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Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Top 5 New Elementary Music Ideas

As the school year comes rapidly to a close I've been thinking back on all the new cool things I did this school year. I love looking back on things that went well at the end of the year and reminding myself that, although there were certainly a lot of hard things, there are definitely things to celebrate! So today I'm counting down my top 5 favorite new ideas I put in place this school year- maybe you'll find some inspiration you can use next year!

5. Tissue/ bathroom signals

I had avoided having my own tissue/ bathroom signals because I figured it would just confuse the students if they have other signals they use in their homerooms, but I'm so glad I finally just went with it. Some students definitely still haven't caught on and ask out loud to use the bathroom or get a tissue, but most of them have gotten the hang of the hand signals and having the posters right there in front of where they are sitting has definitely helped. Next year I am considering adding a signal for water too...

4. Kwanzaa lessons

I've been doing a Kwanzaa song as part of my holiday sing along for a few years now but this year I was able to flesh out those lessons a little more with some other fun activities that helped my students understand the meaning and purpose behind the holiday a little more, and they were SO into it! The Kwanzaa song was actually far and away the most popular song at the sing-along this year (click the picture above to see all the resources and activities I added this year).

3. Summer one-page planner

If you follow me on Instagram then you already know what this is about... This idea just happened this past weekend and it is definitely one of those, "why didn't I think of this sooner?" moments! I have always made sure to have my summer calendars ready so I can note vacations, outings, summer camps, and everything else in one place to keep track of who is supposed to be where when, but it never occurred to me until this year to put all 3 months on 1 page. Game changer! Definitely not an elementary music-specific idea but as teachers I think it makes such a huge difference at the end of the school year when you have that information organized and accessible, otherwise it's too much to carry around in your brain along with all of the end of year things at school! If you want a free copy of this summer planner (and you're reading this before May 26, 2023) make sure you're subscribed to the Organized Chaos newsletter. I'll be sending out the printable in the next issue :)

2. Frog songs around the world

These songs, and the lessons I did with them with 2nd grade this year, seriously just make me smile. I went down a rabbit hole this spring looking for a frog song from another country to pair with the Japanese frog song I already knew, and found 2 more fantastic ones that have instantly become some of my favorites for this age from Puerto Rico and Sweden (click the picture above to see them all, including the Japanese one)! 

1. Video/ slides sub plans

Maybe it's because I've had to be out of the classroom a lot more than usual the last few weeks because of concerts and special end of year events, but this one has to be my top pick for new things I love (also *cough* don't scold me because I technically started doing this the end of last school year... this was my first full year of using this so it still counts ok?). It may sound like more work than regular sub plans but honestly for me at least, it is way easier to be out now that I am recording myself explaining what to do/ teaching or leading an activity myself and just pulling up the slides for the sub to push play. And it's DEFINITELY way easier and far less intimidating for the substitute teachers (or, most of the time this year, whatever random staff they find to cover me since there are no actual subs). I know not everyone has the equipment to do this but if you do, seriously, do yourself a favor and make the switch- once you get the hang of it your life will be so much easier (click the picture above for an explanation of how I set mine up).

I hope something on this list sparks a new idea you can get excited to try out in your own classroom next year, and I also hope it inspires you to reflect on all the cool things you did this year that went well for you! If you care to share, I'd love to hear your favorite new ideas in the comments. It's good to celebrate the things that went well!

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