Friday, April 18, 2014

Part II. Dancing, Singing & Drawing Legato and Staccato

Hello everyone! Ms. Brigid here, fromMerit School of Music  in Chicago, IL. Thank you for joining me! This post takes up where my March 18, 2014 entry, Part I. From Hush Little Baby to Yo-Yo Ma - Using Books, Apps and YouTube Videos to Introduce Legato and Staccato, left off.

A great deal of territory was covered in the first post:

·      Using the lullaby Hush Little Baby with Marla Frazee’s book of the same name to introduce staccato and legato
·      Employing comparative recordings and guided listening to build exposure to different styles, sounds and artists
·      Introducing  real-life musicians Yo-Yo Ma & Bobby McFerrin playing the song through a YouTube video through the Watchlater app

Meet the Orchestra 

The musical collaboration between Bobby McFerrin and Yo-Yo Ma invariably delights my students, and class discussion leads naturally to questions about the instruments played. Of course, there's an app for that, Meet the Orchestra.

As apps go, Meet the Orchestra is direct and no nonsense. It’s also a fine app for “guess the instrument,”  but you won’t have to guess which instrument I’m focusing on. It’s the cello, of course, in honor of Yo-Yo Ma!

After an orchestra family is selected, each instrument in the section is introduced by name. When a specific instrument is selected, the other members of the family rush off the stage and a solo starts. The title and composer’s name scroll under “now playing,” and general information about the instrument is included.

Excerpts are generous, nicely curated, and can be changed by selecting the notes on the staff. If there are five notes, the instrument has five separate listening examples. My kiddos delight in selecting what comes next.

Questions for guided listening: Was the piece (mostly) high or low? Fast or slow? Piano or Forte? Legato or Staccato? Answers, of course, can be none of the above!

Cello excerpts include:
·      Bach – Bouree frm Suite No.3 in C for unaccompanied cello, BWV1009
·      Brahms – Cello Sonata No.1 in e, Op38
·      Tchaikovsky – Symphony No.4 in f, Op.36
·      Impromptu
·      Saint-Saëns – The Swan from The Carnival of the Animals

Depending on time, age group and intention, other questions might be: How did it make you feel? What kind of brain pictures did you get?

Shall We Dance?
The answer is always “Yes!”

Music Masters II Dancers!

There is a wealth of repertoire that lends itself to dancing legato and staccato. Among my top choices are a handful of movements, or pieces, from Camille Saint-Saëns Carnival of the Animals. The compositions are short, engaging (most under two minutes), and lovely to move to. Hens & Roosters and Fossils lend themselves to staccato, while The Swan luxuriously exudes legato. Kangaroos and Aquarium have a bit of both.*

Listen. Encourage students to think what animal(s) the composer was writing about.

Look. Multiple book/CD versions of Carnival of the Animals are available. My favorite is the 1999 edition with commentary by Barrie C. Turner and whimsical, colorful illustrations by Sue Williams.  

Move. Encourage students to move freely in response to the movement. Dance streamers (directions below) can heighten the exploration.

Music Masters II Dancer!
Extend. Find actual or animated performances of individual pieces or the whole suite on YouTube. Download through the Watchlater app, and share with your class! The options are thrilling.

A very specific kind of YouTube has emerged where some dedicated soul has downloaded the score and synchronized it to the music. Fascnating.  

There’s even a Bugs and Daffy’s “Carnival of the Animals” from 1976, which combines said characters, a young Michael Tilsen Thomas as conductor, and Ogden Nash lyrics. The orchestra performances are thrilling, but stay away if you’re not a Daffy Duck fan!

Challenge. My kiddos and families always love a Pre-K or Kindergarten challenge. Hand out dance streamers and do preliminary warmups using legato and staccato movements (jump, sway, bounce, twirl, etc). Tell your class, , “I’m going to switch from playing legato to staccato music, and not tell you when I do. Show me, through your movements, which one it is. Freeze when the music stops.”

Dance Streamers - My own invention!  See directions below.

