Monday, September 15, 2014

Star Spangled Banner

Yesterday (September 14, 2014) was the 200th birthday of our national anthem!  In honor, I put together a PowerPoint that has the lyrics for the song as well as some fun facts about it:

I uploaded this onto Teachers Pay Teachers as a PowerPoint so you can download the whole thing here:  Star-Spangled Banner  (FREE!!!)

I did have one comment that said they wished there was music that played along with this.  Unfortunately, because of copyright issues, I couldn't upload any of the versions I have.  But, since it is an editable PowerPoint, you could go ahead and use a version you have if you'd like to go that route.

I used this presentation to talk about the history of the song, and to go through the lyrics and explain what they meant.  We then evaluated different performances of this song:
The kids loved the variety - and they were very surprised by the last one (rock version)!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Stirring My Brew

My youngest sister is almost 18 years younger than I am.  Crazy!  Anyway, she is amazingly talented and has always loved music (she was recently cast as Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz" at her school - so proud of her!)  I remember coming home from college during breaks, and she would sing me her latest favorite song.  Around Halloween one year, she sang this song to me over and over (she had learned it at preschool or something):
She sang it so much that it is still stuck in my head around Halloween every year (over a decade later).  This is a great song to use with your younger kids, though.  Perfect for a finger play in preschool, great to use for loud/soft in Kindergarten, and it sounds "spooky."  Kids love it!

There is a great finger play that goes with this:

On the lyrics "stirring..." make stirring motions as if you are stirring a pot of brew.

On the lyrics "oo-oo," sweep hands out forward in a wave-like motion, like a spooky gust of wind.

On "tiptoe," use 2 fingers on one hand, pantomiming a person tip-toeing.

On "BOO!" open hands suddenly as if to startle.

For added fun, whisper on "tip-toe" and say BOO with a very loud voice.

But, you don't have to do this as a finger play.  I found this fun video on YouTube, and I seem to remember my sister doing something similar:

For some reason, I just LOVE Halloween songs.  And, I love that this one doesn't specifically mention witches or anything.  You could change the word to "stew" instead of "brew" if you're worried about that.  Hope you can use it!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Frere Jacques

Who doesn't know and love "Frere Jacques"?  This is a folk song that most of your kids even know, but there is so much you can do with it.  This is a great song to present half note, fa, low sol, part-singing, and so much more!  I'm using it this year to present half note to my 2nd graders.  We prepped and prepped half note at the end of last year, and have been reviewing it for this year.  I'm just about ready to present it (my 2nd graders this year are just amazing - this is slightly earlier than I've done it with 2nd grade in the past).  Anyway, we've been singing this song in class and doing different activities with it.  I had them do this little game/dance that I sort of made up:

Standing in a double circle in pairs, each circle walks to their right for 8 beats, then back for 8 beats to face their partner (1st 8 beats is "Frere Jacques," 2nd is "Dormez vous?")
Play patty-cake on next 8 beats (Sonnez les matines) clap-right-clap-left, clap-right-clap-left
On last 8 beats, wave good-bye and take one step to the right (opposite directions for circles) and face a new partner.  Repeat.

If you do this enough times, the kids should be standing in front of their original partners after a few turns.  My kids loved this!  I also loved that by counting the beats, they were internalizing that they took two steps on "vous" - a great prep for half note.

Another activity they really enjoyed is identifying the long notes.  We haven't labeled them yet, but they know where they are.  I had some students come up and play a few instruments that make "bell" sounds - finger cymbals, triangles, etc on the long notes.  Then, a student suggested that instead of singing, the instruments play the "din dan don" part on their own.  So great!  So, that inspired me to write a simple little Orff arrangement.  Feel free to adapt it to your instruments, change parts up, etc.  I've included a simple recorder part if you'd like to use it with recorders.

I created a file for Teachers Pay Teachers that can help when you present the half note, fa, or low sol, as this song is great for all of them!

