Grieg’s Morning Mood

A fun and free Mad Lib lesson plan for teaching this classic piece.

This is a very serious lesson plan. No fun or giggles here. (wink)

Grieg’s Morning Mood

This recognizable piece is a great way to get students to activate their imaginations when it comes to music. While most people associate the melody with beautiful Norwegian fjords and mountains, did you know it was actually written to evoke sunrise in the Sahara Desert?!?

You can almost feel the heat of the desert and see the sheen of the sun on the sand. Plus the part about fighting off monkeys with a stick is hilarious. Why not share some of that juicy imagery and humor with your students?

The Piece

It is easy to find free recordings of this piece on YouTube or Spotify. Here is one of the many quality recordings that are out there.

The Lesson Plan

Objectives:
(1) Students will demonstrate recognition of a famous melody by raising their hands when they hear it.
(2) Students will demonstrate their ability to interpret mood and setting in music by filling out a MadLib-style worksheet.
(3) Students will demonstrate their understanding of what the piece is about by describing it verbally.

Materials:
(1) Recording of “Morning Mood” by Edvard Grieg.
(2) Copies of “What is this music about?” worksheets for every student.
(3) Pencils for every student.
(4) Answer key for “What is this music about?” worksheet.
(5) Optional: Powerpoint files to project the worksheet and the answers.

Procedures:
(1) Invite students to close their eyes as you play the first 10-20 seconds of the recording of “Morning Mood.” Ask them to raise a hand if they recognize this music.

(2) Inform students that they are going to use their imaginations to try to decide what the piece is about. Turn out some lights to create a calm atmosphere for listening, and invite students to lay down and close their eyes while they imagine. Play the first two minutes or so of the piece (longer or shorter depending on your students’ attention spans and your available class time).

(3) Say, “Now I’m going to tell you what this piece is REALLY about.” Read the blank version of the worksheet, saying the word “blank” every time you get to a blank. Do it tongue-in-cheek so the students think it’s funny rather than frustrating. 🙂

(4) Reveal that the students are going to fill in the blanks themselves. Distribute the worksheets and pencils. Play the music in the background while they work.

(5) Invite 2-3 students to read aloud what they’ve written. The answers will be quite funny and creative!

(6) Tell them what the actual answers were. See if anyone got close or even some answers correct!

(7) Play the recording again, asking them to imagine Peer in a tree, holding a stick as the sun comes up.

Free Downloads

For More Information

The text for the worksheet came from the Wikipedia article about Morning Mood. You may read the rest of the interesting article at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morning_Mood.

Did you know the pentatonic opening melody matches the tuning of the understrings on a Hardanger fiddle? If you haven’t found out about this fascinating and funky Norwegian instrument yet, do yourself a favor and check it out at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardanger_fiddle. You’re welcome.

Better put a cushion on the floor. Cuz your chin is going to hit it.

Recorders: How Not to Lose Your Mind

Teaching beginning recorder can be a joy when the students do most of the work!

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It is that time of year when many elementary music teachers bring out that old favorite: the soprano recorder. It’s a great instrument for teaching elements of music such as rhythm and melody as well as beginning instrument techniques such as posture, airflow, and hand position. But as we all know, those messy little squeakers can really get on your nerves! With low-effort cleaning, student helpers, and self-grading, you can keep recorders fun for students and you!

Low-Effort Cleaning

If students borrow recorders from you, you must clean them after they are used. This can be a very time-consuming process. Here are some ideas for a cleaning process that won’t keep you at school until 10:00pm every night.

Idea 1: Keep a (covered) bin of bleach water in your classroom. Take the recorders apart and put them in the bleach water to soak. Let them air dry on towels. Change out the bleach water every seven days or less.

sterilite
One of these could easily hold enough bleach water to sanitize multiple classes’ recorders.

Idea 2: Have students place their used recorders on a recorder rack. Spray all the mouthpieces with Sani-Mist and let air dry.

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A stand-up recorder rack makes it easy to quickly spray and sanitize the mouthpieces.

Idea 3: Run the recorders through the school’s lunchroom dishwasher. (Make sure to turn off the detergent supply; it leaves a residue.) The water temperature alone is enough to sanitize the instruments.

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A crate of used recorders waiting to be run through the school dishwasher

Student Helpers

One of the best ways to save time in your classroom is to have student helpers. You could have kids in charge of spraying used recorders, bringing the dirty crate to the dish room, putting clean recorders back together, etc. Here are some ideas for jobs that students could do:

  1. Count and sort clean recorders into piles or buckets with the right number for each classroom.
  2. Put clean recorders back together.
  3. Carry the crate of recorders to and from the dish room.
  4. Spray the mouthpieces with sanitizing spray (teach them how to get every angle, of course!)