: This goes without saying,, but I’ll say it anyhow. Remind those who need reminding that this is not the opportunity to careen wildly or shake the dance streamers in anyone’s face. Although free movement is encouraged, there are no trips to the hospital in music class!

Here’s where the iPad  shines yet again. The whole suite is in my iTunes, and the songs can be instantly changed with the tap of the finger. There’s no fussing with remotes or manually changing cuts on the CD player.  PIC

Shall We Sing?
That’s what we do!

The American heritage singing game, Jump Josie, beautifully illustrates the difference between legato and staccato and is fun to sing and play. What’s not to like?

Teach the song: Listen. Ask children to listen while you sing. Rock gently side to side (legato) during the first part, and chap hands in the second (staccato).

 Look: Sing the song again, this time using  your iPad and the KidsDoodle or a favorite whiteboard app. Drawing smooth and connected lines during the first section, and short, separate lines on the second. A classroom whiteboard or piece of paper also works.

Rinse and Repeat! Ask children to stand in a circle and echo the song, phrase by phrase. The second section can dispense with echoing. Slow the song down for the legato end “Oh, my Susan Brown.”

Play. There are many ways to play this game. Here is one:
·      Two students go into the circle and hold hands, facing each other. Hands are swung side to side during the first, or legato, section.
·      Dancers in the outside ring sway gently side to side while singing.
·      The staccato, or second section, calls for a change: The dancers inside the ring are the designated jumpers, and the kiddos in the outside ring are the clappers.
·      At the end of the song, ask the two in the middle to choose new partners from the outside ring. Repeat with four students, or “four in the middle.”
·      Eventually, there will be “all in the middle.” Change partners and repeat.
·      Use colors, patterns, clothing, etc., to call dancers into the middle, e.g., “stripes in the middles,” “red in the middle,” glasses in the middle,” and my favorite, “hair in the middle.” Silly is good.
·      Count how many dancers are in the middle. Count by ones, then do it again with two’s.

Shall We Draw?
Of course!
·      Before starting, place paper and markers on tables. Some classrooms have individual student mini-whiteboards, which also works.
·      Sing Jump Josie, drawing on your iPad, paper or whiteboard, making sure to differentiate between legato and staccato marks.
·      Tell students, “We’re going to be artists and draw legato and staccato.
            Let’s practice by singing the song while “air drawing.”
·      As a group, sing Jump Josie and “air draw” legato and staccato.

Fantastic artists! 

·      Ask students to move to their tables, pick up their marker, and “air draw” legato and staccato before touching the paper.
·      Draw while singing the song. Request that the artists sign their work, and put their markers down.
·    Document drawings with the Camera app on your iPad!

Let’s Go On a Gallery Walk!
It’s time for the artists to go on a Gallery Walk! Ask student to walk around the room and look at the drawings of other artists. The kiddos are unfailingly positive about their friends’ work, making this a fun, cumulative celebration.

And Finally…Yo-Yo Ma
The Swan

Bits and Pieces

*You may be wondering why The Aviary isn’t included in the Shall We Dance? staccato column. It’s simply because the accelerated tempo makes it hard to move to. For my purposes, it works best as a listening example.

**Dance Streamers – I invented these dance streamers years ago, finally settling upon flagging tape as the perfect medium due to their softness and the rustling sound they make when fluttering. Cut 5’ lengths of flagging tape, then chose five streamers and tie them at the halfway point on to a flexible plastic bracelet. Use a double knot. Flagging tape is readily available at larger hardware stores. Bracelets can usually be purchased at a party supply store. Dance streamers can be mono or multi-colored, depending on your preference.

And in the did I use my iPad in the activities and blog creation, anyhow?  
Meet the Orchestra app, YouTube video downloads via Watchlater app, music player for listening comparatives and legato and staccato dance challenge, KidsDoodle  legato and staccato drawing demonstration,Camera for taking pictures of kiddos and dance streamers, Screenshots of book cover, app icons, and more!
I am continually inspired by the Children’s Music Network (CMN) community. an international group of socially conscious musicians, educators, librarians, families, songwriters and good people, who “celebrate the positive power of music in the lives of children by sharing songs, exchanging ideas, and creating community.” Please visit CMN, and find a gathering in your region. 

