Monday, January 30, 2012

Aunt Pearlie Sue leads the way...

February is Black History Month, so I like to use this time to explore the music that has evolved in America thanks to the African-American culture.  My favorite way to start this unit with my 3rd graders is with an interactive website lesson (points for using technology!).   We are fortunate to have a computer lab at my school, so this week my 3rd grade classes are meeting in the lab.  You could also do this with one computer and a projector, with the teacher leading the class through the material.

So, first go to  You should see a page like this:

See the lady on the left?  That's Aunt Pearlie-Sue.  She narrates this whole adventure, so make sure you have the sound turned on.  She has a pretty thick gullah accent, so the words are also printed on each page. When you move your cursor over the four circles, you can hear her laugh....the kids said it sounds like a chicken! LOL!  Anyway, start with the "Secret Code" section.  Aunt Pearlie Sue tells all about how the slaves used music to communicate and help guide others to the underground railroad.  There are even examples of some of the music to listen to. 

At the end of this section, we recap and I ask questions to make sure they were paying attention. Then we go on to explore the other three sections, which are about making music.  Click on different sounds to create your own arrangement, listen to children sing with Pearlie Sue, and compose your own blues verse (I use that one for a separate lesson the following week). 

As if that weren't enough, you can click on "The Journey" to follow the evolution of music from African drums all the way to Hip Hop, with examples of each along the way.  How cool is that? The kids are loving it!

Do you have a favorite lesson for Black History Month?  Please share! 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bass Hall Field Trip

Today I took my second graders to Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth to see the FWSO.  They do a great children's performance every year.  They presented "Peter and the Wolf" by Prokofiev, complete with ballet dancers acting out the story.  The kids LOVED it! This year we sat in the Upper "nosebleed section"...but even from there, the view is great. 

It's one of my favorite events of the year.  We make a big deal out of getting to go to a symphony concert.  We discuss proper etiquette for attending a concert, and what to wear--the kids show up on field trip day dressed to the nines.  A 7-year-old in a suit and tie is ADORABLE!  They learn about the Hall beforehand, so as soon as they get inside they are looking around, identifying the art on the ceilings and marble staircases that they saw in pictures.  The staff and volunteers at Bass Hall are fabulous--they love what they do and they are good at it.  They escort you from the bus to your seats and back again. It's almost impossible to lose anyone on this trip! ;)

If you ever have the opportunity to take students to Bass Performance Hall, DO IT.  It will be the best music field trip you've ever done!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy 2012!

Happy New Year!  I hope your holiday was restful, relaxing, and rejuvenating, and that you are ready to jump into 2012 with both feet!  Let's sing, dance, and play our hearts out!