Music With Mrs. Tanenblatt

Thursday, December 11, 2014

December Plague

Well, it's happened... after being a part of a super fun winter concert at one of my schools on Tuesday, I came down with the inevitable achey, coughey, ruin-your-singing-voicey cold. This brings up the age-old question of "what am I going to do with my classes when I have NO singing voice?"

Here's what I've been working on in some of my grades... Some no-singing winter music lessons:

5th Grade: Dreidel
After already learning the song, "S'vivon, Sov Sov Sov" for Chanukah, I told my students a little background about the holiday and they were eager to learn the rules to the dreidel game. I had them play using bingo chips instead of gelt. While they were playing, I had a playlist of Chanukah and Klezmer songs playing in the background.

4th Grade: Snowball Fight
Since we've been learning notes on the treble staff, this was the perfect time to practice reading and playing them. For my snowball fight game, every student writes a four-note melody, crumples it up, and tosses it across the room at the opposing team. Then they try to earn points by correctly reading and playing the melodies that were thrown at them. This gave my students practice reading and playing barred percussion with a competitive-but-friendly twist.

Trepak Cup Game

This awesome cup game has been floating around Pinterest for a while, and the Speed Stacks cups that I ordered last month just arrived... can you say perfect timing? My fourth graders had a BLAST learning this and they got a bonus lesson on form by doing it!

Speed Stacks: These are great because they are so durable and can be easily transported on my cart.

1st Grade: Winter Melody project
I've been planning this one and gathering materials for it for a few weeks now. It was the first time I'd done a truly crafts-y activity with my kiddos. (Usually coloring with crayons is as inventive as I get with my young ones.) Since my first graders are already familiar with so, mi, and la on a two-line staff system, this project was an opportunity to show what they know by composing their own melody. I gave each child eight cotton (snow)balls that they glued on the staff. I let them take their projects home right after making them, so I don't have any examples of students' work. Here's my exemplar, to give you an idea:

Kindergarten: Winter rhythm cut and paste
I was fortunate enough to win this AMAZING set from Jena Hudson at Sew Much Music. Even though my rhythm unit is technically over, reteaching and reviewing is crucial for little ones. And as musicians we all know that rhythm is important in every piece of music we teach. So we had a nice rhythm review with some of the great activities included in this bundle, culminating in this cut and paste activity.

Disclaimer: My kinders needed a LOT of teacher help reading these words. However, they loved clapping them and figuring out the syllables/rhythm once they knew what the words were.

Teaching when you're feeling under the weather is decidedly icky, but sometimes you just don't have a choice. The students deserve to learn and I try not to cop-out and just show a video if I can help it. These were some very effective alternatives that saved me during this week with no voice.


  1. Bummer! I'm sorry to hear you have the winter plague. That's the worst! I love your snowball game and cotton ball melodies. I'll have to try those after Christmas!

  2. I love the winter melody project. I love it when teachers come up with cheap and fun manipulative to use in their lessons! #fermatafridays

  3. These are all great ideas! I love using stacking cups too, and you're right, they are the perfect way to teach form. It has become my go-to, especially with upper elementary. I love the snowball fight idea- I need to remember that for the last week of school before break! And the little cotton balls are genius. I'm actually changing my lesson plans for 1st grade so I can use that idea this week. Thanks for the awesome post! #fermatafridays

  4. What great interactive ideas. I'm sure first graders loved the cotton balls. I especially like your snowball fight game. I'd like to try it in pairs. I was thinking that I could even have the rhythms printed out on paper and then the students just have the snowball fight. That way I could assess their rhythm skills. Just love this idea!

  5. I, too, have just come,down with thw winter plague. Thankfully, or maybe not. I have concerts this week so the kiddos are singing, not me! Love the melody writing with cotton balls!!!

  6. I, too, have just come,down with thw winter plague. Thankfully, or maybe not. I have concerts this week so the kiddos are singing, not me! Love the melody writing with cotton balls!!!