Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Music Math Centers

Every year I do a "Rhythm Is Math" Unit with 3rd grade. We get pretty in depth and involved with rhythms and seeing how math is connected to music. I like doing it with 3rd because I can start talking fractions with them since they start learning more about them then. This year I am doing a rotation of centers that helps them practice working with rhythms and math. I also included a teacher center where I can do a quick informal assessment to see how students are doing individually.  Below are some pictures and explanations of the centers I have that help them use these skills.

1. Pumpkin Math Match:
I found these foam pumpkins at a local craft store. The orange pumpkins have musical math equations on them and the yellow pumpkins have numerical values on them. Students need to add up the number of beats on the orange pumpkins and match them with the correct yellow pumpkin. I include an answer key for them to check their answers to see if they were correct. I also include a sheet that reminds them of the note and rest values as well.

2. Rhythm Jenga
I found this idea on Pinterest. I took a Jenga game and stuck address labels with rhythms on them. Students play it like Jenga, but before they stack it they must say the rhythm.

NOTE: I know this doesn't have a musical math element to it, but I wanted a center or two where they are actually practicing rhythms. Which also gives them a brain break from the math equations.

3. Teacher Center:
I have this center where students come to me to do a small informal assessment. On the paws I have written notes and rests (quarter note, quarter rest, pair of eighth notes, 4 sixteenth notes, half note, half rest, whole note, and whole rest). I randomly draw two to have the students add up the beats for the two. They draw each note in a provided blank on the paper, and then write the answer. 

 4. Busted!
Another great Pinterest find! It comes from the mastermind of Steph at "Stay Tuned!"  My students have LOVED this game. It has inspired me to create other forms of Busted! to practice pitch names as well. With this one, students use it to practicing saying rhythms. But this round, I am asking students to also declare to the group how many beats each stick has on it.

5. SmartBoard: Music Madness!
I don't know about the rest of you, BUT I LOVE Artie Almeida's resources. Last year I bought her Music Madness Interactive Board games. And my students have LOVED it. I am having them use the game "An Apple A Day" which is a game where they need to know note values to play, again having them practice their music math skills.

6. Fishing For Rhythms:
I got these cute fish from Lakeshore Learning that is probably supposed to be used for calendar dates or something like that. BUT, of course as music teachers, we get creative and see it as a tool for something else! I wrote notes and rests on them again. Each student takes a turn and "fishes" for 2-5 fish, line them up and they race to write down the correct answer. If they get the answer right first, they get a point. I have them use whiteboards to write their answer. They keep track of their points here as well by squaring off a part of the whiteboard and doing tally marks. Like the Pumpkin Rhythms, I included a note and rest values sheet to help them do the math quickly if needed.

Here's some logistics on how I run the centers:
I see students 30 minutes each time, I have students spend 10-12 minutes at each center, which allows me for 2 centers a day. Which then takes a total of 3 days to complete. It takes about a week to get each student through, but I love doing centers because I feel many students learn by doing. So I see a lot of value of doing a centers-based approach. I also love including a teacher center so that I can do a quick review with students who are struggling and challenge the students more who need the extra challenge.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

2014 Classroom Tour

I know it's well after the school year has started, but my oh my has it been one busy year already! Now that I'm in my groove, I finally have time to show off some updates to my room!  I'm LOVING what I've done.

I started my TeachersPayTeachers store this summer and these will be some products that I will have up and posted for sale. My Word Wall Headers are already there. You should check it out if you can!

I went with a Rainbow Chalkboard theme and it really turned out great! I will have Recorder Posters, solfege hand sign posters, MUSIC room rules, and for those who teach in an IB school, I will also have my Profiles, Key Concepts, and Attitudes posters available as well.

Take a look and leave a comment if you have any questions about what you see!

Aren't the colorful pom-poms a nice touch?! I love them!!!
A view from my chair.

View from the door.

A view for some students. Notice my Boomwhacker storage using a big black bin that I found at good ol' Walmart this summer. And Black to go with my theme. Awesome-sauce.

Another perspective.

This was a great idea of my student teacher last year. With being an International Baccalaureate school, I wanted to incorporate a more global perspective. So he came up with the idea of doing a Passport to... and then change it each trimester and do music or listen to music from that country.

These posters will be available on my TpT store soon!

Recorder Center: The storage unit on the left is where I keep the string belts to go on recorders and the trays are all the songs organized by belt level.

View of my desk area.

Even all my binders are celebrating the rainbow!

1/2 of my word wall (the other half is on the other side of the room) The Letters are available on my TpT store.

These are the Attitudes from being an International Baccalaureate school, or a PYP school.

