Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Plants Adapt

Happy Thursday!
Many of the classrooms I serve in the public school setting have been learning about plants.  We sing about the parts of a plant (find it here), and the needs of a plant.  For our middle and high school students, we also sing about photosynthesis, (which I'll be sharing soon!).  Earlier this week I recorded two additional songs about plants.

Today I'll be sharing one of those songs:  Plant Adaptation.
Researching this topic was very interesting.  At the same time, I found it challenging to keep the song short and simple.  After many drafts, I finally finished writing the song and decided on a jazz chord progression for the accompaniment.
(Warning:  This song is catchy and it may get stuck in your head!)

The repetitive chorus is intended to help students learn the main idea:  plants adapt in order to live.
The chorus can also be used to engage students who use a voice output device.  They can sing along with this repetitive part if it is prerecorded on their device.

Stay tuned for another song about plants next week!

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Life Cycle of a Butterfly

Spring is in full bloom here!    
I love this time of year because students can learn and observe so much while being out in the beautiful  weather.  

Many classrooms that I work with are learning about life cycles. The past two weeks in particular, we have been learning about the life cycle of a butterfly.   Today I want to share a song I wrote about this with you!

The vocabulary in the song includes the following key vocabulary words:  

I kept this song simple and allowed for repetition within almost all of the verses.  I also searched and found signs (ASL) for the four key vocabulary words listed above, as well as the following words:  fly, hatch, eat, spin.  I use these signs while singing the song so students have a motion for each part of the life cycle.  

The students have picked this song up very quickly and many of them are singing along on the repetitive phrases and mirroring the signs as well!

What other butterfly songs do you sing with your students or groups?

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Spring has Sprung (plus a giveaway!)

Happy first day of Spring!
While I like different aspects of each season of the year, I'm definitely looking forward to spring weather!  Not too hot, not too cold and plenty of sunshine for everyone.
Today I'm re-sharing a song that I use a lot in classrooms.
It's called the Sounds of Spring.

When I sing this song, I first teach the signs for the three sounds mentioned in the song:  wind, bees and birds.  We sign the sounds as we sing.  I have a visual of each sound as well as sound effects (prerecorded on voice output devices), so the students can see and hear each sound.
If you have any students who are nonverbal, they can participate in the song with either the sign language or by using the voice output devices to play the sounds as they are sung in the song.

Now for the giveaway!  I'm giving you my visuals for this song for free today!
Click on the link below to grab the free visuals!

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

A song for St. Patrick's Day!

Today I'm sharing a song that I just recorded this week!

One of the elementary teachers I work with requested a song to further help the students understand the following motions:  straight, around, fast/slow, zig zag and back and forth.

As I sat down to brainstorm some ideas, I quickly thought that a couple of the motions are really abstract if you don't already have prior knowledge or experience with them (zig zag, back and forth).  Next I remembered that St. Patrick's Day was just days away and decided the song would be about a leprechaun.

In this song, the leprechaun puts on his hat ("pulls it straight down"), walks around his pot of gold, slides up and down the rainbow (fast and then slow), zig zags through the garden and dances back and forth to the music.  I then created a visual to go along with the song and incorporated the smart board so students could come up to the board in between verses and practice those motions with their fingers and/or smart board pen.

What songs do you love that teach motions?
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Special Olympics

Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.

Many students I work with have been learning and singing about Special Olympics this month, as it is quickly approaching in my neck of the woods.
It's always a great day of celebrating abilities instead of disabilities.  I love to see all the families and volunteers who come out to support and cheer on the athletes.

I wrote the song below to help celebrate this special day.
The song is based on the special olympics motto.

In many of the classrooms I serve, we have been discussing the meanings of the words brave and attempt.  There have been a lot of great responses.  Many of the students shared that they understood brave to have something to do with being scared of something.  I was particularly impressed when one student raised his hand and said, "When you are brave, it means you believe in yourself."  What a great definition!   I couldn't help but think about how many of the students have to be brave everyday to accomplish basic tasks and get through their day.  Sometimes that really puts things into perspective.

I encourage all of you to support the athletes in your local Special Olympics.
Stay tuned for more song posts!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Exposure First

Happy Thursday, (also known as "Friday eve")!

Today I'm sharing a brand new song and giving you the inside scoop as to why I wrote it the way that I did.
To give you a little background, a teacher that I work with asked if I could write a song to help the students celebrate 100 days of school. Her school was having a celebration for the 100th day of school and all kinds of activities were planned for that day.

After discussing this concept for a few minutes, the teacher shared that a few of her students were still working on counting from 1-10 and the rest of her students were working on counting 11-20 and 20-30.  The idea of 100 was not really a concept they had spent lots of time on so far this school year. This is pretty much reality in any classroom.  There are students functioning on a variety of different levels, strengths and weaknesses.

So, as I set out to write this song, I decided that if this was for a celebration, it should definitely sound upbeat.  Furthermore, I wanted to keep it simple, and I didn't want to count to 100 during the song. :)
I asked myself questions (i.e. What do the students need to know to celebrate 100 days of school?,
What will the students grasp quickly?  How do I explain 100 to a student that is not able to count that far yet?)

I decided to give the students exposure first.  I wasn't going to teach them to count to 100, but I was going to expose them to the concept of what 100 is all about.

I came up with three ways to describe the concept of 100 (of anything):
100 is big
100 is a lot
100 is a large amount

Then I added activities they can relate to doing everyday, like reading, writing, counting and learning to work together.  This essentially became the "meat" of the song.  I then added one more thing:  an opportunity for the students to cheer, "Hooray!" during the song.
When I sang this song with students very recently, the "Hooray" part was definitely an attention grabber! :)

Here's the song below.  What are some ways that you provide students exposure first?