Short & Sweet Valentine’s Day Idea for the Music Classroom

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I never know how much to do for Valentine’s Day at school – my husband and I don’t really celebrate it (working at a restaurant doesn’t make for a relaxing Valentine’s!) and I know some students feel kind of sensitive about it. Having crushes and getting caught ‘liking’ someone can be awkward, some schools don’t even celebrate the day, what happens if not all the students get cards or gifts, does Valentine’s promote only straight relationships or that the holiday is only for couples as adults…it goes on. I haven’t done much in the past, but I found a small way to incorporate a few hearts in a simple way in my stations this week.

My second graders are practicing do – we just presented the new concept last week and now I’m having my students work in stations to get their hands dirty. Around my room, I have them set up to work on the following four tasks over the next two classes:

  1. Practicing writing and identifying do in the context of do, mi, sol, and la with Lindsay Jervis’s “Ready, Set, Print!” worksheets
  2. Practicing identifying lines and spaces by their number (line 1, space 3, etc.) with a game from QuaverMusic on their iPads (prepping for note names and reinforcing knowledge of the staff as we add more note reading)
  3. Listening and identifying patterns with do using the interactive “Where’s Freddie’s Pad?” PowerPoint by Linda McPherson
  4. Composing and performing patterns with do on xylophones

Station number four is where we got to break out a hint of Valentine’s fun! Dollar Tree has foam sticker packs of white, red, and pink hearts and little heart-covered treat baggies – I took a few minutes and labeled the hearts with a variety of do’s, mi’s, sol’s, and la’s and put a handful in each baggie. Each student was instructed to compose their own Valentine message and then play it to a friend! They could lay the hearts out next to one another or arrange them on a laminated staff.

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To set them up for success, I utilized the power of washi tape and added some labels to a few xylophones. Eventually, I’d hope that we could comfortably read the notes we placed on the staff, but my students just aren’t there, and I’m okay with that. My focus on this station is to compose a song and immediately hear what they wrote – instant feedback. The labels help guide all of my students and provide some built in support for some of my learners who need greater assistance.

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We kept the labels on and used them to play “Snail, Snail” with my 1st graders afterwards! The students were so excited to learn how to play a familiar song so quickly and easily using sol, mi, and la right at their fingertips.

My students enjoyed the little bit of Valentine’s fun to kick off our week – it’s a small detail, but it was a fun one!

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Off the Cart, Back in a Classroom

At my second school, we’ve had quite the rollercoaster – while they are renovating our building, we’re housed at a different, smaller school with portables. Long, miserable story, short, the portables had mold, students were moved out of the portables to occupy the music and art rooms, music, art, and library were put on a cart for half a semester, and at the beginning of January the specials team were finally and happily moved to a new portable classrooms of our own. I had quite the adventure working off a cart and trying to prep music programs, all while on a temporary basis with no timeline (we didn’t know if we’d have a classroom back in two days, two weeks, or two months time – it turned out to be closer to three months).

Being on a cart and at the mercy of outside, completely-uncontrollable circumstances reminded me to be grateful for what I do have – unbelievably supportive colleagues, students who love me and love my lessons, a flexible curriculum, and so much more. Being back in a room, however small, makes us all very grateful for the space to spread out and grow together. I have to share two pictures from this week to celebrate the new space and all we should be thankful for:

(student faces are blurred for their privacy and protection)

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1st graders with our parachute – we’re practicing sol-mi and preparing la with “Snail, Snail”, and we took turns sitting in the middle of the ‘snail shell’ while the parachute went ’round and ’round!
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We finally have room for our xylophones again – so we used the Mallet Madness lesson on “Pease Porridge Hot” to practice ta rest, even adding finger cymbals to the rests in our song!