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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Bring Fall to the Music Room

Ah, fall. We've had some extra-cold weather this week that's making it feel more like winter around here, but the fall leaves are a nice reminder that there's still a little Autumn left to enjoy (whether the temperature wants to cooperate or not!). I don't tend to plan my lesson material thematically- I plan out my entire school year for every grade by concept (see how I do that here)- but I have found some easy ways to incorporate the season into my classes without having to completely change my curriculum so that we can keep things interesting and bring some of the "outside world" into what we're doing.

1. Leaves

I love using songs about autumn leaves (here's how I teach my favorite one) this time of year, but it's also fun to use leaves as movement props and manipulatives! I found some beautiful silk leaves at the Dollar Tree last year that I have students use as movement props to show melodic contour, and little foam shapes and mini erasers that are perfect to use as composition manipulatives or for dictation practice (use them at note heads on a staff).

2. Pumpkin

Of course pumpkins are another great theme for fall! I have some pumpkin erasers that I use for composition manipulatives and dictation practice, and I have a few pumpkin-themed singing games that I love using with Kindergarten to practice steady beat (and with older grades if we have a "catch-up day" or something)- Aimee from O For Tuna Orff has lots of them in this post.

3. Holidays

I tend not to reference specific holidays too much because it can often feel exclusionary for students who don't celebrate, and it can get tricky keeping track of any students who aren't allowed to celebrate any holidays at all. But I do like to include some holiday-themed lessons depending on the classes I have, and fall is the perfect time to focus on Diwali (this lesson from Manju Durairaj is excellent, and this song is an easy way to introduce the holiday), Chuseok (Korean "thanksgiving"- this would be a great time to introduce ganggangsullae or any Korean traditional music like Arirang), or other fall holidays students may not normally experience.

4. Forest Animals

Is there a reason I associate forest animals with fall? I'm not sure.... but my students seem to as well so I'm going with it. In any case, forest creatures are an easy theme to incorporate into any lesson with (you guessed it) composition manipulatives and dictation practice using mini erasers and figurines in animal shapes, or songs about different animals like Grizzly Bear or Hop Old Squirrel.

5. Acorns

Acorns are perfect to bring in to use as manipulatives (and you can get them for free, right off the ground!). If you have little popsicle sticks to use for stick notation, acorns are a good size to use as note heads with those, or you can just use them on a staff like any other manipulative (and they're safe for anyone with tree nut allergies). There are also some really great acorn songs, like I'm an Acorn and the Japanese Donguri Korokoro.

Those are just a few ideas to bring fall into the music room- what are your favorite ways to celebrate the season? I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments below. Enjoy what's left before we hunker down for winter...

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