The Joys of An After-Christmas Sale!

     So, I was scrounging in the clearance sections of the after-Christmas sales and found this beauty:
     I have learned that some of my best ideas come from going down random aisles at craft stores asking myself, "What could I do with that?"  So, when I saw this, I had to have it!  Here's what I've decided to do next year:
     Each day of music class, I am going to have my kindergarten students learn one of the songs from The Nutcracker with a movement activity (great for teaching same and different).  Here comes the fun part:  just like the Elf on the Shelf, our Nutcracker will be magical!  If the students master the song and bring "magic" to the music, something special will begin happening to our Nutcracker each night.  Perhaps the next day, he will have painted boots!  And the day after that, a red jacket, followed by buttons, eyes, a belt, etc. until the final day when his hair appears!  Then I will draw the name of one lucky kindergarten student who gets to keep the Nutcracker and take it home.
     When we make our classroom seem magical, students WANT to be there and they WANT to learn and even more importantly, they are engaged in what we are teaching them.  That's the beauty of an unpainted nutcracker doll on clearance--it has all of the potential in the world, just like the students we teach every day.
     What have you found on clearance or at the craft store that has inspired you?
     Catch you next time I have something noteworthy!

My New Year's Resolutions

I'm teaming up with Aileen Miracle for a New Year's Resolution Linky Party!
Here are my resolutions for this year:  (truth be told, I've never really made resolutions, so we'll see what happens!)

My faith is very important to me, but somehow between having two babies in the last three years, working full-time, being a wife, volunteering at church, starting a TPT store, blog, and Facebook page, I haven't really squeezed time in for my relationship with God (gee, I wonder why . . . ).  My plan this year is to take some time for myself each day (or at least every other day), away from all of the busyness, to focus on growing in my relationship with Christ.

I became really interested in the Kodaly method when I started seeing some of the products teachers put on TPT.  I wanted to know where they were getting their ideas from, and they all had one thing in common--Kodaly training.  Problem is, I live in Michigan, where there are literally NO Kodaly levels or workshops close by.  So, I may travel the globe to try to sneak one in, but that's super expensive!  The good news is I also live right next to Michigan State University, so I can take a Music Learning Theory course pretty easily and they have one I'm interested in coming up.  But, I don't agree with everything in their method, so globe traveling it may be!  I could always go for Level 2 Orff training too :)

I would really like to start a small music club for students who love music.  I think it would give my program even more momentum and encourage students to continue in music when they leave elementary school.  I'm thinking a recorder club or upper-elementary music club that would meet maybe 1-2x per month.  This year I have 25 students who have made it into the Elementary Honors Choir in the area, so I think our after-school practices will count for that!  Anyone who has had a music club, I'd love to hear what you've done!

I just started both of these in the last 6 months.  It can be overwhelming when you look at the blogs and TPT stores of other teachers who have been doing this much longer than me!  They seem to have it all together and have a huge following, and I'm just getting started!!  But, I also have 10 YEARS of teaching experience that I have to offer to people through my blog posts and products.  I have always had the ability to come up with unique songs and chants, but have never really tried to put them "out there" because I second guess myself.  This year, my goal is to be ME and not try to be anyone else.  And to know that there is a lot of value in what I have learned in the last 10 years of teaching!!

Just for me: 
I'm one of those people who needs 8-10 hours of sleep each night--not kidding at all, just ask my co-workers!  For a long time I got much less sleep than that because other people could survive on less sleep, why couldn't I?  Well, let's just say I'm a much more pleasant and healthy person when I get enough sleep :)  So, healthy sleep habits it is!  Also, I have some small nagging health issues I need to take care of to feel my best.  Time to be proactive to feel the best I can!!

Those are my resolutions for this year, what are yours?  Take some time to reflect on the upcoming year.  It feels good to set goals :)

Catch you next time I have something noteworthy!

Dance Tag

If you are looking for a fresh movement idea for your classroom--try Dance Tag.  It's a movement activity I've been doing so long that I don't know where it came from.  Best of all--it's a student favorite!

Dance Tag:

1.  Put on any piece of music that you choose. Faster tempos/upbeat music tends to work best for this activity. 

2.  Set the parameters for movement.  For lower elementary and beginners, I usually say they have to keep their body in one area verses moving around.  This eliminates people running away from the taggers.

3.  Pass out a green scarf to one student and a red scarf to another.  If students get tagged by the red scarf they have to stop and freeze.  If students get tagged by the green scarf, they can dance.  I use these scarves from West Music and they've held up for years.

4.  General scarf rules in my classroom:  "You get what you get, and you don't throw a fit!"  In other words, you get whatever color comes your way and there's no trading.  We also keep scarves off of our head and faces to eliminate germs and other lovely things from being spread :)

5.  Change it up!  If you want to make it more challenging, add more than one green or red scarf.  Also, you can add in a yellow scarf that is "slow motion" dancing.  A blue scarf is "double time" dancing.  What other adaptations can you come up with?  Maybe purple is jumping and brown is marching to the beat!

6.  You can use finger cymbals to signal that scarf holders need to give their scarf to the person closest to them. 

Happy New Year!  I hope your year is filled with wonderful music making and joyful students!