February 6-10, the Week in a Nutshell, Primaries

I LOVE writing this blog.  I love taking the time to look back on what we worked on during the week, and am always amazed at how much we music teachers do in a day, no less a week.  I love hoping that what I’m posting here will be useful to someone else.  And, strange as it may seem, I love the physical act of putting pen to paper.  (I write it all out long hand and edit as I type it into the post.)

Having said all that, it’s an activity that usually has to wait until the weekend, since I not only teach elementary school music, but serve on our church’s worship team, which involves a fair amount of rehearsal time, teach private voice lessons, and attend a Monday night Bible study.  There just isn’t much time left over in the week.  All of which is to say that, once again I’m combining 2 weeks of activities into one post, because I just couldn’t get it all done last weekend.

The other night my husband and I were discussing Tuesday Music.  He said that it will probably keep me somewhat busy during my retirement.

“Writing about what?” I replied. “I won’t be teaching.”

He suggested adding plans that I’ve used in the past as I think of them, and I probably will do that, but it got me thinking…..if any of you have plans or activities that you’d like to post, I’d love to have some guest bloggers add their ideas.  Any takers?

But, I digress…here’s what’s happened in my primary music classes recently.

First Grade

2 weeks ago we took sol and mi from hand signals and little s’s and m’s to line notes and space notes. My learning target was recognizing sol and mi on a 2 line staff.  To begin, I showed the students what a line note looks like in print…the line goes right through the note head.  Then, I put my hands on either side of my head and asked them to do the same.

“Voila!  Your head is now a line note!”

Line note head

line notes

“But there is also something called a space note. A space note squeezes in between the lines, so that there is one on top and one on the bottom.  Sometimes they sit on or under a line, but there is no line through a space note.  So, put one hand on top of your head, and one hand under your chin.  Voila!  Your head is now a space note!”

Space note head

(By the way, Betty recently asked on the MK8 list whether we had to get permission to use kid pics on blogs.  In my case I never show faces on this blog.  On the blog that my kids write at school, I have a separate permission slip for allowing their picture to be posted with their writing.  Without it I will not post a picture of them.)

So, to sum up, we began by defining what line and space notes are: A line note is a note with a line going through it.  A space note is a note between 2 lines, above a line, or below a  line.  There is no line through it.

Moving from hands and heads, I showed them line notes and space notes on a 2 line staff.  We have always sung “Sol is higher, mi is lower” using hand signals. Now we begin doing it using the higher line and the lower line, or the higher space and the lower space, noting that, in order to know which is which, all they need to do is notice which one is up higher (sol) and which is down lower (mi)  Then we practice singing each in the simple quarter note/rest pattern shown in the picture.

You can add any simple words that you’d like:

This old man. Z  He played one. Z  He played knick knack on my thumb. Z

Or, Make up rhymes with the kids:

“Art is cool.  Z  Phys Ed too. Z  Music’s what we like to do. Z”

This past week I followed up by putting some rhythm to our sols and mis.  We read the tones and rhythm patterns for “Engine Engine Number Nine.” I made sure to tell them that it doesn’t matter how many lines there are on the staff….sol is still in the higher position and mi in the lower position.  I had them identify the type of note these are by having them show me with their hands and heads.  (Space notes.)  Once they’d read the tune and the rhythm, I taught them the words by rote.  Normally I would do the rhythm separately from the words, but in this case it wasn’t necessary.  Seems they automatically read eighth notes faster than quarters.

The movement involves making a train by holding onto the shoulders of the person in front of them. They move their feet to the 8th note beat, but any time the melody moves from sol down to mi they have to bend their knees to show the lower note.  We chug around the room a couple of times….they love it.

We also learned the MusicK-8 song “Presto Largo” from my competitive, rival puppets, Presto the Bunny and Largo the Turtle.  (Aside from reading sols and mis, my learning target this week included knowing what these two terms mean.)  Presto sings his part (with the recording) while hopping madly from kid to kid.  (They’re sitting on their hands by the way…the rule is that if they want to see all of this manic little show they may not touch and must stay in their seats.)  Largo looks Presto right in the eye, along with some students, as he sings his slow part of the song.  By the time it’s over, they all have a clear understanding of what each word means.  Then I teach the song by rote and we sing along with Largo and Presto.

"Presto" and "Largo" being held by our school nurse.

