2015 New Year's Resolutions {Linky Party}

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Wait...what?  2015 is here?  This is my face right now.

2014 was quite an eventful year!  I got married, started a new job, and opened up my TpT store/blog.  I'd say it was a great year, but it's time to reflect upon my goals for 2015.   Thanks to Aileen at Mrs. Miracle's Music Room and her 2015 New Year's Resolutions Linky Party, I have the perfect opportunity to think about my goals for the new year.  If you'd like to join in the party, click on the picture below to see Aileen's original post and directions.  Happy New Year!


Personal: Several years ago I decided to turn my health around and do something good for myself.  I changed the way I ate, started running and doing yoga, and lost over 50 pounds.  I felt great and was so proud of myself for taking control of my health!  I was in a very good place physically, mentally, and emotionally. 

A couple years ago a mixture of health issues and emotional trauma stopped all of this in its tracks.  I've tried several times to "get back on track" but it never quite took off as I had hoped and it's been an uphill battle.  Long story short, I've gained all that weight back and then some and have made a complete 180 back to where I was before making those positive changes.  I'm finally feeling strong enough to take this seriously and my husband has been such a fantastic cheerleader throughout this journey.  I'm confident 2015 will be the year I can start turning this all around. 

Professional: I spend so many hours on TpT and Pinterest, but I'd like to get into the habit of reading more of the amazing blogs available.  There is such a fantastic network of teachers and I think it's important to take the time to explore the amazing ideas that are shared every day in the blogosphere.  Thank you to everyone who takes the time to share!

Classroom: I started a job at a brand new school this year.  To start out, we are in a temporary facility and my room is REALLY small.  I still haven't quite found the best way to utilize the space and stay organized.  I've rearranged my room at least three times so far and think it's time to do so yet again.  By the end of this year I want to find a configuration that works and come up with a better way of organizing everything despite my limited storage options.

Blog/TpT: After a lot of thinking about blogging and opening a TpT store, I finally took the plunge.  One of the main reasons it took so long is because I didn't want to overwhelm myself, especially given the situation I described in my personal goals.  A couple months ago I finally decided to do it and want to work on getting into a routine without it taking time away from other important things.  The key word here: balance.

Just for me: I'd never been a huge reader but my husband and his family are reading ALL THE TIME.  Seriously.  We have 4 bookshelves brimming with books and even more in boxes and I would say 97% of them are my husband's.  : )

My husband has a great habit of reading in bed for about an hour before going to sleep.  I always joined him but I would spend my time mostly on my iPad.  Even though I was reading or doing puzzles, it's been really bad for my sleep.  This year I'd like to read some actual books in that time before bed.  My husband bought me a Nook for my birthday a couple days ago and my goal is to prove to him it was a good investment!

I also haven't been playing the piano as much as I would like.  I used to play every day in high school to calm down when getting home from school.  For years I didn't play because I didn't have a real piano, but now that I have one I'd like to take advantage of it more often.

Thanks for reading and good luck on all your goals in the New Year! 

Amazing Music & Math Integration in First Grade!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

As I was walking through the hall today, I saw this hanging outside one of the first grade classrooms!

My school is a STEAM (Science Tech Engineering Arts Math) so integration is expected.  I've done several integrated lessons this year, usually going into core classes to add some sort of musical element to whatever it may be they are studying, but I've never seen one of the classroom teachers take it upon themselves to do this.  I had no idea!

I popped my head into the classroom to compliment the teacher on his integration of music and he pointed out the projects that went along with it.  Hanging on the wall above were a series of compositions written on index cards.  Each composition was four index cards long with each card equaling a whole note.  Students had to use math to figure out what rhythms could fit on each card.  I was shocked that my FIRST GRADERS were doing these!  We've been preparing rhythm and using symbolic notation to read "long" and "short short", but we haven't learned quarter and eighths yet, let alone whole and half!  In fact, some of my fourth graders have been struggling with this on the recorders, but the teacher said these first graders picked it up very quickly.  *MIND.  BLOWN.*

(*side-note* I never thought of doing the index cards!  I really like this idea)

I've asked the teacher to save these and when we come back from Christmas Break I'm going to use them to have the students add melody or words and write songs.  I'm so excited!

Have you done any really cool integrated lessons or projects lately?  Have you been inspired by integration of the arts demonstrate by your colleagues?  Do you want to do more cross-curricular activities but don't know where to begin?  Let's share some ideas!  Maybe we can get some inspiration for the new year.  : )

Only 2 1/2 more days until break!  Happy Holiday!    

