Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas Carol Trivia

Merry Christmas!

Okay, I just spent WAYYYY too much time making my first upload to Teachers Pay Teachers.  I had a lot of back and forth on this one.  I don't want people to have to pay for things I create for my classroom.  Yes, I get why that would be appealing and on my budget, very helpful, but I like free things, so I'm going to give my stuff away.  Yay.  The way I see it, I snatch a lot of my images from the web and most of my ideas are stolen, so I don't feel comfortable taking money for the bulk of what I do, so, there.  All that said, I finally used my TPT and uploaded this worksheet.  I'm bummed that TPT doesn't have a thumbnail photo for it (yet?), but here's what it looks like:

Well, that's half of it, anyway.  Basically, you match the picture to the song title. This is older than the hills.  I remember doing this activity (or a version of this activity) when I was in elementary school.  If you want a complete history of this project including different versions, click here.  This guy is extensive!  He's got several versions, and was my source for the pictures I chose for my worksheet.   I did use this version yesterday, but I like mine a bit better.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Hanukkah for the Clueless

If you're like me, you know about Hanukkah and you respect and love the Jewish culture, but you know basically nothing about the actual holiday.  Sound about right?  Good.  You're in the right place.  Each year I teach, I learn a little more and am able to share new tidbits to my classes.  This is what I've put together about Hanukkah so far:

**As in all things I don't know much about, I rely heavily on youtube to fill in the gaps**

For my younger kids, I show this Sesame Street clip about Hanukkah.  It's funny and tells the story of Hanukkah.

For my older kids, History Channel put out a 4 minute video with better visuals and a bit more history:

There are a couple of great Hanukkah songs out there on youtube (probably more if I had time to find them).  Two favorites from my class are "Candlelight" by the Maccabeats, and "Miracle" by Matisyahu.  The Maccabeats also do a version of Matisyahu's "Miracle" that's pretty cool, too.

"Candlelight" is a remix of the popular song "Dynamite," so the kids LOVE it!

Matisyahu's "Miracle" video is appropriate for school, but there are some scenes (like the one pictured below) that might be difficult to explain to kids (why is Santa in jail?).  I do like this guy, though, because he makes the beard and the long sideburns look cool.

The Maccabeats' version is educational and more. . . light hearted?  I suppose?  I still show Matisyahu's in my class and my kids love it, but here's the Maccabeats' version just in case you prefer it:

These will link you to many other Hanukkah inspired videos for your class to enjoy.  I saw a Rock of Ages one that looked pretty funny, too. . . .

Whenever I talk about different cultures, I like to pull out Google Earth (yes, it is a free program and you do have to download it) and "take" them there.  Today, I took my kids to the Western Wall in Jerusalem and told them about the last remaining wall of the Jewish temple that the Jews hope one day to rebuild.  All the little tiny squares that look like Polaroids are pictures people have taken in that location.  Seriously, what did we do before this great resource?

Finally, I like to have the kids split into groups and play dreidel.   A few years back, I went in with a couple of teachers and bought a pack of 100 dreidels.  The whole thing cost $35, but my part was less because I only took 25 with me.  I figured that was more than enough.  I never have more than 5 groups going at once and the rest will make up for any possible sticky fingers that I may encounter.  

I do not have the money to buy chocolate coins every year for 400 kids, but I did find a bag full of Halloween plastic ring toppers that we use for our gelt.  I also changed the rule that says you are "out" if you run out of gelt.  I just tell the kids to stay in the game and spin on their turn.  They may get Gimel or Hay and win some gelt back.

One day, I will paste music notes on one of my dreidels like this lady and add a music note dreidel to my music centers on a regular basis. Nun is a quarter rest, Gimel is a whole note, Hay is a half note, and Shin is a quarter note.  The picture below has an eighth note because she doesn't use dreidels to play the game, rather she has an awesome use for them with the orff instruments.  Check her out!

Anyway, these are my main Hanukkah resources outside of the regular curriculum that our district provides. Please share in the comments section what you use!


