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Last year, I made a goal for myself to have many of the grades I teach to have a featured “Music Book of the Month.” Depending on the book, we would sing, act out, move to, create music to, or accompany ourselves to the words of the book. They were great units and the students got to musically dive into and explore many wonderful books. With October beginning in a few days, here are my early childhood and elementary music books for the month of October:
We read the book in one class, learn the song in the following classes, act out the story, and finally add wind chimes and a wood block (or whip crack depending on the class) to bring out the “ooo went the wind and out went the lights.”
PreK Olders (ages 4 to 5): Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star (Classic Books With Holes) by Jane Taylor and Annie Kubler
We read the book, sing the song, and move to the song with scarves. I also have them listen to the Mozart’s Variations on ‘Ah, vous dirai-je, Maman’ K265 and have them move to the various tempos. My other goal for this lesson is to incorporate form and parts of a song in relation to the whole entire song. Utilizing the “page recording” option in the SMART Notebook software, I create a file with objects that represent each phrase. I press page record and place the items in the correct order. When the students come into the room, the items are out of the order. The students place the items in the order they think is correct and press the “play” button. The page recording I previously recorded now plays and shows the students if the items they put in their order were correct.
We revisit this in Kindergarten and taking out my older laptop, use Sibelius’s Groovy Shapes to create their own music with the same form.
This book is loved by so many children. We read the book, then sing it, and then add instruments to it performing the “ta ta ta ta” pattern on classroom instruments. We end the unit by acting out the song. If you like this book, there are many more in the series that I encourage you to visit. My youngest daughter (age 1) will say “Ohhhh no!” when she sees the cover of the book. My three-year-old will sing the entire book to you at the drop of a hat.
1st Grade: Horace and Morris Join the Chorus (but what about Dolores?) (Horace and Morris and Dolores) by James Howe and Amy Walrod
Another wonderful series for young children. I utilize this book to reinforce the concept of four voices and to determine which voices Dolores is using throughout the book. In addition, the first graders can join an after school enrichment chorus and I use this book to explain the concept of chorus and that with a little bit of practice, Dolores could sing well and enhance the chorus with her voice and her poem.
Our composer of the month is John Philip Sousa as we have been studying steady beat, rhythms with quarter, half, whole, and eighth notes, and tempo. We read the book, play along and move to his music, explore our surroundings for steady beats, and end with using Music Ace steady beat lesson for the students to work in groups to test their abilities to keep a steady beat.
Each month, we highlight a different book in music class focusing on music, theater, and music and movement concepts. I am looking forward to seeing the creativity we will produce in our music classes this month with these books.
Amy M. Burns is an elementary music educator, clinician, author, and musician. She currently works at Far Hills Country Day School in Far Hills, NJ teaching PreK through Grade 3 general music, grade 5 instrumental music, and grades 4-8 instrumental band. She is the author of Technology Integration in the Elementary Music Classroom, Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with a SMART Board, and Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with One or more iPads! She is also an author for Online Learning Exchange™ Interactive Music powered by Silver Burdett. She has given numerous presentations on integrating technology into the elementary music classroom as well as being a keynote speaker for music technology conferences in Texas, Indiana, St. Maarten, and Australia. She is the recipient of the 2005 TI:ME Teacher of the Year Award, the 2016 NJ Master Music Teacher Award, the 2016 NJ Governor’s Leader in Arts Education Award, and the 2017 Non-Public School Teacher of the Year Award. You can find out more about Amy at her website: amymburns.com