new to K-5 any teaching advice
November 14, 2013 at 1:25 am #33239
I just accepted a position (beginning in January) starting a music program in a charter school K-8. It is very part time to start with so I only have 1/2 hour a week (so little time!) with each of the lower grades, K-5. I am more skilled at grades 6 – 8, having spent 10 years teaching in middle school/jr. high, so I’m not as concerned about what to plan and teach them. However, I haven’t taught younger grades before and it has been over 17 years since my courses in college. As each year progresses I’ll be able to spend/schedule more time with each class but this first stint feels a bit daunting.
What kinds of advice can you give me about teaching songs etc. that a middle school teacher, such as myself, wouldn’t know or think about. What are you able to tell me that will help things go as smoothly as possible.
Thank you in advance for your wise advice!
– JenniferNovember 14, 2013 at 11:18 am #33241
The important thing with the little ones is to make them love music. Do things with them that are fun and enjoyable and they will love coming to music but more importantly love music itself! The younger they are the more singing I do. I teach about instruments and introduce them to Kinders. First grade I do the same as kindergarten but go more in depth about the instruments and their families. I also start introducing the staff and the treble clef and notes (whole, half, quarter…and their “best friends” whole rest, half rest, and quarter rest). Second grade still do singing but start clapping and counting rhythms and then add percussion instruments to that or boom whackers. I add more stuff on theory such as time signature, bar lines, double bar lines..etc. I sing a song called cruisin along (in a wee-sing book) and add percussion instruments to that and they love it! They about die to play the vibraslap! Third grade is prepping for recorders. I teach reading notes on the staff so that the second part of the year they can read the music while they are playing the recorder. I still do singing in third grade but harder music and I also have them write their own verse to boom boom ain’t it great to be crazy. I teach about Stephen Foster and sing Oh Susanna, I sing and do hand clap songs like Shortn’in bread, sing Old Dan Tucker, etc…
4th grade is a lot of music history stuff but still singing. 5th grade I do a lot of group projects like making their own board games and a lip sync contest. Hope this helps!November 29, 2013 at 3:38 pm #33473
Congrats! This is a great foot in the door for you. The most frustrating thing about little kids for me is their energy. No more than 10 minutes per activity with Prek – grade 1/2. I smiled when I saw that the previous poster recommended Wee Sing books! I was goign to say the same thing. They’re available for very cheap and/or likely at a library. They have excellent little kid songs and sometimes accompanying games. Have the kids echo you phrase by phrase then put it together. they love songs with motions. I teach songs in steps: teach the words in rhythm (chant the words to the rhythm of the song) twice, teach words with the melody (I sing with a small child’s keyboard to stay on pitch), then all together (no echoing / together).
A good investment is National Education Network’s CJ song cards. You have to color them yourself, but the fact that there are pictures AND text on each one is a huge plus for early readers. (aka Admins like these!!) http://www.cjtime.com/cj-fundamentals
My first couple years teaching I developed piano skills. After teaching / practicing a song, I have them get up and stretch. Then they face the upright piano and march in place as I play the melody in my RH and blocked chords or boom/chic pattern in my LH. if they behave doing this I let them march in a circle. To make it fun I stop mid phrase / they have to stop. If you are not comfortable with piano, find children’s CDs and have them dance or march in place to songs with an appropriate accompaniment / speed. Then we sit and do a fingerplay (little poems which have hand motions to go with them; see John Feierabend’s stuff, or just google to find some). An easy way to think of breaking up the time is 10 minutes each for three activities, though I don’t usually have them dancing for more than five minutes. Depends on their ancyness, interest, etc. Each class is different.
Grade 3 can usually sit for 15 minutes or so engaged, then get up and move or play a game. They still love to dance and be silly, but they’re on the edge of being too old 😛 for kiddie stuff.
Grades 4 and 5 may tell you that they don’t like singing / “your music” but they usually do. Pre-hormonal children are starting to develop their own preferences and like to act older than they are. Sounds like you are used to this, as you have experience with middle school. I do similar to the previous poster: I teach a song, the background, have them sing with the piano /recording, then connect it to an advanced musical concept, such as analyzing. (That’s what I’m doing now.) I give them a print-out of the score to a given song and ask them to count the measures, number of rhyming words, and then interpret the singer / composer’s message. Charter Schools generally have high standards. Considering the Common Core etc everyone in my building is asked to do more higher-order activities. As always, one must balance the challenging stuff with the fun stuff so as to not loose the students’ interest.
One more helpful strategy for me is the “turn and talk”. Give them an idea to think about, then let them turn to a neighbor and share their ideas/answers.
I started a reward system this year for my classes, which is an incentive. (Inspired by Pinterest, my secret addiction!) Feel free to steal, change or not use it. I call it the Bravo Board. Each class if we get through all planned activities with minimal interruptions they earn a point which is a quarter note. A half point is an eighth note. They need 8 points to earn a game day (one day of games or dancing).
You might also get a copy of a Scope and Sequence, aka skills students should be able to do in each grade level.
Good luck!December 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm #33482
You might check into the Music Play curriculum if you can get some money for it, either that or John Jacobson’s Music Express Magazine.
On so little time with younger grades I would focus on aural skills – keeping the beat and singing, and work literacy in as they get older.November 5, 2014 at 2:38 pm #42634
I would suggest teaching 3-5 recorder! If you have iPad technology at your school you should consider “Go for the Gold” recorder. It makes your life easy, and the students just love it. Way more interactive and exciting for your students learning the recorder than any other method out there!
Wishing you the best!November 6, 2014 at 6:49 am #42650
John Feierabend’s First Steps in Music materials are wonderful for grades K and 1. Movement is very important in all grades, so have them create movements to songs or Classical pieces. John Feierabend also has great collections called Move it! and Move it!II which are movement routines to classical music pieces. There is a CD/DVD for each set. Grades 2 and 3 can do easy partner games, clapping games. Grades 2-5 enjoy folk dances and singing games. Some of my students’ favorites come from the Amidon’s collections. I’ve also used several from the Step Lively collections. Singing in tune and being able to keep the beat are important skills for the younger students that you can then build on when you start teaching them to read music.
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