Self-Grading

Assessment can be dreadful and time-consuming, or it can be a joy and a useful communication tool that helps leads students along the path of improvement and lifelong musicianship. Which would you choose?!? 🙂 I have chosen the latter by having students grade themselves. After filling out the rubric, they bring the rubric to me, I listen to them play, and I either confirm or disagree with what they chose. The grading process is so much faster, students are happier because they know exactly what they need to do to get better, and I am happy because the rubric is clear, easy to understand, and grades students on the exact things I want them to be graded on.

With low-effort cleaning, student helpers, and self-grading, your recorder unit can bring you the same joy it once did when you were in elementary school!

What do you think? Do you agree with these ideas? Which one(s) would you like to try? Any other ideas you’d like to suggest?

Teaching Meter Through Manipulatives

Unifix cubes and toothpicks are a great way to show meter.

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Meter is one of those concepts that is difficult to teach because it is abstract and must be felt. You can give your students lots of experience with meter, and they can be pros at finding the steady beat, but if they don’t understand the organization of beats into groups, they just won’t get it.

I’ve been teaching meter using Quaver Music. It’s brilliant how Quaver presents it: beats can be strong or weak, and they are arranged into groups. Meter is how the beats are grouped. Unifix cubes (also called snap cubes) make a great way of taking this abstract concept and making it concrete and tactile for kids.

First, the kids grabbed a handful of cubes and found a place on the floor.
Second, I played a song with an easily identifiable meter. The students had to pat the steady beat, then switch to patting only the strong beats and clapping the weak beats, then count how many beats were in a group (starting with “one” when they patted their legs). This is how they arrived at the number of beats in a group.
Third, the students arranged their cubes in a line, with spaces between each group of beats.

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Students create beat groups to show the meter of a piece

Some students even chose two different colors; one color for the strong beats and one color for the weak beats. (Differentiation! Boom!)
Fourth, students placed toothpicks vertically between the beat groups to represent bar lines.
Finally, as the music continued to play, students tapped the cubes with their fingertips in time with the beat. This allowed them to check their answers.

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This boy is tapping his cubes in time with the music to check his answers.

The whole process was great for assessment because I could immediately see who was struggling AND what they were struggling with. It kept the class occupied so I could give individual attention to the students who needed it.

And the best part…? The whole activity took only ten minues. TEN MINUTES! Visual, tactile, kinesthetic, and aural learning, authentic music learning, and formative (and summative if you want) assessment, all in ten minutes. Pull this one out the next time you’re being observed. You’re welcome. 😉

What do you think? Have you tried this before? Would you like to try it? How do you see it going over with your students?

Thanks for reading!
-Mallory 🙂

How to Create a “Strong” Password

Lately, many of us have noticed prompts for creating “strong” passwords. As if passwords have muscles. Some of us are even required to change our passwords as frequently as every month!

How’s a busy, cluttered mind supposed to keep it all straight?!?

Easy! Turn your password into a sentence.

This neat little idea is something I learned from my husband, which he learned from his previous job, where he was required to change his password every 30 days…and oh yeah, it had to be “strong.”

First, why would a password need to be strong, anyway? It’s not like they have little password muscles that they flex at their monthly password meetings to see who is the strongest. No, frustrating as it may be, it’s actually to protect your security. There are some pretty advanced computers out there that can randomly string together characters to try to hack into your account (email, banking, cloud drive, etc.). If your password ONLY uses lower-case letters, and it is six letters long, there are approximately 300 million possible combinations of letters. A password-cracking computer could try all 300 million of those combinations in less than one second. Boom. Hacked.

*Math geek warning* So let’s say you add capitals to the mix, you’re now up to 52 possible characters, and let’s say you go up to an eight-character password. That increases your number of possible password combinations to 53 trillion. That password-cracking computer would now take about eight hours to crack your code. Still…boom. hacked.

But adding numbers and special characters to the mix? And increasing the length of your password to 10 characters? Now you’re on to something. It would take a super computer…get this…TEN YEARS to randomly guess your password. (Assuming it doesn’t randomly guess it on the first try! Hah!) Go up to 12 digits and that super computer would have to stick around for 7 MILLION YEARS to randomly guess your password. Starting to see the light?

But yes, it’s frustrating to create a password that’s long and complex. And it’s difficult to remember it. You’re just going to end up writing it down on paper, which makes it that much less secure. So here’s how you remember it: Make it a sentence.

For example: the sentence “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” could be turned into this password: “Tqbfj0tld!” Each character in the password stands for a word from the sentence. The first letter is capitalized, adding to your security, and the sentence ends with an exclamation point, bringing in those special characters IT guys love to hold over your head on password-change days.