Thoughts From A New TPT Seller, New Product, and FREEBIE!!!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Since I discovered Teachers Pay Teachers about a year and a half ago, I had always thought about creating my own products.  Being the perfectionist that I am, I was always afraid to begin.  Would my stuff be good enough?  Would I have the time to create products that live up to my standards?  Would it all be too stressful?  About a month ago I decided to stop thinking about it and just DO IT!  Since posting my first products I cannot tell you how astonished I am at the support and enthusiasm of the TPT community!  I'm not saying this to be bragging but rather out of amazement at the amazing people in the education community!  More than teachers paying teachers, we are teachers helping teachers and it is a beautiful thing.

To celebrate I have two special announcements!  First of all, a new product!  I've just uploaded No Robbers.  This is a great song and game for ta-titi and so-mi.  Not only are there 70 pages of prepare/present slides, but an additional 24 pages of activities and worksheets to practice rhythm, melody, and writing on the staff.  Click the picture to visit my store and download a full preview!


Second announcement...FREEBIE!!!  In celebration of everyone being so awesome I've created a freebie!  This is just a sneak peak of some fun products I am working on for the new year.  Here's a little clue of what's to come: "New Year, New Room!"  I'm so excited!


Three Stars and a Wish Linky/New Social Media

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Oh boy!  This time of year sure is busy and time seems to run away!  I've been doing a lot of work to create some new products for my TPT store and have also been getting connected to some new social media networks.  I must admit that up until this weekend I did not have a smart phone.  As a Christmas present to ourselves, my husband and I upgraded to the new iPhones, so I now have easy access to Twitter and Instagram!  Click the links or the social icons in the sidebar to connect and follow!

I'm also excited to be linking up with Rachel from Music With Mrs. Tanenblatt for her "Three Stars and a Wish" linky party!

1) One of my favorite choral pieces of all time is "Walking in the Air" from The Snowman.  (You can watch the clip here.)  I sang it in choir in 6th grade and I guess I talked about it a whole lot because Santa brought me the choral score for Christmas.  Apparently my music geek roots run deep.  : )  When I taught K-2 I would teach this song to my 2nd graders each Christmas, not for any special performance but simply for the joy of singing it.  Now that I'm teaching K-6, I decided to teach it to my 5th graders.  Since we're a first-year school we don't have a choir yet.  I wanted to give my kids a mini choir experience and hopefully plant a seed for some interest when we do eventually have a choir.  The kids were so excited and one boy (yes, I said boy) asked me if we were going to have a choir and said he would "totally join" which caused the rest of the class to announce that they also wanted to join when we finally form a choir.  I would say that is a H-U-G-E music teacher win!

2) Last week I presented The Nutcracker to my K-3 kids.  As always, The Nutcracker is a major hit!  A few years ago after some frustration over not finding the perfect video, I created a presentation with a simple retelling of the story and several links to YouTube videos showing excerpts from the ballet.  I wanted to give my students a way to extend the experience beyond the classroom, so I made some keepsake booklets for them to take home.  In the booklets I wrote the story and left space for them to illustrate.  I then added QR codes that link to the different clips we watched in class and encouraged them to share with their family at home and start a new Christmas tradition.

Yesterday and today I saw my kinders and firsts and gave them some time to work on their booklets while playing the music from The Nutcracker in the background.  They were beyond excited about the chance to be an illustrator and thought the QR codes were the coolest thing.  I always love it when students take ownership over what they've learned.  I don't think I've ever seen such young ones so focused!  Seriously, I could hear a pin drop with my kinders this morning.  If you want to do this with your classes, click the picture to link to the product in my TPT store.  Don't forget to follow for updates about new products coming soon!

3) Since September, I have been working on recorders with my 4th graders.  I've been doing my own modified version of Recorder Karate.  This is my first time teaching recorder and I am pleasantly surprised with all the self-motivation I see happening!  My kids have been working so hard, especially the ones who have really been struggling, and all but a couple of my students have earned their white or yellow belt.  Here you can see my "belts" (laminated paper strips) that I hung in the hall.  I made a little karate boy or girl for each student and had them clip it on the belt they passed.  It's so nice to see them filled up!

Wish) Right now I'm wishing for patience to get through these next 8 1/2 days.  As you probably know, this time of year is beyond hectic.  Teachers and students alike are ready for a break and there are so many exciting things going on that behavior becomes more of an issue around this time.  I'm exhausted and I would love more than anything to be at home with the Christmas tree lit, a hot cup of tea, and snuggling with my kitties under a blanket, but until then I need to remember to...

