Friday, January 30, 2015

Winter Activities

Let's face it.  Coming back to school in January is hard, especially after a relaxing Christmas break, chock-full of sleeping late and lounging around for two weeks.  It definitely took a few good days for the students and I to get in the groove again.  Secretly, we've all been wishing for a snow day or two.  Unfortunately, here in TX, we've had no ice, no snow, just cold - brrrrrr!  Well....I say cold!  If you live in the Lone Star State, you'll agree with me that 30 degrees gives us quite the chill.  Of course because our state is a woman (I really believe this), she can change her mind on a whim.  Thirty degrees one day.....70 the next.  Yep!  Texas definitely has a female mind :) 

To ward off the cold days of no outside play, I kept the students busy with all kinds of winter/football themed activities in my music classroom.  Here's a brief summary of our Brrrrr-y good month.

1st-3rd -
We used a giant floor staff with die-cuts to practice our melodies.  They worked in small groups and had a blast helping each other.  Our biggest issue was spacing.  Most of the children wanted to stack their notes like chords.  After a few tries, they were all on the right track.  

For rhythm practice, first and seconds used Music a la Abbott's "Winter Themed Beat Strips."  Using rhythm sticks, at first I would tap and say the pictures for the line I wanted them to create.  After a few rounds, I used the sticks and said the rhythm only.  The students had to figure out what picture matched that rhythms.  Last, I only played sticks, and they had to use their listening skills to create the correct pattern.  We even used a blank space for a rest.  This was a fun activity and allowed me to assess while they played.

Since our snow day wish hasn't come true yet, the students had a "Snowball Challenge" to see who could collect (pin) the most snowballs.  Though I would normally do this in a small group/center situation, this time we grouped up and shared our boards.  This provided a great review of the concepts that the students have learned over the last few months.

4th-6th -
I love these age groups because everything is about competition.  Very rarely do I play a game with my older students where there is no "winner."  I enjoy seeing their wheels turning as they attempt to answer correctly.  It's just plain fun.

We've been doing a lot of staff practice with note names.  Soon we will begin playing recorders and I want the students to be proficient in reading music.  In the spirit of football season, AND since the Cowboys made it to the playoffs, I incorporated some football helmets into our note names game.  I began by calling one, then two, then three letters on the staff.  Students had to race to put the correct helmet in its place.  To change it up, I also called just a line or space number.  This challenged the students to not only place the helmet in the right location, but also they had to know what letter was on the line or space.

Later in the month, I used the same idea, but this time using staff words.   I called a word and the groups had to place their die-cuts on the staff to spell that word.  For some it was a challenge because of spacing their notes correctly.  I had to do a "mini-lesson" on how we read words from left to right, and music is the same.  Of course, this was a huge competition as well.  Three letter words earned 3 points, 4 letter words - 4 points, etc.

Another activity I used with 4th-6th was "Mystery Song."  I used a simple song that everyone knew (Twinkle Twinkle) and challenged them with using the barred instruments to solve the mystery.  I told them nothing about the song except that the first and third phrases are the same.  After working out the first few measures, the light bulbs came on!  It was fun seeing them READ music without me rote teaching.  My plan is to do one "Mystery Song" each month.  

 It's been a great month for some fun learning in music.
  Thank you for visiting The Bates Clef.

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