The Jumping Game Easy Brain Break Activity For Your Classroom

You need to have several “tricks” to pull out of your back pocket when kids need to have a break, to expend some energy, to divert attention from something else going on in the room (a potential meltdown for ex.), to prepare them for a high-concentration activity, or when you the teacher need to have a mental break yourself.

And so, the Jumping Game was born!

  • Stand in a circle
  • Play a song with a good beat (see Spotify playlist below)
  • T stands on the outside of the circle and taps a child on the shoulder.
  • That child goes into the middle and begins to jump
  • Prepare kids for the jumping game by talking about how they can be creative by using feet together, feet apart, 1 and 2-foot jumping/hopping, use of arms, bending knees, turning as you jump, etc.
  • Everyone in the circle imitates the leader in the middle
  • T occasionally comments about some of the fine points of the jumper. “Ooh, did you see how they alternated bending their elbows as they jumped?”
  • Tap the next child in the circle after about 10 seconds, continuing to make your way around the circle.
  • In a class of 25, this gave the class about 4 minutes of jumping.

The Music

I used anything with a good beat that I knew would engage the kids. If we were near a seasonal event, I’d play something related.

Here’s my Spotify list of some possibilities or use the player below!

Ukulele Storage From Easy to Expensive

Do you need a storage solution for your ukuleles? Maybe the ukes are new or you’ve had them a while and your current storage isn’t working. Here are lots of ideas for hanging, shelf, and rolling cart solutions, or repurposing storage in your classroom.

  1. Commonly Used Hardware
  2. Building Plans
  3. Hanging Storage
  4. Cart Storage
  5. Shelf Storage

Commonly Used Hardware

Some of these items are from Amazon and as an Amazon Affiliate, I may earn from qualifying purchases.

Jumbo
Command Hook
6-Pack

IKEA Tjabba Magazine File
Set of 2
About $0.99

Wall Mount Hanger 6 Pack, with Screws – Easy To Install – Fits All Size Guitars, Bass, Mandolin, Banjo, Ukulele
Set of 6

Heavy Duty Vinyl Coated Screw-In Tool Hanger 50 lbs from Home Depot. A little over $2 each.

I initially used this toy storage bin (to the right) to store my ukuleles. (to the left) I used the tubs, which are SO strong, for small percussion storage in a shelving unit. Loved that the bins were in different sizes.

Building Plans

Building Plans $10 for this rolling cart.

Hanging Storage

Cart Storage

Shelf Storage

Whether the Weather | 6/8 Meter Rhyme for Barred Instruments With Orff Arrangement

If you are looking for an accessible instrumental piece in 6/8 meter for barred instruments with an Orff arrangement, this is it! Taught step-by-step, this classic tongue twister rhyme is perfect for winter, spring, or really any time of the year there is weather 🤣.

An added plus is the language arts lesson on synonyms. Put that on your end-of-year evaluation!

For grades 3-6, this over 50-slide resource is in both PowerPoint and Google Slide versions.
Listen to the music on TPT!

Multi-Lesson Resource

Introduce the Rhyme

Beat & Rhythm

Teaching the Melody & Ostinati

Blooket | How to Add a Fun Twist to Music Games

If you need an online option for your music class, Blooket is a perfect choice. Here are the basics of the game, assessment opportunities, safety reminders, SEL considerations, and then a list of games I’ve created.

Blooket was created to imitate video games that kids love. It is Kahoot with more game options and can be played solo and as a class.

  1. The Basics
    1. Assessment Use
    2. Safety Info
    3. SEL
  2. My Games

The Basics

  • Free signup for the teacher.
  • There is no signup for students, just a game code.
  • Kids don’t need to put in any personal information which makes it easier for little ones to play too.
  • Create your own or use pre-made ones.

The only downside is that you are not able to use audio in the free version. The PLUS version (where you can create audio questions) is $2.99 per month. When I was teaching, I opted for the PLUS version. It was worth it!

Assessment Use

Assessment-Use the games for a fun day or as an assessment. You will receive a stats page at the end of the game with each student’s game name. I always told the kids that I wanted them to use enough of their FIRST name so that I recognized them.

No class list inputs are necessary because the stats are grouped by game and the games are naturally assigned by the class. It’s a great way to do an informal assessment. And not kidding-kids LOVE Blooket!

Safety Info

PLEASE READ: “After finishing a game, students are asked to create accounts (if they don’t already have them) to track their stats and unlock new Blooks. Creating an account is totally optional, but some may not want their students to see this. If you would like to hide this notification, then before you host a game on the Host Settings page (after you select a game mode) uncheck the option that says “Allow Student Accounts” and it won’t show the notification.”