Cyber Monday Linky Party!

Monday, December 1, 2014

It's the first day back from a week-long break and it sure is hard to get back into the swing of things! Too much food, sleeping in, time with friends and family (and my cats!), and shopping will really get you off your routine! But there's something that makes it a little easier...a sale! A HUGE site-wide sale on Teachers Pay Teachers in celebration of Cyber Monday.  For Monday and Tuesday only you will get 20% off items in my store and other TPT sellers' stores when you enter the promo code TPTCYBER at check out.  Fantastic!  (Click the adorable promo made by The 3AM Teacher to check out my products!)

To add to the excitement, Amy at Music a la Abbott is hosting a Rockin' Resources linky party!  It's my *first linky party ever* and I'm happy to share some great resources that will hopefully inspire you in your planning and creating.  Remember if you absolutely love something, grab it before the sale ends!  I know I'll be taking advantage of the savings to clear some items off my wishlist!  Happy shopping!


Here we go!  First stop is my store!  I just opened about a week ago so I only have a few items listed so far, but I would definitely appreciate you dropping by and following to hear about new products as my store grows.

Nutcracker Presentation and Activity (With video examples!)It's Nutcracker season in music rooms across the country.  I love teaching this but I had no luck finding a video that would work for me in my classroom.  Many recordings of live performances are almost 2 hours long.  That's more than 2 class periods for me and way beyond the average child's attention span.  Shorter films are often cartoons and wouldn't expose my students to the beautiful art of ballet.  A couple years ago I took matters into my own hands and searched through YouTube for high-quality videos of professional performances of The Nutcracker.  I created a presentation with a brief retelling of the story mixed with links to the videos I found.  This ended up being perfect.  My kids heard the story, saw several examples of ballet, and were engaged the entire time.  The best part?  It takes me only one class period, so I have time during the following weeks to do other Nutcracker activities.  If you're looking for some incredibly fun activities to go with the Nutcracker (and others for the rest of the year) I suggest checking out Artie Almeida's Parachutes, Ribbons, and Scarves, Oh My!  She has a few Nutcracker movement activities geared toward a variety of age groups and they have been a hit in my class year after year!

 I also round out the Nutcracker unit by giving the students their own Nutcracker story booklet.  It has space to illustrate and QR codes that link to all the videos we watched in class so they can share what they learned at home!  I've also included a composer biography, fun facts about The Nutcracker, and a few basics about ballet.  You can either complete it in class or send it home with the students the last week you see them before Christmas break - whatever works best for you time-wise.  This student booklet is included with my Nutcracker presentation.  Click the Nutcracker picture to visit the product page.  Remember to grab it before the sale is finished!

Note-able Font Package - Essential Music Teacher & Self-PuNext on the list we have resources from fellow music educators on TPT.  It was tough to choose just one so I have a tie between two.  These resources are invaluable and I use them ALL. THE. TIME.  First is the Note-able font by Jeri Crosby at Musical Magic.  Have you ever spent way too much time lining up circles and lines on PowerPoint to notate music?  Maybe I'm the only one who was silly enough to do this, but this font saves me hours of time and a whole lot of frustration.  Once installed, you can easily use it to create notation for worksheets and presentations.  She has one version with standard notation and one with Kodaly stick notation.  There are also characters for time signatures, basic music symbols, and Kodaly hand signals.  She provides a wonderful keyboard guide and explains the set up to make it easy to use.  I love this product and use it in almost every thing I make!

Elementary Recorder Method with QR Codes- Book 1The next music resource I can't live without is the QR Recorder Method book from Sara Bibee.  I love her products because they are very minimal and look crisp and clean.  What Sara has created here is a student book with original songs and exercises.  The best part is that each exercise has a QR code next to it that links to an original video for practicing.  These are great to use in the classroom as well as at home for practicing.  This is my first year teaching 4th grade and I was looking for something that would serve as a guide for teaching recorder.  This resource has been a HUGE lifesaver and I would recommend it to anyone.

Font for Commercial or Personal Use~ Show and Tell!
Finally, my favorite non-music teacher source!  If you head over to Kidsrcute, you'll find some really simple and cute fonts, many of them free!  In the picture you'll see my personal favorite, which I use on a regular basis.  It's cute, but very neat and easy to read.

Whew!  I know this was a lot, but I hope you were able to find some great resources along the way!  Remember to visit the original linky party (click the linky party logo at the beginning of the post) for more links to fantastic resources.  Good luck with your shopping!  
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