Through the trial and error that comes with the first year of teaching, I have discovered one of my new best friends in the classroom: MUSIC.
Music! Through college courses, chats with veteran teachers, PD seminars, and blogs, I have gathered many ways to use music in the classroom and have tried them all. Music works so well with my current class. Here's how I use music on a daily basis:
1 - Phonics and Math Concepts
I use YouTube videos to help teach my kids new spelling patterns as well as mathematical concepts. There are videos out there for EVERYTHING! The videos usually have catchy songs that students sing all day long - helloooo memorization!
For phonics, my favorites are BreakThruChris and TheElectricCompany.
Right now, we are learning about "Bossy R." I crack up every time we watch!
HaveFunTeaching and HarryKindergartenMusic both have tons of awesome math videos. "Coins in My Hand" by Harry is a favorite in my classroom. Again - watching the kids do it is rather humorous. Many of Harry's videos have been pulled as he is working on copyrighting his music, but they will return!!
2 - Setting the Mood for WritingI have lots of chatty kiddos in my class, and they have a hard time being absolutely silent. I have found that when I play music for them during writing, it helps them focus longer without getting distracted or being tempted to chat with a neighbor. I use Pandora to stream music. Sometimes I play Hans Zimmer radio; other times I play Hip Hop (Instrumental) Radio. Honestly, it depends on the writing topic.
3 - Volume ControlThis one is my FAVORITE. During math workshop, which is loosely structured, along with other similar activities during which my students are allowed to talk, they tend to get louder, and louder and LOUDER until the noise level is out of control and I can't hear myself think.
Now that I have learned my lesson after many headaches and some necessary yelling, my kids have FINALLY learned to be in control of their own voice. I use Pandora, again, to play Kidz Bop radio during math workshop and other unstructured activities. Before we start, I tell my students, "I am going to play music. Remember, if you can't hear the music, then you are too loud."
My students have gotten really good at managing the volumes of their voices by making sure they can hear the music. They like the songs that come on the radio, so they usually want to stay quiet enough to hear and be able to sing along. If, however, they do get too loud, all I have to say is, "Oh no, I can't hear the music..." It works like a charm.
4 - Time Management"I am going to play a song. By the end of the song, you must have your crayons, glue, and scissors in your cubby. Your paper needs to be on the front table, your desk must be cleared off, and you need to be sitting silently in your seat. Go!" Press play.
It's a fun and efficient way to get cleaned up quickly.
5 - Indoor RecessI hate - no - LOATHE indoor recess. The kids can't run around, I have to manage behavior and noise level, and none of us get any fresh air or a change of scenery.
However, I have found a way to make indoor recess a little more bearable and much more entertaining. Three words: JUST DANCE KIDS. There are entire playlists on YouTube filled with tons of videos from the Just Dance Kids video games. Do yourself a favor and make sure all videos are from Just Dance KIDS before playing a playlist; Videos from the adult version can have inappropriate language in them.
Just Dance Kids gets the kids moving, singing, and laughing. AND I can pull the "If I can't hear the music, you are too loud" card! Try it - it's a blast.
When I'm in a really good mood and the kids are persuasive enough, I'll sometimes do the "Whip Your Hair" dance with them... and then my neck is sore for the next three days. Worth it!
How do you use music in the classroom?
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