Friday, December 20, 2013

Treble Clef Candy Cane Video Tutorial

Many of you may have already seen my previous posts about Treble Clef Candy Cane ornaments.

This is the 3rd year I have made these for my Choir and Orff kids. I've gotten pretty fast and efficient at making them over the years. I decided to make a video this year. Perhaps it can give you a few tips to save you some time as well.

I have also uploaded the file for the Christmas card in case you don't want to start from scratch.
I uploaded it as a publisher file instead of a pdf so you may edit it to suit your needs.

I apologize for not posting this sooner. I'm sure all of you are on Christmas Break already. I'll try to post holiday tips in advance next time. I hope everyone has a very merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Blubbr Vs. eduCanon: Creating Online Video Quizzes

I have recently been introduced to two websites that allow you to create quizzes using videos on YouTube or other websites. I have explored both sites and would like to share my observations to assist you in selecting a tool for your classroom.

I created an easy infographic above, but will give a more detailed explanation below.


Video Selection

If you want to combine clips from more than one video, Blubbr is the choice for you. You can only select one video for each quiz with eduCanon.

If you want to show more than 19 seconds of the video before inserting a question, eduCanon is the choice for you. But, with eduCanon, you have to show the video in its entirety. You cannot trim the video or skip to a specific time marking. With Blubbr, you can select any clip (up to 19 seconds) from any part of the video.


Creating Questions/Answers

Blubbr has a minimum of 5 questions and you MUST create a 4 option multiple choice question. EduCanon has no limitations or minimum requirements on questions. With eduCanon, you can create 2 or more multiple choice selections for each question.

EduCanon also allows for more customization offering different font choices, bold, italics, font color, font size. You can even insert pictures or charts into the question.

Below is a screenshot while editing in Blubbr:

Below is a screenshot while editing in eduCanon:


Blubbr times the questions and gives you 20 seconds to answer each question and you are rewarded more points for answering more quickly. You are shown a score at the end of the quiz, but individual scores are not reported to the quiz creator or teacher.

EduCanon gives the student unlimited time to answer the question. If the video is shared publicly, there is no score tracking. However, if students create usernames, the teacher can assign specific videos to students and get a report of their individual scores.

Viewing the Quiz

When each question appears on Blubbr, you cannot see the video anymore. You can see colored dots at the top of the screen tracking your progress in the quiz.  They change green if you answer correctly and red if you answer incorrectly. The student has the option to skip the video clip and advance directly to the question if they wish. Below are two screenshots showing the video screen and then the question screen:

EduCanon questions appear to the left side of the video screen and you can still view the paused video. You can view the timeline on the bottom to show your progress in the quiz. Little question marks are used to show the student where the upcoming questions will appear. You are not allowed to skip ahead and advance the video. Below is a screenshot of the quiz:


When you share a video publicly on eduCanon, a user will still need a URL link to view your quiz. Teachers can also assign videos to their students so they will automatically appear when they log in. At this time, EduCanon does not have a way to search for videos created by others.

If you post a video on Blubbr, it is automatically made public. There is no option to keep a video private. Blubbr has developed a great database to search for videos by title, keywords, or even category. When creating a video, you can pick up to 2 categories (Music and Education are available options) and you can also list many keywords. The education category is the largest and has more than 3000 trivs. Music is the second largest with over 1,300 trivs. Click here for a link to browse Blubbr categories.

Both sites allow you to share by URL or embed the quizzes into a website using html code.


I decided to use Blubbr to create a video quiz for my Nutcracker unit. I really liked the freedom of eduCanon to insert questions wherever you would like, but I ended up choosing Blubbr because I could not show the full ballet and needed to be able to trim selections. Ideally, I would love a combination of these two sites which would allow me to use clips from multiple videos, but show video clips at least 30-45 seconds long. In the future, I will probably use both of these sites and evaluate the needs of each project before selecting the right tool.
Click below for links to my Nutcracker Blubbr Trivia!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Nutcracker Resources

I have been teaching the Nutcracker for many years and my resources continue to grow!

The Story

My favorite book to share is a pop-up book that I got on sale one year in February for $3.99. Unfortunately, it is currently out of print. If you happen to see it in a used bookstore, snatch it up! Here is the full information:
The Nutcracker: A Magical Pop-up Adventure
Published by Macmillan Children's Books 2003-10-17, 2003
ISBN 10: 033396134X / ISBN 13: 9780333961346

The students are in awe of this pop-up, especially the spinning sugarplum fairy at the end!

Lesson Ideas

During my first years teaching the Nutcracker, we did little more than read the book and then dramatize the story with a few props and music selections. A couple years ago, I purchased a new resource book to create lessons with more music connections.
Nutcracker Suite
Active Listening Strategies for the Music Classrooom
By Wesley Ball
Book and CD (
$19.99 at
.It includes many lesson ideas with a variety of activities. There are listening maps, printable worksheets, and a music cd. My favorite activity suggested by the book uses music from the March. When the students hear the trumpets, they are locomotor and march around the room. When they hear the strings, they are nonlocomotor and wave a scarf in the air. During the B section, when they hear flutes, they crawl on the floor and pretend to be mice. Many of the lessons encourage active listening and suggest activities to get the students engaged.

