Sunday, September 30, 2012

Halloween Rhythm Dictations

I really have to give my husband the credit on this one.  We were in Target, where I was picking out Halloween goodies for the choir, when I spotted some super-cute Halloween Erasers.  I quickly grabbed four types: skulls, jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, and black cats (60 pieces for $1.00).

In the check-out line, my husband assumed I was using them for some rhythm activity, saying, "Are the Jack-o-Lanterns tikatikas?"

Skull = ta (quarter note)
Black Cat = titi (8th note pair)
Ghost: shh (quarter rest - I might try "whoo" or "boo" for Halloween)
Jack-O-Lantern: tikatika (beamed 16th notes)

So I made this to print on cardstock and laminate.  Each student will get the board and a bag with two of each type of erasers.  They'll dictate rhythms I say or play, and I'll write some of their creations on the board to be played as a B section for a favorite Halloween song.  Boo!

You can find the board here: Halloween Rhythms

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Flight Night - an easy music composition activity - 2nd/3rd grade

I love autumn.  Not only that, I love OWLS (they've invaded my classroom and are here to stay).


Anyways, what music teacher doesn't want to encourage their students to create their own music?  We've done improvisation, we've even created melodic and rhythmic ostinatos.  I think we should take it a step further.

So, I created this Power Point: Flight Night.  With it, we'll follow the path of music creation from inspiration to recording/reflection, with lots of vocabulary and fun thrown in.  The great thing is that I can print out the slides three per page with room for notes.

As the next step, the students would write a song in their groups, using a certain picture as inspiration and following the steps.  I'm still working on what this worksheet would look like.
After I've checked the group songs, we would learn each song as a class.

Lastly, as an assessment, the students would write their own songs independently.  I'd provide extra worksheets for students who wanted to create a song on their own time.

We'll see how it goes - check back for worksheets.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

So and Mi Patterns

My 2nd graders always need a little "so" and "mi" refresher at the beginning of the year.  I created the following printable powerpoints so I didn't have to keep drawing and erasing on my wipe board.  I like to print them out and laminate them because this brings my kiddos in closer proximity to me and it is easier for me to hear them.  You may decide to project this on a white or SMART board.

First, we review their relationship using my solfa houses (see below).  We also use my large foam circles on my floor staff.  Then, we're ready to see them on the music staff.

I review the following vocabulary terms with the students and identify them on the first slide: time signature, double bar line, measure, and staff.  We also review pitch and melody.  

Note: The students understand that these are one measure melodies created with high (so) and low (mi) pitches.  They also know that the staff is a home for pitches, and that the pitches can move around (I use the moveable"Do" system - right now they are concerned with where "So" lives so they can find "Mi").  My students also know that "So" is really called "Sol" - we don't sing "Sol" because I don't like the addition of the "l" sound.  It can be tricky for some students to sing.

Then, we try "So and Mi Patterns Level 1".  There are six different levels - we often don't get to all six in one class (this is a short, warm-up activity).   Level 1 uses So and Mi patterns in C, F, and G major using quarter notes only.

Once they've mastered Level 1, we go on to "So and Mi Patterns Level 2".  There are six different levels with a preliminary rhythm level.  Level 2 uses So and Mi patterns in C, F, and G major using quarter notes and eighth note pairs.

I'm working on Level 3 (adding quarter rests).  This is a great way to review basic rhythms as well.  You could also add boomwhackers or Orff instruments to the melodies, as well as have the students work on singing two melodic patterns at once (they love this - especially if I sing one and tell them, "Don't let me mess you up!")

Level 1 (more instructions are included here): So and Mi Patterns Level 1
Level 2 (more instructions are included here): So and Mi Patterns Level 2 

Do Re Mi Boomwhacker Activity

I use this activity as a Do-Re-Mi review for my older students.  Before they try this activity alone in their group stations, we practice each pattern as a whole class.  I also go over the steps they need to follow to teach their group members.

Basically, each group is given two Do, two Re, and two Mi boomwhackers.  They are also given the instruction sheet and seven patterns (print out on cardstock and laminate).  Each student gets to teach a pattern to their group.  If a group finishes early, the students are instructed to switch patterns or try playing two patterns in a row.

Note: These patterns are in F major not C major like the Boomwhackers. The goal for my students here is that they are merely practicing reading Do-Re-Mi on the staff - not matching exact pitches.

You can find the Powerpoint and more instructions here: Do-Re-Mi Boomwhacker Activity

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Hello everyone!
My name is Emily.  I love my job: teaching elementary music!

I'm creating this blog to further my professional development.  I've been inspired by so many other great blogs.  I feel that now is the time for me to contribute, not just take ideas!

Solfa Houses

After a quick trip to Home Depot, I created these solfa houses.  I have multiple sets of the Do pentatonic scale.

Just cut your shapes, use double-stick tape, and laminate.  My students use these for simple melodic dictation and composition activities.

One Beat Rhythm Practice

At the beginning of the year, my older kids often need a "refresher" on basic rhythms.  This activity gives them a chance to practice one beat rhythms we already know, while reviewing vocabulary words such as "time signature", "bar line" and "measure".

To begin, I seat my students in a LARGE circle next to a partner.

Then, I give them the worksheet.  We review the names of the rhythms, how many sounds (or silences) they receive on one beat, and how we count them (use whatever system you use).

Next, they cut out the rhythms.  Each partner gets a set (four rhythms for each).

After that, I give them a bag of popsicle sticks (15 total).  We practice laying out the steady beats (four), dividing them into two measures (bar line) and adding a double bar line at the end.

One partner is the "measure one composer" (they lay down their cards in measure one) and the other is the "measure two composer" (they get to use measure two).

Then, we practice a couple of rhythms together (I say a pattern, students use their cards to create it, then they check their answer with what I've written on the board).

After practicing, the students composer their own measures.  They have one minute to compose and discuss and another to practice counting and clapping it.

I then take volunteers to share their rhythm.  The entire class dictates it.  Sometimes we add lyrics or play the rhythms on an instrument.

The great thing about this activity is that it lets me assess who remembers their rhythms and who needs help.  We also use this as a station when we do our rhythm stations.