Image Map

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

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!

Want more? Subscribe here to the Organized Chaos newsletter and get music teacher ideas and resources sent straight to your inbox!

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 :)


  1. Okay, that whole rest song will now be in my head the rest of the night, which is probably the point ;) Thanks for sharing! #fermatafridays