Sunday, March 28, 2010

Musical March Madness

We are bouncing to the beat this week!  It's a great way to experience whole, half, quarter and eighth notes!  Take a look at a video we made a couple of years ago.

The music is "Let's Get It Started" by The Black Eyed Peas.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

On-Line Jeopardy Game

I think we will play this game this Friday!   It's a Musical Jeopardy game that I made and it's all web-based!  Very nice!
Musical Classroom Review Jeopardy

Monday, March 22, 2010

Hot Cross Buns

This time of year, Kindergarten - 2nd grades play and sing Hot Cross Buns.  We play this traditional song on mallet instruments, Boomwhackers and melody bells.  It's easy to play and therefore, quickly rewarding.  When learning to play the recorder, it's one of the first pieces we learn to play on B, A and G.  If you'd like to make your own Hot Cross Buns, you can click on the words here.  This site also share a bit of the tasty treats' history. 

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Perfect Pitch Game

Click here for the game!
I will be finding a way to use this game!



Thursday, March 11, 2010

Slip Notes

I am constantly dreaming up creative ways to inspire students to listen intently to biographical stories.  One thing that seems to work very well is what I call "Slip Notes."  Students get a pencil and slips of left over paper which I scrounge from the paper cutter in the teacher's work room.  As I read to the students, their job is to chose one fact that they find interesting AND they think no one else will write down.  After I am done reading, we share what is on our "Slip Notes" and if no one else has what the student has, they get a reward.  In my class, we use jelly beans.  If we have time at the end of class, we repeat the process.  They are given the chance to write down one more fact that has not been mentioned and again, it must be unique in order to get a jelly bean.

The students learn to listen using this method.  They hear me tell the story.  They take notes and then they share facts once again with each other.  As they exit the room, I have them tell me what they found interesting about what they heard that day.  We learn about Ludwig van Beethoven in 4th grade after we finish our Recorder Karate.  If you know one of my 4th graders, ask them about Beethoven; they will be able to tell you much about his life!

I have been criticized for using candy as an extrinsic motivator.  I accept that.  It's fun and it's effective.   You could do this with stickers or stamps or high fives or points or whatever else you choose.  Jelly beans are my thing.  They are a small yet sweet incentive.  You can use whatever works for you.   In the whole of my teaching, my goal is to model and stimulate intrinsic motivation but I find that properly placed extrinsic motivation can heighten awareness and ignite desire to learn.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Desktop Blues

Desktop Blues
My 5th and 6th graders had a good time creating their own 12 bar blues pattern today using this innovative web-site.  I drew the pattern on the board and they chose the buttons to push with the radio playing in the background.  What a simple and delightful way to create with the  blues.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Happy Birthday to our National Anthem

On March 3, 1931, Herbert Hoover signed into law, The Star-Spangled Banner, as our national anthem!   The words were written by Francis Scott Key, an American lawyer at the end of the war of 1812 during The Battle of Fort McHenry.  He was held captive aboard a British ship after negotiating the release of American doctor, William Beanes. 

All of my students know our national anthem.  We sing it many times during the year acting it out and reviewing the history of the song each time we sing.   I teach respect for the flag, the song and our country.  As a child of an Air Force officer, as well as a proud American, this is dear to my heart.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I had a little extra time today with my 5th and 6th graders at Ayr.  We celebrated Nebraska's birthday (Mar. 1, 1867) by singing Beautiful Nebraska.  We celebrated Dr. Seuss' birthday (Mar. 2, 1904) by singing The Super Supper March.  And we celebrated The Star-Spangled Banner's birthday (Mar. 3, 1931 it became our national anthem.)  We then went to Wikipedia and put in each of those dates in the search bar and made a list of world events that happened during those years.  It was fascinating.  I love to connect music with history and culture.  Here are some of our findings:

Nebraska becomes the 37th state.
African-American men get the right to vote in Washington D.C.
Alaska territory is purchased from Russia 7.2 mil. dollars.
The 1st dental school in the U.S. is established at Harvard.

Theodor Geisel a.k.a as Dr. Seuss is born.
Henry Ford sets a speed record 91.37 mph.
Work on the Panama canal is begun.
The 3rd modern Olympics are held in St. Louis.
The 1st New Year's Eve celebration is held in Times Square.
The play Peter Pan premieres in London.
The Trans-Siberian Railroad was completed.

The Star-Spangled Banner becomes the national anthem.
Herbert Hoover is the president.
The Empire State Building is completed.
Nevada legalizes gambling.
Thomas Edison submits his final patent application.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Official Video - Beautiful Nebraska

Happy Birthday Nebraska!

On March 1, 1867, Nebraska became the 37th state added to the United States of America.  We celebrated in music class by singing our wonderful state song, Beautiful Nebraska It was written by Jim Fras and became our state song in 1967, during Nebraska's centennial celebration.   We use actions as we sing to illustrate this beautiful ballad.  I also incorporate a Keynote presentation that highlights authentic Nebraska pictures.  In 2007, a bill was introduced in the Nebraska legislature to change the state song.  I launched a campaign by the use of letters to the editor of many state newspapers.  The AP picked up my Op Ed letter and ran a comment about in in the national paper, USA today!  I went to a legislative hearing to voice my protest to the bill which was introduced by our respected friend and congressman, Carroll Burling.  I am happy to say that it made a difference and we retained our amazing state song.