Friday, February 22, 2013

Bass Clef Bean Bag Toss Game

So I'm a fan of the Freddie the Frog books.  For several reasons. 

1.  For elementary kids their imaginations are so AMAZING, stories and characters are a wonderful way for them to connect to pitches on the staff.  So I LOVE that "F" on the treble clef is Freddie!  "E" is his best friend Eli!  And then each place on the staff is a character or place on Treble Clef Island.  Sharon Burch, YOU, my friend, are a GENIUS!

2.  I love that there is a story that teaches "D," "middle C," and "B" below the treble clef staff.  Those pitches were always a challenge for me.  Again, Sharon...GENIUS.

and 3.  The Bass Cleff Monster book is AWESOME.  I love how it is set-up to prep kids that it looks familiar, but it's NOT Treble Clef Island anymore...You're in Freddie's dream and all the spots are different, but then you get the kids to noticed the Freddie's ABC's are still there, just in a different order and with different names.

OH! and of course...these books get introduced in Kindergarten!  So my little tykes are growing up with the knowledge of pitch names already and it will be second nature to them when they are reading music.  And, Hello?!  Bass Clef in Kindergarten.  Awesome.

Did I mention that I'm a fan of these books?!  So awesome. 

Well...I wanted to do some fun things to practice the Bass Clef pitches for the Kindergartners to get them more familiar with them.  So, I did a round of Quiz-Quiz-Trade (I posted earlier about this activity).  We did a Simon Says game on the staff (that I taped on the floor) for the Bass Clef.  "Simon Says step on the Dragon....Grass...Annie the Ant..." etc.  That was fun.  We filled out a worksheet coloring all the different places specific colors to label them.  But I was looking for one more thing that was age appropriate for Kindergartners.  Some of my resources for Bass Clef were ok, but meant for older kiddos.  What to do...what to do...?

Well, all this time of practicing the Bass Clef I had the staff taped on the floor for the time being.  Then I started thinking of a game that involved doing a Bean Bag Toss.  Here's how it goes:

1.  I divided the class into 6 teams, which ended up being 3-4 kids on a team.
2.  The team gets 3 tries to toss their bean bag to the correct spot for the Bass Clef Monster.  I would say "Toss your bean bag to the Frog Log.  Ready...GO!"
3.  1st try earns their team 5 points. If they get the correct spot on the first try, then the team sits down and they are done for that round.
4.  If they did NOT get it on the first try, then the first person rotates to the back, and the next person gives it a shot.  If they get it then on the 2nd try, they earn 3 points for their team.  Again, if they get it correct, the team sits down and they are done.
5.  If they still did NOT get it on the 1st and 2nd try, they get one more chance to try.  So the person rotates to the back of the line and the 3rd person tries to throw.  If they get it on the 3rd try, the team earns 1 point for their team.
6.  If they did not get it at ALL, no points.  At which at that point, I have someone on that team place their bean bag on the correct spot to show me they know where the Dragon, or whatever, was.
5.  After all teams had their 3 tries, everyone stands back up again and we do another round.
6.  The team with the most points, WINS!  (Which means I give them a little music sticker to wear.)

FYI:  I put little strips of tape down with numbers for their teams as a starting line AND each team had a different colored bean bag to help me keep the teams straight because of course Kindergartners didn't throw straight every time! 

The kids LOVED this game!  They got excited when they tossed it to the right spot and encouraged their friends to get it on another try...and they worked together to help their neighbor through it to the right spot if they didn't know where the "Dragon" was.

I was so proud of myself for coming up with this game last minute like I did...thought I could start hanging out in the ranks of some other music teachers that I really admire!  Ha!

Now, being the Techie person that I am, I also created a SmartBoard file to go with this beautiful game.  I'm working on a TeachersPayTeachers account to get that file available to you if you feel so inclined to download it and use it in your own classroom.  SO...stay tuned for that file!

I hope this game inspires you to try a new game or two with your kiddos! 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Agents of Change: A 2nd Grade Musical

Each year I brave an attempt at writing my own programs.  Both 2nd and 4th grade perform a program each year, 4th Grade in November and 2nd Grade in March.  When I write my programs, I try to stick to writing just one a year because it's a ton of work to do.  I then decided to alternate between 2nd and 4th grade each year.  That way when they were either in 2nd or 4th grade, they got to do an Arundel Original program!  Last year I wrote a program called Feelin' Good for 4th grade.  And this year it is 2nd Grade's turn. 
Note:  On the "off years," the kids do a "canned" program, which I often end up modifiying some or adding to again...I just can't help it!  I love musicals and performing with these kiddos!

How do I pick themes to write about? 

Well, with being an International Baccalaureate (IB) program here, the classrooms have planners (in depth units) based on a certain central idea/theme (Who We Are, How We Express Ourselves, How the World Works, etc) .  These themes are a great for basing the themes of my programs on.  With the 4th grade program, Feelin' Good, it was focused on living a balanced, healthy lifestyle (a How We Express Ourselves planner). 

Side Note:  IB asks specialists to try an make at least 1 quality connection to these planners to help strengthen these broad ideas into all subject areas.  I really enjoy making these connections because as we all know, Music is connected to EVERYTHING!  And I LOVE showing kids that particular feature of our subject area.  Now, granted there are some planners that it is a S-T-R-E-T-C-H to connect to, so I choose not to make that connection. 

This year I am writing a program for 2nd Grade and it is focused on how even ordinary people can help to make a change in this world (a Sharing the Planet planner).  In their classrooms, the kids are collecting old crayons and melting them to make new crayons to sell.  Their profits are then going towards Heifer International to buy a goat for a family in Africa.  SUPER COOL! 

What's exciting is the songs they are learning for this program are strengthening this idea of making a difference and the kids are fully on board and super-charged to put it all together!  All my songs that I pick for my programs comes from Music K8.  What a fabulous resource!  I love it solely for writing my musicals.  I usually can find enough awesome songs from these magazines and build a program around them.

So, when I came across the song "Agents of Change" in Music K8 Volume 18, Number was PERFECT for this theme!  And from there, I found a TON of others that I really had to narrow it down and came to a list of about 7 songs total.  I then began writing the script with the idea that there is a group of Secret Agents who go around the world making a difference.  AND teaching those they meet how to make that change on their own.  The agents mission is always to make the world a better place and they are always trying to fight off Dr. Nemesis (Dr. Nem) who goes around with his whisper machine making people be selfish, rude, uncaring, bully, etc. 

The kids have LOVED the idea of Secret Agents and all want to be this role in the program.  What I've been sharing is that they ALL can be secret agents right now!  That they can start making a difference in the world around them!