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.