©2014 Brigid Finucane  * 847-213-0713 *

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Perfect Song for Right Now: "Gifts for Mommy!"

These 3's are holding their "bees" - carefully!
    Spring is…well, it's trying to spring here in Chicago.  Miss Carole of Macaroni Soup here!  With 1.5” of snow on Monday I think the crocus and anemones in my garden would disagree (not to mention the angry squirrels under my empty birdfeeder!  I've been busy, guys!)
     You may be preparing for a Mother’s Day program, or just need a great song to sing for Spring!  I don’t know where I first heard some of these verses – and I’ve added my own at my students’ requests.  It’s easy to learn, easy to teach, and the children love it.  They get the humor, no bees are squished and it’s downright adorable!  
     You probably already know the tune – “I’m Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee!”  If not, it’s on my Sticky Bubble Gum cd – you can hear a clip HERE (track #13) – and it was the Song of the Month on my website in May 2007.
Do you hear your bee? Bzzzz!
    I use Beanie Baby animals for visuals in each verse – you could use pictures or puppets, too.

Verse 1:  Waggle your pointer finger around while buzzing until you catch an imaginary bee.  Check your hands to be sure he’s in there!  Sing:

I’m bringing home a baby bumblebee
Won’t my Mommy be so proud of me!
I’m bringing home a baby bumblebee-
Buzz! Buzz! Buzz! Buzz! Buzz!
Teacher:  Would that be a good present for Mom?
Kids:  NO!
Teacher:  Then let him go – bzzzzzz!  How about a dinosaur?
Stomp! Stomp!

Verse 2:  Pat hands on thighs for dinosaur steps!

I’m bringing home a baby dinosaur
Won’t my Mommy hide behind the door!
I’m bringing home a baby dinosaur –
Stomp! Stomp! Stomp! Stomp Stomp!
Teacher:  Would that be a good present for Mommy?
Kids:   Nooo!
Teacher:  How about a crocodile????

Chomp! Chomp!
Verse 3:  Open and close arms vertically in front of you to the beat to make croc jaws!

I’m bringing home a baby crocodile
Won’t my Mommy wear a great big smile!
I’m bringing home a baby crocodile –
Chomp! Chomp! Chomp! Chomp! Chomp!
Teacher:  Would Mommy like that?
Kids:   NO!
Teacher:  How about a grizzly bear?

Smiling grizzly bears - it's so much fun to growl!
Verse 4:  Make claw-paws.  Teach kids to put teeth together to growl!

I’m bringing home a baby grizzly bear
Won’t my Mommy tear out all her hair?!?
Oh, I’m bringing home a baby grizzly bear –
Grrrr!  Grrrr!  Grrrr! Grrrr! GRRRRR!
Teacher:  Would THAT make a good present form Mom?
Kids:  NOOO!
Teacher:  What if we brought Mom something she would really like?  Can you think of what your Mommy likes?  I’ve got a great big pot (hold out arms, hands touching in front, to make a big pot.)  What can we put in it that Mom would like?   (take all suggestions – flowers, kisses, chocolate, salad, noodles – yes, it usually includes things the children like, too!)  After all ideas are in, sing:

Verse 5:  Everyone holds a big “pot” in front of them.

I’m bringing home a great big pot of love
So much bigger than the sky above!
Oh, I’m bringing home a great big pot of love –

Hug, hug, kiss, kiss, kiss!
Teacher:  Would Mommy like that?
Kids:   YES!!!

    I have done a ladybug verse (won’t my Mommy give me a big hug?) and even done Daddy verses!  Have fun with this song – all year long!

Yours for a Mommy Song!
"Miss Carole" Stephens

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Montessori-Inspired Kite Activities Using Free Printables

Montessori-Inspired Kite Activities By Deb Chitwood from Living Montessori Now  

April is National Kite Month! In honor of the month-long observance, I've created some kite activities using free printables for preschoolers through first graders. 