Other Activities

I used several books in the past 2 weeks.  The final “Bear” book with Jerry Garcia and Dave Grisman is “There Ain’t No Bugs on Me.”  The kids easily picked up the chorus, and had fun finding all of the bugs in pockets, on heads and noses etc.  One small caution: one of the last pages reads ” How in the heck can the old folks tell if it ain’t gonna rain no more.”  On the recording he sings “How in the hell can the old folks tell”.  I always sing over it and no one ever notices it…but it’s good to know that it’s there.  The recordings for all of these books come from the recording “Not For Kids Only” by Jerry Garcia and Dave Grisman.

The Teddy Bears Picnic

There Ain't No Bugs on Me

The Jazz Fly by Matthew Gollub

I also used “The Jazz Fly” by Matthew Gollub.  There are several important ideas you can bring out before listening to the book.

A.) Call and response/echo/conversation.  Every time the fly asks his question in “jazz” a chorus echos it back to him, and some other animal answers him.

B.)  Instrumentation.  Examples of Bass, Sax, Piano and Drums are played.

C.)  Improvisation.  The Fly is expected to come up with something new on the spot at the Jazz Club, and he does.

And, speaking of Jazz, which I always cover in February in honor of Black History Month, Martha Stanley posted on the Music  K-8 mailing list about a couple of iPad apps, one of which is called “A Jazzy Day.”  I got it and used it with great success yesterday….look for a separate post , coming soon.  It’s geared for primaries, but I used it successfully in all grades.  Including 2nd…..speaking of which….

Grade 2

2nd grade is tough for me right now, because once again, we’re working on a program in one building but not the other.  (Happens twice a year.)  I’m trying not to get too far ahead in the non-program building, so this week , after reviewing “The Jazz Fly” and discussing all of the attributes of Jazz that I mentioned above, we watched “A Jazz Time Tale.”

I introduced it by recalling for them some of the many forms that Jazz can take, including Big Band swing music, Be-Bop, Vocal Jazz and Scat singing, Dixieland and Ragtime.  The video is a story about Fats Waller, narrated by Ruby Dee.  It brings into discussion topics such as Jazz, (like Rock and Roll,) being considered evil when it was first developing,  Ragtime piano music, silent movies and vaudeville.

In the other building my Muppet program is beginning to evolve: the Art teacher is going to help some of the kids work on Kermit collars and Oscar trash can lids made from paper plates and foil.  I ordered some Swedish Chef hats and Rubber Duckies from Oriental Trading Company.  (The duckies don’t squeak….not sure if that’s good or bad.)  I borrowed 8 pink feather boas so we can have some Miss Piggies, and I’ve been checking out Statler and Waldorf videos on YouTube for some schtick ideas.  I’ll give details when it finally all comes together.

I think I’m finished.  For now.

Have a great weekend!


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dianne Park
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 14:46:51

    I’ll bite! I don’t have a teaching blog but am retired and still teaching. I’m teaching opera and symphony lessons all over our area and K-3 at my grand kids school…so I still have lessons to write about! I think you’ll be surprised at how much teaching you can still do in retirement, if you want to. Dianne


  2. Kelly
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 15:47:12

    1) I love this blog!
    2) I love Jazz Fly!
    3) I love Presto & Largo! – and my 6th graders used to dig that song, too, even if it was a little silly for those oh so mature middle schoolers.
    You’re such a great teacher, and it’s so nice to read all of these ideas to keep my brain working until I’m back in a classroom 🙂


  3. Jane
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 15:54:35

    Awwww Kel, I love you! I still have your jazz playlist in my iTunes labeled “Kelly’s Jazz”….comes in real handy this time of year. You do know that I’m retiring in June….right? (Speaking of getting back into the classroom….) Meanwhile, how’s that baby doing!


    • Kelly
      Feb 20, 2012 @ 11:53:05

      Yes, I did read that you were retiring, and trust me, I stalk the district’s website at least 3 times a week to see if/when they will post an open position, and I would LOVE to work there. 🙂 My baby girl is so beautiful and precious and just so so so wonderful. I’m so blessed by her, and am astonished that it somehow worked out that I could spend this time at home with her enjoying all of the sweet baby girl moments. We’ll have to get together so you can meet her when you slow down 🙂

      ❤ ~K


  4. P. Conrad
    Feb 18, 2012 @ 16:48:33

    I’ll write something, but at just 10 years in, I’m a rank beginner.


    • Jane
      Feb 18, 2012 @ 21:11:15

      I think ten years is quite a bit of experience . Share whatever works for you in your classroom….lessons, classroom arrangement, behavior management, resources…I’d love to hear, and so would a bunch of other people, I bet! You can email me at doremi9642@aol.com. Attach pics too! :0)


  5. Trackback: February 20-24; The Week in a Nutshell, Primaries « Tuesday Music

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