Jedi Music

A Resource for the Beginning Elementary Music Teacher


What are we doing today?

My students ask me this question often, and these magnets I made help me keep it all organized:

I used heavy cardboard, large die-cut numbers, smaller die-cut letters, glued, laminated, cut out, and added magnets on the back.  Very durable, and well worth the time investment...these still look great in their seventh year of use (just a little dusty from chalk, that's all!)


Teacher Attitudes: THANKFULNESS

As a music teacher, I am thankful for...

1. My job
2. Finding newfound inspiration in blogging that makes my job a joy
3. Terrific co-workers
4. Reliable babysitters
5. My children who are happy to let me bounce new ideas off them, and give me their honest opinions
6. My students who are always willing to try something new
7. The online music education community who helps out when my own ideas are running dry
8. Thanksgiving vacation! Enjoy!


Seasonal Bulletin Boards

I'm trying something new this year: student-created Seasonal Bulletin Boards.  In the past, I found that it was very time consuming to devise bulletin boards for each month, by the time I completed one, it was time to start over on the next month!  Next, I switched to bulletin boards that could stay up months at a time, but I really missed the changes and was tired of looking at the same things all the time. 

For November's bulletin board, I took a Thanksgiving song that we learned, and added some turkeys to color.  I gave copies to my kindergarten students to color if they chose to during their indoor recess time, and the ones that they returned to me were stapled on my fabric-covered bulletin board.  Easy and fast!


Spotlight on Special Subjects

Our school district hosted "Parent's Visitation Day" as a part of American Education Week last week, and my classes were involved in a news broadcast of the school's TV station on that special day. It was a fun time, and this activity really helped put a focus on the special subjects in a positive light.

The broadcast started with our physical education teacher leading his class in the gym (and parents, teachers, and students in classrooms all over the building via TV) in an afternoon stretch workout. Immediately after the stretches, the cameras came into music class to catch the lesson for first graders on "There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly".


5 Songs for 7 Continents

Recently, a third grade teacher colleague asked me for any ideas on musical activities to reinforce her student's learning the seven continents.  Always, I tell my students that being smart isn't necessarily knowing everything, it's knowing where to find it.  Easily, I found these useful possibilities on, emailed them to her, and felt like a hero...I heart the information age!


Children's Literature for Music Ed: "I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie" with Differentiated Instruction Ideas

Of all of the "Old Lady" book adaptations, this one is my personal favorite...probably because she is finally eating some delicious and edible goodies (except for when she devours the pot used for cooking!), and she reminds me of our own gluttony on the holiday of Thanksgiving! (Although, now that I am the one preparing the food for the feast, I find that I eat a less at dinner...wonder why? Must be sampling too much as I'm cooking!)

Here are some differentiated ideas on including "I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie" in your music instruction:


Calm? Check. Thoughtful? Check. Caring? Check....

Recently, I was attending one of our district's mentoring meetings on the topic of Parent-Teacher Relations.  The speaker referenced the book, How to Deal with Parents who are Angry, Troubled, Afraid, and Just Plain Crazy by Elaine K. McEwan-Adkins.  There were many useful solutions and suggestions just in the presentation, I'd like to delve into this book myself in the near future.  However, I'd like to share this quote from the presentation that struck me as particularly appropriate to my Jedi-Teacher theme:

"As professionals, it is our responsibility to be calm, thoughtful, caring, intelligent, articulate, direct and honest at all times and in all situations."


Veteran's Day

Happy Veteran's Day...and a huge thank you for all who have served and sacrificed.  My very favorite Veteran's Day memory was when my grandfather was honored in the Veteran's Day parade in our town, along with his 6 brothers.  All seven of the brothers had served in World War II, and each one made it home safely.  I can still see him marching down Main Street, shoulder to shoulder with his brothers. Their only regret was that at the time (mid-1980s) they could no longer fit into their service uniforms!


Children's Literature for Music Ed: "Thank You, Thanksgiving"

When we encourage our young students to sing, a pattern often introduced first is the sol-mi pattern, soon to be followed by the sol-sol-mi-la-sol-mi pattern. "Thank You, Thanksgiving" by David Milgrim is a great book to reinforce singing in these important patterns that form a strong foundation for our young singers.


My Privilege

Most days, we teachers leave the light sabers at home...

"Teaching is a privilege. It's part of a Jedi's responsibility to help train the next generation."
--Obi-Wan Kenobi

This quote is from the back of my son's "Clone Wars" book, and I love it.  For not being a true fan, I really do find a lot of teaching inspiration in the many variations of Star Wars! As teachers, we should all aim for this should be our daily mantra. Do we approach our work in this way each day?  It is certainly a challenge, but the attitude that we carry day to day leaves a lasting impression on everyone we come into contact with each day.  Please allow me to tell you a little story about some workers in another job with a terrific attitude...


The Gift of Sleep

Like all hard-working teachers, moms, and teacher/moms out there, I say THANK YOU for the extra hour of sleep last night!!   If only we could get that every weekend...



"Five small noodles, on my noodle plate..."
 "Noodles" is an interactive new activity I started with my language support and kindergarten life skills students.  This finger play is from the Dr. Jean site, which I have sucessfully utilized for quite a while, ever since my first "Tooty Ta" as a kindergarten classroom teacher back in 2003-2005!

To prepare, I cut five holes in foam plates for the entire class. Be sure to measure the placement with one of your student's actual hands, because if you go by your own adult-sized hand, they may not fit the children's small hands!


Children's Literature for Music Ed: "Slowly, Slowly, Slowly," said the Sloth

Most early elementary students have a favorite tempo, and that would be FAST! Oftentimes we need to remind our young students to slow down and take it easy, and not just in the context of the music! As a fan of the art of Eric Carle, I collected many of his books for my own children's collection, but "'Slowly, Slowly, Slowly,' said the Sloth" has been overlooked at our house until now.  In the day of the sloth, he hangs out on a branch, eats, naps, and wakes up....what a lazy day! After being pestered by some other animals, the sloth gives his defense: he just likes to do things slowly, slowly, slowly.

Rachel Rambach has written a song to reinforce the need to go slowly called "Slow and In Control". Listening to this song would be a great way to introduce the concept of the slow tempo, and to lead into this book.

Here are my ideas for using this book in music class: