Candy Corn Melodies: A Game to Practice so-mi

I was going through my files recently and discovered a little gem! I'll admit I'm not even sure what I originally created it for. It looks like some sort of celebration for a milestone I hit in followers a few years ago. 

I imagine it was for a limited time, but, again, I don't recall! I couldn't find anything about it on my blog. It's such a cute little game that I had to make it available again. Rather than put this file in my store, I am just going to make it available through my blog just in time for candy corn season. :-D 

The game is "Candy Corn Melodies". Not my most original title. Lol! But it definitely tells you what's going to be happening in the game. ;-)

To prepare this game, simply print out the pages on heavy paper. I prefer card stock, but regular paper has worked just fine for me in the past as well. I then cut out the pieces (kids are great for that if you have your own kids or students that volunteer to do things. Free labor! ;-) ) and laminate. Now, know that I laminate ev.ery.thing as I absolutely HATE cutting things out to replace destroyed items. You can certainly skip that step. I also know color ink is expensive and I had the black lines of this particular clip art. How cure would these be on a fun yellow or orange paper!?! You could even do a bunch of different colors if you are making lots of sets. Easy clean-up and no mix-up between the sets. 

This particular free version would probably on work with partners or maybe three in a group as it is just s-m melodies. The students match the melody using the first letters of the solfege to the melody on a three line staff. I'm sure your imaginations and ingenuity could come up with different ways of using these.

Off the top of my head, a memory game, an "I have- Who has" game, a center game.... I'd love to hear how you use this in YOUR classrooms.

How ever you choose to use this file, please be respectful of my intellectual work and follow the terms of use outlined within. To get yours, simply click on any of the pictures that will send you to my Google Drive, click on the arrow in the upper right hand corner, and the file is yours! I hope your students enjoy.

If you and your students enjoy this, please check out the s-l-m and d-r-m versions available in my store! 

How to Get Your TpT Credits!

TpT credits. Maybe some of you have heard of those. 

I recently posted on Facebook that I was going to be catching up on my feedback so I could maybe buy a bunch of stuff using TpT credits on the Back-to-School Sale. After posting, I wondered if some people knew that they are rewarded for leaving feedback on purchases.

And so here we are....

There's a few steps you must go through before you can get TpT credits. We start with feedback.

After you purchase or download a product off of Teachers Pay Teachers, you have the option of going back and rating the product. You could certainly rate it immediately, but I like to open it, make sure things work, make sure there are no mistakes, etc. Teachers Pay Teachers is so nice to send out a reminder email saying I need to leave feedback on things I've purchased. Sometimes I then go to rate the product, but sometimes I will admit I still haven't had the time to really look at it.

So, when I AM finally ready, I go to the Teachers Pay Teachers website and go to "My Purchases" in the "My TpT" pop down menu.

This is located on the top right of you screen. Roll over "My TpT" and this drop down menu will appear. Choose "My Purchases" to see all your downloads paid and free downloads. The page will load with your paid purchases visible. Just select the "Free Downloads" if you wish to rate a free product you've downloaded.

For this particular post, I am going to be leaving a review for the digital paper I used in THIS blog post.

Once you find the product that needs feedback, click the "Provide Feedback" link just next to the picture of the product you'd like to rate.

Below you can see the seller's page for this product. I need to rate it, but FIRST I need to make sure I read. I am usually in a hurry. Life is busy. BUT this is the moment I take to stop and reflect. It would not be fair of me to rush through this process and be careless.

If I ever have any questions about a product, I always enter them in the "Product Q&A". Sellers receive an email when this is done, and I've almost always heard back from a seller before 24hrs has passed.

If there is a mistake, the Q&A is where I write to them to let them know. Some sellers include an email/contact info in the purchased files or downloaded but not all. I find the Q&A is quickest. ***Make sure you mark that you'd like to be notified when the seller responds!!! I have forgotten to mark that little box in the past, and then I've forgotten I've asked a question until the next time I go to leave feedback and I think of it again!*** :-)

Once I've had any questions answered, notified the seller of any mistakes, and reread the product description just to make sure I remember EXACTLY what it was I was buying, then I leave my feedback.

Sometimes I read, again, what is considered fair feedback just to make sure I am being fair to the seller. I have to catch myself sometimes especially when I think "oh, I wish this product had this or that". A rating isn't supposed to be based on wishes. It's based on what is. Sometimes I contact the seller, though, and tell them "Hey! You know what would be awesome...." but that never dictates my rating for the product I purchased nor do I expect the seller to change a product just for me (unless it's a mistake).