The Ballet

I always show portions of the full-ballet on video, skipping through the longer dance numbers due to time constraints. I was recently introduced to and decided to use that site to create an interactive quiz. (To learn more about Blubbr follow this link.) I created 2 quizzes, one for each Act. The questions cover some basic music terms such as melody, harmony, dynamics, tempo, and instrument families. It introduces some basic ballet terms--pointe, plié, pirouette, and passé; and some basic theatre elements--costume, prop, scenery, and special effects. The video clips were taken from a YouTube video from a 2008 performance by the Royal Ballet. Follow the links below to find the quizzes.


I also teach visual art once a week and stumbled across a few Nutcracker art projects on Pinterest. The students could be working on these projects while watching the ballet or listening to the music.
Grades 2 through 5 have had fun learning about symmetry making this project. We discuss how the ballerina has linear symmetry and the snowflakes have radial symmetry. Follow the link to the original post on for some printable templates and easy tutorial pictures.

Older students can practice symmetry by drawing Nutcrackers. This would take quite a bit of time to finish and would require more teacher guidance. I have not attempted this with students yet. I haven't had the time to invest in this project. If you have an art teacher at your school, perhaps you can suggest a collaborative unit. More sample pictures are featured on the original blog post at "A Faithful Attempt".

The younger students enjoy making these finger puppets. The free printables can be found on the website of the Birmingham Royal Ballet. To save paper, before copying I eliminated the instruction on each page to fit all 3 finger puppets on one page.  You can see this layout in the top picture of this post.
When searching for the original source for these finger puppets, I noticed they also have a new pair of finger puppets available and a project for a miniature theatre!


My students are always excited to see my Nutcracker sitting on the edge of my desk, but I think I may be more excited than them. I love the magic of the Nutcracker and look forward to teaching it every year!  Do you teach the Nutcracker? What are your favorite activities?
My 4 year old daughter is now in ballet class. Next year, we will start a tradition of seeing the Nutcracker live on stage. I can't wait!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Music Centers

During the week of Thanksgiving Break, I didn't want to start a lesson or unit when I wouldn't see all the classes of the week. So, we experimented with music centers. I have 50 minute classes, so I chose 4 centers. It took about 10 minutes to explain the games and then students travelled in groups and had about 10 minutes at each center. They seemed to enjoy them, so I will definitely try this again later in the year with all the classes. Once the kids have tried the centers, they would be great for emergency sub plans!

Giant Staff Twister

In a previous post, I shared the activity where we did relay races with our giant floor staff. Jen Fink, at, has used the floor staff to play a modified game of Twister. She created cards you can use for the game, one deck contains body parts (hands and feet) and one deck contains lines and spaces and they are available to print from her blog. We decided to make the game like traditional Twister and create spinners. The spinners are available on my teacher-pay-teacher store.


Boomwhacker Center

In the Boomwhacker center, students practiced note reading. They took turns playing songs from the book "Whack-a-Doodle-Doo!" I have 2 copies of this very affordable book ($5.95 from One student would attempt to play a song. The next student in line would be able to flip through the extra book to select the song they would like to perform for their turn. This book includes colored notation made it easy for the older students to perform the songs. The younger students needed assistance, so my student teacher positioned herself at that center.

Connect 4 Composition

The younger grades used a Connect 4 game for rhythmic composition. They took turns filling the bottom row with checkers.  The red checkers represented a sound and the black checkers represented a rest. The students performed the rhythms on lollipop drums. Unfortunately, I did not get a picture of the younger students in action at this center.
For the older students, I used a more advanced game, Connect 4 x 4, with 4 different colors--red, yellow, green, and blue. I selected a few unpitched percussion instruments and the students would decide which instruments would play for each color. The students took turns creating new compositions and experimenting with different timbres at the same time. This version of the game has full and empty checkers. I forsee these representing quarter notes and half notes at some point in the future. (Connect 4 x 4 can be found on for $19.86)

Technology Center

The technology center used the Interactive whiteboard and the iPad. On the Activboard, the students took turns on a game from The game pictured below is "Music Match Instruments" which is a memory-type card game. I have also collected links to many other music sites and they can be found at this link.

They students could also play a music game on the iPad. Make sure you check out a previous post sharing 110 free music apps for the iPad. Kindergarten and 1st grade were playing rhythms on Monkey Drum. 2nd and 3rd grade were reading rhythms on Rhythm Cat. 4th and 5th grade were testing out a new app Cookie Beats. Look for a review of this app coming soon!

I have dedicated an entire Pinterest board to 
Check it out for more great ideas!