Music With Mrs. Tanenblatt

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Feel the Beat! A lesson on Hip Hop History

If you follow me on social media, you've probably already seen some of my favorite books to teach during Black History Month. Of course, we shouldn't be waiting until February to feature Black excellence in our music rooms. That should be happening year round! One thing I do differently in February is focus more on historic events and biographies to tie in with the theme of the month. 

My students are always fascinated by this book, When the Beat Was Born, written by Laban Carrick Hill and illustrated by Theodore Taylor III. In the past, I would read it, discuss some of the terminology in the book, and then just move on. This year I decided my students needed something a little more hands-on, so I've included a technology component, along with a written check for understanding.

Let's dive in!

  1. First, read the book
    You can purchase a copy of the book here (Amazon affiliate link.) In my classroom, I like to project a read-aloud version so that students get a better view of the illustrations and get to hear someone else's voice besides mine reading the story. Here's one that I recommend by Mr. Alicea's Arcade of Knowledge on Youtube.

  2. Reading Guide

    For students who need a little more guidance to focus on the story, I created a reading guide with ten questions about the book. I will often pause the story to discuss the answers to the questions as we go along. You can sign up for my free insiders newsletter to get access to the reading guide.

  3. Dance

    Depending on the age/maturity of the group, I might play some old school hip hop recordings and have my students try breakdancing themselves.

    If I'm doing the lesson with younger kids, I've found that they benefit from more guidance with the dance moves, so I've been opting to play a couple of hip hop dances on GoNoodle: two that I like to use are Jump! and Can't Touch This.

  4. Google Doodle turntables

    The final way that I have my students interact with this content is by giving them a link to this Google Doodle, which begins with a brief introduction to DJ Kool Herc and then allows students to take the reigns and become a DJ themselves. My students LOVE to look at the album artwork as they select their records, and some of them figured out how to scratch the records on the turntables, too!

Have you used this book in your classroom before? I'd love to know what else you do to teach hip hop in your elementary music lessons! 

Monday, February 7, 2022

Dollar Tree Finds for Music Teachers

If you've been following me for a while, you might already know that I love bargain hunting. To me, there is nothing better than scouring a clearance aisle or wandering through a thrift store to get the best deals for myself or my classroom. Just in case you don't share my passion for the hunt, I went shopping at Dollar Tree yesterday and curated some excellent items for you to use in your music class:

I recently shared some of my newest Dollar Tree finds on Instagram and I wanted to go into more detail here to explain some of the teaching activities that can be done with these goodies. (Please note that this post is not endorsed or sponsored by Dollar Tree. I just really love shopping for good deals!)


A bag with sixteen hearts that can also be used for storage: can you say convenient!? Fill the bag with gems, mini erasers, or rhythm icons and you've got materials ready to go for rhythm dictation, decoding the rhythm of a song, or composing new rhythms. 

Check out this post by Jane Lee to see the materials in action! Or, if you're short on time and would rather get a set like this ready-made for you, check out this option from Hutzel House of Music!


Is it just me or is everyone obsessed with gnomes this year? I like that this little guy has a heart stitched on his hat... it seems only natural to call him a beat buddy and pass him around a circle to the steady beat. 


I bought these with the intention of making the puppets for my classroom but my four year old has already commandeered them for herself! Whoops! The set comes with pre-sewn finger puppets and felt shapes that can be glued on to make the different designs.


My six year old niece was visiting recently and she saw some bubble wrap we had lying around. She immediately grabbed it and said, "A pop it! I love these toys!" These mini pop its are the perfect size to use as giveaways or keep stashed in a sensory/calm down bin. 

Stay tuned for my next post, which will feature more Dollar Tree bargains and DIY projects. And if you're still in the mood for a good deal, don't forget that there is a sitewide sale coming up on Teachers Pay Teachers on Feb 8 and 9. You can snag any of my products for an additional 20% off during the sale. Happy shopping!