I've very rarely ever had to give less than four stars to any product. So many of the teachers, clip artists, etc I've done business with have clearly taken time to create really well made products. I will admit, I've found an error or two in some, but that happens. We're human. I just contact the seller and wait for the product to be fixed before rating it then. No biggie.

Some sellers answer every single comment on their pages. Some do not. It really has to do with what you wrote, the time available to the seller, etc. If you want to be notified if they do respond to your comment, however, make sure you click that little box below your comment,, and you will get when a notification when and if they respond.

Voila! There it is. Rated, published, and done. 

Now the point of this whole blog post was to get those TpT credits I was talking about! The product I used here was free, so I will not receive any credits. I try, however, to leave feedback on products I use and enjoy when they are free just because I feel it's the right thing to do. Do I always keep up on all my feedback? Nope. Sometimes it takes me a little while to get it done. Sellers appreciate hearing back from their customers, especially if it's something you or your students really enjoyed.

If you are ever curious as to how many credits you've accumulated, you can just go to the "My TpT" drop down menu and select "TpT Credit Balance".

On that page, you will not only find out how many you have, but you can also find out the nitty gritty of how much each credit is worth.

Alright. So let's say you've been awesome at doing all your feedback on purchases, and now there's something you find that is amazing and you want to purchase it for your classroom!

Add whatever it is to your cart, and when you are done shopping, go to the checkout and let's see what you can save just by providing fair feedback! :-D

So here we are in the checkout. I've selected and clicked on "Redeem TpT Credits". The amount you have available will be listed here. I've placed the arrow over mine for privacy, but you will have whatever you've got listed right next to "Available Credits". You can choose to type your entire amount in the space provided, or you can type in some other number not exceeding your max, of course. It's really up to you! 

Once you've typed in the amount you'd like to use and clicked on "Apply", you we see how much you saved in you new total! Continue with the checkout process as per the usual and feel super savvy about how much you saved! :-D

Hope this helps you take full advantage of doing business on TpT, and don't forget to enter the BTS code "BTS15" in your checkout on August 3rd and 4th (2015) to get even more savings!

Voice and Movement Exploration Activities in the Elementary Music Classroom

Voice exploration, pitch exploration, vocal exploration. 

This kind of activity can be referred to as any of those terms and more. Whatever you call it, finding a variety of ways to explore can be so valuable in the elementary music classroom.

I use pitch exploration slides for a variety of  activities within the classroom. Most often they are used either as a warm-up or focus activity, preparing students for labeling concepts, or as a brain break activity.

In a focus activity, I use the slides at the beginning of class. This gets students focused and warms up their voices. You can also use vowels (Ah) or nonsense words (Loo) to work on vocal technique or plant the seeds for something you are going to be presenting and working on later in class vocally. 

Help the gnome climb to the top of the flower to see what he can see!

Prepare students to label and experience concepts such as higher and lower, head voice, melodic movement, and more with exploration slides. I will admit I usually use voice exploration slides in the lower grades as higher and lower, etc. as generally taught in those grades. They can be great, however, for reviewing these concepts in upper grades or introducing the concepts to students new to your school who may not have learned these concepts elsewhere.

The gnome wants to jump onto the mushroom! Let's help him with our voices.

Use slides as a brain break activity. Disclaimer just so we're all on the same page: Teachers have many different ideas as to what a brain break is in their classrooms. To me, a brain break is where students either get to do a "just for fun" activity like a Just Dance video on YouTube, a familiar/favorite singing game, or "free" movement. Now as music teachers we all know that movement is never completely free as there are always guidelines for safety etc. which is why I put quotes around "free". ;-)

Hop after the caterpillar to hitch a ride!

This version of  the activity allows students to explore their space. We may go through the slides a couple or more times. First time through, regular voice exploration so they can gain a familiarity with the slides. Second time through, I'll have students spread out into their own space, and they will move their voices and bodies in nonlocomotor ways while following the slides. (Quick review: nonlocomotor is moving within their space like up/down/walking in place/jumping in place/etc. Locomotor is moving through space like skipping/leaping/etc.) Third time through, students get to move through the room while also using their voice and making their movements/voice match the slides.

Follow the gnome as he leaps to the next mushroom.

