Thursday, December 12, 2013

Penguins on the Staff

My kinders are learning about the lines and spaces of the music staff (we're past the whole -higher/lower, two lines, three lines, sort of prep stuff).  I have a really cute activity for lines and spaces that involve stars that I'll post about later.

For now, here's an idea that I've used with past week:

The large staff is a painted shower-curtain (easy and surprisingly durable).

The penguins are little figures I made and then cut out and laminated (also pretty durable).

To play, I move the penguins off the staff and tell the students a blizzard has happened.  We wave our hands up and down while making a "whoo" sound (like the wind blowing).

Then, we sing this (to the tune of "I'm a little teapot")

I'm a little penguin on the staff
Watch me waddle and try not to laugh
Can you please help me find my place
On a line or on a space

While we're singing, I choose a student to put each penguin (one by one, so we sing 5 times for the lines and 4 times for the space) on the correct place.

Veni Veni Emmanuel

"Just for fun" this month, my 5th graders are busy working on "Veni, Veni, Emmanuel".  This is a great piece for this time of year and it incorporates rhythms the students can read (such as the dotted half note) and pitches (like low la).  It has also opened up discussion about sacred and Renaissance music.

My kiddos are singing in the original Latin.  We also add in hand-drums (played with a soft mallet) on the half note beat, tambourines (they play the rhythm of "Gaude" only) and recorder (little over-achievers of mine).  These instruments really give our performance an authentic sound.

I made a little page for them to put into their interactive notebook.  See below:

I've been going over this song for about the last 5 or 6 lessons.  We discuss a fact each lesson.  I've created a PowerPoint for that (if you'd like to use these slides, you can copy and paste the pictures or email me at and I'll send them to you):

The students have also enjoyed watching and listening to other musicians perform this piece.  Our two favorites are:
And of course, Mrs. Fricke LOVES the cello:
We're even planning to do an impromptu performance of this for our teachers!  How exciting!!!!