A Short Back to School with Primary Lessons Post

Last week I posted some intermediate activities that I wanted to come back to school with, but I never got around to the primaries. Here’s what we did today:

Everyone in the building is learning Music K-8’s “I Have a Little Dreidle.” Even the first graders learn it with no problem, and everyone sang it with gusto. I preface it by reading a book that I have, called “Eight Hanukkah Lights”, which lights up a new candle on each page, and shows lots of Hanukkah traditions and various Menorah. We discuss each tradition so that they know something of what they’re singing about. I bought kazoos for my 5th graders from Oriental Trading Company….I bought more than enough because A. they’re cheap, and B. because they’re cheap I knew a few of them wouldn’t work. But on the whole, the ratio of non-functional kazoos to working kazoos has been pretty good.

Eight Hanukkah Lights

(I’ve added this picture since the original post. I’m now finished with the book and you can have it for $5.00. which includes shipping. Please be aware that I’ve used it for 3 years, and although the lights still work, I can’t guarantee how much longer the batteries will hold out.)

With first and second grade I am working on a piece called “Amaryllis” by Henri Ghys. The recording I use is on YouTube:


With first grade I am using it a reading/play along exercise. I
That’s good for second grade as well, but my focus is more on the form of the piece with them, since that is what we were studying before Thanksgiving vacation. I put 3 play along sections on the board: (l = quarter, TT = eighth, Z = rest.)


l l l l l l l Z

l l l l TTTT l l

l l l l l l l Z

l l l l TTTT l Z


l l l Z l l l Z

l l l Z l Z l Z l Z

l l l Z l l l Z

l l l Z l Z l Z Z Z


TTTT l Z l Z l Z

TTTT l Z l Z l Z

TTTT l Z l Z l Z

TTTT l Z l Z l Z

The form of the piece is A A B A A C C B C A A . Once the kids have practiced all of the rhythms I divide them into 3 groups and assign sections A, B and C. With 2nd grade I make sure that they understand the form of the piece ahead of time. Everyone gets rhythm sticks, subject to the usual rules. (Sticks at rest against our shoulders when it is not your turn to play, play them appropriately.) Then I put on the music, and we play along. They actually ask to switch parts and do it again.

My other rhythm/instrument/song for later this week will be “Jingle Bells.”

The first phrase rhythm is played with jingle bells and is

TT l TT l TT l TT l

The second phrase is played with sticks, and is just a steady beat:

l l l l l l l l

The 3rd phrase is the same as the first,

and the last phrase, played with triangles is

l Z l Z l Z l Z. (Have them mute the triangle on the rest.)

It seems pretty simple, and it is, but it does get tricky when I ask them to sing the song and play the rhythms at the same time. They almost always try to play the rhythms that they are singing the first couple of times.

I began reading the story of the Nutcracker and showed them the opening scenes of the ballet. (I have the old Covent Garden production on VHS…what a great production! I think that my process will be to show them just a little bit at the end of each music class from now until the end of December, rather than sit them down for 45 minutes of Nutcracker.

That’s it for now. Welcome back to school! :0)



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. joekent
    Dec 05, 2011 @ 14:25:58

    I’m still reading, great ideas. I’m excited to try to use the Amaryllis song this week 🙂


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