There are times where I have found myself in a classroom where there is either not enough space or too many students to move through space or BOTH! Don't worry! These students can do the activity too. They can either go as far as the nonlocomotor repeat, but I also have a fun alternative that can either build on/replace that. I have a ton of little hand puppets and Beanie Babies in my room. Students each receive one puppet/baby. Depending on time, I may just quickly pass them out, or I may have students line up and they get 3 seconds to pick a puppet/baby to take back to their spot. I usually have students sit criss-cross on the floor in these classroom situations (chairs would take up too much room and restrict us even further) and they hide their puppet/baby in their "bunny holes" (the hole created by their legs being criss-crossed). Students then do movements either sitting or standing (your choice) in their spot while moving their puppet/baby and voice to match the slides. 

Activities like the one I wrote just above saved my sanity one year when I had over 40 first graders shoved into a room that was already too small. (The one good thing about that year was the fact I saw them mid-morning after they had settled into school routine and before they got hungry.) They got to move, use their creativity, and they weren't tripping all over each other! Sanity. Saver. :-)

One last thought. Not all classrooms have the advantage of having a computer with a projector. That's okay! Print out the pages and laminate them. Draw a line on the board for students to follow. Use a manipulative, like a puppet, for students to follow. Everything doesn't have to be tied to technology to be great. ;-)

Click on any of the pictures in this post to go to my Google Drive where if you click on the arrow in the upper right hand corner, you can download this FREE mini vocal or movement activity for your classroom! Special thanks to Paula Kim Studio for the great digital paper and NinjaWoman Clip Art Studio for the cute clip art. Please follow my Terms of Use listed in the file and have a ball!

You can also check out my store for more pitch exploration slides! Click HERE to check them out. Enjoy! :-) 

Changing Your Windows PC Folder Icon to a Picture

I have known for a while that I needed to change the way my files were organized. I have so many activities, games, and songs that I don't even use as they are in a place I may not even think to look when planning. So I got to work reevaluating my organization system.

Then, just last week Aileen Miracle at Mrs. Miracles Music Classroom posted an awesome article on organizing games, and I especially LOVED how she has changed her folder icons to pictures. So fun and it would really make each thing stand out. The one drawback? She's on a Mac and I'm on a Microsoft Windows run computer.

While I love Macs/iOS as a music teacher, I currently have Microsoft Windows computers at both school and home. The directions on her blog were not the same between my computers and a Mac! I was so bummed! I thought I might have to settle for having boring folder pictures. A google search later, I had my solution, and I'm going to share it with you today! You, too, can have super cute pictures for your folder icons. :-D

If you don't have a folder created already, create a folder pertaining to whatever it is you'd like to organize. I am organizing my "Grade Levels" folder, and so here you will see I have all the folders containing the grade levels I teach. I like to right click on the white part of the box, select view, and change the view to large icons. It's a matter of preference, of course, but it will make seeing your folder pictures much easier.

As you can see in the picture above, I still have my 5th grade folder to change into a picture. When I created the pictures I used for my folders, I just used PowerPoint. I used the same template for all my folder pics and just changed the background colors (I like my grades color-coded).

I like to save my pictures a .png's just because that's what I prefer. I'm sure it would be fine if you choose .jpg as well. Just know I did not use .jpg when converting my files in later steps so I can't guarantee the quality. Make sure you've chosen a place where you can easily find the picture again. I created a special folder in "My Pictures" for all of these.

Now that you have the pictures created and stored in a place you can find, you need to convert them to Icon files (.ico). Google was so nice to direct me to the website I used to convert my .png files to .ico files called I like this website not only because it's free, but because you don't have to download any software or anything to your computer. You just convert and save.

**UPDATE** Make sure you have your .ico files of your pictures in the exact place you want to store them. As I found out, thankfully early on, if you move your folders AT ALL the link between your folder picture and your .ico file will be broken and you will have to change it again.

Below is the screen I see when I type in the address. I use Google Chrome for Windows 8 most of the time. Yours may look slightly different depending on the browser you use. Click on "Get Started" to...well...get started!

Immediately after clicking "Get Started", you will have the option of choosing a file you'd like to convert. This is where you go find the pictures you created for this project. Once you find the picture you'd like to use (like I did below), select to open the file. Again, your screen may look slightly different depending on the version of Windows you are using.

You should immediately see the file you chose displayed like mine below. Click "Export".

