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! :-) 

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