Thursday, November 13, 2014

Salute to Veterans


I'm proud of this year's 5th grade students. They did an amazing job writing, singing, and honoring our veterans. Here are some highlights from their program:

Crestline 5th graders share their thoughts about veterans:

"Sing, America, Sing": (Their favorite part is the interlude, which gives them the opportunity to move to the risers.)

Veterans are heroes: (Students share their thoughts on what makes veterans heroes.)

"You Are Our Heroes":

Letters to veterans:

"Step in Time": (Includes all themes from the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard.)  

For more information about how we incorporate students' writing in the program and also have them reflect on the performance, you can check out previous posts:

Due to the size of our auditorium and student body, we had 4 performances of the program. The final performance was for parents and veterans. We had 91 veterans attend our program this year. Our students enjoyed honoring the men and women who have served our country. One of their favorite moments was singing "Step in Time" with the veterans present, because the honorees stood and sang during their theme song.

I hope these clips spark your creativity and give you ideas for your next program honoring veterans!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Bling Blang

I love Woody Guthrie's book, Bling Blang! It comes with a CD of the song that the children thoroughly enjoy. I like to read the book first and sing the chorus each time. The students catch on quickly and sing along. I also demonstrate the movement for the chorus prior to reading the book. It is pretty simple and learning it ahead of time gives the students plenty of practice while I read.

After we read the book, it is time to learn the rest of the movements. I vary how much of the dance we perform, according to the class. Sometimes I start with only the chorus and add the rest on another day. Sometimes we do the verse and refrain, but save the interlude for later. Other times we are able to do everything in one day.  It just depends on what else I have planned for the day and how quickly the students catch on the lesson. The basic movements that I like to perform are as follows:

"Bling, blang, hammer with my hammer": Pound right fist on top of left fist twice, then left on top of right twice. It doesn't really matter which is first - just do one on top, and then the other.

"Zingo, zango, cutting with my saw": Begin with four sawing motions alternating both hands (R, L, R, L) - this will be performed with a partner later. They will join hands and saw back and forth four times.

Pat-pat-clap-clap throughout the verse while facing partners.

Instrumental Interlude:
After students can perform the verse and refrain well, you may want to let them walk around during the interlude and find a new partner.

A note about partners:
I always discuss proper behavior for finding a partner. (i.e. Eye contact with someone means they want to be your partner, never say "no" to someone, and never leave one partner for another one.) Finding a partner can be difficult for certain children. It is even a little trickier during the middle of a song, so I tell the students to raise their hand high if they don't have a partner. The key is to find someone else with a hand raised and then to actually move to that person. It's amazing how often a child will stand with his or her hand up, waiting for someone to appear.

I use this lesson with kindergarten and first grade classes. It is a fun way to work on performing a steady beat. It never fails to bring smiles and giggles.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Disney's "The Little Mermaid, Jr."

Our 6th graders performed "Disney's The Little Mermaid, Jr." this past May. All 123 of them! We had a blast. It was so much work, but I loved (almost) every minute of it. We had phenomenal students and an awesome group of parents that helped with costumes, make-up, and sets. If you are considering this musical, here are some things to think about:

1. Some of the staging can be challenging, but that can be a good thing to push creativity and imagination. 
2. It is a great musical for a large cast. 
3. Both boys and girls enjoyed participating.
4. There are a lot of online resources for ideas and inspiration.

Although it required an incredible amount of work, the final result made it worth the effort. The group of 123 sixth graders bonded through the experience. Each student either performed on stage or participated in stage crew or tech crew. Students, teachers, parents, and friends enjoyed the performances and were amazed at what the 6th graders accomplished.

Due to the size and talent of the class, we double-cast many parts. We were extremely fortunate to have not one, but TWO talented singers and actresses who happened to have red hair and were perfect Ariels. Here are a few pictures from our production. For additional photos click here for cast photos, here for action shots, and here for close-ups of face paint.

If you decide to produce this musical, I guarantee that it will have a positive impact on all involved!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Winter Concert Reflections for K

I have previously written about how Janet and I have our students complete a winter concert reflection sheet following their performance. Since our performances run through the last day before our winter break, we completed these when we returned in January. Some of our kindergarten students were struggling with reading and answering all of the questions within the class period, and it was beginning to be a little stressful. Janet had the brilliant idea for us to modify the form for the younger students. I'm not sure why this never occurred to me, but it is one of the many reasons I love having two music teachers in our school. Two brains are definitely better than one! :)

When we work on these questionnaires, we place a copy under a document camera and display it on a screen. Another change I made was the addition of numbers in front of the questions. It made it easier for students to follow along or to request a certain number to be read again.

Another use for this modified version is for older students who many need accommodations.
For a copy of the simpler version click here:

See this post for a link to the original version:
Winter Concert Reflections

I hope this new version is useful!