Double check that you're going to be saving your file as an .ico file (mine automatically chose it but I like to check anyway). It will automatically check original size. I changed it to 512x512 as the picture seemed to display better when I changed the folder picture later. Don't forget to UNcheck the original size selection. After selecting 512x512, or whatever size you want), click "Save As".

As with any file, choose where you want to keep the file. I added a 512 to the end of my file name so I could keep the original .png file, keep it all in the same folder, and easily distinguish which file is which. 

Now that we're done there, changing our folder icon to a cute picture will be super easy.

Go to where you have the folders you are wanting to change to pictures. Right click on the folder you'd like to change and select "Properties".

Select the "Customize" Tab and then go down to and click on the "Change Icon" button.

Click on "Browse", find the folder where you saved you .ico pictures, select and open the desired file. If you chose to save both the .png and the .ico files in the same place, make sure you select to open the .ico file as any other type will not work.

Your picture should appear in the box. If so, click "OK".

You can then click on "Apply" and then "OK" (or just "OK") and your picture should appear in place of the folder icon. If not, just refresh the main folder and it should appear! :-)

There you go! It seems like a lot of steps and it IS more than on a Mac, but I think it will be much more fun and useful to store some of my files this way. And now you can have cute file icons even on a computer using Microsoft Windows. ;-)


Musical Road Trip: Final Destination and Happy 4th of July!

Thanks for joining in on all the fun the last couple weeks and our Musical Road Trip!

Today is the FINAL DESTINATION and your guide to some great deals over the next few day.

I am joining with the bloggers pictured above (and many others) to kick off a celebration that will last today, July 1, 2015 to Saturday, July 4, 2015.

For the first day of celebration, a bunch of fabulous music teachers have featured an item FREE in their stores! Some of the items are forever freebies and others are priced items that are free for July 1, 2015 ONLY.

Click the picture below to see all the deals! And don't forget to follow stores you like to receive notifications of sales, follower only freebies, and new uploads! Thoughtful feedback on your download is always appreciated. :-)

The item I have chosen for the Music Freedom Freebie is my Cherry Early Rhythms and Composition Product. It is normally a priced item and your getting it for 100% off! ;-) But only on July 1st 2015. 

July 2nd is another day of celebration with sellers marking down a single product to $4.00! Click the picture for all the deals. I am putting on my Annoying Aliens Bundled Rhythm Game on for this sale. It will be a savings of over 50%! Grab it while you can as it may never be priced so low again!

Finally, on July 3rd and July 4th I will be marking my entire store down 20%! There will also be others who mark their stores for these two days. So you may want to check out the stores you follow to stock up on some great deals!

Happy July and thanks again for joining me on our Musical Road Trip!

Musical Road Trip: Games

You've almost made it to the end of the "Musical Road Trip" blog hop across the United States!

Today you are reading a blog post written in IDAHO, and I will be writing about games in the elementary music classroom.

When I was a first year teacher, my well-intentioned but misguided self thought a game could only go at the end of a lesson or only done if we had extra time at the end. I wanted to take advantage of every moment in the music classroom for instruction and not "waste time" with games. As I taught a little longer, I realized what a valuable tool well thought out and strategically placed games can be in any lesson in the music classroom.

I think the use of games is a HUGE topic as there are a ton of different ways and reasons one could include play in the music classroom. As I've been thinking about this topic and trying to make it manageable for a single blog post, I decided I'd like to focus on three different reasons (of the many!) to include games in your classroom:

1. Get Kids Singing

Playing games while singing a song is a great way for students to practice a song without the potential boredom of sitting in a chair and just singing it over and over. It can also be a sneaky way of getting some of your reluctant singers singing as they begin to concentrate more on the game than what everyone around them might think. Some songs have traditional games that go with them. Others can be practiced through dramatic play. Whichever way you choose to use the game or activity, it is not only great for children to move and have fun in the classroom, but a wonderful way for them to practice and really internalize a song for later instruction.

One of my students' favorites is "The Closet Key".

We start out by learning the song and delving right into the game. I use a metal key that looks like it's been around. I found one in the dollar bins at Michael's (a craft store).

We play a passing game with a student in the middle who must guess who has the key at the end of the song. The students get so wrapped up in passing the key and who has the key even my reluctant singers and those "too cool" to sing have a great time!

This song and game set up students to ready themselves in the presentation of "re", but sometimes we just sing and play to practice "re" or just for fun!

