What To Do With 5th Graders in March

It’s that time of year….time to find some activities that will reel the kids, and me, back in.  It’s March.  For some students, and I say this seriously, it would be good if the year could end now.  I saw this with my own very active boys.  They could hold it together for about 7 months.  Then, along about March I started getting “behavior notes”….or worse.

So, in March the kids AND I need a fresh start…some super interesting and fun things to do and sing.  I started this week by making a list of songs that I can use this month, and that I believe the  kids will enjoy.

With our state testing coming up in 2 weeks I put at the top of my intermediate list “Test Me” from Music K-8 vol 16 #4.  Aside from the hard rock style, which the kids love, the song offers some practical test taking tips.  Without publishing copyrighted lyrics, I will tell you that “Test Me”  addresses studying, proper rest, nutrition, test stress and re-reading questions for comprehension.  Vocabulary includes “excel”, “comprehend” and “stress”.  Once we’ve learned, discussed and sung the songs the students can remember a checklist of tips for successful test taking.

Another song on my intermediate list is “An Irish Dance” from Music K-8 vol. 7# 4.  The kids love this song and the accompanying dance, so repeating it for students who have learned it in previous years is no problem.  It has a “Riverdance” feel to it that is very appealing.  Last year after I used it I showed the students the opening dance from “Riverdance.”


This year I plan to use some clips of the vocal group “Anuna“.  Check these out:






That’s next week, though.

For this week, once we’d learned or reviewed “Test Me” I pulled out a new listening lesson designed to help them learn some of the details that go into a well written piece of music, and what to listen for in order to be able to articulate the reasons that they like a song or other musical form.  The picture below is a grid that I created for a sound analysis of “High Hopes” by Pink Floyd.  Down the left side is a list of sounds that they will hear in the song.  Across the top are numbers that correspond to places in the music where sounds are added or subtracted.  As we listen to the song I call out the numbers, and they check off what they are hearing.  Sometimes the texture is thicker, sometimes quite thin.

I didn’t tell them what they’d be listening to ahead of time because I knew they’d love it and be dying to know who it was….and I was right.  The song is about 8 minutes long.  Wow, 8 minutes when the only sound in the room was music, and me occasionally calling numbers.

We listened a second time then, so that we could talk through it.  “Are the bells still there?” one of them asked.  “Do you hear that very soft background vocal?” I questioned.  “How many guitars?”  “How many voices?”  (2…an octave apart, in the second chorus.  And they heard it!)

I rarely have everyone’s undivided attention like I did for this lesson.

And sure enough:  “Who is that, anyway?”


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kelly
    Mar 05, 2012 @ 15:38:32

    Have you ever played around with jamstudio.com? It’s really easy to use, free, and kids love it. I’ve done it both projecting it on the wall as a whole class thing, and as a partner/individual project using a laptop cart. I created a template that I would hand out and have the kids record their input information for their songs to keep them accountable. It’s nice to mix things up a bit 🙂


  2. Jane
    Mar 05, 2012 @ 16:57:11

    I never have, Kelly, but you can bet I’ll go looking for it now! Thanks! :0)


  3. Amanda Staymates
    Mar 15, 2012 @ 09:11:18

    I’m missing the insects… this is a great idea! My 5th graders are getting “senioritis” as well…


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