Last Days of School: What'll I Do?

What can you do to finish the year with restless students when you’re approaching burnout? Here are some ideas from the NAfME general music forum:

Review favorite songs, games, and dances.

Play “music basketball.” Tape up a Nerf basket. Students get to throw the ball by answering a question correctly, echo singing or playing a phrase correctly, and so forth. Tape on the floor marks a free throw line, three-point line, etc.

Test drive new songs, arrangements, and ideas for next year from the Schulwerk, from your Kodály or Orff classes, or from a state conference.

Use a fun resource like Artie Almeida’s Mallet Madness. It has great lessons to go with children’s books. Students love “Mortimer” (K-1) and “Rumble in the Jungle” (2-3).

Plan an end-of-semester performance at a senior residence or community center. Keep it low key to avoid stress. Students see a purpose for their practicing.

Set up learning centers. A K-2 center could have a

  • Listening/coloring center
  • Boomwhacker center: Teams figure out easy mi-re-do songs they know.
  • Xylophone center: One student reads a book (e.g., Mortimer by Robert Munsch) while the others take turns playing the instruments.
  • Sorting center: Students sort pictures of instruments into their families on a felt board.
  • New song center: Students learn a new song with the teacher.

Play a review game. Teams gain points by answering questions on a composer or music concept, accurately playing a rhythm pattern, accurately singing a tonal pattern from a flashcard, or aurally identifying an instrument (try Cheryl Lavender’s Instrument Bingo CD).

Get creative. Dramatize a story or teach that piece you’ve always wanted to teach, but were afraid you didn’t have enough time to.

Leave on time every day instead of staying late, and leave work at school.

What not to do: show movies! Instead celebrate making music.

Read more on the general music forum.

Thank you, forum participants!

–Linda C. Brown, May 18, 2011, © National Association for Music Education (