Friday, November 15, 2013

New Pinterest Board

I have noticed several photos from my blog floating around Pinterest with broken links. If you pin or repin something from my site, please make sure you are using an accurate link by pinning directly from my posts or from my new Music With Mrs. Dennis Blog Pinterest Board.

Don't forget to become a follower of the Pinterest board to stay updated on current posts. For more information about Pinterest, follow this link. You may also become a follower of my Facebook page. After each new post, I will cross post on Facebook and Pinterest.

Buzz, Ollie, Luke, and Lori

I see my students once a week for 50 minutes. Yes, even kindergarten! There have been some recent conversations on a Facebook Music Teacher board concerning lesson planning when you have kindergarteners for an extended time. This post will share a few of my tips when lesson planning for kindergarten.

I usually try to plan 3 different activities for my kindergarten classes in order to keep their attention and minimize discipline issues.  I include a variety of activities in each day which could include a listening activity or book, singing, instruments, movement (locomotor or nonlocomotor), dramatic play, dancing, play party games, etc. Today, I'm going to share a few books that are written with a specific goal to introduce a musical concept. I may begin a lesson with a book or use it as a transition activity between songs or games.

The first books I purchased were the Buzz and Ollie books.
There are 3 books in this series.  In Buzz and Ollie's Steady Beat Adventure, the kids travel to their grandparents' house and discover lots of environmental sounds that make a steady beat like windshield wipers, a clock, and a dripping faucet. In Buzz and Ollie's High, Low Adventure, the kids get lost in the forest and meet lots of animals giving them directions. But, they were told they should only follow the sounds that are low to find their way back home. The animals with high sounds are trying to trick them. In Buzz and Ollie's Loud, Soft Adventure, the kids hear quiet sounds like a baby bear snoring and then loud sounds like a bear roaring. The symbols for piano and forte also appear in the book.
I bought the hard cover books about six or seven years ago from for 14.95 each. Unfortunately, these books are currently out of print. However, you may find some used copies online for a variety of prices.

Another great book that is still in print is Luke & Lori's Musical Journey. You can find it at for $19.95.

This book is a collection of 4 short stories. They could be read all together or you could read each story by itself. Luke and Lori, the main characters in the book, introduce the basic elements of music as they take a musical journey and meet different people who teach them about long and short sounds, tempo, dynamics, and high and low sounds. 

As I said before, I try to plan a variety of activities for kindergarten classes to prevent discipline issues. Even if I cannot plan a movement activity in my lesson, sometimes simply changing locations in the room can help keep the wiggles to a minimum. Most of the time, my students are sitting around the edge of my solid blue square carpet facing the boards. When I have a book to share with the students, they get to sit on my alphabet carpet and face the back of the room near my desk and keyboard. The rule is only one person per square and everyone must be sitting criss-cross applesauce on their bottom so everyone behind them can see. Below, you can see a picture of my carpets. (For a full tour of my classroom, check out this previous post.) .

My students love these stories. I try to include one story every few weeks throughout the entire year. They would be great for a substitute teacher as well! Do you have any of these books? If so, share your ideas and opinions below!

Coda: An afterthought regarding the carpets. The solid blue rug and the alphabet carpet are actually touching because the older kids are too big for one carpet and must sit around the edges of both carpets

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Music Proficiency Packs

Do you have any of Artie Almeida's Music Proficiency Packs? 
I have 3, so far, and the students love them!

Pack #1--Rhythm Rockets

Each card features 8 simple rhythms with ta, titi, and quarter rests. You can use these as a class activity, small group, or partners. Someone counts a rhythm and then another student identifies the rhythm by moving their clothespin next to the correct rhythm. You could also use the rhythms as a starting point for melodic improvisation on xylophones or recorders.  If you have another idea for these, please share below! I laminated my cards to be more durable. The clothespins are also recycled from another teacher. This can be found at for 14.95.

Pack #2--Sneaky Snake

This game helps students test their knowledge of simple notation symbols. Each card features the symbol on the front and the name on the back. There is a hole next to each symbol. This game is intended to be used with partners. The student viewing the back of the snake would stick the pencil or straw in the hole and the other student would identify the name of the symbol. I use straws so the pencils do not make marks on the card stock. I did not laminate these cards because I did not want to punch holes afterwards. These cards come with the holes already punched and I did not want to take the time to do that myself! This is also 14.95 at

Pack #3--Beat Strips and Rhythm Markers

This game is allows students to practice rhythmic composition. The beat strips are in 4/4 time signature and the rhythms provided are quarter notes, eighth note pairs, and quarter rests. I laminated the beat strips and rhythms before cutting them apart. To contain all the pieces, I used legal sized envelopes. I taped the beat strips to the outside of the envelope and all the rhythm pieces are stored inside the envelope. Students could be given freedom to compose their own rhythms, or they could use these kits to dictate rhythms given by a teacher or student. I have even asked students to dictate simple sol-mi melodies by making the rhythms move higher or lower on the beat strip. Students could also get in small groups and make longer rhythmic phrases by lining up more than one envelope. This pack is also only 14.95 on


Do you have these or any other Proficiency Packs? If so, please comment below sharing your favorite lesson ideas. Pack #5--Melody Mice is next on my wish list!