Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sheet Music Pinwheels

I am patiently awaiting the arrival of a new carpet before sharing updated pics of my classroom. But, I couldn't wait to give you another sneak peak.
 I have this large space above my filing cabinets. I used to hang content posters there, but the words were too small to read from across the room and I didn't want students coming closer to the posters and invading my desk area. So. last year, I moved the posters and left this space blank.

This year, I have been very picky about what goes on my walls, in hopes to create a space more aesthetically pleasing. I knew this blank space needed to be filled.
 I found a very simple tutorial explaining how to create Sheet Music Pinwheels by Jessie Marie on Here is a pic included in Jesse's tutorial.

I fell in love with this project as soon as I saw it. I decided to create several pinwheels and repurpose a large treble clef I had cut out of black foam board for a past project. 

To create one pinwheel, you need: 8 sheets of music, tape, scissors, hot glue gun, and a small cardboard circle. A full tutorial can be found at this link.

Here are some more close-ups of the pinwheels. I printed just the title page eight times so there would be a sense of symmetry in each pinwheel. I also used corrugated cardboard to make a backing, instead of a tissue box, to give the pinwheel more stability. I used a hand-held hold punch to put a small hole in the cardboard near one edge. I tied some string in a loop through the hole to make it easier to hang. I used small Command hooks to hang the pinwheels.

 I chose a few pieces of music that were sentimental to me, including our state song, "My Old Kentucky Home" and an arrangement of our national anthem for trumpet and piccolo which was performed by myself and a former student teacher at our field day one year.

I'm hoping this addition also prevents me from piling papers and books on top of my filing cabinets. I don't want clutter to distract from their beauty.

If you would like to create your own music pinwheel, follow this easy tutorial.

If you would like to see more picture of my updated classroom, stay tuned! Follow me on Facebook to receive notifications of recent posts.

This post is also featured on the September Music Education Blog Carnival!

Friday, August 21, 2015

A Lesson On Perspective

I recently found a box of items that used to decorate by school desk. They were packed up for renovation, but somehow they got shoved to the back of my cabinets and were never unpacked. Among those items were these two metal figures.

These figures used to sit on a small ledge above my old computer desk. The instant I saw them, I was reminded of a former student and of the valuable lesson he taught me. 

I was very young, probably in my second year teaching. This particular student  was on the autism spectrum. He would rarely make eye contact and struggled to communicate verbally. He liked to wander the room and often found his way to my desk area. After that class would leave, I would always discover my trumpet player was turned backwards. 

Months would pass and I was growing more irritated that this student kept moving my things. I'm not sure what finally sparked my epiphany, but one day I figured out why this student was persistently moving these figures. In my mind, each figure represented a separate part of me, the performer and the educator. I faced the figures outward so people could look at them. But, this student wanted the figures to interact instead of being separate! He was turning the trumpet player towards the teacher to read the notation from the board!

This lesson was very humbling. It reminded me to think from another's perspective to try and understand their point of view. In my mind, I was right. In his mind, he was right. You can disagree with someone forever, but it will be wasted energy until you try to view the problem from a different perspective.

Now that I have unpacked these figures, they will sit on my cabinet facing one another and interacting, just as my former student always positioned them. They will remind me to always examine things from a different perspective.

This post is part of Fermata Fridays!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

New Musical Door

The new year is already in full swing and we have taught three days this week! As I prepared my room this year, I changed many things to improve the aesthetics. I will be posting an updated tour of my classroom soon, but I am patiently waiting the arrival of a new rug! For now, I am going to give you a sneak peak because I just couldn't wait to show you my new door!

My door is decorated with wall stickers. I found them at Walmart in the hardware section. They only cost me $9.97. They can be found at this link, although they are higher online costing $13.99. The product name is "RoomMates RMK2083SCS Music Scroll Notes Peel and Stick Wall Decalls".

These stickers are designed to stick to any wall surface and they are removable and reusable! I removed and reapplied a few as I was creating this design because I realized a few were too close. They were very easy to move and did not seem to lose their stickiness. But, before I applied the stickers, I scrubbed my door with a magic eraser and then Clorox wipes. I'm sure that helped with the application. I started withy the largest scroll pieces first and then the smaller scrolls. I added the notes and treble clef a last. I used only one set on this door. 

 I am also reminding students to keep their hands to themselves in the hallway. My door is on a corner. Many of the classes stop at the corner of the hallway and wait for the end of the line to catch up before turning the corner to proceed to their classroom. While waiting, I didn't want their fingers to wander to the stickers. 

I hope these stickers last for many years. I absolutely love my new door and have gotten so many compliments from students and adults. Don't forget, I will be posting an updated classroom tour soon. Follow my blog on Facebook or Pinterest so you don't miss it!


Many of you may remember reading a previous post about the quote above my door. Each teacher got to pick a quote and a former parent, who owns a screen printing business, applied the quotes with vinyl. It has been two and a half years and none of the letters have started peeling.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

"The Woods Would Be Very Silent..."

"Use what talents you possess. The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that song best." -Henry van Dyke 

I've been wanting to paint this quote all summer and finally took the time to do it! I can't wait to hang this in my classroom above my desk!

I've never attempted to paint a bird and I got very frustrated during the process. I'm still not 100% happy with it. But, then  the quote reminded me that I don't have to be the best painter! My students will think it's fabulous because I painted it myself!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Art With Mrs. Dennis: Pop Art

For those of you who are frequent readers, you are aware that I also teach visual art. Last year the fifth grade classes studied rotational symmetry and painted these beautiful canvases to hang in our new entry way.

We decided to continue this as a tradition. The 5th grade will complete an art project each year to dedicate to the school as they leave and move on to middle school. This spring, the fifth grade classes studied Andy Warhol's pop art. We chose our mascot, the Viking, as the focus of the art. We completed these right before I had my youngest son. Now, I'm back from maternity leave and finally got a chance to hang them in our front office. They are a wonderful splash of color welcoming our visitors! Go Vikings!


I hope to clarify any questions you may have regarding the process to create this art. I designed the Vikings on the computer and was able to play around with color schemes. I also printed out a coloring sheet for the students to experiment and I used some of their choices for inspiration. 

When the color scheme was chosen, I displayed a black line version of the Vikings on the projector screen. I propped each canvas on a student desk and cardboard box in front of my white board until it was at a comfortable height for tracing. I resized the Viking rectangle to fit the canvas and traced the black lines with pencil. 

We used acrylic paint. I had a color copy which I used to assign paint jobs to students. About four students at a time would be called to the back of the class while everyone else was working on other art projects. Each person in 5th grade got to paint for at least 2 minutes. I would assign them a small section and color. For example, I may tell two kids to paint the beard on one canvas green. I set an alarm on my phone to keep track of the time. Even if they didn't get their section done in time, they knew they had to pass the brush to the next person when my phone beeped. We had approximately 80 fifth graders this year.  Many of the colors needed two coats before we finished. I painted the black lines when the colors were finished.

The paint and canvases were purchased from Hobby Lobby by PTO. I can't remember the exact total, but the entire project was under $30. This size canvas comes in 2-packs for $8. The acrylic  paints were about 50 cents for each bottle. We used 2 bottles of each color.

If you have any more questions, I'd be glad to answer them.