SEL

Blooket is great for kids who are challenged during competition. There are so many different games, that you can choose those that aren’t races and don’t have a final winner.

My Games

Click on one of the games and play SOLO to get a feel for the game options. Group games won’t be available to you as a solo player. You can choose class play to see the other games that are available.

I created these games. It’s the perfect opportunity to let kids work with basic vocabulary and information in a game setting. Go to DISCOVER to find other games created by the Blooket community!

New FREEBIES, Tips and Tricks pop up ALL THE TIME! Hurry!

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Hanukkah Activities for the Music Room

Hanukkah is the Jewish Festival of Lights and is celebrated on different days every year. Based on the Hebrew lunar calendar, it usually falls in December.

In music, I like to take all celebrations, holidays, and observances and look at several factors that are common to all of them-food, colors, traditions, and music! I then love to teach about them using a book, game, dance, and music. Wish we could add FOOD!

October through December is a perfect time to talk about traditions including Diwali, Halloween, Day of the Dead, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa. I always asked, “Does everybody in the world celebrate everything?” It was a way to say that we can learn about it all, even if we don’t personally celebrate it.

Some links may contain affiliate links.

Hanukkah Resources

I love to use board books or ones with rhyming words. I want the learning to come from mainly the images.

I Have a Little Dreidel SONG

The Game

We always played the Dreidel game in class. I projected the meaning for each side of the dreidel so groups could refer to it. I played with K-5 and they always looked forward to this every year.

I found dreidels in bulk at Target (ages ago before Amazon) 🤣 and then bought pony beads for the “candy.”

Ukulele C & G7

Hanukkah Google Slides Presentation

This Google Slide presentation was shared by Ms. Stern from the Facebook Music Teachers Idea Bank group. It has lots of different activities to learn about Hanukkah. She says to feel free to change the bitmoji and make it your own!

Nutcracker Activities for Music | Tried, True, and New

Here are some favorite lesson plans and activities for the music classroom to teach The Nutcracker Ballet plus some NEW resources to spark life into our teaching of this perennial classic.

On this page…

  1. Chinese Tea Dance ORFF Lesson Activities (Movement, Instrumental Arrangement)
    1. Tea Dance Video
  2. Cultural Stereotypes in the Nutcracker
  3. Books
  4. Nutcracker Museum
  5. Lesson Ideas
    1. Unit of Study (in progress)
    2. March | Stretchy Bands
    3. Trepak | Plate Routine
    4. Sugar Plum Fairy | Movement with Mr. DelGaudio
    5. Waltz of the Flowers
  6. Ballet Videos
    1. Full-length Ballet (Central Florida Ballet)
    2. Hip Hop Nutcracker on PBS
    3. Hip Hop Nutcracker (Disney+ Excerpt)

Chinese Tea Dance ORFF Lesson Activities (Movement, Instrumental Arrangement)

With its call and response form, this is the perfect barred instrument activity for December! PLUS, movement ideas using partners and the whole class with and without props! Ribbon sticks/wands, scarves, partner parachutes, and a classroom parachute!

Tea Dance Video

Cultural Stereotypes in the Nutcracker

Each performance of the Nutcracker uses an artistic director who helps determine the costuming, dancing, makeup, and scenery for the ballet. The ballet dates back to a time when ethnic caricatures were standard practice in the performances. This is particularly true in Act II with the dances related to the Chinese, Arabian, Russian, and Spanish dances.

As music specialists, this is important to take into consideration if we choose to use videos in our teaching. Read more.

Here’s an excellent interview on NPR about “Rethinking Cultural Stereotypes in The Nutcracker.”

Books

Nutcracker Museum

At this school, students were asked to bring in a family Nutcracker and were put into this fun Nutcracker Museum display! (Remember to have the student’s name and room clearly labeled.)

Add this to your end-of-year evaluation Danielson (or similar) Domain 1b: Teacher-designed opportunities for families to share their heritages.

Lesson Ideas

Unit of Study (in progress)

  • K-1 Read a book about ballet and a book about The Nutcracker
  • K-1 Learn a movement routine to the March
  • Grades 2-3

March | Stretchy Bands

Trepak | Plate Routine

Sugar Plum Fairy | Movement with Mr. DelGaudio

Waltz of the Flowers

Ballet Videos

Full-length Ballet (Central Florida Ballet)

https://www.pbs.org/video/hip-hop-nutcracker-at-njpac-an-all-arts-presentation-czdp88/

Hip Hop Nutcracker on PBS

This performance is on PBS and you may need to confirm your local PBS station.