It has a lot included, like iconic rhythmic notation:
Iconic melodic notation:
Actual rhythmic notation:
Song lyrics in English and French, and more.  You can find it here for $1.50 if you want to help contribute to my adoption fund :)  Frere Jacques

Since my focus this year is on music around the world, I'm choosing to teach this song in French.  I was looking around the internet the other day, and found this great website that has video clips of kids from different European countries singing this song in their own language:  Frere Jacques around the world.  So cute!  The kids get a kick out of this familiar song in so many languages!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Engine Train game

I blogged a few days ago about "Engine Engine Number Nine."  Last year, I found this great resource for FREE on Teachers Pay Teachers:

Find it here:  Engine Engine Number Nine

Lindsay Jervis, a fellow Kodaly teacher here in Kansas (but 3 hours away in Wichita - I'm near Kansas City) has mapped this out perfectly for the Kodaly classroom.  Even if you're not Kodaly trained, you can totally benefit from this.  It has beat charts, iconic rhythmic notation, and is just very, very cute.

Anyway, I'm working with my 1st graders on ta and ti-ti, and getting them to clap them correctly.  So I decided to take a different direction with this.  I made 2 versions of this game - one to play with the whole group, and the other to play at centers or with smaller groups.

The large group game starts with this menu screen:

I've uploaded this to Teachers Pay Teachers as a PowerPoint, so you just click on one of the numbers, and it takes you to a rhythmic slide, like this one:

After they have tried, click on the train in the lower right-hand corner to bring you back to the menu screen.

Each slide is worth 1 or 2 points, so you just split the class in half, keep track of points, and the winner is the one with the most points at the end, or the first team to 10 points, depending on what you want.  I like to use this version first, before I split into smaller groups/centers, to give the kids a chance to learn how to play.

Now, for the small-group version, I actually made it a board game.  It's kind of on the same level as Candyland, so I practiced playing with my 4-year-old daughter.  Granted, she knew what ta and ti-ti were when she was 2, but still......

Here's the game board:

You can print out these differently-colored trains and laminate them to use as tokens:

Or, you can do what I did and use those cute little train whistles from Oriental Trading as game tokens:

 Choose a player to go first (I usually settle arguments with rock, paper, scissors), and they draw a card.  The cards have the same rhythms as the group game, but are smaller.  You can print this part out for the back if you'd like.  I actually just glued all the smaller cards on red construction paper, then laminated them:

And here's a view of the fronts:

The first player draws a card and claps it.  If they clap it correctly, they can move forward 1 space for 1 point, and 2 spaces for 2 points.  Here's a picture of my daughter clapping the rhythm:

And here she is moving her train:

Simple, but effective!  My favorite kinds of things!

You can get the whole train game here:  Engine Engine Number 9 Train Game.  It's not free, but hey, I'm trying to save up for adopting another child and adoption is expensive :)


As my theme this year is "Music Around the World," I've been looking into lots of different folk songs from around the world.  I found this little gem, Kokoleoko.  I've found it in several different places, all slightly different versions.  The version below is the most common, found in "Spotlight on Music, Grade 5," as well as several South American sources.

If you change one note of this song (the f sharp to an a), it is a great recorder piece - using only the notes G-A-B-C, as shown in this example:

The translation is pretty simple.  Apparently "Kokoleoko" is just another way of saying "cock-a-doodle-doo," and "ahby" is "goodbye."

Now, each source I find this song says something different about where exactly it's from.  Most often, they say either Liberia or Ghana.  So, I've just labeled it as a West African folk song to be more accurate.

Anyway, this song is great for teaching the half note, which I do in 2nd grade.  We spend awhile preparing, using songs that have half notes, before actually labeling what they are.  This song is also great if you bring it back in the end of 3rd/beginning of 4th, or whenever you teach syncopation.

There is a clapping game that goes with this.  It looks more complicated than it actually is.  My 2nd graders are challenged by this, but really enjoy doing it.  You can watch an example below:

I recently made a Teachers Pay Teachers product for this song that has rhythmic practice slides, melodic practice slides, clapping game instructions, and notation for both voice in the original version and recorder in the revised version.

There is even a great treble choral arrangement out there by Mary Donnelly and George Strid.  Here's a cute recording I found of it on YouTube:

Hope you can find use for this great song!  My kids are absolutely loving it :)