Getting the Classroom Ready................

Setting up a Music Classroom
True confession time: I used to be an independent when it came to setting up my room. The one time I had to let go was when I had knee surgery several years ago, and had to trust my daughters to set it up. Cold shivers, not because they did a bad job.....I just WORRY. I live in a messy organized system. This year, I did some major room changes. (More on that when the room is completely set up!) I mentioned in another blog post my friend Sheila offered to help me with my new arrangement. I took her up on it, knowing I had to give up my independent stubbornness, and I'm glad I did. I learned a lot. She learned a lot! (And ended up with a CD rack I no longer use 😊. With her help, I moved outside my comfort zone box. Honestly, in other years, no matter how I wanted to "change my room", I never really "changed my room" except to maybe get rid of a file cabinet here or a metal cabinet there.

So today, I returned the favor and helped her set up her room. Her file organization system is wonderful. I helped HER clean out a file cabinet and learned her numbering system for octavos. Basically, her octavos are listed with an abbreviation for her school and numbered. Then, she stored these on Google Drive and shared these with her music teacher colleagues. Simple, but it's something I decided I needed to do with my own music colleagues.

We are lucky to have a Pendaflex distribution center in our county. Every so often, school personnel can go to the Pendaflex complex and gather freebies. Sheila gathered up these accordion file folders to store octavos and her Music Express copies in. So simple, but yet here are my poor octavos falling out of their silly little file folders, getting lost at the bottom of my file cabinet. So, (Dr) Stafford is probably going to make a little trip two miles from her house to see if there is surplus. Besides, my colleagues in my building will love me forever if I do. It's been a while since that's happened in my building. And organized octavos!

Something else I learned: I really need to think more outside the box with stuff that is ready to be thrown or with the freebies left in the teachers' lounge. Sheila is good at that. She discovered this treasure (and a few more:)

Cool science container can hold mallets!

She decided they would be perfect for holding mallets, since the lid comes up. So, if you see anything like this lurking around that is up for grabs (I think they might be something that science teachers keep small critters in, but it's clean!) and you want something to keep mallets in...there you go!

Sheila also has various games, but had some checkerboards and couldn't decide how to use them. After some musing, I suggested there had to be a way to use them for harmony as the game was played and a player gathered conquered checker pieces. We determined that a teacher can draw various letters for pitches on one side of a piece and a note value on another, which can then be used for change music. So, upcoming blog entry....I will tell you how it goes!

Other treasures included peel off-numbers, MANY sheets of peel-off numbers. Sheila had so many that she insisted I use some. So, we took a break, talked about various things, and added numbers on index cards. For one set, we set up cards from 1-100 for primary kids to not only practice counting, but practice syllabic clapping, a precursor to rhythm and divisions of the rhythm, a teaching technique she uses. So, now, I will finally keep track of the first 100 days of school by using these cards on the correct day for whatever kindergarten/first grade classes I have. She also uses them for 1-2, Buckle My Shoe, having a card for 1, 2 for the kids to read, and her to complete the phrase. Eventually, then the students would be able to finish the phrase. I believe I'm going to add images of shoe buckles, shutting doors, etc. I would like to do a simple call-response adaptation where I will say the number, and the students say the object, and vice versa. Then, I might eliminate either numbers or the picture to use audiation and leave out the words that aren't on the card. Many possibilities. Finally, we made several sets with the numbers 1-8 on each one so older students can work together to create polyrhythm compositions. 

Dollar Tree genius: Sheila has several of the smaller, more rectangular versions of these storage boxes from Dollar Tree.  Her instruments are set up on tables, so she puts the mallets and accidental bars in each little plastic box to set up next to the instruments for the day. Although I have my IKEA storage for mallets, I still went right out and bought more of those boxes, because I love the idea of the kids putting the bars they remove in those boxes. No clacking the bars from boredom. No leaning the bars inside the instrument. No losing bars. (I hope!) Since I have the Basic Beat instrument stands, these boxes can go right under them.

No matter how many years one has taught, there is always something to learn, especially if it's in someone else's classroom, because you KNOW it's being applied. Sheila and I not only got to know each other even better, but we were able to gather information from each other, learn from each other, and brainstorm together for new activities for both of us. A note: Sheila had been my daughter's sixth grade music teacher (and my daughter is now 25), so it was fun to go back and see the room and see how things had changed and listen to her share how she grew as a teacher over that time. WHY did I wait so long to do this?

If you get a chance, set up your room with a music buddy. If there's no music buddy, see if you can lasso a classroom buddy. You can still bounce ideas off of them and ask them how they would use objects in their own classroom. You can get a much better idea of room rearranging with help. We tend to get stuck in our ruts without realizing it. With a buddy, that rut can get shaken up, and often for the better. 

The buddy system is a good thing. Feel free to share in the comments how YOU utilize a buddy system to get ready for school.

Next time: solar eclipses ideas for the music classroom.

Coming to a Solar System near you July 24...................

The first of some great solar system activities..............Almost completed!

Check into Dr. Stafford's Musical Cures for this product and a preview video of the hand motions that go with the song!
Also July 24 and 25: 20% off various products from other music teachers. Just type in #christmasmusicinjuly in the search.