Here are some more examples of strong passwords based on sentences. *PLEASE DO NOT use any of these as your actual password. You will anger the password gods.

Ig8ho$en:) = “I get eight hours of sleep every night (smiley face)” — The dollar sign is used to represent the word starting with “S” in the sentence. The smiley face is the self-satisfaction you should feel if you are actually getting eight hours every night.

M1cbi0J1* = “My first child’s birthday is on January 1st (asterisk)”–Family names and dates are great, as long as you don’t make them too obvious (“Mike6/6/09” would be too obvious and the supercomputers would figure me out right away). If you can’t think of a way to include a special character, add an asterisk to the end of your password.

Iw!wak0C = “I wish I were a knight of Camelot”–An exclamation point is substituted for the letter “I” and a zero is substituted for the letter “O”. Use special characters and numbers to stand for words in your sentence.

Now it’s your turn. Take some time to think of 8-12-word sentences, then reflect on how you could use letters, numbers, and special characters to represent those words in a password. Write down your ideas, and by all means, share them with your partner! I can’t imagine the look on my spouse’s face if he were to read all of these crazy passwords I’ve invented…Hah! (By the way, writing down a password is still way more secure than having a weak password. You’re 1,000,000,000x less likely to get hacked from someone breaking into your home or office and randomly finding your password post-it than you are from a supercomputer running your numbers [statistic totally made up, but it sounds legit, right?].)

Thanks for reading! I hope your new strong passwords give the supercomputers the run-around. If you’ve found this helpful, please share! ❤

Sources/For more reading:

https://www.password-depot.com/know-how/brute-force-attacks.htm

http://www.cs.scranton.edu/~cil102/software_speed.html

Crayon Jars

How to create your own crayon jars for easy and quick classroom coloring.

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Step 1: Drink coffee.
This one is easy. 😉

Step 2: Discard lids and wash bottles.
They are dishwasher safe.

Step 3: Remove labels.
Peel the labels off. There will be a residue from the adhesive. Remove it by soaking in Goo Gone and wiping with a soft cloth. Wash again to remove Goo Gone.

Step 4: Fill with crayons.
Each bottle can hold 24 full size crayons. I got the crayon boxes for $1 each at Office Max.

Step 5: Decorate cartons.
I picked up some cute wrapping paper at Staples. Wrap the boxes just like you would with a gift.

Voila! Cute crayon holders that are easy to collect and distribute and easy for students to use!

Leading up to a Strong Finish!

It’s time to think about how we want to end the year.

Spring2016

This is always the time of year where I start to get nervous. I think about all the things I have yet to accomplish with my students and how few times I get to see them between now and June.

It’s time for me to sit down with my Scope and Sequence and figure out what goals are essential for the remaining months of the school year, which ones are desirable, and which ones are okay to miss. There are typically some rhythmic values and pitches that I haven’t yet covered with certain grade levels, so I have to be pretty strict on myself to get them in my lesson plan.

Luckily, there are some easy ways to incorporate music theory into games and fun lessons. You can hit your curricular goals while still having fun teaching. And, if you support one of the awesome teacher-authors on TpT, you can save time doing it, too!

Here are some products I’m looking forward to using this spring:

 

ABE3        ABATS3

A, B, Everywhere! …and… A, B, and Then Some!

These are worksheets I designed for my beginning recorder players. I introduce recorder in the spring of 3rd grade. I realized that many kids don’t understand the concept of note placement on the staff (and I promise, I taught it to them!). These worksheets are a great tool for teaching the concept as well as an excellent assessment tool for me. The color-coding allows me to instantly see who doesn’t understand the concept…and what they don’t understand about it. It has saved me so much time by being able to directly address each student’s individual misunderstandings.

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Poke Sheets: Music Symbols

The “Poke Sheet” concept struck me one day as I was watching a class of 4th graders finish a pencil-and-paper assessment. Two students had flipped over their papers and were poking holes in the back. I was a little annoyed, but then I thought…why not let them do that on purpose?!? How cool would I be?!! (They did love it but I don’t know if it earned me any extra street cred. 😉

I currently have three different Poke Sheets. The music symbol one will be perfect for my 2nd graders, who have to demonstrate knowledge of music symbols by the spring.

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MineSTAFF

This Jeopardy-style game has kids about peeing themselves with excitement when they realize they get to be on “Team Steve” or “Team Creeper” (among about ten other cool options for team names). Sara Bibee, the creator, even went so far as to create an instructional video so you don’t get stuck in front of the class, not knowing what to do. (See it here.) Bonus for teachers: You don’t have to know anything about Minecraft to be able to play the game with your students. My 3rd graders are going to love this addition to our recorder unit!

What resources do you love or want to share?

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