Thursday, 29 October 2015


Since it has been awhile that I've posted on my blog, I thought an explanation was probably in order! Our family is growing again - any day now really! I wasn't back at work from my first maternity leave for very long before we discovered that I was pregnant again. It was a bit of an adjustment figuring out how to be a working, pregnant mom/wife and how that impacted being a teacher. So now I'm off for another year and I'm sure time will fly by and I'll have to figure it all out all over again. I know now not to make any declarations of what I will be able to do but I'm hopeful that I will be able to share some new ideas and resources. 

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Move and Freeze with Yankee Doodle

There are two things that I can't seem to get enough of right now - Google Play Music and Game Plan. My husband and I signed up for Google Play Music at Christmas time and little did we know that it would have come in this handy in my classroom. I can access pretty much any song, any time, without worrying about advertisements or poor sound quality. 

A former music teacher at my school ordered the Game Plan curriculum for Kindergarten, Grade 2, and Grade 3 but switched schools before she had a chance to use it. When I got back at the end of January I was the one who got to open the boxes and dig right in. I am using the Grade 2 curriculum with my Grade 3s this year because I hadn't taught most of them and they are still missing some foundational concepts. I am also sprinkling in some of the games and rhythm activities into the lessons with my older students. 

One game that has been a hit with my Grade 3s is Move and Freeze. It is so simple (the students move around the room to the music and strike a pose when the music stops) but is super effective at getting the kids moving. You can also have them partner up and call out different body parts to attach to (knee to knee, elbow to elbow, etc...).

The Game Plan authors suggest using Yankee Doodle as the music to move to. I pulled up my Google Play Music and found this techno version of the song arranged by Vijay Joseph. What I took for granted was the fact that my students would recognize the song. So many of them had never even heard Yankee Doodle before so I searched Yankee Doodle on Google Play Music and found a version by Alvin and the Chipmunks that they loved. It was a great reminder for me to be aware that the experiences I had as a child are not the same as their experiences. They aren't better or worse - just different. And if I get to expose them to a catchy, nonsensical folk song, then I am pretty lucky!

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Back in Action with Music Rules

With the end of my maternity leave comes a whole new chapter in my life. I've been back in the classroom for three weeks and have already had a cold, dealt with a snowstorm, battled traffic and arrived late for work, and now have been off for four days because Baby V has pneumonia. I'm gathering that being a working Mom will have its challenges! Thankfully, I have a great husband, a wonderful daycare provider, a supportive principal and staff, and amazing students. 

When I am in the classroom it feels like I never left. This job is so busy that I don't have time to worry about Baby V (although I do miss her!). Coming back at the end of January when the students have had two other teachers along with a host of supply teachers presented a challenge in terms of planning, especially when I didn't really know what they had learned in my absence. I decided to treat my first few weeks back like it was September and focus on rules and routines. 

Before I went on my Mat Leave I used Lindsay Jervis' Music Rules and decided to use them again this year. Check out my previous post here. I taught the students each song and after each song we played a game. I posted two signs on opposite walls of my room and gave the students a few scenarios for each rule. 

For example, for "Make Good Choices" I said "You choose to line up silently outside the Music Room with your left shoulder against the wall even though your friends are chatting." The students would then walk (without talking) to either the "Yes" sign or the "No" sign. For each rule I had students move silently in different ways - walking, hopping on one foot, tiptoeing, patting head and rubbing tummy, and walking in a zigzag pattern.

The game and songs went over really well, even with the Grade 6s. I did have a few kids (you know the ones) who decided to pick the incorrect sign on purpose. When that happened, I asked them to explain why they made that choice and for the most part that put an end to any silly behaviour, although a few students were able to skillfully defend their choices. My next post will be about how I use these rules with my Stellar Effort program so stay tuned!