Music With Mrs. Tanenblatt

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2016 Goals

Happy New Year! I can't believe another year has come to an end. That means winter break is about to come to an end, as well. I'm thinking ahead to the new year and planning for good things to come during the second half of this school year.

As I think ahead to the new year, I am making several goals for myself, both personally and professionally. I like to call them goals rather than resolutions because a goal is something that you achieve, versus a resolution which is something you intend to do. It's a subtle difference but I've heard that calling them goals can have an impact psychologically. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!!!

I'm linking up with some fabulous music teachers, hosted by Mrs. Miracle's Music Room, to share my goals/resolutions for 2016. 

  • Personal: Organize the basement
    For regular readers of my blog, you'll already know that my husband and I bought our first house in 2015. Renovating, cleaning, and organizing it has been a great adventure. Unfortunately, it seems that every time we organize one room, the extra things that don't belong end up down in the basement bonus room. So one of my goals for this year is to organize it all and make the room into a livable space.
  • Health: Get my steps in
    I received a Fitbit Charge HR for the holidays, so I am very excited to use it as a tool to track my progress as I focus on eating well and exercising more. The recommended number of steps per day is 10,000 so I am going to push myself to get to that number every day. I'm actually very eager to get back to school and see how many steps I get on days when I'm teaching folk dance or pushing my cart around from class to class.
  • Classroom: Review/Refine musical concepts
    Before winter break, I spent a good amount of time singing holiday songs and doing seasonal music activities. When my students come back in January, I plan to double down and review all the concepts that may have been pushed to the back burner in December.
  • Blog/TpT: Consistency
    I consider blogging to be both a reflective and energizing task. Whenever I blog on a regular basis, I am motivated to try new and interesting things in my classroom. My goal is to blog with greater consistency so that I can stay inspired and push through to the rest of the school year!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Christmas Books in the Music Room

Music class in December: Probably the most wonderful time of the year! There are so many songs that my students are begging me to sing! (Who can say no when a student literally begs you to sing a song?)

Even though I'm Jewish, I love singing Christmas songs with my students... and I consider myself fortunate that I teach in a school where it's acceptable to mention religious holidays. With my primary students, I am reading at least one book with them for every music class until the winter break. (And since school goes until December 23rd for us, I have plenty more classes to teach!)

I love illustrated song books like these because there are many different ways I can use them....
  • Read the story in a regular speaking voice
    This is especially helpful when your voice is tired after a concert or sing-along!
  • Sing the song to your students while they listen and look at the pictures
    This is a great way to introduce a new song, have quiet listening time, or just model good singing for your students.
  • Read and sing along to a recording of the song
    I love using Bing Crosby and other famous "oldies" this time of year
  • Have the students sing it alone or in groups

I particularly like Silent Night because of the lyrics. This book does not use the traditional hymn text. Instead, the lyrics are all about animals and nature, making this book a great option in a school setting where religious songs are not an option.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town and 12 Days of Christmas have very detailed illustrations that are great for discussion starters and playing a quick round of I-spy.

I always like to include songs in Spanish since my schools have a high population of native Spanish-speaking students. The bold colors and vibrant colors in Feliz Navidad are very appealing and my students want to read it again and again!

The illustrations in this version of Frosty the Snowman are different from the animated movie, which is what I like most about it. It's nice to show kids contrasting versions of a familiar story. Also, this book gets an A+ for including the "thumpety thump thump" verse at the end!

What other books do you enjoy reading to your students around the holidays?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Beating the November Slump: Every Accomplishment Starts With the Decision to Try

Friends, the November slump is a real thing, and failing to recognize it can be a real problem. Just browsing through the feeds on my various social networks shows me that my teacher friends across the country are feeling the pressure. The weather is getting murky and the kids are getting antsy. The new school year honeymoon period is WAY over. Everyone is eager for a holiday break and it can feel like pulling teeth getting the kids to participate in learning. Office referrals and suspensions for behavior are starting to rise. This might make some teachers feel ineffective and question why we are in this business in the first place. I am writing this post to remind us (myself included) that it's just a feeling and it will pass.

In light of all that, I thought that I would share something positive: I had a great accomplishment with a student today!

I have a first grade student... let's call him "E." He is well-known for his behavior issues throughout the school. I've been working hard on establishing a positive relationship with E and helping him see the music room as a safe space. His behaviors typically manifest as the following: running around the room, hiding under/climbing on objects, and blurting or screaming out of turn. His classmates are often very frustrated with him because they want to get on with class and see him as a disturbance. 

