Saturday, January 19, 2013

More Activities for 4th and 5th Graders

One of my favorite things about teaching older students is how many elements of music I get to integrate into one lesson.  I can ask them questions about advanced musical vocabulary, ask them to sight-sing, assign them to various instruments (yay, finally including the recorder), and rely upon their creativity to create movement activities and different sections to accompany a song.  You also get to make stronger connections between the music and its subject, content, or history.

The following two activities are great for your older students, especially considering February is Black History Month.  Take a look at all they can learn:

Lil' Liza Jane:
 When I was student-teaching, my mentor teacher (Orff-trained) was into all things body percussion.  Her oldest students were 8th graders!  We had so much fun!  I often incorporate body percussion into my lessons now, even if I have to invent some.  For the above slide, each of the colored lyrics represent a different body percussion move.  First, I add in one color while we chant the lyrics.  Then, a second color.  Finally, all three colors.  Sometimes I'll add dynamic markings or change the tempo.  I'll also choose student-leaders to do this.  I love choosing student-leaders, and the kids love following them!

After the body percussion slide, I have another where students match the body percussion to the correct rhythm.  Then, we clap and chant the rhythm, then clap and chant the lyrics.  I am always asking them, "Why do we need rhythms?  What do they tell us?"  This song is also great for reviewing the dotted quarter/eighth and eighth/quarter/eighth rhythm patterns.

After the rhythms, I project the same slide, only with the solfa pitches added.  I ask the students, "Why haven't we been using our singing voices?"  I ask this question repeatedly as well, and some are indignant as they respond, "Because we don't have any solfa telling us how high or low to sing!"
Check out the "notes" in the Power Point - I've included many tips for teaching, assessing, and questioning.  Often, this is a stopping point for one lesson.

Also included in the Power Point are the pitches on the staff in three ways: solfa, pitch names, and unmarked:

The pitch names are handy for adding students on the recorder.  Advanced recorder players (you always have a few, or more than a few, who are ready to devour anything on that instrument) can accompany the class.  I've also added a drum part, tambourine part, and bass xylophone part.

So, students have been using body percussion, reading rhythms, sight-singing, adding instruments - it is time for movement.  This movement example is really easy, but the kids love it:
During the "sashay" sometimes I'll let the kids use their own moves.  I give them time to come up with a move with their partner and also insist that the move relates to the music and is appropriate for school.  These are pretty entertaining for all of us.  Of course, some students are not moving - they are accompanying us on the instruments.  You can select some students as "judges" who select the best pair of free-stylers.

After the movement element, I have the students work in groups of four to construct the melody using "broken heart" cards:
The students need to match the hearts and then put them in order to construct the melody.  This is a good assessment tool for me.  If a group finishes quickly, you can ask them to come up with different lyrics ("Let's go see a movie, 'Lil Liza Jane", etc).

I've also included a few slides you can use if you need to teach or review the rhythms with your students:

The next song is called "Hold My Mule".  It is very similar to good old "Cant' Dance Josey".  The students learn "Can't Dance" in 3rd grade.  I use a combination of the following great resource to teach this:

We review these songs and create an AB form:
A (Can't Dance with instruments)
B (Hold My Mule with movement)

The Power Point includes the song (lyrics, rhythm, melody) and movement instructions.  Students like to substitute other things instead of "mule". Funny stuff!

You can get both the Power Points here: Two African American Songs for 4th and 5th Graders

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