Hip Hop Nutcracker (Disney+ Excerpt)

Spotlight Musician JosĂ© Feliciano

I remember my older brother playing (on guitar and recordings) JosĂ© Feliciano songs. I instantly fell in love with Feliciano’s sound and cool vibe and have followed him for years.

Laura

JosĂ© Feliciano is a musician, singer, and composer. His greatest hits include “Feliz Navidad” and “Light My Fire.” “Feliz Navidad“, was written in 1970. Feliciano said the feeling behind the song was what he felt in his home country of Puerto Rico, celebrating Noche Buena, Christmas Eve, eating pasteles and lechon, and caroling in parrandas.


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50th Anniversary

Biography

José Feliciano, one of 11 children (all boys), was born in 1945 in Puerto Rico and moved with his family to New York City when he was 5. He was born blind from congenital glaucoma.

By the age of 9, he was performing in theaters. One of his first instruments was a concertina but then he switched to guitar.

He continued to perform and gain in popularity because of his ability to play the guitar (virtuoso) and sing, and how he arranged the songs to make them sound so unique. He became popular in the 60s and still tours today. (2020s)

Light My Fire

This shows his incredible guitar and arranging skills.

Listen to the Falling Rain

Boomwhackers™ Songs With Storage, Playing, and Buying How-Tos

Let’s talk about storage, playing, creating, songs, and teaching music using these colorful Boomwhackers™ tubes!

  1. Play Alongs
    1. Stranger (Things) Rings-Notes BAGE
  2. Boomwhackers! How many do I need?
  3. TPT Resources for Boomwhackers
  4. Storage Ideas
  5. Storage Buying Options

Play Alongs

Stranger (Things) Rings-Notes BAGE

Boomwhackers! How many do I need?

How many sets do you need? Amazon is a mess when it comes to looking. West Music and other companies are better, but the actual Boomwhacker site is the BEST!
Whether you are playing mainly diatonic pieces or a mix of diatonic and pentatonic activities, the Classroom Pack (BW54TB) is the best deal. It comes with Chroma-note stick ons and a tote bag. While you can buy the same items individually $14 cheaper (less the tote and stickons) if you are going the diatonic route, it’s substantially cheaper for the ability to play pentatonic melodies too.

Let’s break it down. Four diatonic sets will give you 32 notes for diatonic melodies and 20 notes for pentatonic. (I’m not counting high C) If you do count high C, you could then get away with buying one less pentatonic set and save an additional $20 by not buying the classroom pack.

TPT Resources for Boomwhackers

Bought Me a Cat uses mi, re, do (BAG) patterns
The Mitten uses so, mi, re, do (G EDC)
Cobbler uses a pentatonic activity-do, re, mi, so , la (CDE GA)
Miss White uses la-based so, la, do, re, mi (DE GAB)
Turkey Strut uses a diatonic melody D, E, F, G, A, Bb, and C
Waltz of the Drumsticks uses chord playing to a “cantabile” song.
Over the River uses the diatonic melody in C of this classic song.

Storage Ideas

Storage Buying Options

AROUY Vinyl Storage Organizer – Vinyl Roll Holder Wall Mount/Over The Door, Craft Vinyl Storage Rack, Hanging Organizer Storage with 48 Roll Compartments (48 – Gray) (affiliate link)

How to Teach Students to Memorize Music and Be Concert Ready

You’ve picked the music so now what? Here’s how to prepare your students for a concert.

  1. Learning the Music
  2. Performance-Ready Tips
  3. The Finer Points
  4. In Case of Emergency
  5. Other Concert Season Links

Learning the Music

  • Project lyrics using Google Slides or PowerPoint in grades 2 and above. For PreK-Grade 1 you can project some key words/image icons that begin phrases although many times, I taught the songs by rote with no projection. I tried to pick songs for the younger kids that had lots of repetition so learning the text wasn’t a problem.
  • Have students analyze the text looking for repetition, similarities, and differences.
  • Let students find the rhyming words and use color-coding on your slides.
  • Depending on the song, you may want to echo sing phrases, learn by listening to a recording, practice a few probable melody or rhythm trouble spots with echoing.
  • If the song is wordy, learn the chorus first and then slowly add the verses.
  • Sing a cappella sometimes so they can really hear themselves and the class.
  • As much as possible, do not sing with them. They will become stronger singers as you get away from singing with them or using full-performance tracks.
  • It’s really hard for kids to learn a song by repeatedly singing with a full-performance track. A full performance track can be an introduction to the song. Use the accompaniment track if you aren’t using piano, guitar, other, etc.