This afternoon, the class came into my room and went to their assigned carpet spots, except for E. He had argued with another student before my class and was upset before he even walked in the door. He refused to sit in his assigned seat and instead he went and sat in the corner of the room by my upright piano. 

I knew that this situation could go south very quickly. 

I am trying planned ignoring with some of E's behaviors. I have already discussed this with the rest of the class. They understand that when E starts to act up, they should try to carry on as normal unless he is making it impossible for us to do so. I reminded the class that when someone is upset we should do our best to try and make them feel comfortable and welcome. One little boy immediately told E that he could come and sit near him if he wanted (Awwwww!)

But E wouldn't budge. While I taught my lesson, he inched himself closer and closer to the piano until he was hiding behind it. The class was singing a song a cappella, until E took the cover off my keyboard and started playing random notes. 

The students all started laughing and I knew this was the tipping point. My planned ignoring was not going to work any longer. I briefly considered calling the guidance counselor to have him removed from class. But then, I glanced over at my desk, where I have my favorite motivational sign that reads, "Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try." 

I knew that if I called the guidance counselor, she would be very understanding. E frequently has to be removed from class. I also knew that it would mean a day where E does not get to experience music. 

I really didn't want that to happen. I decided to try.

I stopped the class from laughing and briefly talked to them about how we all express ourselves differently when we're upset. I told them that there was nothing funny about one of their friends in need. Then I went over to the piano to have a private talk with E. I told him that he didn't have to go sit on the carpet, but he needed to make a better choice than crawling under the piano.

He nodded in understanding and moved to another corner of the room. He was still hiding and separating himself from the group, but at least now he was within sight and earshot. I continued teaching my lesson. 

He stayed that way for another five or ten minutes. Then, the class sang a song that had some fill-in-the-blanks and I asked for volunteers to give suggestions of things to say. Lo and behold, E came out of the corner and had a suggestion. I used his idea in the song and he beamed with pride. He went to the carpet and sat next to the sweet boy who offered him a spot earlier in the class. He stayed there and happily participated in the rest of the lesson.

Of course, as any Title 1 teacher (or teacher of students with behavior difficulties) knows, there will be days when you have to call an administrator to remove a student. There will be times when a child is out of control and there is nothing that you can do or could have done to prevent it. This does not make you a bad teacher... it makes you a responsible teacher for exercising good judgment. 

However, I am so glad that today, I didn't have to resort to that. I made the decision to try, and today, that was enough.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Turkey in the Barnyard - Singing game and FREEBIE

Today  I wanted to share one of my new favorite songs for Thanksgiving: Turkey in the Barnyard! It's a piggyback song to the tune of Charlie Over the Water. I love that it's mostly a So-Mi song, but the end is on Do so it's a great song to prepare or present that note.

I had my students read the lyrics first, and then I wanted to see if they could memorize the lyrics, so I used one of my favorite SmartNotebook features: the shade! 

If you've never used it before, it is SO helpful in helping students to focus. You can drag it across the screen so that only a portion of the slide is visible. 

Each time they sang the song I covered up another line of the lyrics until eventually they were singing it completely from memory. 

I also put the pitches on a simple two-line staff so that next time my students can read it that way and see Do on a ledger line.

I also play the same game as Charlie Over the Water: children are seated in a circle and one person gets to be "it." While we are singing, the person who is it walks around the outside of the circle. On the last line of the song, he or she taps someone and they have a "duck-duck-goose style" chase. 

Kids love playing the game and they also love the visuals I created for it on the Smart Board.

Here's a link to download the SmartNotebook:


Friday, October 23, 2015

Favorite Fall Lessons!

Ah, Fall... the leaves are changing colors, the air is getting cooler, the coffees are infused with pumpkin spice... It's a nice time of year. I'm linking up with my blog tribe to share some of my favorite fall lessons!

I am lucky enough to teach in a school that is very pro-Halloween. We have a huge costume parade and every class throws a party. It's easily one of my favorite days of the school year. So I have lots of fun doing Halloween songs along with other seasonal songs this time of year. I'll share some great things I've found to do with each grade level...

Our Pre-K students just learned the letter "M" in their classroom, so I decided to reinforce that literacy component with a fun movement activity called, "Monsters Stomp Around the House."

This is a piggyback song to the tune of, "The Ants Go Marching" which we are going to be learning later in the year. Now that they've heard the melody in this song, it should be more familiar to them when we get to it!

