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Friday, November 23, 2012

More minute to win it ideas

I found a few more than I might try next time...These are from

Do you hear what I hear? – run to the piano/guitar and play a song (chosen by the teacher) strictly by ear.
Magic Carpet Ride – Using a bath mat, inch your way around the note values placed in a cup or cone least value to highest!
One Minute Club – Name all the notes on the staff and play them on the piano in a minute or less!
Dominotes! – Place ALL the dominos in a line, matching the beats correctly! This is a game I own and can be purchased here.
Composer ABC’s – Using a stack of composer cards, put them in alphabetical order!
3/4 or 4/4 – Look at cards with full measures of notes on them…Identify whether the measures are in 3/4 and 4/4 time signatures and divide them correctly into two piles
Drop Off – Take a stack of rhythm cards. One by one, race to put the correct note value in the correct numbered bucket (Buckets numbered 1-4) one at a time! Note values used are quarter notes, half notes, dotted half and whole notes. This one is great for a younger student!

Terminology Twist – Spread out terminology definitions together on the floor. On the opposite side of the room, place the symbols on the floor spread out. The player must match them up by running back and forth making pairs.

Musical Minute to Win It!

The day of a holiday or the day before a big vacation from school, I like to do a fun game day in my class.  I did a game for Halloween that I will post another day.  On Friday, I did a Musical Minute-to-win-it in all of my classes.  The game worked really well...even for my largest class of 40 beginning students.  This is a great game because there is very little prep work and the kids absolutely loved it.  Here's how I did it:

I came up with a list of mini-games that my students could do.  I set up my room by grouping chairs into 5 teams.  At the front of my room, I used masking tape to create a huge staff on the floor.  I also made a box shape out of masking tape on the floor in front of each set of team chairs.  I mean to bring a one minute timer from one of my board games at home, but I forget.  A timer on my cell phone served the purpose.  A team member from each team played each game together during the one minute - not one at a time.  The team who completed the challenge and got 1st place received 5 points.  Second place received 4 points, and so on.  The team with the most points wins the game.

Here are the one-minute challenges we did....some of them we did more than once.

1.  Rhythm Sorter:  Each team gets 4 plastic cups numbered 1-4 and a set of 12 ping pong sized balls with rhythmic symbols, notes and rests.  Players had to be the first to sort the balls into the correct cups based on rhythm values that were on the ball.  At first, I tried to have kids throw the balls into the appropriate cups, but this was too hard and pretty much impossible.  This was eye-opening to me as a teacher, as I learned that kids were struggling with dotted rhythms.  Guess what we'll be working on next week?

2.  Note Rolling:  Using the same balls from the previous game, have a member from each team line up about 5 feet away from the staff on the floor.  Have another team member opposite...on the other side of the staff to roll stray balls back to their team member.  The object of the game is for students to try to roll the balls to stop on the staff.  They must then name the note marked where the ball has stopped.  I required teams to get 5 balls on the staff within one minute.  This was hard for some kids, but they had a blast.  Another variation I tried was to have students try to roll a ball and have it stop on a specific note (open A).

3.  Bow Balloons:  I had one member from each team stand in the box shape on the floor by their team.  They were required to keep a balloon in the air using their bow and an appropriate bow hold.  Players were not allowed to step out of the box.  Many players were able to win this after a minute, so then I let them play a sabotage version of the game.  I let players walk around in the room and keep their balloons up, but they were also allowed to try to get other players out by knocking down their balloons.  It was hilarious to watch and a lot of fun.

4.  Bass Challenge:  I had a violin or viola player in each team get out a string bass and try to figure out how to play Mary Had A Little Lamb before the minute was up.  I let teams help coach their team member, but they were not allowed to demonstrate.  After the minute was up, I went through and listened to each team play.  The people who could play the song with no mistakes were given the points.

5.  Violin Challenge:  I did the same challenge as above, but let a cello or bass player try to play Twinkle Twinkle on a violin.  The students loved it.

6.  Method Book Mayhem.  The was a team game.  I had each team get out a method book and I played a random song.  Teams were given one minute to find the song I was playing in the method book.

7.  Violin Balance.  I had violin players balance a marker on top of their violins...their heads had to hold up their instruments ---- no hands.  This was a great game for good position and posture.

8.  Balanced bows:  I placed a penny on the bent thumbs on student's bow holds.  Students had to walk around the room without their pennies falling on the floor.  I also tried a sabotage version of this game...and it is way more fun that way.!

These are all the games I did in my classes and they filled the entire 50 minutes.  I had some more games that I brainstormed on my list...but I think these are the better ones.  Students are already begging to play it again!

Saturday, November 17, 2012


I teach orchestra to 7th, 8th and 9th graders and I love it!  I look forward to going to work each day and working with my students to progress and be amazing.  My class motto for my classroom is just that:  Be Amazing.  I believe all students have tremendous potential to accomplish anything they desire to do.  I am always impressed by my students....they work hard.  Some have many challenges in their lives, yet they persist in doing all they can do.

I like to think that I am creative and I try to keep my students motivated through a variety of activities and games.  Sometimes, I need inspiration, so I turn to the internet for ideas.  I have found that there is very little information on the internet specifically for orchestra classrooms.  So here I go into the internet frontier to share some of the things I do in my orchestra class to keep things interesting and fun.  I would love to hear ideas from other teachers out there, if any ever find my random little site.

I have many things I would like to share, but first I will start with how I decorate my orchestra classroom.  Perhaps 'decorate' is too strong of a word.  I really am not a decorater and my room is not cute, but my goal is to motivate my students with what I put on my walls and bulliton boards.  At the beginning of the year, I searched for quotes about music and about hard work.  I made my own posters and posted them in my room.  It is simple, homemade and best of!  Here are a couple of the posters I made for my room: