes

So you've just been asked to bring something to a potluck-style meal or event, and you don't have any time to go to the store beforehand. You also don't have a lot of time to cook. Sure, you could just bring something store-bought (drinks, cookies, chips and salsa, or a rotisserie chicken are great in a pinch!), but you'd rather bring something you've made yourself. Are there any options for you in this situation?

Why yes, yes there are! ;)

In the last couple of years I have found a few recipes that require only ingredients I can keep on hand, and can be made very quickly. Since I find that often I am asked to bring something in a particular category, I have listed one in each main category of meal items.

Dessert: Pumpkin Spice Bars (or cookies, or muffins...)
I heard this recipe from a friend and have since found several different sources for similar recipes, so I'm not sure who to attribute this to. There are several ways to vary the recipe so even if you are making it for the same people, you can change it up to seem totally different!

Ingredients: 1 (15oz) can pumpkin
                    1 (14.5oz) box gingerbread mix
                    optional: raisins, chocolate chips, nuts, cream cheese frosting

Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 350.
                   2. Mix pumpkin, gingerbread mix, and any mix-in's (my favorites are raisins and white
                       chocolate chips) in large bowl.
                   3. Pour into 9x13 pan or muffin tin, or spoon onto cookie sheet.
                   4. Cook for around 20 minutes (adjust depending on the pan, oven temp etc)
                   5. Allow to cool completely. You can add frosting or serve as-is.

Main Dish/Meat: Mexican Chicken
This is another one that I've seen on many, many blogs and websites, but I found the recipe here. You can serve the chicken as-is, or use it to stuff burritos, in fajitas, or on top of a salad- basically any Mexican recipe with shredded chicken. I usually have tortillas and shredded cheese so I can just take those with the chicken and let people do what they want :)

Ingredients: 3-4 chicken breasts or 5-6 thighs
                    1 cup salsa
                    optional: 2 tsp each of onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, chili powder, and/or

Directions: 1. Put chicken in crockpot first (can be completely frozen), then salsa and any seasonings.
                   2. Cook on low for 6-8 hours (3-4 on high).
                   3. Shred or cut up the chicken.

Side/Appetizer/Veggie: Spinach Balls
Yep, in my opinion you can use these for any of the above categories. The beauty of this recipe (which I got here) is that you can make them pretty quickly from start to finish, but you can also make them ahead and freeze them. I often leave out the onions (I adore onions but my girls don't so I don't always have them on-hand) and just add a little extra cheese. I don't use the extra seasonings. I find the stuffing mix has enough seasoning already.

Ingredients: 2 (10oz) packages frozen spinach (thawed and drained)
                    2 small onions (finely chopped)
                    2 1/4 cup stuffing mix with herbs
                    6 eggs (beaten)
                    1/2 cup butter (melted)
                    1/2 cup parmesan cheese
                    optional: 2 tsp garlic salt, 1 tsp black pepper

Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 350. Prepare all ingredients as listed above (thaw, chop, beat, melt).
                   2. Mix everything in large bowl, then make 1" balls and place on cookie sheet.
                   3. Bake for 20 minutes.

Shopping List
OK, so if you want to have the ingredients on hand to make any of these three options at the drop of a hat, here's what you'll need:

Pantry: 1 (15oz) can pumpkin
             1 box gingerbread mix
             1 box stuffing mix
             1 small jar of salsa

Freezer: chicken (breasts or thighs)
              2 (10oz) packages spinach

Perishables that you will need to have on hand when you make them: eggs, butter, parmesan cheese, onions

Pretty simple, right? What are your super-simple recipes that you keep at the ready?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Teacher Tuesday: recorder storage solution

I recently started my 3rd graders on recorders, and I'm trying out a new storage and organization system for the recorders this year that I think will make it much faster for students to find and grab their instruments at the beginning of class:

Of course, you can't be surprised at this point that my system revolves around my color-coded groups, right?!? I got the magazine holders at IKEA last summer and put some (you guessed it) duct tape to mark each color across the top. I have one set for each class, and I have put numbers on each case (with a silver fabric marker) that matches the numbers the student use in their own classrooms. I used to assign numbers to students in my own room based on my seating chart, but I quickly realized it was more important for them to remember their own number than for me to know which number was for which student. I do write down their numbers on my seating chart so I can remember it though.

With this system, the students only have 3-4 recorders to sift through in their color box, find their number, and take it to their seat. The magazine holders are the perfect size for holding the recorders too. They could easily hold up to 8 without having to cram them in I think but having smaller groups does make the process of finding individual recorders that much simpler.