I learned this song in college and love doing it with my primaries:

To trace the melodic contour, I use foam leaves that I bought at a craft store a few years ago. You could also use scarves or paper cutouts for the same effect.

1st Grade
Another favorite song that I learned in college is a piggyback song to the tune of "The Muffin Man." This one is called "The Pumpkin Child."

Oh, do you know the pumpkin child?
The pumpkin child, the pumpkin child!
Do you know the pumpkin child
Who goes to [ school name]?

I start the lesson by telling my students a story of a day when a little pumpkin came to the school and he went to different teachers in the building and asked them if they knew the pumpkin child. Each time I mention a new teacher, we sing the song again. By the time I've finished the story, they've had at least six or seven repetitions of the song and can sing it independently.

Then we play a beat passing game and pass a pumpkin around the circle. Whoever the pumpkin lands on is the pumpkin child! I let the pumpkin child pick a movement (pat, clap, snap, etc.) for us to use to keep the steady beat.

2nd Grade
I LOVE the book "The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything"

But do you know what I love even more than the book? This great video that has the story set to a song! I had my students sing along and then act out each part.

After singing the song, I bring out the book and we add instruments for each part as well.

3rd-5th Grade
For my intermediate students, I've found a couple of fun activities on Pinterest that I use...

halloween fun with Finale:

The kids love reading the notation for Ghost of John in this shape! And we sing it in a two or three part round.

Cup Passing Game to the Addams Family Theme Song:

I'm excited to try this cup passing game next week. I also do a contest with The Addams Family Song... since music class is a place where we practice performing and stage presence, I challenge them to sing the song like Wednesday Addams: with a frown the whole time and NO SMILING. There is nothing funnier than watching a bunch of kids try their hardest NOT to smile!!!

I hope you enjoy these Falloween (as my second graders called it) activities. Don't forget to check out some of the other blogs in the linkup!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Future is Now!

Great Scott!!! The future is now. 

Today's the day that Marty and the Doc should be arriving. To celebrate, I've teamed up with a group of fabulous music sellers to bring you deals to make your future self thank you. 

Here's what you need to know.......

1. Big Flash Sale

Search for #BTFMusic on TPT to see all the deals available.

I'm offering up my brand new Body Percussion Charts - Volume 2. It's only going to be $1.21 today.

This product is normally sold for $3.95, so make sure you grab it today during the flash sale!

2. Even Bigger Giveaway

We've hidden a secret message at the top of our store pages, too! Start here and click through all of our pages to decode the secret message. Once you've got it, you're ready to enter the giveaway below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Outdoor fun at Arlington Echo

For the past two days, I have had the awesome opportunity to go on a special field trip with the fourth graders from one of my schools. Every year they go on an overnight trip to the Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center. 

The trip is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many of our students, especially those who have never attended any kind of sleepaway camp. The center focuses its lessons on studying our ecosystem, learning how to live sustainably and reducing our impact on the environment. It's one of the highlights of the fourth grade curriculum! 

So where did I fit in as the music teacher? Typically, my colleague (the other general music teacher at the school) goes along and sings campfire songs with the group in the evening. The kids all roast marshmallows and make s'mores by the fire and he usually plays his guitar along with them. This year, he opted not to stay overnight since he has a toddler and infant at home... certainly a good reason! So I stepped in and brought my uke to accompany the kids.

In addition to being there as the "talent," I was an instructor during the day. There were eight different stations around the camp, with activities like canoeing, field games, seining, and sustainable farming/cooking.

My station was called "Dragons in the Stream." (For some reason, that name reminded me of the phrase "Riders on the Storm" and I've consequently had this song stuck in my head for the past 48 hours.)

SO ANYWAY, at the "Dragons in the Stream" station, we took the kids on a 1.5 mile hike through the woods and marsh to learn about dragonflies. 

We brought them to a creek where we taught them about dragonflies and their importance to the ecosystem. I showed the students how to test the water quality, and then another instructor led them in a hands-on search for insect larvae. (Gross but fun. The kids loved this part, of course.) 

I think I got about 20 mosquito bites in the two days that I was there. I also somehow got a sunburn, even though my station was in the woods with heavy tree coverage. As my husband says, I am definitely an indoor girl! But it was all worth it to get to go on this trip. Not only did I get to interact with the kids in a whole new environment outside of the music room, but I also got to spend some time getting to know some of my teacher colleagues and chaperones. 

