Friday, December 21, 2012

Caroling in the Classroom

One of the traditions I started the first year our school was open was Caroling in the Classroom.  On the morning of the last day of school before winter break I take the 5th grade members of chorus around the school and we sing one carol in each classroom.  Our students, teachers and parents love this.  This year we sang Rudolph and I had a very expressive soloist add her own movements to go along with her part. 

We don't go to every classroom, that would be hard to do because we have around 7 classes per grade level, plus VPK and ESE rooms.  So, I put a sign up sheet in the mailroom about a week before we go caroling and allow teachers to sign up for a time.  I know that most classrooms have a packed schedule of holiday activites, so this gives teachers the option.

Here is the sign-up sheet I use:

Some years I have had a majority of teachers sign-up.  When that happens I ask for chorus parents to volunteer to guide a group around the school.  I then split the 5th graders into two groups and we divide and conquer.

If you would like this form, you can request it in the Freebie section of my blog.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Velcro Crafts

I didn't think I would be posting again until the New Year but I received a cute gift today that I thought was worth sharing.  One of my colleagues, a first grade teacher, stopped by with this gift:

I have not seen velcro crafts before and I was very excited about how I could use these in my classroom.  Here's a pic of what comes in the package:

This morning I experimented with hanging a few.  They are really easy to put up, takes just a few seconds.  I created a little area to display notes and artwork from students.  I chose a spot where my kids will be able to see their creations when they are waiting in line.

I'm thinking these could be fun for an eye spy game while in line.  Or any number of other activities.  I'll have to see how I can use them.  I'll post any games or other ideas I come up with!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cleaning Instruments

Today I had a bit of a wake up call.  I'm usually pretty good about wiping certain parts of my room down every week or few weeks but I have been a little bit more lax about it this year.  In passing today I found out that one of my kids has a staph infection, which is a contagious bacterial infection.  My brother had the misfortune of contracting one from the gym in college (not a fun thing to go through!). 

Since I know what he went through, I quickly sprang to action wiping down every surface this child may have come into contact with, plus more.  It was a good reminder of how vigilant I should be.  I know the custodial staff comes in and cleans certain parts of my room everyday but there are other things that they aren't responsible for that I could be taking care of.

Some of the things I try to wipe down frequently are:

Baskets that store frequently used supplies like pencils.
Door Knobs
My desk
Recorders (Normally I disinfect them in a bin but every once and a while, I run them through the dishwasher.)

In addition to this list, I think I'm going to start doing the following (at least quarterly):

Switch out pencils - I'm talking a brand new set

At the end of the year I always clean all of my instruments with a mild cleanser.  I take the bars off, gently wipe them, let them dry and put them back on before storing my instruments away.  I repeat this process with my mallets and some of the other small percussion instruments.

Something I want to try doing is open the lines of communication with my teachers.  Occasionally someone will mention an illness or infection that one of their students has contracted but sometimes I won't find out until many more students have traveled through my room.  I think it is important to know, especially about the more serious viruses, so I think this is something I'm going to work on with my classroom teachers.

Before using any cleaning products check your districts policy.  I know that our district is very strict about aerosol sprays (Lysol spray, Glade products, etc.) because of the effect they can have on allergies and asthmatic students.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Countdowns Begun

Yippee!!!  I made it through the holiday concert.  My kids did an amazing job tonight.  We performed at our local Barnes and Noble, which was a nice change of pace.  They cleared a nice space for us and our parents crammed in around the bookshelves and it ended up being a nice intimate setting.  I think I will definitely do another concert like this but maybe with less instruments.  I tried to limit it but then it felt like I took everything but the kitchen sink.  I'm not good at packing light.

This morning we had our dress rehearsal at school and I snapped these photos of our set up.  Typically I like to use my FlipForm risers for our orff set up but after being sick this week I didn't feel up to any extra movement.  Instead, I used my stash of carpet squares for comfier seating, as well as boomwhackers.

For one of the musical selections we were using boomwhackers with octivators.  I like how they sound when struck vertically against the floor, so the carpet squares were great for this.  When you strike them against tile floor you get an awful plastic sound, not ideal.

Now the that our performance is over, the countdown to winter break is on. 10 days to go!  :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Hula Hoops for Recorder

I'd like to say I haven't posted because I've been caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season but, unfortunately, it's because I have been sick.  Usually I get my first cold from the kids in September as I'm adjusting to all of the germs surrounding me but this year my body waited until the week of my concert!  What a great time?!?!  Oh, well.  It is working it's way out of my system and I can't wait for it to be gone.  :)

A few years ago I saw a teacher in my district present a lesson on using hula hoops to reinforce BAG on Soprano Recorder.  (I feel awful, I can't remember who gave the presentation, I'd love to give her credit.)

Basically, you need 3 hula hoops laid out in a column on the floor.  Each one represents one of the pitches; B, A and G.  The hoop that is farthest from the students is B.  My hoops are different sizes because I found them at the dollar store.  I don't really care about the size difference but I do like to use different colors when I do this.  I find that the dollar store hoops are good for this because they are smaller and easier to jump if you want to do a skip from B-G.

I start the warm-up as the conductor.  If I am standing in a hoop, students respond by playing the appropriate pitch.  If I am not standing in any of the hoops, then it's a rest.  After my turn, I select at least 2 students to take turns as conductors.

This is an easy little warm-up and a good way to review fingerings for BAG.
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