You'll find many activities for preschoolers through first graders throughout the year along with presentation ideas in my previous posts at PreK + K Sharing. You'll also find ideas for using free printables to create activity trays here: How to Use Printables to Create Montessori-Inspired Activities

In addition, I have a new post at Living Montessori Now with resource links of Free Printables for Montessori Homeschools and Preschools.  

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.  

Kite Counting Activity

  Kite Counting Tray

For this activity, I used the free kite counting printable from the Prek Letter K Printables by Confessions of a Homeschooler. I added ribbons to each of the kites and included 10 miniature clothespins from a craft store. I used a large plastic tray and large hemmed work rug from Montessori Services. 

If you want to use 10 clothespins rather than 55 clothespins for a complete layout, you could turn the kites upside down, let the child draw one, and have the child attach the correct number of clothespins to the ribbon before removing the ribbons to draw the next kite.

Kite Counting Activity

I love that the clothespins look like kite ribbons and add a fine-motor activity at the same time.

Kite Letter Activities with Glass Gems 

Kite Letter Activities with Glass Gems

This tray has three activities using the Romping and Roaring Letter K Pack from 3 Dinosaurs. I used the "Follow the K Path," "Find the Letter Kk's," and "Dot the Kk's" printables. I added a number of spring-colored glass gems and a sugar tong from Montessori Services for more work on fine-motor skills.

Cut and Glue Kite

Cut and Glue Kite

The Cut and Glue Kite printable from 1+1+1=1 reminds me a bit of Montessori constructive triangles and is a great way to reinforce shapes. This activity is also a fun way to work on scissors skills.

Flying a Kite Word Family Activity

Ake Words Tray

This activity uses the Flying a Kite Word Family printable from Really Roper at Teachers Notebook. There are "op" family words in the printable as well as "ake" family words. I like that the printable uses both nonsense words and real words.

Ake Words Layout

Carp Kite Craft

Carp Kite Craft

This activity adds a cultural element with the Carp Kite Craft printable (for Children's Day in Japan May 5) from Activity Village. For first graders, you could print out the directions (similar to the photo), add the necessary materials, and allow children to complete the craft independently.

More Free Kite Printables 

Go to my post at Living Montessori Now for links to lots of kite freebies from around the blogosphere: Free Kite Printables and Montessori-Inspired Kite Activities.

For more April activities (and spring activities of all kinds), check out my April Themed Activities for Kids at Living Montessori Now.
Montessori at Home or School - How to Teach Grace and Courtesy eBookIf you'd like to focus on manners with children, please check out my new eBook Montessori at Home or School: How to Teach Grace and Courtesy! It's written for anyone who'd like to feel comfortable teaching manners to children ages 2-12.
Have a great rest of the spring!
Deb - SigantureLiving Montessori Now Button
Deb ChitwoodDeb Chitwood is a certified Montessori teacher with a master’s degree in Early Childhood Studies from Sheffield Hallam University in Sheffield, England. Deb taught in Montessori schools in Iowa and Arizona before becoming owner/director/teacher of her own Montessori school in South Dakota. Later, she homeschooled her two children through high school. Deb is now a Montessori writer who lives in San Diego with her husband of 38 years (and lives in the city where her kids, kids-in-law, and baby granddaughter live). She blogs at Living Montessori Now. 

May be linked to Afterschool Express, Thoughtful Spot, Tuesday Tots, The Mommy Club Resources and Solutions at Milk and Cuddles and Crystal & Co., Mom’s Library, It’s Playtime, The Weekly Kid’s Co-op, Hearts for Home Blog Hop, Learn & Link, TGIF Linky Party, Preschool Corner, Ultimate Homeschool Pinterest Party, Sharing Saturday, Saturday Show & Tell, Share It Saturday, Show-and-Share Saturday, The Sunday Showcase, Link & Learn
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