Just discovered today that there is a Shalom Sesame.  I found it through youtube's offering of "Extreme Temple Makeover".  This spin on Extreme Home Makeover is a hilarious retelling of the Hanukkah story.  It was too cute not to share:

Monday, November 4, 2013

Music Class Birthdays

As a music teacher, I don't have the time or the energy to keep track of the 400+ birthdays in my school.  Luckily, we have Youtube.  If a student comes to my room with a Happy Birthday sticker from their teacher, or if they tell me about their birthday (sometimes it happens on a non-music class day), I will play a short Happy Birthday video. I try to keep it under 1 minute, and as with most Youtube videos, you gotta watch and mute your projector screen before the links that pop up at the end.

Jack Black is a favorite with the kids.  Gotta love those silly faces.
And, of course, Adam Sandler had to get in on the fun:
For my little JB fans. . . the few that are left.  It makes them feel like he's singing to them!
Cute puppet sings "Happy Birthday"
Don't cut this one off too soon, these singing dogs aren't done yet!
Shabbe do we ya!!!
Muppets Classic:
And my personal favorite:

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Halloween Match Mine

As I've stated before, my district requires us to use Kagan structures.  You can visit the website at the previous link for more information, but the idea centers around positive team activities where no one loses and everyone is engaged.  The idea is good and I'm still trying to wrap my brain around the overall theory.  In the meantime, we are observed every month or so doing a Kagan structure in the classroom.  Last month, I did Find Someone Who.  Here are the rules and the worksheets I modified:

The kids were really cute to watch doing these structures, but I didn't double check the answers and some were past our learning curve.  For example, I didn't expect 3rd Grade to know what Syncopation or Triplets were.  I liked how the kids asked others for the answers.  It was at the beginning of the year, so 3rd grade needed a refresher on how to use word banks.  Turns out, the whole worksheet was a bit too much for everyone at the beginning of the year.  I may bring this worksheet back in the Spring and see how they do then.  

This month, I went a lot simpler with Match Mine.  
Description: The teacher assigns students to pairs. Each partner receives an identical game board and game pieces. The game board and game pieces can be based on any vocabulary topic such as food, clothing, sports, careers, verbs, and so on. For example, to practice human body vocabulary, the game board is an illustration of a person. The game pieces are numbered arrows. The pair sets up a file folder barrier between them so they can’t see each other’s game boards. One partner (the “Sender”) arranges the numbered arrows pointing to different body parts. Then, the “Sender” describes her arrangement of arrows on the illustrated body and the “Receiver” attempts to match the “Sender”’s arrangement exactly: Arrow #1 is pointing to her left ear. When the pair thinks that they have correctly made a match, the “Sender” and “Receiver” compare their arrangements to see how well they did. If the game pieces are arranged identically, the pair celebrates their success. If the game pieces don’t match, they congratulate their efforts, then discuss how they could have communicated better to make the match.
Match Mine is terrific for developing communication skills. Students must use the target vocabulary correctly to achieve a successful match.
Below is a picture from Hillary's Highlights.  She had the kids on the floor with the traditional paperclipped folder barrier and the game right out of the Match Mine Music book.  Smart lady.
 I think sometimes I just love overloading myself with extra work.  When I decided to do my Match Mine activity, I started from scratch.  I began with a well Pinned image on Pinterest from the blog, Or For Tuna .  I used to create a white space in the frame and I modified some clip art to make my grave stone beats.  Then I found clip art for my rhythms and voila!  A Match Mine Halloween Rhythm Rumble!

I printed the game board on regular paper and laminated it, and printed the rhythm cards on cardstock.  I was going to cut the game pieces out for the kids, but got as far as cutting them in strips and letting the kids finish them.  I have to say, this one turned out pretty cute.  The ghost is supposed to lay across two grave stones.  I forgot to mention that to 5th grade and there was a bit of confusion, but all in all, I would call this game a success.  

Memes, Seating Charts, and Other General Frustrations

When done right, a good meme can really get me through those rough days.  I mentioned this on my Facebook status a few weeks ago, but sometimes, creating a seating chart feels a lot like playing Mine Sweeper:  I really don't know what I'm doing, and the wrong move can set of a time bomb.  

