Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Classroom Tour: Me and a Friend!

It's TIME!!

It seems like forever ago that school ended and summer began!  I spend my summers as the technical coordinator of our little private school so most of my summer is at school playing around with computers and projectors and iPads, but it's finally time to start thinking about students again!

Not much has changed in my room this year, but a few GREAT upgrades!
My instrument wall!  New shelves for my class set of handchimes, new xylos, new mallet storage and more!  Check out that new digital piano too!!  witwoo!                      
Front of the room

I put my drums on the wall last year!  It worked out so well!

Another view of the front of the room.  Notice my beautiful rug and SitSpots!  I love being able to tell students to put their toes on the green circle, or sit in the purple and blue...  My SitSpots I use for line up dots!  So simple and no arguments or running to get in line or touching other people or MY things!  Best $50 I ever spent on classroom management!

New vinyl decor I designed myself!  I got a Cricut cutter last year and have been using it well!  You can get the cut files here.

My new movement banner!!  I saw this pinned on Pinterest from another music teacher and had to make one for myself!  I am constantly asking my students to move interestingly, but now they have some words to help them brainstorm what interesting means to them in the moment!  Can't wait to dive into my movement activities!

LOVE my xylophone shelves!  Nothing new this year, but just another shout out to Jena Hudson from Sew Much Music for her fabulous orff instrument labels!  I print one large for the instrument and one small for the shelf so students know how and where to put the instruments away.  Get them here! I added pictures of mallets too so students always get the right ones!  This small step saves me so much transition time!

You might remember my instrument shelves that were BIG and not much to look at...  My friend Cherie Herring from Just A Little More shared a DIY post of how she turned her shelves into bulletin boards!  So now I covered my ugly shelves, and have some extra wall space!
New shelves!!  Our enrollment is going up up up so our storage space is going down down down!  I have to store all our musical props and costumes in my room now so a dad built me a shelf over my chairs and stands.  Thanks!

HOLY SMOKES!  This is my favorite addition to my room.  Again, Jena Hudson from Sew Much Music designed this sign!!  I found outdoor vinyl (supposedly it will last for 5 years in the elements) and used my Cricut cutter once again!  LOVE IT!!!

More Cricut, more Jena Hudson!  Totally her idea for the blown up clip art!  The bulletin board reads: Planting the seeds of music for a lifetime of growth.  You can get the cut files here.


I'm super excited about my new classroom management approach for upper elementary.  If a student gets removed, they need to scan the QR code and explain themselves.  It links to a Google Form with questions about what's happening in class and why there were asked to sit out.  I also reserve the right to email their form to their parents!    

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Monthly Planning Strategy

I have tried so many different planning strategies over the years!  My naive 1st-year teacher self thought I would do all my plans on Thursdays for the following week and enjoy my weekends.  Then the school year slapped me in the face and I was playing catch up all the time on Sunday evenings trying to figure out what in the world I'm going to do 10 hours from now with 20 little kindergarteners.

Then my niave 2nd-year teacher self thought I could just reuse all of last year's plans and not have to do most of the work again.  WRONG!

By my 3rd year, I knew something had to change.  I spent a very long time reading through pages and pages and pages of previous plans to make a document that contained ideas (not plans) of what activities I did during each month.  This document allowed for a big picture view of where classes are now and where they are heading but also allowed for lots of flexibility and changes.

I put categories to help me organize the information and with just one set of pages open, I can see my potential activities for the whole school.

Let me be clear: THESE ARE NOT MY LESSON PLANS!  This document simply helps me see what I've done in years past and the progression of activities. As the year goes on, I find new resources and adapt to my students so I adjust my planner too.  I pencil in new things (or cross out others) and update my document for the next year!

Monthly Plans

As you can see, my monthly planner is bound (a couple bucks at Staples)  and at the front, I also have calendar pages.  My friend Sara from Music with Sara Bibee has a great set of Calendar and planning pages and I love the simple yet colorful designs!  You can check them out on her TPT Store!
Montly Plans

Planning is still (and will always be) a tedious event, but being able to see options for my whole school at the same time has really helped me stay focused and keep consistency!  You can check out my editable Monthly Planner Template (with and without categories) on my TPT Store!

Monthly Plans

Friday, February 5, 2016

Xylophone Carrying Case DIY

I teach in a small Christian elementary school and for every performance, we travel to our Upper Campus about 5 miles away.  The more Orffy I've become, the more xylophones I've been travelling with and the more nervous I get transporting the bars!  My mother is a seamstress and we've been brainstorming ways to safely travel with bars.  

Then I saw this post on Facebook by Jennifer Loomis!

Jennifer used a towel and rolled it for protection. LOVE IT!  So I took her idea and ran with it!

I chose to use fleece (in school colors!) and put together a DIY with instructions and pictures. The dimensions of xylophones vary with size and brand, but here are my measurements for Sonor Meisterklasse Sop, Alto/Tenor, and Bass


Approx. 1yd Fleece per xylophone (56")

Finished Sizes: (w" x h")
Soprano: 31" x 24" (13 bars)
Alto/Tenor: 37" x 24" (15 bars)
Bass: 33" x 23" (13 bars)


Step 1: Cut fleece to desired length
Step 2: Fold fleece in half and remove any selvage.

Step 3: Fold bottom (folded edge) up about 5.5 inches.  For longer bars, fold up more. Pin and sew three edges (left, top, right.  Bottom edge is a fold). I use a tight zig-zag stitch to top stitch rather than turn inside out.  Fleece doesn't fray and the zig-zag stitch is very strong through the two layers.  

I used my seam ripper to hold the bottom fold in place while I zig-zagged through the 4 layers of fleece where the fabric was folded.  It was a little tough on my little machine, but she made it through!

Step 4: (This step differs from Jennifer.  She suggested placing bars and pinning to know where to sew.  I tried this once but since it was such a short distance, the extra pins were a little tedious and once I removed a pin, I was flying blind.  Instead, I decided I'd rather have a line to follow.)
Measure and mark and sew 2.25 inches for bar pockets (Sop and Alto/Tenor) or 2.5 inches for bar pockets (Bass).

That's it!