Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Remarkable Farkle McBride

I teach this book every year to my second graders, but I have also used it as an emergency lesson for a substitute teacher for any grade level. If you are not familiar with the book, you can browse a few of the pages on Amazon.

My musical goal for this book is to introduce or review the instrument families. This book is very well written. The words naturally fall into a rhythmic beat with a compound meter. The vocabulary used is very rich; some of my favorite words selected for this book include beseeching, astonished, superb, renowned, rhapsodical, and tether.

Before reading the book, I introduce the instrument families. Whenever we encounter an instrument in the book, I ask what family it belongs to. Before reading, I also introduce onomatopoeia and alliteration. The students are asked to listen for both of these literary elements.


When they hear onomatopoeia, they are supposed to show me the sign language "O". Each instrument features their own onomatopoeia and when they instruments come together at the end, I have the students try match the words to their instrument. We also discuss the percussion sounds, discovering that "clang" probably comes from a metal instruments.
We also learn how to spell onomatopoeia. In my 8th grade English class, we were given onomatopoeia as a spelling word. My friends and I discovered that it was easy to spell the word if you sing it to the tune of "Old MacDonald." To this day, I always hum the tune to spell the word and I will never forget it. I practicing singing it with the students and then we play a trick on the classroom teacher. When the students line up, they ask the teacher if onomatopoeia can be a bonus word on their spelling test. The first year I did this, the teachers thought I was crazy. They were astonished when the majority of the students spelled it correctly on their Friday spelling test! The power of music is amazing! :)


When they hear alliteration, they show me the sign language "A." There are numerous examples of alliteration. Here are some of my favorites:
"Farkle flung his flute"
"boulevards buzzed"
"whimpy and whiney"

Of course, sometimes, we found both onomatopoeia and alliteration in the same example.

"boom, bash, clanga ma clash"

Some students would use two hands to show both letters. Since I was using one hand to hold the book, I would use my other hand to switch between both letters.
I really like the use of hand gestures. Its a quick way to visually assess the entire class and see if most students are understanding the concept. Its also a nice alternative to everyone yelling out the answers or raising their hands to try to give the answer.

At the end of the book, I usually demonstrate each of the instruments Farkle played in the book and pick some students to try them out too. I pass around resin so the students can see it. I pass around a conductors baton (a cheapo, not my Mollard!) This lesson is definitely not Orff-based, but the students are always so intrigued with this lesson. It is a favorite.

Feel free to comment below and share your ways to use Farkle in lessons.

Core Art Standards Draft Review

There will be a public review of the new Arts Standards on the wikispace for the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards. The review will be opened on June 30th and close on July 15th. This is a small window. They want input quickly.  If you are interested in reviewing the standards and providing input, follow this link: http://nccas.wikispaces.com/NCCAS+June+30th+Public+Review