Do you ever feel like there are certain aspects of your job that you spend WAY too much time on?  For instance, I see the PE teacher's seating chart, and I appreciate how free and easy it is to print off an empty chart and just write the names in pencil.  If you need to move a kid, just erase and write.  Easy peasy, right?  Why can't I accept that?  Why do I have to make a publisher document with individual boxes, a PICTURE of each kid, and their full names as they appear on Power School?  Hey, I would like to give myself some credit in that I don't include pronunciations or nick names in quotation marks anymore.  This seating chart usually takes me WEEKS to create, and until it is created, I have the kids sit in the order they come in, which is always uber confusing for Kindergarten.  Once I do have it completed, it looks something like this (Names have been removed for obvious reasons. . . )
Don't get me wrong, I love everything about this seating chart from the first and last name of the teachers (our email is set up to recognize teachers and staff by their FIRST name, not their last), to the class times, chair numbers and group names.   We use Kagan structures in our district, so grouping the kids in fours helps a lot. I used a die cutter to cut out  the shapes for each group, write their appropriate numbers with a sharpie, laminate them, and I tape them down with book tape to the back of the chairs so they look like this:
Of course, I'm forever getting on to kids for picking the tape off their chairs.  Some of them are already starting to show wear.  But!  This system works for me in my classroom.  One day, I would like to sew enough pockets for each chair with the shapes and numbers on each one.  Wouldn't that be nice?  

If for some reason you would like to have a template for my seating chart and feel comfortable enough with Publisher, I will be glad to send it to you.  Just leave me your email addy in the comments box or email me directly at  

I'll end with a meme that got me through this morning.  I wasn't going to tell the story, but I'll tell the story. A cell phone flew out of the hoodie pocket of one of my 4th Graders today.  When I took it from her, she swore up and down that she thought she left it in her book bag.  Okay, no bigs.  I'm still giving it to your teacher.  After class, as the kids are lining up and I'm handing the cell phone over, I realized that this same 4th grader is forever shoving her hands in her hoodie pocket and was actually at that moment up to her elbows in that pocket, meaning she LIED straight to my face!  Grrrr!  
Of course, now I can't remember why that made me so mad, but at the time, this meme really spoke to me :)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Music Matching Game - Promethean

I posted two of my Promethean flipcharts on Promethean Planet!!!  Here I am :)  I made two of these matching games and I'm super proud of both of them.  The Mario one looks cooler, though.

These are memory games similar to the game "Memory", only your two choices have to equal 10 beats.  I have them set up so all you have to do is tap the boxes (or mushrooms) to reveal the notes.  Yay!  I feel so special :)  9 People have downloaded the Mario one already!  Sweet!!

Totally having a party in my head while I type this.
I'm going to pin these! HA!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Centers! Centers! (In my head it sounds like "Sol, Re, Mi, low Ti")

Maybe I had to open Virtual Piano to figure that out, and maybe I did not. . . .

We did CENTERS today!!! YAYYYYYY!!! I have been concerned that I would shelve the Centers idea and never get to it, so although I was a bit under prepared, I decided that this week, we were going to do CENTERS, DARN IT!!  Class pictured below was my 5th grade class.  They were able to do this themselves without me guiding them through each step.  Notice I did not take pictures of 3rd grade. . . .

First up was Rhythm Bowling.  I had strips of red tape under each pin that I drew a note on.  Students scored according to the note value on the bottom of each pin.

Rhythm Jenga!  Broader explanation here.

I got this basketball game at a garage sale, never been opened, for $7.50 this summer.  3rd grade later broke one of the legs, so . . . that was fun.  I had some ideas on how to make it musical, but for today, I allowed the kids to have one non-music station.  I have high hopes that my husband will be able to fix it for me, so next time it will be musical!!!

I mentioned not too long ago that I wanted to have a boomwhackers center.  Well, I didn't make those little cards in time, so I had the kids write out their compositions on a white board.  This one needs more work.  

My Music Note Matching Game!  I posted this on Promethean Planet, but I can't find it when I search for it yet, so I can't link it.  I'm thinking maybe it has to be approved first?  I got the idea from Notable Music Studio (check her out!  She has TONS of free amazing printables).  I made little cut out cars with notes on them and everything, and to show the kids how to play the game, I threw this together on the Promethean Active Inspire software.  Then I went back and made it look nice.  Then I went back and made a Super Mario Bros. version.  I'll link them to Promethean Planet if I ever find them on there.

Kids playing the Musical Dominoes correctly!!!!  I had no idea that dominoes would be so confusing for them. . . 

