Bean Bags, Steady Beat, and Good Friends

The All-Stars and Ducks are focusing on friendship and teamwork in their classes. For a musical experience, we sung a little song and tossed bean bags with a steady beat to recognize the good friends around us. While tossing the bean bag from our own hand to hand, we sung:

I have a good friend, a good friend, a good friend.
I have a good friend, and their name is _______.
(toss bean bag to friend)

The students worked on making eye contact, choosing different friends, waiting, listening for their name, and hand-eye coordination. Through initiating contact with their classmates, they let them know that they are a good friend. The students felt really good when someone sang to them and told them that they are a good friend. They smiled and the person who threw it to them smiled back in return.Ducks

After the students were successful playing with one bean bag, I added another, and another, and another! This was to challenge the students’ ability to listen and be attentive for their name and watch out for bean bags that may be coming from any direction. In addition, we could toss it to the same person to recognize how great they are. Both classes did very well and we had about 8 or 9 bean bags tossed around the room at the same time! It was neat to hear the students all toss it between their own hands, making it sound like egg shakers with the steady beat. And then we all tossed to our friends at our own pace, with some students receiving more than one. That person really felt special when several friends sang to them in one turn! There is joy in having friends sing to you. They really enjoyed the activity and we played for about ten minutes where afterwards, everyone was happy with warm fuzzies about their friends.All-Stars

Each of the students worked to keep the steady beat by tossing it hand to hand, which in turn helps them attend, to sing together, and follow the directions of the activity while keeping an eye out for bean bags that may be coming from 8 different directions. It was a surprise to see where the bean bags would fly next! Developing and maintaining steady beat is important for predictability, focus, and helping students organize and coordinate movement with timing (running, jumping, walking, writing, using scissors). In addition, a steady beat helps develop better readers, become successful in math, and the ability to speak and read with a smooth cadence. Steady beat helps children to understand and organize their world, such as expressing to their friends, following directions, and throwing bean bags.


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Culture In Focus: Russia!

Every February, the Intra Curricular Activities Teachers (ICATs) team focus on one culture to learn more about in-depth. This year, as a salute to the Winter Olympics, we are learning about Russia! The Turtles, Giraffes, Chefs, Bears, Zebras, Wranglers, Rockets, Penguins, Mustangs, and Explorers will learn about Russian art, song, dance, instruments, costumes, stories, flag, games, words, and food.

We have begun using Russian words:
pree-vee-et: hello
pah-kah: good-bye
spah-see-boh: thank you
da: yes
nyet: no

In music, we are learning to sing “May There Always Be Sunshine,” a popular Russian  children’s song from 1962. Arkady Ostrovsky composed the music and Lev Oshanin wrote the lyrics. It is a song expressing the people’s desire for peace. To keep it simple, I am focusing on teaching and singing the repeated refrain that was composed in 1928 by four-year-old boy Kostya Barannikov.

Pust’ vsegda budet solntse. (May there always be sunshine.)
Pust’ vsegda budet nebo. (May there always be blue skies.)
Pust’ vsegda budet mama. (May there always be mama.)
Pust’ vsegda budet ya. (May there always be me.)

The Wranglers, Rockets, Penguins, Mustangs, and Explorers are learning how to sing it in Russian. It is tricky! All classes are singing the refrain together in English and creating our own version of what they want to may there always be. Below are the videos we watched in class as an introduction to the song and to create our own.

Posted in Bears 13-14, Culture in Focus, Explorers 13-14, Giraffes 13-14, Ladybugs 13-14, Mustangs 13-14, Penguins 13-14, Rockets 13-14, Russia, Turtles 13-14, Wranglers 13-14, Zebras 13-14 | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

“Root-A-Toot-Toot” Story and Instruments

Thanks to the Houston Symphony, the Parish students had the opportunity to play real brass instruments (trumpet, trombone, and French horn) to our story, Root-A-Toot-Toot by Bernice Myers. After explaining how to pucker lips to create the embrasure and to blow into the mouthpiece, students picked a character and the associated instrument: bear with trumpet, fox with drum, skunk with trombone, and raccoon with French horn. In the story, the raccoon plays a tuba and I substituted with a French horn because that is what I had. With only four characters in the book, the other half of the class were the forest animals who said “too loud” and “play louder” in response to the musicians. We read the story two or three times to ensure each student had a chance to take turns to try out the instruments.

