Jedi Music

A Resource for the Beginning Elementary Music Teacher


Merry Christmas!

May you have the Merriest Christmas enjoying your loved ones!


Children's Literature for Music Ed: "Christmas Mice!"

Just as "Halloween Mice!" was a great book for a creative movement activity, so is the equally fun "Christmas Mice!" also by Bethany Roberts and illustrated by Doug Cushman.

"The holiday mice are back! It’s Christmas time and the four cheerful mice merrily hang stockings, string popcorn, wrap presents, and sing carols. The little mice are so caught up in their joyful preparations that they almost forget to look out for their old enemy, the cat. Happily, their Christmas spirit is so infectious that even the cat is not immune. Simple, lively verse and colorful, action-filled illustrations convey the all anticipation and goodwill that come with the Yuletide season in this delightful read-aloud." -from

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


Songs You Already Know: "In the Stable"
  My son (currently age 8), when he was in preschool, learned this cute song for a Christmas program.  It was such a favorite that he taught it to me, and we still enjoy singing it around the house during the Christmas season.  I have not been able to find the resource where this cute song can be found. 

Here are coloring pages to go with each verse; it would be a great idea to print the words of each verse along with the coloring page picture.  For your students who love to color (My five year old daughter is one of those!) they will be delighted to have a picture to color while learning the song.  For those students who do not enjoy coloring (such as my son!), they will still have a good visual representation of each verse to help them learn the words.

All around the sky that night,

The angel light was beaming.
Every shepherd said to himself
"Hey, I must be dreaming!"

The Angel said,

"Do not be afraid, you are not in any danger
Jesus Christ the Savior's been born;
Go see him in the manger."
Every shepherd hurried to town

As fast as they were able
They found God's Son asleep on the hay
Where? In the stable!

Song You Already Know: "Pop Goes the Weasel"


More Christmas Music Books

Included in my Caroling post were two books I use as resources for Christmas music: The Usbourne Book of Christmas Carols and Wee Sing for Christmas.  In addition to these two books, here are three more beautiful and useful books for Christmas carols from my collection.  I've had these for so long that they are really inexpensive to buy used at this point, and you know the music is going to be back in style each December!


Caroling (outside of the school setting)

Sometimes, when you are a music teacher, you are asked to help out with musical tasks in other venues.  Sunday Schools, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Brownies, Girl Scouts, and church youth groups are some organizations that you may be part of, and they also enjoy Christmas caroling at this time of year!

In the public school setting, we focus on the most secular of Christmas tunes for caroling.  On the other hand, caroling with groups outside of the school setting gives us a chance to broaden the repetoire of music to include the beautiful sacred songs of the season.  If you are caroling to residents of nursing homes or elderly neighbors, the sacred songs are the ones that they enjoy the most.  I love to see when the people we are visiting sing right along with us!


Hot, hot, hot...Hot Chocolate!

On Monday, I wrote about our caroling plans for school...and what Christmas caroling experience is complete without the hot chocolate?  My students bring the cookies, but I provide hot chocolate, with the help of many crock pots!

Both of these recipes are from the Fix-It and Forget-It Big Cookbook by Phyllis Pellman Good.  I've adapted them to fit into a busy teacher's schedule.


Caroling (in the school setting)

The Christmas season is in full swing, and it's no longer "too early" to be hearing the old familiar Christmas tunes everywhere!

One of my "fun activities" for my chorus students is caroling.  Many schools may not have the budget available for busing to go caroling at a nursing home, but that doesn't have to keep you from spreading holiday cheer through caroling right in your school.


Stretching My Boundaries

Always, I've considered myself an elementary teacher, and never desired to expand my teaching horizons further than sixth grade.  Especially in the music teaching realm, I like that I get to be the fun special class, and that I don't have overwhelming pressure to have the perfect concert.  Enjoying the process of making music is more important to me than picking and choosing who the best musicians are at this age.  My goal is to allow everyone to enjoy music and expand their own musical knowledge.

However, at the end of the summer, when I was offered a supplemental activity that would include grades 7-12, I was excited at the new prospect.  Soon, my days are going to get even busier than usual, because I am the new vocal director for our high school musical!  As someone who grew up performing in musical theater, (actually I would love to still be doing community theater if I wasn't so busy with teaching and family) this was an offer and opportunity that would have been very difficult to pass by. 


The Journey to the Concert Destination

Focus on the journey, not the destination.
Joy is found not in finishing an activity, but in doing it.
-Greg Anderson

It is better to travel well than to arrive.

To a music educator at this time of year, these quotes take on a new meaning in the context of CONCERT SEASON!! Many music teachers are either expected to, or contractually obligated to produce both a holiday concert and spring concert.  For many the past months have been the "journey" portion of the music process; the practicing done alone, in small groups, and in large group situations.  The "destination" portion of the music process begins now in the holiday season, with the holiday concert.


Evaluation systems discourage student teachers??

Sigh.  Here's one more thing that makes a career in teaching unappealing...some states adopting tough teacher evaluation systems as law are actually discouraging schools from allowing student teachers to get their experience.

Of course teachers need to be evaluated, but so many states' lawmakers are pushing evaluation systems through quickly without thought to how effective they will really be.  Is the system effective if it relies on student test scores? Teachers can only control what goes on in their classroom during school hours...home life makes a huge difference in the success of the student.  And what about us in the special subject areas?  We do not administer standardized tests in our subject area, and in my district, my students do not receive a grade for music.  How does that translate into a teacher evaluation?

Teacher evaluation systems should not discourage districts from allowing student teachers to teach in the schools.  My principals have always welcomed the extra help in the classrooms, and everyone sees student teaching as a positive asset to our schools.  We should be using the evaluation system as a tool to identify the most effective teachers, who should be the ones mentoring the student teachers. 


The Responsive Classroom

This past week's mentoring meeting focused on The Responsive Classroom.  While the focus is on use in the classroom teaching realm, I find so many elements that can be reinforced or adopted into the music class every time I learn more about Responsive Classroom.  So much of the material is very applicable to music education.

"Responsive Classroom is a widely used, research-backed approach to elementary education that increases academic achievement, decreases problem behaviors, improves social skills, and leads to more high-quality instruction."