Lots to see here, Key Concepts on cabinets (IB stuff again), keyboard behavior clip chart, mailbox to turn in assignments, reusable exit tickets, I Took Action forms.
MUSIC Room Expectations. I modeled them after Lindsey Jervis from Lindsey's Kodaly Inspired Classroom. I've had them spell MUSIC for years, but I like the simplicity of how she worded them better and added my personal touch to them.

The view for the students. Solfege chart, anchor charts, Smart Board, and learning goals by grade on the left.

A closer look at the solfege ladder.

Classroom instrument storage and book bins.

View from my keyboard.

Isle of Rest (much like a "Take A Break" chair), but I have a 2 minute sand timer for kids so they know when they can return.

Another view from my keyboard.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Rainbow Chalkboard Decor!

Hello all! I've been busily assembling things with getting my room ready for the 2014-2015 school year. I've always loved having a colorful room! I decided to class it up with a chalkboard-type feature. So, I am slowly adding the decor to my TpT store! First thing I'm selling is ABC Word Wall Headers. I'm loving it! Below is a preview of some of the letters. They measure about 5 inches across and has 6 colors, so they are easily read from across the room.

Other items that will be added to the store:
*MUSIC Classroom Expectations
*Recorder Finger Charts
*PYP Posters: Learner Profiles, Key Concepts, and Attitudes
*Isle of Rest Sign
*Riser Group Signs
*Blank Label Templates

Check out my store below for this wonderful set!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Music In Action Bulletin Board Set

So in my classroom tour from a couple of years ago, many you have inquired about this! Where can I get your music in action form? Right?! Well, I finally got my act together and made a whole bulletin board set for you!

An example of how you could use the set!
The whole idea is to celebrate when your kiddos come to you and say something like..."Mrs A! I played on ___ website last night!" Or..."I looked up ___ video on YouTube to show my mom/dad." So, how do you recognize that your students pursue music outside of your class? I came up with the Music In Action bulletin board to do just that! You can use it for a year round bulletin board or for a monthly focus like Music In Our Schools Month! I personally have it up year 'round on a large bulletin board so I can recognize it year 'round. I also put up any musical pictures that they draw from me up there too. Because you always get those, right?! I hope you enjoy this and you can find a way to use it in your class!

You can get this set at my TpT store!  Check it out!

The set includes lettering, 4 musical kids, and the form that kids use to fill out for your bulletin board!  Let me know if you have any questions, requests, or suggestions!  Thanks!

Monday, July 21, 2014


So, how does one create their own logo, header, flier, etc on the cheap? Well, PicMonkey is a pretty great tool that's easy to use! If you're familiar with some simple photo editing software or things like Instagram as well, then PicMonkey might be a tool to use! Most things are free, but if you want to pay a monthly fee of $4.99 or a yearly one of $33, you can get some really cool features, too!

I wanted to give my blog a more updated look, something unique to me and to the blogging world. However, I wasn't quite ready yet to take a plunge and pay a pro to design it. I was toying around with PicMonkey to design my header and background image. It is so much more than a way to edit images. You can also use it to design many things, such as a logo, header, fliers, posters, etc. I HIGHLY recommend giving it a look.

There are several tutorials out there that people have posted to help you make a variety of things! I've listed some that I have found below.

And OF COURSE, if none of these tutorials help you out, there is always Pinterest! 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Teachers Pay Teachers Store

Hey all!  Well, I have decided to jump right in and start a Teachers Pay Teachers store for selling some items. I know some of you have asked for things that I have created here and I thought the best way was to set up an account. Some of you may already have encountered my Daily Lesson Plan Template. It's up on my TpT site and it's for FREE! AND Editable! Always a bonus, right?!

I'm pretty excited for this!  All proceeds will be currently going towards our adoption. My husband and I have been currently in the process of growing our family through adoption. But unfortunately it's not a cheap endeavor! So I thought that I would get out in the world my teaching materials that I have slaved hours over and have that go towards our future family!

So, stay tuned for more updates on items that will pop up on my TpT Store!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Structuring A Centers-Based Approach for Recorder

This year my goal for the school year was to begin implementing more of a centers-based approach to my instruction, but I knew that I would be too overwhelmed to do it with all grades, so I decided to focus on my 4th graders to help them with their recorder.

The reason for starting there was that I felt I never had enough time to do it all! Ain't that the truth...Never enough time to do recorder and doing whole group instruction, test for recorder (I do Recorder Karate), and teach new concepts (time signatures, key signatures, and other music vocabulary.) To design lessons that were whole group instruction for each would be ridiculous and I didn't have time for that! Then I started wondering, does it all have to be whole group instruction with me in the front delivering lessons all the time...? Of COURSE not! There are so many wonderful activities, technology, etc that can teach the material for you and kids can learn a new concept independently! So last year I came up with this plan or how I would structure lessons and I love how it's going so far!

