Sunday, March 25, 2012

Testing, Testing, 1,2,3.....

It's that time again in Texas: state testing season.  Music teachers everywhere are alternating between "whew!  I'm glad I don't have to teach a tested subject!" and "hey, just because we aren't testing doesn't mean we aren't important!".  To my fellow music teachers I say, take heart friends!  We are even more important now.  Our students are working, nose to the grindstone all day every day.  Their classroom teachers are keeping them focused on a very real, sometimes daunting, goal.  For students who are struggling, music may be the one place they feel confident and safe taking a risk.  For academically strong students, music is a chance to stretch their wings and express themselves.  Music teacher, you are important!  Even if you have to change your schedule, combine classes, monitor restrooms, and take kids to recess, you are doing good work.  My role this week is to be a cheerleader for my kiddos and help them to feel successful.  If we get to make music in the process, that's even better!  It's a good week to focus on flexibility and creativity, and to remind myself that with or without the music, I am a teacher. My students need me to be calm, confident, and positive.  My inner diva is going to take a back seat to academics, and she will long as I let her out again soon. ;)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Carnival of the Animals

I don't know about you, but sometimes I struggle with Kindergarten.  I have them for 55 minutes once a week, which is too long for them to focus on any one thing, so I need lots of activities for each class.  I have been working on a unit for Carnival of the Animals for them, and it is going really well.  Each week, we have an "Animal of the Week".  We listen to the music for that animal and learn about the instrument(s) represented in the piece.  I have several activities that I am using in each week's lesson.

1.  Movement:  move like the animal represented while listening to the music, or copy the teacher's movements during the music.
2.  Read a book from the library featuring the animal of the week. (can be fiction or non)
3.  Sing a song related to the animal (ex:  "Here Comes a Bluebird" for the Aviary)
4.  Play a game with the song.
5.  Watch a video of the selection (I've found great ones on YouTube!)
6.  Color a picture from this awesome coloring book:

I am keeping their pictures each week, and we will compile them into a book at the end of the unit. Periodically, I will interject a different lesson to break up the pattern, but most kids love the predictability of it all.  They come in asking for the new animal each week! 

If you would like a sample lesson for The Aviary, just shoot me an email at, and I'll send you a PDF file.  Thanks for reading!