Now that the melody/rhythms are sung correctly…

  • Hide the last couple of words in each phrase to begin the memorization process. Hide more words and eventually, you will be down to the first word in each phrase and then I’d sometimes take it down to the initial letter of the first word in each phrase.
  • Adding choreography or some kind of motion (especially with younger children) will help bring the words to life and help them remember. (sometimes this can occur in the learning the melody/rhythm phase)
  • Play an elimination passing game with the song. Sitting in a circle, pass a single item (such as a ball) around the circle to the beat as you sing the song. By the time you are down to your winner, they will KNOW the lyrics! (Beat-passing game tips)

Performance-Ready Tips

Create and display a checklist. This really drives home some finer points to teach your kids appropriate concert practice. It adds a little subtle competition too that kids usually enjoy.

The goal is to get everything checked off in the top rows and once that is done, the STARS! area gets a big CHECK or STAR in it. Some areas are subdivided because once is just NOT enough to say they have that down.

This checklist is for ONE song in four classes of fourth grade.

This will also help you keep track of the progress of each class so you know where to begin the next time you see them!
  • Sing with lyrics means that they can correctly sing melody/rhythms while looking at the projected words.
  • Memorized-Correctly sing melody/rhythm and all lyrics with no aids.
  • Know motions-If most had them down I’d check it off. If only 2/3s performed the motions correctly, I would not check it off.
  • Begin & End Quietly-It is some kind of unwritten kid rule that as soon as a song is over it means, “Let’s turn and talk to anyone and everyone.” If anyone talked during the introduction or 5 seconds after the last note ended, they did not get this checked off. I subdivided this area because doing it one time did not drive home the point.
  • Expression-This is a hard one. I just said to use your eyes and remember that you are telling a story for the people in the audience. At the end of songs sometimes I’d use a student as an example. “I kept looking at Dominique because I could tell from her eyes and how she was singing and moving that she wanted me to love the song. Great expression, Dominique.”
  • Focus-Look at the teacher. Ignore people around you who are distracting.
  • Stars! If all the above items are checked off, this is the final one to end the checklist.

The Finer Points

Do you need 100% perfection to check it off? Here’s my take.

On the memorization, as a group, YES!

On motions, no. I’d tell the kids that if most all of you had it down, I’d check it off. They always breathed a sigh of relief because they really wanted that check and didn’t want someone who was having a bad day or being obstinate or shy or whatever to hold them back.

If they do not deserve a check, don’t give it to them. However, I kept the forward momentum going by using PENCIL checks. Instead of our colorful marker, I’d put a pencil check and tell them it was SO close and I knew they’d get their marker check soon!

If your checklist is on a slide instead of hanging in the room, how cool to use fun icons for your checks!

In Case of Emergency

If you didn’t start learning your music soon enough or stuff just happened, here are some emergency measures.

  • If the kids don’t know the words, especially the verses, put a strong singer on a microphone for the verses as the rest of the kids sing along too. Not a true solo but just support.
  • Put key first words on a giant piece of paper and hang it on the back of your music stand (or piano) or somewhere where they can see it but is unobtrusive.
  • Quietly speak the first word or two of the next phrase, a beat or two before they sing it. You can feed them their lines like this in a pretty unobtrusive way.
  • Begin motions a beat or two BEFORE the kids are meant to do them. This gives them thinking time to get THEIR hands in place.
  • You are going to have some classes that have a big beautiful sound and some classes…that do NOT! It’s amazing how each class has its own musical personality! If you have 3 sections of fourth grade, I’d put the strongest in the middle of the risers and then the other two classes on either side.

If you need any help or have any questions, send me an email or comment below!

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Build a House Book Review With Lesson Plans for Music

Integrate literature into the music class with these lesson plans for Build a House by Rhiannon Giddens and illustrated by Monica Mikai. This book is based on the song of the same name and is the story of what happened to enslaved Africans after the Emancipation Proclamation.

  1. The Review
  2. Official Video of the Book and Song
  3. NPR Book Interview with Rhiannon Giddens
  4. Rhiannon Giddens & Yo-Yo Ma Play “Build A House”
  5. Breakdown-The Song
  6. Lesson Plan
  7. Buy the Book
  8. I Will Not Be Moved
    1. Links for “I Will Not Be Moved”
  9. The Whitewashing of African American Roots Music
Continue reading “Build a House Book Review With Lesson Plans for Music”