***Something to keep in mind.... I see the same group of kids every other day for 30 minutes.***

Lesson 1: Teach Day--This is where I give whole class instruction to teach certain skills, new terms and symbols, play through songs together as a class, split into groups for additional group practice times, etc.

Lesson 2-4: Centers Rotations (3 days, 2 centers/day, approx 10-12 minutes at each center) The centers I use are as follows...

  • SmartBoard Center
  • Pitch Name Center
  • iPad Center
  • Rhythm Center
  • Group Practice Center
  • Teacher Center

*NOTE: Each center would switch out and change each time we'd do a new round of centers. I have blog posts that share ones I've been creating.  Also note that kids are split according to what belt they are currently working on

**The Teacher Center was where I could give more individualized instruction for kids. It was a help time if they needed it, but if they did not need my help, I used it as additional testing time for those kids who cruised!

Lesson 5: Testing Day--This is when I would have kids do group practice for the day and I would go from group to group to hear kids play songs and pass to the next level (if they were ready). If students were not ready, then they used the day as practice.

What I found to be crucial to success was to have expectations VERY clear from the beginning, laying out what they need to accomplish at each center (some centers would sometimes require kids to turn in something-so that held them accountable). Clear directions for each center are also very important.

The students are thriving in this structure! I found kids are motivated to do the activities at the center (it honestly feels like "free time" for them) and they are excited to come to ME for help and instruction. And they are satisfied that if they are not ready to test yet, they know what they need to do to prepare and work towards testing day! Students advance rapidly when I am able to give them more individual instruction (almost like private lessons), plus being able to give them the time to work on skills and to test if they are ready is a bonus.

As a side note...

When beginning recorder I found this quote that has been driving their practice time and our whole approach to recorder...I mean how many of these little guys think that when they pick up the recorder they are going to be like Mozart and be an immediate virtuoso?! Then reality sinks in and oh my goodness...this was a lot harder than I originally thought. So kids now have this quote in the back of their minds driving them through those hard times.

"In this room we don't do easy. We make easy happen through hard work and learning."
      -- found on venspired.com by Krissy Venosdale

So when kids struggle and they say things like "This is too hard!" I affirm them and say, "YES! It is! But with your hard work, you are making easy happen!"  It's fun to start looking back to the beginning and remind the kids, remember how hard it was to hold the recorder at first?! Is it easier now? YES! Because you did the hard work! I love it! It's teaching them what you need to do to be successful on an instrument. Practice! Practice! Practice!

Bottle Cap Rhythms

I'm in center creation mode! My 4th graders are in the midst of Recorder Karate for the remainder of the school year and I am approaching how they learn recorder through a centers-based classroom. It is my hope to one day begin implementing the same approach with other grade levels when learning about a certain concept that they have time to work in centers to independently learn said concept.

SO-I am a Pinterest freak! I love finding new ideas and using them or modifying for my use in my classroom. I found a picture of Bottle Cap Rhythms on Pinterest, but it only linked to a picture. So, to whomever thought of this, THANK YOU! I am excited for my students to use them as part of their centers this week!

How to make:

1.  Bottle Caps:
Where did you get all those bottle caps?

  • I sent an email out to the staff here at school requesting that any bottle cap that they use that they would send them my way.
  • I slowly collected them for a month, and I have MORE than enough. I'm going to save extras for other possible centers ideas with pitch names or music symbols, etc.

2. Labels:

  • I used the typical Garage Sale dot stickers from Office Depot to write the rhythms, time signatures, and bar lines on.
  • They fit PERFECTLY onto water and pop/soda caps.

3.  Storage:

  • I used your typical pencil box to store all the bottle caps and directions in. I used a half sheet to print directions and notation values onto.

How To Play

It's pretty straight forward, I created some directions for kids with the backside showing the notes they can use and their values.


1.  Choose a Time Signature and place in front.
2.  Create rhythms using the bottle caps as notation.
3.  Use Bar Lines to separate measures.
4.  Use the Double Bar Line to finish your rhythm.
5.  Make sure that each Measure (space between the bar lines) has the correct number of beats that matches your time signature.
6.  Clap and Say your rhythm.
7.  Play again!

*I will be adding a step for recorder where kids choose a pitch and play the rhythm on the their recorder.

Notation side of directions with the values to assist kids in accurately grouping notes into measures.

Example of a created rhythm for students to clap and say/play.