Some more of my favorite songs with games:
Amy Abbott's "Chicken on a Fencepost"

2. Assess Student Understanding

Games are great way to assess student understanding. While there are times where formal testing with paper and pencil is necessary for School/District requirements or required teacher data, much testing can happen without paper/pencil and in the form of a game. My students LOVE getting competitive. Many games can be wonderful tools for students who need just a bit more practice to solidify a concept in their understanding. There are even times where I take a game that is usually played by the whole class and partner up students to help each other out. 

One of my students' favorites is a rhythm game I have called "Annoying Aliens".

Students are reading and assessing each other's accuracy in reading rhythms. There is also a writing element.

Some other great games to assess understanding include:
Aileen Miracle's "Poison Patterns"
C Major Learning's "I Have/Who Hasor
Jena Hudson's "Trebling Races"

3. Time to Just Have FUN

Sometimes it is just time to have fun in the music classroom. Especially toward the end of the year or during times where there is testing, games can be a way to bond inside the music classroom and blow off the cares and stresses of being a student. I find the games I choose during these times can easily be done in the regular classroom or even on the playground. These kind of games oftentimes require very little to no set up. Here's a couple videos of some of my and my students' favorites. This entire YouTube channel has some great games to use in various settings!

First, "Giants, Wizards, Elves". I think I've seen this game in the GamePlan books that are so popular with the exception of it being called "Giants, Wizards, Leprechauns". Some of the actions may have been slightly different as well.

This next one I call "Mo the Monkey" since I have a monkey beanie that is so darn cute. I'm sure you can adapt it to whatever you have on hand. ;-)

Hope you have found some ideas and things to make your music room even more delightful with the use of games in your classroom!

While I am just about the last stop on your musical journey (before the big surprise coming soon), don't forget to check out the other blog posts on our journey:

Mrs. Miracle's Music Room
C Major Learning
Sew Music Music and
Music A La Abbott

Oh, and don't forget to link up below!

June: Small Goals Linky

Summer is the perfect time for a teacher to complete some goals we may not otherwise get to! Thanks, Jennifer, over at The Yellow Brick Road for hosting this and inspiring me to write out some of my goals for the month of June. After all, isn't writing them down supposed to make you more accountable for actually completing them? Let's hope so! :-)

So here it goes:

Goal 1: Get Organized!

Um, I'm not even going to lie and say that's my desk. It's not. I'm more of an organized piles kind of girl. I don't think that habit is going to go away any time soon. When we clean house, I always have to tell my kids which piles to leave alone because they are related to some project I'm doing. Instead of fighting this way of thinking (I've always been this way), I'm going to embrace it and tweak it just a bit so my piles are in one space only instead of by my bed and on my nightstand, on my coffee table, on my desk, etc--I'm sure you get the idea.

Goal 2: Get Knitting!

For personal reasons, I decided I was going to do homemade Christmas gifts for my children this year. We like all things geeky in this household so I thought I'd learn to double knit and knit each of my three kids a blanket featuring some of their favorite geeky things. I got the idea from Lattes and Llamas who have some great patterns for Geek-a-Long Squares to follow!

I have four squares of one blanket done.

My goal for June is to get at least four more done. Double knitting takes a while. And...I'm just a slow knitter.

At the rate I'm going, my children may get a small surprise gift and the current piles of squares that are done. *sigh*  Good thing they are teenagers and Christmas isn't quite as "magical" as when they were littles.

Goal 3: Stop and Smell the Roses!

I'm great at making goals. I'm great at starting things and getting involved in all sorts of projects (Exhibit A: deciding to make three knit blankets before Christmas. What were you thinking?!?). I'm also really good at over scheduling myself which sometimes results in a stressed out not-so-fun person to be around.  I'm making it my goal this summer that despite the things I currently have to do, I'm going to stop just a little more to smell those roses in life. Whether it's a moment to snuggle or hang out and talk with my kids, marveling at the beauty of a fabulous sunset, enjoying nature as I go for a hike or work in my garden, or even in the taking advantage of something just silly like National Hotdog Day (which is around July 23rd ;-) ). I realize this precious time of year is an important part of recharging as a teacher, and I feel it's an important part of being a great parent all year round. SO this June, I will not forget to stop and smell the roses!

Hope you all make and complete some of your personal/educational/professional goals in this month of June and throughout the summer! If you'd like to read about other teachers' goals, take this link back over to Jennifer's blog, The Yellow Brick Road, read her post, and at then follow the links to other great teacher pages that are linked up at the bottom.