Several months ago, I wrote about keeping kids moving in the classroom. Believe it or not, keeping kids moving within certain parameters actually cuts down on classroom management issues, keeps them engaged, and helps the brain. Well, now, of course, is spring. It's early spring, and it might be a while before some of you will be able to take your students outside. SHOULD you take your students outside? Why not? It's a change of pace for you and for them. It helps them learn how to work in an even less restrictive environment. It can help with frayed nerves. It's good for them physically and mentally. It's good for YOU. These are the types of things I would do with my classes outside: DRUMMING This had to be the absolute favorite of my students. Usually, I wouldn't start this until second grade so they would be big enough to help carry the drums out.  I woud plan the following activities: Question/answer Call/response Echo Grooves I discovered the students benefitte...
We all like breaks. I took a mini-hiatus from blogging to devote more time to my CASA kiddos. It's beautiful and emotional all at the same time.  But for you teachers, especially if you're a public school teacher, the break was pretty much needed for your physical and mental health. I hope you were able to take advantage of the healing a break can give you. Unfortunately, next week begins a new year and for most of you, the end to your winter break. And darn it! I have to say it again, it brings a lot of the unknown. COVID decided to mutate again into Omicron. Political issues might not have been addressed. Your kids who need SEL might need to be re-triaged. You have to be ready with your "bring it! I got this!" face. Pooh on that. It's tough enough to return from a break without all this other stuff facing you. Now, more than ever, you mustn't STRESS about turning cartwheels lesson plans. You need to review. But you need not go into crazy detail and start com...
A few years ago, I wrote about ideas for calming the kindergartners because, as we know, kindergartners can be a big challenge, especially since their development is different from child to child. Kindergartners are a mixed bag of experiences . We have kids who are expected to not only know their letters, but need to be ready to read by midterm. We have kids who aren't just counting, they're counting and grouping. We have kids who attending school since infanthood. We have kids who have a couple of years of preschool. We have kids who never had preschool. We have kids whose parents spent time playing music to Mommy's tummy and reading to the child in the womb, playing music constantly, and singing to their children. We have kids whose parents plop them in front of the TV.  We have kids whose parents prepared them for school through social interactions. We have kids whose parents give in at the first sign of a tantrum and "NO!". We don't do naps for kindergarte...
I usually had a difficult time getting some fun stuff in for Thanksgiving for my first and second graders because they were getting ready for their holiday programs. However, I thought it was important that we start rehearsals early enough to 1. incorporate concepts within the music and 2. add other fun stuff that had nothing to do with program songs.  In November, one of the most favorite games was "Shoo, Turkey." There are various arrangements of this song/game in publication, but the one I always used was from the Bessie Jones/Bess Lomax Hawes book Step It Down.  This is a great call and response song you can use for assessment! Alan Lomax, a well-known folk musicologist, recorded Bessie Jones singin g this ditty during an interview on the music she remembered growing up in a Georgia farming community. (By the way, her biographical information in Step It Down is fascinating! If you don't have this book, you should. It is a treasure.) The "call" in the record...
Carl Orff stated that "Dance has the closest relationship to music. My idea and the task that I set myself was a regeneration of music through movement, through dance." Later, he added that rhythm is difficult to teach, expressed only by "releasing" it. Anne Green Gilbert , who developed Brain Danc e, noted the connections between dance and human growth and development. Two Orff educators, Jenny Burnett and Laura Webster, wrote an article for the Orff Echo describing how to use movement to teach concepts (Orff Echo , Vol. 42, No. 4 ). Finally, as noted on this blog post on Walkabout , movement is a crucial tool in social emotional development, which is probably needed more now than in past decades. There's an issue: I KNOW some of you are thinking that it's tough enough to keep kids distanced from each other, much less let them move around the room! Non-locomotor ideas to the rescue. These ideas can be be used to reinforce concepts, expression, mindfulnes...