Hello 2016

Commitments for the new year and a sale!

Hello2016

Ok, I’ll admit it. I’m a serial New Year’s failure. Every year, I get really excited about New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day and the potential and renewal it represents. I make all these lofty, ambitious resolutions and I am 100% serious that THIS YEAR they will work. I am gung-ho about my new resolutions for about a week, then I am lukewarm about them for a week. By the third week of January, those once precious resolutions are cast off like the chunks of frozen road slush you kick off the bottom of your car. (For my friends in warmer climates, I really recommend driving in Minnesota in the winter. It’s quite cathartic to kick those suckers off in the parking lot after a rough day.)

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So, this year, I resolve NOT to make far-reaching resolutions. I’ve finally been alive long enough to know that that won’t work for me. This year, my resolutions are going to be a reaffirmation of goals I’m already working on. I know they’re going to continue to be a part of my life after the shiny newness of 2016 has worn off.

Personal Commitment: Not to use my phone while I am with my children.

I realized this summer that I was missing precious moments with my children by looking down at my phone when I should have been playing with them. I made a commitment not to use the phone while I was in their presence. I noticed an immediate improvement in their behavior and my mood. I’ve been slacking a little on this lately and I want to re-dedicate myself to this commitment. Plus, I want my children to know that they are more important to me than my phone.

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These little stinkers = way more important than a silly phone.

Health Commitment: To drink water throughout the day.

Except there are like -ZERO- chances to use the bathroom! That’s my struggle. I like water and I like how I feel when I’m hydrated. But we teachers have very few opportunities to use the bathroom. One year, I told my students to remind me to drink. It worked! Every 20-30 minutes they would blurt out “Drink your water!” I got my hydration and they loved bossing me around. And it helped them see another side of me as a person, not just me the teacher.

Classroom Commitment: To organize my curriculum.

I write brand-new lesson plans every year. Every. Single. Year. It’s exhausting and I’m ready to have some consistency in my lessons. Having an organized, age-appropriate curriculum will give my teaching focus and direction. I’ve started by creating a spreadsheet of curricular goals for each grade level. Kind of like a scope and sequence but a little more detailed. I hope to have that finished by June so I can spend the summer organizing my conceptual and skill goals into sequential units. I would like my 5th graders to know what they’ve learned and why they’ve learned it when they leave me!

Blog/TpT Commitment: To publish some of those products from my long list of ideas!

I have SO many ideas. But getting them out of my head and into reality is where I get stuck. Mostly it’s because I have two kids and a full time job and I just don’t have a lot of time to sit at the computer and create products. My M.O. has always been to publish products that I already use in my classroom. It’s a win-win because my users know I am providing effective, valuable classroom-tested products and I spend my time creating something I’ll actually use. If there is something you’d love to see, email me! I’m definitely interested to know what people want. Custom requests don’t cost you a penny!

Thanks for reading. If you are wondering what you’re going to teach when school goes back in session on Monday, enjoy 20% off my TpT store today and tomorrow. No special codes needed! #TpTMusicNewYearsBash

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Happy 2016!

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One-day sale!

Music sellers on TpT are having a one-day, $3 sale.

Search TpT for “ThankfulForMusic” (no spaces) during the day TODAY, Wednesday, November 18. Shop all the great $3 deals!

Click here to see my “Music Games” discounted file.

Click here to see all the sale items.

Which product did you buy? Leave a comment below!

Seasonal Songs, Games, and Clip Art

It’s time to think about holiday lessons!

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Though it may feel like school only began, it is the time of year when teachers think about holiday songs and activities. October has Halloween, November has Thanksgiving, December and January have all the religious and cultural holidays such as Christmas, Eid, and Hmong New Year, February is Valentine’s Day, then there’s St. Patrick’s Day, spring, Easter, May Day, Flag Day, and summer! Heck, you could do themed lessons all year and not run out of material!

Here are some of my offerings to add a little “seasoning” to your teaching “entree”!

TurkeyFree Turkey Clip Art

There is one full image of a turkey, as well as a blank turkey body and some loose feathers. You also get a black line version of the designs. It’s great for creating your own games, visuals, or worksheets.

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I Have a Little Snowman: Interactive Song Game

I’ve been waiting for years to unveil this activity on TpT and it is finally here. I created this around 2007 as a way to introduce the song “The Snowman” to my Kindergarteners. At that time, I had a projector on a cart, a borrowed laptop, and a plain dry erase board. But the kids still loved it! The addition of a SMART Board has made this activity much smoother and it remains an annual hit with my younger elementary students. Watch a video demonstration here.