5th Grade was AMAZING with the centers.  I was sad to see 3rd grade not thrive as well.   I have to remember that they are still leftover 2nd graders and need more practice working in small groups.  I look forward to doing centers again in the future.  My principal gave me a rubric for my centers and I graded pretty low, which is okay because I have plenty of time to get better.  I need to sit down and make a workstation management board for each center.  I had that on my 'to do' list, but I knew that would take a long time and I wanted to get the kids used to centers NOW.  We had fun :)  We are going to prevail!

Has Anyone Seen the Soccer Ball?

The gym teacher says this hasn't happened in all of her 13 years of teaching at this school.  A soccer ball got stuck in a bird's nest somewhere between 15 to 20 feet way up in a tree  Look closely, you can see a small blue spot in the middle of this photo.

I zoomed in for you.  Kids. They never cease to amaze. . . 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

I Have Who Has Rhythm Matching

You can download the PDF of this file for free on my TPT page.

Yesterday, I was searching Pinterest for teaching ideas and I came across a game called "I Have, Who Has" that I thought would be great for my classroom.  I believe the original idea came from this beautiful blog.  She had her cards available on TPT.  Well, it's a great idea, but why pay for it when I can just as easily make it myself.  Here's why.  I literally spent HOURS creating the game for myself and I'm not sure I have a winner with this one.  I don't know.  My classes are so big, it takes 10+ minutes to get through it all and by that time, the kids are stir crazy.

I was going to explain the game, but why re-invent the wheel?  Mrs. Miracle explains it beautifully:

One of my favorite ways to practice rhythm reading is a game called “I have/ who has.” Some of you may know this as “Glynnis’ Game.” During this game, one child holds a card and reads it. He/she might say, “I have tika-tika ta tika-tika ta. Who has tika-tika ti-ti ti-ti ta?” The child holding the card that says “I have tika-tika ti-ti ti-ti ta” reads his/her card, and so on, until all children have had a turn.
I didn't see that she had offered her template for free until just now. . . huh.  Oh well, I found another template.  Quick little side note:  I found my template on this website.  If you click on the link towards the top that says "I Have Who Has Cards by First Grade Brain", it will download as a word document onto your computer.  I took that idea and ran with it.  I replaced the "ABC"s with piano keys and I added the beginning and the end of the music staff to the Start and End cards.  I also decided that it was a lot of black and white to look at, so I made my "Who Has" in red.  

With my little ones, I put each card on a Power Point slide and followed along on my screen.  That way, I could model what the kids were to read and help them with it as the game progressed.

I'll say it again, I don't really feel like this was a sure fire winner.  The kids listen intently for their rhythm to be spoken but once it has, they are done.  That's when they fall apart.  Maybe this would work better in teams, maybe not.  I had my last groups (2nd Grade) talk to their group of 4 and work as teams whenever we got stuck.

Two wins that I did notice with this game: 

1.)  I got to see first hand how well (or not well) my students were able to read rhythms.  We still have a lot of work to do.

2.) I have one little guy who's a bit scrappy and angry because he's so small.  He doesn't get along with the students very well because he tells on them for minor things and pretty much ostracizes himself from the other kids.  Today we were playing the game and it was stretching out pretty long.  We were looking for someone who had a rhythm pattern and it took a long time before finally, my little guy stood up and said "I have it!" with a bright smile.  And the kids all cheered for him.  That made my whole day.

So, maybe we need to play this game several times before we are smooth and quick with it.  I think I may make some playing cards with the rhythms in a vertical line so the kids can do this at centers.  I'm thinking that they can have several cards and fan them like playing cards and still see all the rhythms.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

My Rant About Teachers Pay Teachers

Okay, I would like to say first that I really am torn about this issue.  I like to create powerpoints and worksheets and smart board activities for my classroom that take HOURS.  It would be great to post them on TPT and get some money back for all that extra time I spend.  However,  I am a teacher and therefore, I am dirt poor.  Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration.  Let's say I'm linoleum poor.  My husband and I still rent our place, we drive two used (if not reliable) cars, and my obsession is going to garage sales to find as much as I can for under $20 every other Saturday.  I have been the "I can't afford luxuries like cheese" poor and that's not where we are now, but I don't have the money to go on to Teachers Pay Teachers and buy things.  I think that's the great problem.  We need money because we are poor, but we can't afford to buy documents on TPT because we are POOR.