If you've got recorders on the brain like me, you may want to check out my posts on organizing solutions for my recorder karate belts and recorder karate sheet music. You may also want to check out my recorder karate records sheets, which are a part of my complete music teacher organizer set.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Mommy Monday: snow day ideas for toddlers and preschoolers

Well, here in CT we're in for another snow day today- we've had quite a few in the last couple of weeks! Today I wanted to share my favorite things to do with my 3-year-old girls when we are unexpectedly stuck at home.

1. Cook
Yep, our #1 favorite thing to do on a snow day is cook! And why not? My girls love helping me cook, and I can stock up the fridge/freezer for our next few meals while I'm home and have the time! You can check out many of my favorite easy meals on my Recipes Pinterest board (most of them are easy enough to do with the kids), but here are a few of my favorites:

Energy bites: you can customize and adjust this recipe so many ways, and it is like sensory play too if you let everyone mix it up by hand! :)

Simple, delicious, and healthy recipe for No Bake Energy Bites. Super yummy and a great recipe to make with the kids!

I actually use this recipe but cook it in the oven instead of the crockpot. But it's delicious and easy.

Crockpot Pumpkin Bread.

OK, I know what you're thinking- too many ingredients I don't have in my house. Just trust me on this one: even if you have no children, you NEED to buy the stuff and make this now. It is so yummy and so quick to make too. This one is fun with the kids because it is a much more action-packed recipe, but still easy and quick.

親子丼 (Oyakodon)

2. Clean
I know I can't be the only mom who thinks doing chores on a snow day is a great idea. The trick is to make it a project. Pick something out of the ordinary- I'm not talking about vacuuming or picking up toys- it needs to be something unusual to be exciting. Think deep clean the bathroom or organize the closet. Then let the kids help plan how to execute, and start delegating. It really does feel good to be productive and work as a team. As long as they are team members and not minions just following orders, the kids will love it too!

3. Build a Fort
There are so many ways to build a fort/tent/whatever. Use an old box, couch cushions, blankets, storage containers, tables, chairs, and anything else you can find! The fun is figuring out how to get it to stay up, and make it big enough for everyone to get inside. 

4. Read.All.The.Books.
We read every day so reading books is nothing new and exciting, but usually when we read we are on some kind of time crunch (or I start to feel antsy) and I limit the number of books we read in a row. On snow days we can go crazy! The girls get excited about bringing my piles and piles of books and reading them all, one after the other.

5. Tinker
Basically just pull out some interesting stuff, and see what you come up with! This is a great way to get the creative juices flowing and encourage exploration, discovery, and independence. Our favorite materials lately are pipe cleaners, blocks, and play dough, but we've had tons of fun just pulling out the recycling box and using the stuff in there (just taking out the open cans with sharp edges of course...). I made a "busy box" that is basically a box of stuff for tinkering (but slightly more structured), which has been a favorite for many months now. You can read more about that here:

6. Dance
The girls got this awesome toy for Christmas, which has been a great way to change up our dance party routine:
Basically it gives you a prompt (like "swim like a fish" or "run like a puppy") and then plays music to match that movement. It's great because it comes up with so many movement ideas and different musical styles so I don't have to think. We do our own dance parties too though- just turn on some music, move, and laugh! Our favorite is the Raffi station on Pandora. You can also do some different games: call out one body part to move at a time, call out one person's name to take a turn leading the movement, or call out different actions (like march, walk, jump, slide, run, tiptoe etc).

7. Snow Play
Just because you can't go on an outing doesn't mean you can't go out! Even if it's just for a few minutes we love to get out of the house and play in the snow. Up until recently that generally just involved touching the snow, looking at the snow, and maybe attempting to walk in the snow. The last couple of times the girls have finally gotten up the nerve to actually have fun and they now make snow angels and snow balls with the best of them! Soon we will be making epic snowmen and other large snow structures. Yes we will. 

8. Crafts
Crafts are always lots of fun and they're great for a snow day when you have a little more time. There are tons of fun and easy craft ideas on Pinterest if you're truly stuck, but honestly, sometimes the most fun comes from having some great supplies on hand to just pull out and let inspiration strike! Right now the girls love ripping up paper, glue, stickers, markers, and stencils. This post has a great list of arts and craft supplies for young children:

essential kid's craft supplies

9. Video Call 
Especially since I am the only adult in the house, I like to have some Skype conversations with family and friends. Even if it's just a quick hello, it's a nice change of scenery for everyone and helps prevent cabin fever and/or just getting sick of each other. Plus it's a great time to catch people who we normally can't talk to with our regular schedules! We've also done group video chats on Google Hangouts (and I know there are a few other services out there that will let you do this for free).

I hope you found some new inspiration in this list for the rest of this winter. I know I will be looking for more ideas, so please share yours in the comments below!