What are your favorite seasonal activities? Leave a comment below!

I Have a Little Snowman: an Interactive Song Game

This fun and engaging game helps students learn a song in a new way while practicing the skills of sequencing, memory, and communication.

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It is almost winter! Here in Minnesota, snow is definitely on our minds, although it hasn’t fallen yet. We are used to wearing parkas with our Halloween costumes so now is the time when we buy our winter hats and mittens to prepare for those first few glistening flakes.

Even if snow is a long way off for you, or won’t fall at all where you live, this game is a fun way to celebrate winter and get kids singing and moving.

You begin by singing or playing the song while clicking through the hand-drawn illustrations. You can even use the “Rehearse Timings” feature to get Powerpoint to automatically change slides for you at the right time.

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Then, all of the images pop up, but they are all in the wrong order! A student comes up to the board and taps (or clicks on the computer) the image they think came first.

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When the right answer is chosen, it appears with the word “Yes!” You review that portion of the song with them and teach them how to sing it. Continue this way until all the images have been chosen.

Then, the class knows the song! You show the illustrations again as the students sing along with you. They will beg for this game over and over.

Watch this video for a demonstration:

You may download this product from Mrs. Martin’s Music Room at TeachersPayTeachers.com.

My Store

My TpT store is filled with innovative and fun ways to teach music.

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Have you visited Mrs. Martin’s Music Room on TeachersPayTeachers.com yet?

My store features products for music teachers and classroom teachers. Everything I post is something I created for myself to use, so you know it has been classroom-tested and it works with real students. Here are some of my favorites:

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Beethoven Grab Bag: This game has kids reaching in to a bag and pulling out a fact about Beethoven. They read the fact then guess whether it is true or false. The more advanced version is “Beethoven in a Nutshell”: you put question cards into a hard hat or bike helmet (the “nutshell”, get it? hee hee) and students have to answer the question on the card to earn points for their team. Other ideas are included in the directions.

Choir Listening Cards

Choir Listening Cards: This activity was really successful with my middle school choirs. I made a set of 16 cards with questions that would focus a listener on a certain aspect of a vocal music performance (phrasing or dynamics, for example). I would have one student sit out, holding a card, and listen to the choir sing a song. Afterward, the listener would answer the question and give the choir feedback. It worked really well because singers respond better to a peer than they do to an adult.

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Recorder Rubric: This is the first recorder rubric that was posted on TpT. It has stayed the same since 2012 because it is so good! I use this in my classroom every week. When a student or group plays a Recorder Karate song for me, I go over the rubric with them. They are uplifted because the wording does not make them feel bad. They are empowered because they realize the skills are in their power to learn. I have truly seen great progress in the areas of tone, hand position, fluency, and tonguing since implementing this rubric.

It is my goal to provide products that are useful, inspirational, unique, and time-saving! I’d love to hear any feedback you have so I can continue to improve my offerings. Thanks for reading and be sure to visit Mrs. Martin’s Music Room on TeachersPayTeachers.com!

Love Back to School! Wish & Dish, TpT Back to School Sale

I am so excited for back-to-school season! I miss my students and I can’t wait to share some new things with them this year. The best part: everything will be on sale for the next few days!

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Today I am going to list a few things that I’ve been “wish”ing for, and then I’m going to talk about how you can “dish” about the products you’ve bought online.

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Products Worth Wishing For

1. Beethoven Grab Bag from Mrs. Martin’s Music Room

This super fun game of mine has students drawing fun facts about Beethoven out of a paper lunch bag and guessing if they are true or false. It is so engaging! I’ve done this for years but this is the first time I’ve dressed it up by making it on the computer. It’s always a hit with my second graders. For big kids, I will add some question/answer cards and put them in a hard hat: “Beethoven in a Nutshell”! Get it? Hard hat? Nutshell? Hee hee. They will compete in teams for points and I can always manipulate points based on behavior…*evil laughter*

2. Sneaky Singing Snails from the Totally “Tuned-in” Teacher

I love it when kids are practicing a music skill while playing a game. They love the game and I get some formative assessment! I’m excited to try this new product from the Totally “Tuned-in” Teacher. It is so creative! Students are going to love the mystery. It will be a great review of So, Mi, and La for my second graders, and later this year I’ll get to use it with first grade!