Bear Trumpet Fox Drum Skunk TromboneRaccoon French Horn

All the students enjoyed trying out the new instruments, working their lips around the mouthpiece, figuring out how to hold the instrument, and playing with such perseverance through bigger and bigger breaths to try to make a sound. It was a challenge for some students to control their lips and place it within the mouthpiece or to figure out how to control their breathing and support it while blowing out. After trial and error, many students face lit up when they realized they figured out to produce a sound. Success! Thank you to the Houston Symphony for letting us borrow their Instrument Petting Zoo!

Seals Seals Dolphins Dolpins Ducks DucksAll-Stars Giraffes  Giraffes Turtles Turtles Chefs Chefs Zebras Zebras Bears Wranglers Wranglers Rockets Rockets Penguins Penguins Mustangs Explorers Explorers

Posted in All-Stars 13-14, Bears 13-14, Book, Dolphins 13-14, Elephants 13-14, Explorers 13-14, Giraffes 13-14, Instrument Play, Ladybugs 13-14, Mustangs 13-14, Penguins 13-14, Rockets 13-14, Seals 13-14, Turtles 13-14, Wranglers 13-14, Zebras 13-14 | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Zebra’s First Martial Arts Class

Today was the Zebras’ first martial arts class!  I went over our rules: keeping our body safe, trying new things, and having fun.  For the next three months, we are focusing on body awareness, strength building, coordination, and self-discipline through martial arts.  We stretch, do calisthenics, play movement games, and learn martial arts moves.  The students worked really hard and it was an awesome active first day!Zebras Martial Arts

Zebras Martial ArtsZebras Martial ArtsZebras Martial Arts  Zebras Martial Arts Zebras Martial Arts Zebras Martial Arts

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Happy Halloween!

SkeletonIt’s a great day to have rain to get in the Halloween spirit!  Many students have asked about making the skeletons and in some classes we did not get a chance to make them.  Click Skeleton Pieces for a PDF to print out one to make at home.

The kids can color in the bones and then cut out the bones on the dotted lines.  Next, use a hole puncher to make holes in the black spots.  Taking a brass fastener, join two connecting bone parts together.  Continue until the skeleton is complete!  They can sing “Five Little Skeletons” for you!

Happy Halloween!

H. Butterflies Instruments J. Butterflies InstrumentsC. Zebras and Hilary Hilary as a piano

Posted in All-Stars 13-14, Bears 13-14, Butterflies 13-14, Dolphins 13-14, Ducks 13-14, Elephants 13-14, Explorers 13-14, Giraffes 13-14, Halloween, Ladybugs 13-14, Mustangs 13-14, Penguins 13-14, Rockets 13-14, Seals 13-14, Turtles 13-14, Wranglers 13-14, Zebras 13-14 | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Sneaky Sounds” Instrumental Prelude

Congratulations to all the performers today!  The Penguins and the Mustangs did a great job acting out “The Vanishing Pumpkin,” our Halloween show.  The Explorers set the Halloween mood with a musical prelude “The Sneaky Sounds.”Explorers "The Sneaky Sounds"

About a month ago, the Explorers and I planned to create an instrumental piece with sneaky sounds that may be associated with Halloween such as mummy, zombie, rain, thunder, monster, pumpkin, vampires, ghosts, and witch.  We pulled out a variety of instruments and decided on the boomwhackers, kokoriko, music baton, rainstick, and thunder tube.  We explored ways to create the piece through structure, melody, and instrumentation.  From there, our music composition formed and we created “The Sneaky Sounds.”Explorers "The Sneaky Sounds"

Wearing capes for visual effect, our sounds created a Halloween atmosphere, preparing the audience for the Halloween show.  I am so proud of all the Explorers as musicians.  They watched for subtle music cues, took turns in playing instruments, feeling and playing the steady tempo while listening to the piano accompaniment, were aware of their peers, and played our song with purpose and direction.  They were so proud of themselves for walking on and off stage quietly while holding their instruments and working together to bring the sneaky music alive to the fill the library.  Enjoy both performances below!

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Spider Web Play Additional Photos

Here are more pictures for the Spider Web Play Extensions (click here to read post) and Spider Numbers Game (click here to read post).  Two more days to enjoy spider web play until Halloween! Turtles Spider NumbersGiraffes Spider Numbers    Giraffes Spider Numbers Mustangs Spider Numbers Game Mustangs Spider Numbers Game Mustangs Spider Numbers Game

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