So, I have a new principle.  I will not purchase items on TPT as a rule.  I don't know, there may be that ONE THING out there that I can't live without that I find worth the $3-$6 that a teacher charges.  But I will make a pact with myself and anyone on this world wide web that may be reading my teacher blog:  I will never charge for a powerpoint or idea or computer made document so long as I live.  I believe in freely sharing my work.  Note, I will not take credit for anyone else's work, and I will not purchase someone else's work and post it on here for free.  If I have a weak moment and purchase someone else's document on TPT, I will attach a link for others to purchase.  It's only fair.  My stuff, however, will always be free.

That's how I feel today, though.  I'll let you know if that ever changes :)


I found the most beautiful Music Carpet in the world.  Music teachers, be ready to wipe the drool off your chins. . . .

Gorgeous.  One day, it will be mine. . . . . 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Centers Idea: Boomwhacker Orchestra

Day 24 into school and I still haven't had Centers yet. . . I KNOW! I KNOW!  I have to get on it quick before I put it on the back shelf for next year.  This is the year!  Centers will be!!  I don't mean to mislead you, we have been learning my games as a class.  So far, we have discussed  Musical Bowling, Rhythm Jenga, Music Dominoes, and . . . yup, that's what we have discussed.  I still need to introduce my matching game inspired by this post probably through my Promethean board!  Yea!  That would be cool.

Self pitying moment:  I just visited Mrs. King's Music Room blog.  My inspiration at her classroom turned into sheer terror when I saw how amazingly ORGANIZED she is.  This woman must be on some sort of upper meds because she is . . . I don't know how to explain it, but she puts me to shame.  Feel bad for me because I don't try as hard as Mrs. King.  

Okay, Pity Party over! I found her blog because I was perusing one of my old Music Ed Pinterest boards.  What did we do before Pinterest? *Sigh*  Know what I also found?  I will tell you.  Another awesome idea for a CENTER!!! (Bear with me, I'm in a bizarre mood today.)  

This one came from Notable Music Studio.  Somehow, this lady doesn't make me feel like a complete failure, but she does have awesome ideas and free printables.  It is very clear to me what this picture is all about, but just in case it isn't clear to you, I will let her explain.  
I had each student randomly pick 2 musical alphabet cards and give them to me.  I lined them up in a long line across the floor.  I then pulled out a diatonic set of boomwhackers and handbells and gave one or the other to each student.

After a bit of practice with them, we played our "composed" song.  They were very excited to know that it was the first time their "song" had ever been played!  They decided to name it the "Boom-a-Bell Song"!  Cute, huh?  

Well, we didn't stop there!  We then decided to play it backwards!  Of course, then they had to name it the "Bell-a-Boom Song"!  So funny! And so clever!  They laughed, giggled and got SO excited to do this activity!  After a few run throughs, I touched a bit on what harmony meant and rearranged the cards so they played two notes together.  I was very impressed at how quickly they caught on and how well they played.  We also played ALL the notes together (shaking the bells and rapidly whacking the boomwhackers on the floor) for the last note!  Of course that part was their favorite! 

Okay, this is how I want to do it.  I would like to use this as a rotation for centers. Instead of colored cards reading "ABC. . G",  I would use several color coded cards that only have 3 pitches("Mi, Sol, or La") printed on them and would have the corresponding boomwhackers only at that station (so only E, G, and A).   I would also have a mix of notes (quarter, eighth, half, rests. . . ) as well. Kid #1 will arrange the rhythms, either 2 or 4 bars, and Kid #2 will place the solfege cards above the notes.  Kid #3 will point to the rhythms as the others play and assess how they did.  Kid #4 will pick up the cards and put them back in their piles.  Then we switch jobs.  So I could call them Rhythm Composer, Pitch Composer, Conductor, and Equipment Manager.

Wow, I've spent a lot of time on this one idea. . . but I like it!  Now I need to find construction paper to match my boomwhackers, make a printable document, and viola!  Hello, center activity!

I really have been focusing my lessons on teaching my centers.  I never thought about how difficult it was to teach Dominoes to kids.  I know that there are kids who know exactly what to do and there are kids who are completely lost.  Hopefully we can do this and have fun Centers Time that will be a well oiled machine and SOMEDAY maybe an option for substitutes other than watching a video.  If the kids can manage the stations together and stay on task, I don't know why not.  Someday.  

