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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

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 amazing 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 Musical Interactions. I got this Rhythm Go Fish 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 Rhythm Dominoes from her store to put 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!

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  1. This is an awesome compilation of ideas! I love them all. Thanks for sharing :)

    1. Thanks for commenting- I'm glad you liked the post!

  2. Awesome! Love the rhythm manips, going to add that to summer list! A gem I found on tpt is Instrument Family loved it, easy to play! (I used my cheap rubber mallets instead of Spoons ;)

    1. I love my rhythm monsters (and the kids adore them too)! Have fun :) I love the spoons game idea- adding it to my list for this summer! Thanks! :)

  3. Ps... room theme next year is Harry Potter, i'm making so many HP center music games & bulliten boards, these eyeball magnets need a quippy HP name!!

    1. Oooh that will be so fun! Maybe something quidditch related...? Hmmmmm.....

  4. Great ideas! Any suggestions when you have four schools to decorate and organize? I get ideas, then poop out.

    1. That is definitely a lot, I don't blame you for getting pooped out! I would say focus on organization first- each room and teaching situation is going to need different things, so maybe spend some time in each room at the end of the school year making a list of priority for each room for what needs to be done to organize. Then once they're each organized, I would pick one "theme" or poster set and use the same set in all rooms- it will be easier for you to reference visuals etc if you use the same thing in each room. Hope that helps!