"Super-Stores" for Teachers, Part One

Dr. Stafford's Musical Cures: Super Stores for Teachers: IKEA
Just to let you know, I have about two other blogs saved to complete, but wow! Summer got more busy than I thought. I like to dive in and start in my room early because I don't like that "Oh, no, it's August" panic. And, life has changed so that this is the norm:

From Best Teacher Facebook Page

So, I've been working in my room to get it ready. Thank goodness for my husband, my friend Sheila, and various posts on various music teacher Facebook pages. Because of these sources, I have once again revamped my room arrangement. This one might last me the one or two years until retirement. Then again, if I fall in love it with, I might hang around!

When I look to organize my room with just one closet and one cabinet, I have to be mindful of space as well as ease of storage and accessibility to maintain my Orff/Kodaly blended room. And that means going from a central spot to movement to instruments and back again without much chaos or wandering or dead time. Dead time=classroom management issues. More on that later when the room is finally complete. I do, however, what to highlight the great places where I find some prop and other pretty things to pamper my place. (Yes, I like alliteration.)

Today's segment: IKEA finds. I was never so excited as I was a few years ago when I discovered St. Louis was getting an IKEA store. I had heard about the IKEA coolness and never got to experience for myself. The first time my husband, daughter, and son-in-law went last year was an experience. And yes, I needed a GPS, but I settled for the arrows and "street" signs guiding me to the wonders of awesome Nordic storage. Not to mention the wonderful cafe. And what a great place to get your steps in!

But I digress. I found some nifty things at IKEA that are terrific for storage, and one item that will go with my new turn towards inquiry-based learning and flexible seating. (Don't worry: I will make sure the kids will have correct posture!). Actually, these are just the things I PURCHASED. I'm hoping to add more as I can.

I love using little erasers for dictation, either rhythm or solfege. (More on those in a later blog!) I've experimented with various types of storage. Often, I will buy these on a whim, and when I do, pencil boxes aren't always readily available on the shelves. Then, at IKEA, I discovered these little gems. What I love about these boxes are their, well, "stackability". Check out the picture:
IKEA Stackable boxes

The boxes have tiny oval "feet" at the bottom, and the lids have oval grooves in them so they fit together nicely. That way, I can store them in my small closet easily, and a often clutzy person like me won't be as likely to knock them over and spill them. Boom.

ITEM 2: Scarf Storage

Thanks to my friend Jennifer Patterson, I have learned a productive way to store scarves. IKEA's Variera plastic bag dispenser makes a perfect scarf dispenser. Either sitting upright or attached to the wall, this product has make it simple for my students to get scarves and put them away in just a few seconds. I can detach it from the wall (just held up to my drywall with thumbtacks), pass it around, and tack it up quickly. (It's not on the wall now because I'm still rearranging. It will go into my new movement corner.)

ITEM 3: Pot Lid Organizer for Binders
 I used to use regular plastic binder organizers, but never really liked the look or the size. While trying to find other products, I discovered this wonderful little organizer, the Variera pot lid organizer. Originally, I was actually looking for something for my pot lids because my cookpot cabinet was, well, sort of like the rest of my organizational attempts. When I used it for my lids, it was wonderful. Then the light bulb went off in my head. 

I returned to IKEA and purchased 3 more. They are fabulous for my binders. What I like best about these is that I can compress them to fit the largest binder, so it helps free up space. I never really had a binder that took up one compartment of the largest binder organizer I had in the past. Plus, it just looks cool, in my honest opinion. So far, I've just used one at school and one for my Corningware lids now. There is that fourth one that is hanging in there for me to decide if it's more necessary at home or school..................

ITEM 4: Sunnersta Containers and Rods

I discovered this thanks to the AOSA Facebook group. I have mused for years about mallet storage. Yes, I can keep them in cans, but I just never liked the look, even though it's practical. (I'm not always known to be practical!). I purchased some nice Thirty-One products to keep them in, but the kids inevitably knocked them over and lost mallets. With my new room rearrangement (and no furniture behind and under which lost mallets could hide), I tried the Sunnersta idea.

I like this. Because I will have instruments nearby, this is not going to be a high traffic area. I plan to label each container based on the type of mallet (including my poor orphan mallets, the ones with mullets, and the ones going bald-because I cannot reyarn them without them becoming unraveled. I learned from the superb Rob Amchin, but I just don't have the tying off knack.) Saves counter space and storage space. I will definitely keep you posted!

ITEM 5: A cool pillow just cause:

This will be part of my flexible seating option. More on that later.

Future? I sure hope to get the funds for IKEA stools. They are not prohibitively expensive, but my district is on a budget crunch and is also holding off on crowd source funding for a while. Hopefully, that will only be temporary! I want to get rid of most of my chairs, and these stools will be easily stored and take up less space than stored chairs, and will be super for kids who have to sit at larger instruments. 

Question for you: How do you "IKEA"? Leave your comments at my Facebook page to be part of a drawing for a free product.

Dr. Stafford's Musical Cures Teachers Pay Teachers Store

At Teachers Pay Teachers, make sure you search #Christmasmusicinjuly for some great sales from various arts teachers. This week:

I will be sending out messages to my TPT followers as soon as my 50% off items are picked, so if you don't follow me at the store, please do! Products are being updated, and new products are in line. Soon to come for the beginning of school: Sub Tub packets, Kagan ideas, flash cards, bulletin boards, and more!