The teachers stayed in one cabin and the students were in others with parent chaperones. This was my first time going on an overnight field trip so I got to see all of the responsibilities that teachers have after the rest of the kids have already gone to bed. The fourth grade teacher who organized the trip, Lisa, did an amazing job of responding to everyone's calls for assistance... from treating a student's spider bites to checking in on the noisy cabins where kids hadn't settled down. Kudos to her for making the whole trip run so smoothly!

I had such a great time at Arlington Echo. I learned a lot about the environment and I also learned a lot about what it takes to get 100 kids safely through the woods on an overnight trip!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Advice for a Struggling New Teacher

Over the weekend, one of my best friends from college reached out to me on behalf of someone I've never met. This friend of hers is in her first year of teaching and is having a lot of trouble with managing the behaviors of her middle school music students. I wrote this up for her and figured it might help someone else who is having behavior issues at this point in the year. So I've posted it here in the hopes that someone may find it useful....

I have been in some schools where the older students (fifth grade in particular) had really bad behavior. One thing that I've learned from behavior specialists is to remember that MOST of your students are not acting out on purpose.

In general, think of it like a pyramid:

At the bottom of the pyramid, 60-70% of your students, are intrinsically wired to WANT to please you and they genuinely WANT to do well in class.

The middle section is about 20-30% of kids, who are generally well-behaved but can be swayed easily by "ringleaders" who are acting up. They might also just make mistakes because kids are people too and nobody's perfect.

Then there's the top tier, 10-15% of kids who have more serious behavior issues. These kids may need individualized interventions, such as frequent 1-on-1 reminders to stay on task, check-ins with the guidance counselor, or a behavior chart to stay focused.

For that top tier, a few things to remember:

-QTIP: Quit Taking It Personally
 Students who have severe behavior issues are usually acting up because of things outside of your control... factors at home, issues going on with their friends/peer group, a negative experience with a previous teacher, etc. Remember that no matter what, they are children and they need to be loved. You should never take their bad behavior personally.

If they are teasing you or making fun of you, it's most likely because they want to get a reaction out of you. They are looking for attention, and for many of them, they have learned that the quickest way to get an adult's attention is to act a fool. Try your best to keep an even keel, especially when your top "ringleaders" are misbehaving. If they see that they won't get a reaction out of you, they will eventually stop trying.

-Use redirection strategies
Use things like proximity and name-dropping first to try and redirect the bad behavior. If that doesn't work, try a PRIVATE conversation 1-on-1 to redirect the bad behavior. Kids want to save face in front of their peers so if you call them out publicly for their misbehavior, that will only embarrass them and probably lead to a bigger blowup.

-That being said, you do need to establish consequences
Follow through with them consistently and without emotion. If your rule is 3 strikes = phone call home to parents, you'd better make sure you follow through with that. If calling home doesn't make a difference with that particular student, try to find another consequence that will have an impact. Loss of social time at lunch? You can talk to their homeroom/other veteran teachers at your school to get ideas of what might work best with your particular students.

-Be proactive with your top tier students 
Use the students in examples, ask them to be classroom helpers, send them to another classroom to give a teacher a note... anything that you can do to show them that you value their presence and want them to be a part of the community. If you can take time to have a lunch bunch with some of them, you can get to know what they're interested in learning about and tailor your lessons to get them interested and engaged.

-Never raise your voice 
Kids will tune it out and you will only end up hurting yourself. Wait for the group to be silent before trying to give instructions. If a student misbehaves, never yell at him/her. My kids know that when my voice gets really quiet, I am NOT happy.

-Give clear directions 
When you plan your lessons, try and think of them from a student's perspective. If you say "read this rhythm" will they understand that what you really mean is to speak it on syllables and clap it? Be explicit in your directions and leave nothing to chance. If you leave a direction open for interpretation, kids will try and argue about it. "But Miss, you never SAID I couldn't run across the room and talk to my friend."

-Be consistent! 
I know I said this already, but it is so important. If your rule is everyone enters the class quietly, then follow through with that. If they talk on their way in the door, send them back out to the hallway to try again. Be relentless. Eventually they will get tired of the back-and-forth and will comply with you. You are the adult the room. Don't forget that.

For the rest of your students...