Friday, September 13, 2013

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Beginning of the Year Behavior

In my five years teaching, this is only the second time I have been able to return to the same school, so in a way, a lot of things are still new to me.

Surprise #1 - The Kindergarten and 1st Grade kids from last year no longer stress me out as 1st and 2nd Graders.  Something magical happened and they REMEMBER ME!!!  I don't know why this is a shock, but it's strange that my last year Kindergartners are acting like 1st Graders.  It's amazing.

Surprise #2 - I remember their names!! You really don't realize how handy knowing a kid's name is until he is in a herd of 30 other kids and in the back of the room and you can say "Randy, put your chair down."  Much more effective than "Eh, er, you in the yellow shirt. . . no not you, the kid behind you. . . no, you have a green shirt, I need the kid with the yellow shirt . . ."  Magical.

Surprise #3 - Kindergarten lives to please.  Now that 1st and 2nd Grade know what's going on with my class, it removes the stress and I can come at Kindergarten in a more Zen approach.  I use the Power Teacher Method (or at least part of it) in my classroom and part of that is happy faces when they are good and sad faces when they are bad.  When I explained that there are things that Kindergarten does that make me really happy, and things that make me really sad, behaviors changed instantly.  I never realized that was enough for them.  They don't understand future rewards (I knew that), but they want Mrs. Huffman to like them and to be happy.  Today I was less like a cartoon character trying to stop up holes in a dam with all my fingers and toes, and more like a blissful children's entertainer happily singing my songs.

Surprise #4 - Ignoring bad behavior works.  I had a little girl in my 2nd grade class yesterday who sat with her arms folded across her chest and a look on her face that dared me to say something about her not singing or participating.  I decided to ignore her and wax on about how my class was doing so well and how their participation made me SO happy.  Today she was back and I didn't even notice her until she corrected another student for not following my directions.  You better believe that girl got attention and praise from me.  I asked a band teacher who came to talk to my class one time, how did he keep the kids from blurting out while he talked to them.  He simply said he never acknowledged blurters.  He only ever answered kids who raised their hands.  Duh. He definitely didn't get on to them for not raising their hands, he just ignored them and they figured it out. I try to keep that my practice, but when things go well, I relax and get more conversational with the kids and the next thing I know, I'm pausing during my train of thought to listen and respond to a blurter.  NOT THIS YEAR!!!

Surprise #5 - Kids who were a problem last year aren't necessarily a problem this year.  What is that?  No, seriously, what happened to them over the summer?  I have one kid who couldn't stay seated last year.  If I didn't keep a close watch on him, he would be standing on his head in his chair.  The entire school was pulling the stops out for him with behavior charts and rewards and mentor teachers, but nothing seemed to work.  This year, he sits in the back of my room and I don't hear a peep from him.  Is he a time bomb about to go off?  Did he just mature over the summer?  Did someone drop a paint can on his head?  What's going on?

We're only three days in, but this year is looking hopeful.  The kids know what to expect from my rules and structures, and I keep finding surprises for them to keep things fresh.  The sadness that came with the end of the summer is gone and I'm back into teaching.  Good grief, I love my job.

Rhythm Jenga In Class

I introduced Rhythm Jenga today with overwhelmingly positive reviews.  I don't know why I never thought to do this last year, but I had the kids get into a big circle with the Jenga game in the middle.  The kids took turns down the line and I helped them remember note values while their classmates said "I see a quarter note!  I see a half note!".

I liked how I was able to walk them through the process.  "Okay, he rolled a 6.  What note could he pull out first? Now that he's pulled out a whole note, how many beats does he have left?"  And so on. . .

I never realized how engaged the WHOLE CLASS would be.  I might use this as an overall class activity in the future as well as using it in my centers.
I did notice that none of my kids chose multiple note bricks (well, they did use one brick with 2 quarter notes).  I think the more they play this, the more confident they will be to use the more complex bricks.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Music Centers!!!

So, I don't know if I've mentioned how psyched I am about music class centers this year, but it seems I can't think about anything else regarding classroom these days.  Here are some thrift store/garage sale purchases I made this summer.