3. Music Notes Clip Art Set from Cosmic Dog Designs

I am so impressed by Cosmic Dog Designs. His clip art is quirky and fun and very unique. I love it so much I’ve used one of his music notes in my logo! These music notes are going to look great on my digital products. I’m also thinking of printing off some large ones to use on my bulletin boards. What an eye-catching set!

Show Some Love by Dishing about Your Downloads!

When you purchase a product on TeachersPayTeachers, please remember to leave feedback for the seller. It’s reasonable to wait a few weeks until you have had a chance to fully view or use the product. Then, give an honest rating and write a short review. It is essential to sellers to know what buyers think of their products. The more ratings and reviews, the better the products will be! Plus, you get credits from writing reviews that you can put toward future purchases.

Thanks for stopping by Mrs. Martin’s Music Room! What product are you looking forward to using this year? Answer and post a link in the comments section below!

Then, click around some other blogs participating in the “Wish & Dish” linky party to make your wish list for the big TpT sale!

Music Rules

In my music room, there are three main rules with 4-5 specific bullet points under each.

How many rules should I have?

Many sources say the perfect number of rules is short, between three and five. Lumping all your expectations into three rules means the rules must be vague and open to interpretation. However, practice tells us that kids need to know the specific, concrete expectations they are being held to. My solution was to have three “main” rules with descriptive bullet points under each.

Music Rule #1: Be a LearnerMusic Rule #1: Be a Learner

We are at school to learn. Learning is a lifelong sport and the most important thing you will do here. These behaviors help prepare your brain to learn. In order to learn in this room, you must:

  • Sit in your spot
  • Face forward
  • Pay attention
  • Raise hand to talk
  • Always try

I give a little one- or two-sentence description of each bullet point and what it means. We practice the bullet points as we go. I scan the room to make sure they are following the rules. If anyone breaks or forgets, I go back to the beginning and start over. This sets up the expectation that rules are to be followed and you will enforce it if they’re not.

At this point, I don’t mention consequences. Most students don’t need to know what the consequences are; they are motivated to follow the rules simply because they want to be good and earn approval. The students who do need to know the consequences in advance tend to be the ones who will test the rules to see if you are really going to apply those consequences. (And you better apply those consequences!)

Slide2Music Rule #2: Respect Others

This means you have to be nice to other people and their property: classmates, teachers, building staff, school property.

  • Be nice
  • Listen to the speaker
  • Use positive words
  • Keep hands and feet to yourself
  • Allow others to learn

I explain that “the speaker” means the person who is talking, not a device that is amplifying music! It is hard to explain what “positive words” means, but I always give examples of what negativity looks and sounds like: whining, not trying, saying “this is dumb,” or the worst, “I can’t.” We also discuss how following Rule #2 allows others to follow Rule #1.

Slide3Music Rule #3: Be a Musician

This is the third rule because it’s the third most important. After you have readied your mind to learn and shown respect to others, then you are ready to participate in music.

  • Take care of instruments
  • Only play what…
  • …and when you’re supposed to
  • When music plays: sing or listen
  • Participate in the activity

I explain that when music plays, I will usually tell them if they’re supposed to be singing or listening. They rarely have a choice between the two. However, talking is definitely not an option. The final bullet point is one that is very close to my heart. I don’t care how good you are, I care how hard you try. After all, you can never learn to shoot a basket if you don’t pick up a basketball. You can never learn to read if you don’t touch a book. And you’ll never learn music if you don’t try. If a student has a really stinky attitude, I resort to “yes, you have to do this.” But most of the time a simple reminder that participation and effort are the expectation is enough.

How should I teach the rules?

Each fall, I go over the rules with each class so they know what the rules are. The older kids already know me and my expectations so this goes very quickly, usually less than five minutes at the beginning of the first class. For the middle grades (1-3), I have student volunteers demonstrate the wrong and the right way to perform each expectation. For the very young (pre-K and K), I just read the rules and bullet points slowly, demonstrate them myself, and scan the room to make sure the kids are following them.

Later in the year, the rules are revisited only as needed. I’ve found that Kindergarten typically needs a “rules day” two more times during the year. Pre-K usually doesn’t need reminders of the rules because reinforcement and rewards are naturally built into every activity we do. For older grades, I may simply state the name of the rule (“Donovan, be a learner”) or point to the poster.

Thanks for reading! What rule is the most important to you? Answer in the comments below!

Note: The content in this article is copyrighted. Please visit TeachersPayTeachers.com for your own digital copy of Mrs. Martin’s Music Room Music Rules Posters.