For the rest of them, I recommend that you take a step back and try to really figure out where the behavior is stemming from. If there's several ringleaders in the class who are throwing the rest off, make sure they are seated far away from each other and in a place where they won't get the attention of the rest of the group. (Planned ignoring of those kids can also be an effective strategy, as long as the rest of the class understands that you are ignoring bad behavior and they don't see it as an invitation to join in the behavior.)

I know from experience how discouraging it can be when you are standing in front of a class and it feels like NO ONE is listening to you. I also know that the hardest thing to do as a new teacher is to try and get a class back once it's gotten that bad. My first year, I had a fifth grade class whose behavior was so poor that even my bottom tier, 60% kids, were talking and not listening to me.

The thing to remember is that most kids are not doing that because they are trying to be bad. They might simply do not know what it is that you expect them to do. Many times, even after we as teachers think that we've made it clear what our expectations for behavior are, the kids still don't get it until they've practiced the correct routines and gotten positive feedback from you.

To start with, I'd recommend rewarding the good behavior that you are seeing. Immediate positive feedback works best. "[student name], I like how you entered the classroom quietly." You can establish a class incentive... Some teachers accumulate marbles in a jar and add a marble every time the class is focused and behaving well.

The one that I do is a sticker chart... when the class has a good day with their behavior, they earn a sticker on their chart, and after earning 10 stickers they get a "free" music day where we do line dances like the cha-cha slide or whip/nae-nae. One that might work for you since you're on a cart would be to try to spell the word "MUSIC" one letter at a time. Any time you see good behavior, you put a letter on the board. If they earn all five letters during a class period, maybe they get to watch a fun music video on youtube at the end of class.

I also have a deal with my classes that if MOST people are making good choices and it's just 1 or 2 kids misbehaving, I will let the class earn their sticker for the day, but when it's time for the reward, those 1 or 2 kids will simply have to do an alternate assignment while everyone else has their "fun" day.

Speaking of doing fun stuff in class, I think it's especially important to show the students that what we're teaching is relevant to their lives. If they feel that the subject is personally significant to them, they are more likely to "buy in" and listen to what you are talking about. I know that as a classically trained musician, I sometimes feel outside of my comfort zone teaching hip-hop or rap music in my classroom. But that's ok! Let the kids know that you are interested in learning more about their music and you'd be surprised what they can teach you. Try and add body percussion and opportunities to be creative into your lessons. I think the kids will surprise you with what they can do if they feel personally invested in the music-making.

I've definitely tried to teach lessons where the kids would not stop talking, and I came to realize that their behavior was a good way for me to reevaluate my teaching methods. Am I presenting the information in an engaging way? Am I incorporating technology? Giving kids time to talk about the information and work in groups? Am I breaking up my information into 5-6 minute chunks to make it easier to understand? Am I presenting the information visually, aurally, and kinesthetically? Am I providing movement breaks? Even big kids need to get up and move around in every class.

I hope that some of this information is helpful to you. It takes time, but it gets easier.

For now, if you still have a bunch of kids who are misbehaving and just a small handful who are following directions, start with the ones you've got. Just teach something really fun and interesting to that handful of kids. Once the rest of the class sees that what you're doing is worthwhile, they'll catch on and will want to please you.

You also might want to have a "come to Jesus" talk with them and re-establish your rules. Take a class period to do this and invite an administrator into the discussion, if you'd like. Tell them that you have not been happy with the way the class is going this year and you want to turn things around now. Give them something to work towards... i.e. if their behavior improves, they can do a fun music composition project on garageband or something.

Invite the students to come up with a behavior contract with rules that they all agree on. Have them sign it, send it home to parents... show them that you care about music class and you expect them to care about it, too.

And finally, some tips for self-care:

Teaching is HARD work, but it's important work and the kids are so much better for having you there.

It is so important for you to find a support system. A buddy teacher in the school that you can talk to when you need to vent after a rough class. Or an advisor, if you are lucky enough to have one. Are you a member of the "Music Teachers" facebook group? It's got thousands of members and there is always someone willing to answer your questions or suggest teaching strategies.

Cultivate hobbies outside of school. Something fun that's just for you, not teaching related or music related. As much as you can, leave work at work and enjoy your home life at home.

Reflect on the positive things that are happening in your classroom. Even if the best thing that happened in your class was that one kid said hi to you, write it down. You are your worst critic and chances are that things are not as bad as they seem. Once I started my teaching blog, I saw how many great things were going on in my classes and it completely changed my outlook. Try and hold on to the good things that happen every day.

And last, but not least...