Noodleboro is a game I picked up at a thrift store for $1.50.  Originally, it was a game about manners and matching cardboard disks to their corresponding shapes and colors. . . blah blah blah.  I used Avery 2" round labels to cover the previous pictures and I now have a "Go Fish" type of game with music instrument families.  The idea is that four players sit around the board, each side of the board representing a different musical instrument family.  Player 1 draws a disc from the picnic basket and if it matches their instrument family, they place it on the corresponding shape.  If it does not, Player 1 places the disc face up in the middle of the board.  Player 2 then has the option of either taking the discarded disc or choosing another from the picnic basket.  There is a slight twist with the 'ant disc' that automatically goes in the middle of the board and is sort of like a "lose your turn".  First player to fill up their side wins.

Idea #2 came from Notable Music Studio.  Musical Dominoes!  She got the idea from the actual musical dominoes or "Dominotes" that you can buy for $35 from Music in Motion.  I do not have $35 to spend on one activity with tiny pieces that are easily lost or stolen.  I do, however, have $0.25 for foam scraps from a garage sale.  They were all the same size, and per Sheryl Welles's  suggestion, I trimmed them down so that each side was square.

This image is what I used as a template.  I just sat down and figured out what notes I wanted to use for each number.  I left the blank squares blank, and for the squares with 1 dot, I alternated quarter notes and 2 eighth notes.  The squares with 2 dots were half notes, two quarters, or four eighth, and so on with each value.  I decided for the squares with 5 and 6 dots, I would use the treble and bass clef signs just because I felt the notes were getting crowded as it is.  AS ALWAYS, I FORGOT ABOUT RESTS, but I figure they can be added in later.

One concern I did have when I laid them out for the picture was that I might run out of space for centers, but I'll just cross that bridge when we get there.

I got High School Musical 2 Twister Moves from the Goodwill half off, so I think I paid $1.  It's similar to Twister, but the kids put in a CD and do dance moves.  Honestly, I haven't really pulled it out and played it yet, so I know very little about it.  I do know that I didn't like how slippery the mats looked, and it only came with 2 for 2 players.

Imagine my joy, then when I found the original Twister Moves at a garage sale.  I could only talk him down to $3, but this one comes with 4 sticky mats that make me less worried.  I ended up just putting the HSM2 CD in the box with the original game.  That way, the kids have some variety.


There are plenty more centers in the works!  I will post more of them later.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Rhythm Jenga

Last year, I found a link to a Musical Jenga game that I thought was Awesome, so I kept my eyes open and acquired a Jenga set from a friend for FREE.  I created the game you see pictured above, but I don't remember what my thought process was, and since I didn't start musical centers last year, I haven't had a chance to have the kids play it.  Fast forward to this year.  I have purchased some kick butt games and activities (all garage sales, discount stores, and thrift shops, of course) and now I can't wait to add this game to the mix.

I did mine a little differently from the other sites I've seen (links added below).  I drew notes on each block (same rhythm on all sides of each block) of different values ranging from 1-4.  I added a regular number die to the mix and now here's how you play.  Roll the die, whatever number you land on is the number of beats you have to remove from the Jenga tower.  Example: if you roll a 3, you can pull out a block with three beats written on it, or you can do a combination, i.e. a block with two quarter notes and a block with two eighth notes.

In looking at the other sites, I haven't found anyone else who does Rhythm Jenga like this.  The people I have linked below have suggested writing musical symbols each block.  Students pull out a block and then identify the symbol.  If they are wrong, they have to pull another block.  This method allows you to write different symbols in varying colors on each block according to learning level, so your lower level learners would only identify the symbols written in blue, low-medium would only answer green, medium-high red, and high would be black.

Really, there are several ideas that can be drawn from this game.  You could even write the music symbols in different colors, but use blue=note value, green=notes on the treble clef, red=music symbol identification, black= . . .(I'm blanking on this).  Then you use a die with the colors on each side and two "you choose" sides.  Roll the die and pull out a block, answer the question according to color you rolled or (if the die lands on "you choose" choose the one you want to answer.  I don't know, the possibilities are endless.

Simple Jenga rules I forgot about:

  1. You only get to remove each block with one hand
  2. Place the discarded block on top of the tower
  3. If you start to move a block and change your mind, you must put the block back where it was.
  4. If tower falls on your turn, you lose and the person who had a turn before you is the winner.

Other sites featuring Variations of a musical themed Jenga: