Happy New Year!
Many things will change in this new year, but one thing for certain that will not is my love of craft stores, craft supplies, and crafting!
While I do find it difficult to find time to craft as a hobby, I have found ways to incorporate crafting into my teaching.
1. Popsicle sticks. Before you begin, clarify that you did not eat a bunch of popsicles to acquire them.
• I made myself a Busted game, which helps students practice rhythms and earn points. If you have a marker, a tall container like an oatmeal container, and a bunch of popsicle sticks (colored or not), you can make this game. It’s a great music station.
• Put them in a jar with numbers or symbols on the bottom, then have students draw as a way to assign groups. Include a special symbol for a lucky student who gets to chose their own group.
• Make a differentiated rhythm or melody activity by taking advantage of their double-sidedness.
• I made Solfege Texting Sticks! Print out the template, cut out, glue to sticks, and color in the solfege. A great accompaniment for the Curwen hand signs.
2. Pom-poms. There lovable balls of fluff are great in Music class.
• Another way to assign groups: put them in a container, and students who draw the same color are in a group together. Just make sure they’re all the same size.
• Drawing melodic shape. Play or sing a simple melody and have them draw the shape of the melody with one pom-pom for each note, placing them higher or lower depending on what they hear.
• Color-code your solfege and have students practice singing the colors or mapping what they hear you sing or play.
• Diagramming form. You need a bunch for this, as I figured out the hard way with students reaching for the right color pom-pom and ending up with the puffballs whizzing around the air. Not only do you need a bunch, you need many of the same color. I had my third graders diagram the form of “Trepak” using different colors to represent different parts. Of course, there need to be enough of each color so that students can complete the lineup.
• Writing the rhythm they hear. Use single pom-poms for ta, double (meaning two touching) for ti-ti, and color code rests- or make up a system for yourself.
3. Yarn. Still working on how else to use this one.
• Another way to draw shape, but more versatile than pom-poms. Students can lay their yarn out on the floor in swirls, lines, zig-zags, and so on to represent the shape and character of a melody.
• I would not advise using yarn for Recorder Karate or Olympics, as yarn frays, gets caught on clothing, you need to keep retying it, and you end up with a ton of it for each colored belt. Instead, I’d say go with…
4. Loom bands!
• They come in bulk and a load of colors. Plus, just secure it on the foot joint of the recorder, and it’s done. No tying and (almost) no fiddling.
5. Dowels and electrical tape. Taping sticks is surprisingly therapeutic.
• 12″ dowels (buy longer ones and cut them into smaller sizes) make for great bucket drum sticks, rhythm sticks, and another object to pass besides shakers. I love shakers, but my older students enjoy sticks too because you can click them together. More noise! Wrap them securely with electrical tape, and rewrap any that break. I’ve rewrapped a few broken sticks and they’ve held up once bandaged.
6. Cups. Just plain old Dollar Store cups.
• Cup routines are great for learning form, and kids get creative with them. Pass them, tap on them, stack them, tilt them, fly them through the air. One of my favorite routines is this one to the Nutcracker March. I do a slightly modified version, but grades 3-8 love this. Take videos and show them later to talk about the importance of teamwork and coordination in music.
7. Buckets. Are these craft items? Let’s say yes.
• Buying 5-gallon buckets for my classroom was one of the best purchases my school made for me. Bucket drumming in a hit (ha…) with grades 6-8. David Birrow has a great youtube channel and book with numerous resources for lesson planning.
Craft supplies are great manipulatives for music students. One of my goals this school year is “Talk less, do more,” and I feel that using these things creatively in my classroom has been great in getting students engaged, moving, and thinking.
What craft items have you found helpful in your music room?