DO NOT GIVE UP! It will get better.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Trash to Treble Treasure

Happy Friday, everyone! Six weeks of school are officially on the books for us in Maryland. Now that the High Holidays are over, we finally had a full week of school with no interruptions. To break up my week a little bit, I did some fun music games and review centers this week. Here's a great one that I added to my roster of center activities this year.... And it didn't cost me anything!

Review treble clef notes while reinforcing tier 1 vocabulary!
The teacher's lounge at one of my schools has this magical table... it's a kind of parking lot for unwanted teaching supplies. Teachers drop things off when they are no longer useful and the rest of us swoop in and find ways to repurpose them for our classrooms. Two years ago I scored a free set of cuisenaire rods that I repurposed into a really fun rhythm game.

This time, someone was discarding a huge set of sight words flashcards. 

(Out of curiosity, I tried to find their author/source... The cards say Bea's Hive on them but a google search didn't return any results for me. If you know who makes these cards or more about them, I'd be interested to learn more!)

So I printed out some free staff paper and came up with a brand new treble clef review activity:

Students draw a card and must write a complete sentence using the word. Then they look through the sentence and find all the letters in the musical alphabet. Finally, they notate those letters on the staff. 

This is a great cross-curricular activity to reinforce vocabulary and sentence building while also reviewing treble clef notes.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Piratical Fun in the Music Room!

My dearest readers, I have a confession to make: I have a slight obsession with pirates. Their depiction in cinema, the history and lore around them... I love it all! 

I'm on the far left in this photo with some of my best friends from college.
We were on our way to a local pirate festival!
Holding a live parrot! 
My first ever race was a pirate themed 5K in 2013!

You could imagine my excitement when my good friend and fellow teacher/blogger, Molly Patrician, gave me her copy of Teach Like a Pirate by David Burgess:

My facebook fans will recognize this photo from last summer!

I share all of this with you, dear readers, so that you can imagine my excitement every year when I get to celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day! If you've never heard of this remarkable holiday, check out the background of it here

I love to honor TLAPD in my music room with a week of piratical fun songs and activities. Here's a sampling of some of the things I've done in the past few years to celebrate:

The Gallant Ship
I learned this song from a professor in a college practicum course, and I've taught it every single year since then. The kids LOVE it. I've looked everywhere for a source for the song. The closest source I can find for the lyrics online is the last verse from the sea shanty titled, "The Mermaid."

This is the melody as I learned it. If you know a source, PLEASE let me know! :)

After singing the verse for the A section, we do a spoken call/response for the B section:

She sank?
She sank.
In the sea?
In the sea.
Are you sure?
We're sure.
How sad!
We agree.

So there you have it! The A and B sections can repeat ad nauseum. I typically add class percussion instruments to the A section as well. You could also add a bordun on G-D on Orff instruments and have students switch instruments during the B section. Lots of fun possibilities and great for practicing eighth/sixteenth note combinations! 


Pirates of the Caribbean listening example
I've played this fun recording of the Pirates movie theme for some of my younger classes this week. We used scarves as we listen and responded to the high and low sounds in the melody.


Pirate Rhythm Patterns

I originally created this resource for my PreK students as a pre-reading exercise. As I point to each pirate symbol, the students clap and say its name. While using it in class today, I started to discover that there are about a million different ways to expand on it and use it with older students as well.

  • Practice keeping a steady beat and distinguish between beat and rhythm
  • Practice left-right tracking skills
  • Identify patterns and repeated symbols
  • Use an IWB to draw the rhythm symbols under each picture 
  • Clap or play on percussion instruments
  • Encourage improvisation by having students think of new words/patterns
It's free in my Teachers Pay Teachers store until Talk Like a Pirate Day on September 19! 


Just Dance! Kids Pirate Video

For a fun movement activity, I played this video for my Kinder students. We practiced marching like pirates to the steady beat and following along with the moves in the video.


Pirate Vocal Explorations

I love vocal explorations and I wanted to create one with a simple story line. I wrote a little story about a pirate named Annabelle and her parrot, Blackbeak. As I read this story to my students, they follow along with their voices.

I've found that my students really like when there's a story that ties it all together. The last time we read one like this, they all clapped at the end! How cute! You can purchase this story in my TpT store.


Well, readers, I hope I've inspired you to add some pirattitude to your music lessons this week. If you have any other awesome pirate activities, I'd love to hear about them in the comments section below.

Also, stay tuned for one more pirate-related announcement on Friday evening... a few music teachers and I have something fun planned!