Monday, September 2, 2013

Music Interactive Notebooks, update

 UPDATE: Hello everyone!  I have been at a new school with nearly 3x the students!  Eek!  Interactive notebooks haven't been feasible here, so I haven't been keeping up with them.  I do have some of the things I've use available for free (see the links below) and I'm working on uploading more!

Several of my wonderful readers have asked/emailed about how I use interactive notebooks in the music room.  Hopefully this post can help you, in case you decide to use them in your own classroom. 

Let me caution you - This is only my 2nd year using them.  I decided to "give it one more go" before I pass judgement on the idea as a whole.  Last year, I used them often in the first semester, but they somewhat "fizzled" out in the second - I even decided to keep my 5th graders notebooks and recycle them for third this year.

Pros - I like the idea of having a place for students to log what they've learned, reflect on what they've heard, and post assignments and compositions, not to mention something they can take with them when they go on to middle school.  The students have been positive about using the notebooks and seem to enjoy them.

Cons - I do not like the 1) time it takes to use the notebooks and, honestly,  the 2) time it takes for me to create things to go inside the notebooks (Have you seen your average 3rd grader make a foldable? Eeek), 3) the cost (or acquisition) of materials (makers, pens, glue, paper, and the notebooks themselves).

Some basics:
* I only use notebooks with grades 3-5.  You might just pick one or two grades to "try it out".
* Find a convenient place to store them and an efficient way to pass them out/clean them up.  I store them on a bookshelf by homeroom teacher.  On the cover, I've written the student's name, grade, and teacher in permanent marker.  I color-code (using a marker dot or sticker) each journal based on where the student sits (if they sit on the red risers, they have a red dot, etc).  Journals can be passed out quickly during our normal greeting/warm-up routine.
* Create a sense of "ownership" for the students - praise their good work, allow them to share with others, ask to use theirs as "model" for other classes/grades, put a cute sticker on a particularly worthy assignment
* Create meaningful assignments that are aligned with your curriculum.  For me, this is why so much of my notebook is a "work in progress".  I've had to "grow" my curriculum with my students.  This is my 3rd year with them, and it is the first year that I've though, "Whew, they are pretty much on-pace with where they should be."
* Keep it simple - If I can use the large paper-cutter to crop a worksheet, rather than hand 25 scissors to 3rd graders, I'll do myself, thanks.  If it will take me twenty minutes to fold 20 foldables when it would take a 4th grader 20 minutes to fold 1, I'll do it.  If I can glue in a page and spare 30 glue-bottles from the fingers of 30 5th graders, I'll do that too.  See what I mean about cons (taking a lot of your time)?
* If you want to have an organized notebook (a section for rhythm, a section for melodies, etc), you'll need to plan out nearly all the components ahead of time.  I do a basic "notebook" planning page per nine weeks, where I list things I want to create or have the students create to put in their notebooks.  Then, I simply have the students enter  in notes and assignments as we complete them.  Many teachers have their student's notebooks number by page (i.e. pages 20-35 are rhythmic pages), but those teachers are usually teaching only one classroom of students, not multiple classes and grade levels.

Anyway, here are a few pages from my current 3rd grade "model" notebook.  We'll begin working in our notebooks next week (fingers crossed).

Here's the title-page for our notebooks.  I let the students decorate it themselves, as long as what they draw is music-related.  I set a time limit of 10 minutes for this activity and I usually multi-task by playing a song we're learning or will learn, or have learned, or will listen to, etc, while they complete this task.

This sheet includes the musical vocabulary the students will learn over the first nine-weeks.  Words highlighted in yellow are words the students are learning/have learned.  At the end of the first nine weeks, the students put a green dot next to words they are sure they know, and a red dot next to words they are unsure of this.  This gives me the opportunity to see what we need to revisit or relearn.  Vocabulary words are posted on the word wall and on the "vocabulary wall" which is a large pocket chart (I forgot to take a picture of this but I will post it soon - it is very effective).

This little page is quite interactive. The students illustrate each vocabulary word.  We use these words ALL the time (they are also on the word wall and currently on the vocabulary wall as we are reviewing them).

Here are some rhythm pages for 3rd grade.  In addition to basic rhythms (whole note/rest, half note/rest, quarter note/rest, eighth notes and sixteenth notes), my 3rd graders also learn the dotted half note, tika-ti (2 sixteenths, one eighth), and ti-tika (1 eighth, 2 sixteenths).  I usually also touch on  syn-co-pa (eighth quarter eighth) and tam-ti (dotted quarter eighth) because these rhythms are common in some of the recorder and choral music we do.

One Beat Rhythms

Two Beat Rhythms
Four Beat Rhythms

I'll also be including some rhythm practice pages and a few rhythm composition activities that the students will glue in.

Here are a few melodic-based pages.
Melodic Shape Activity

Melodic Vocabulary with Illustrations

Do Re Mi Song Activity

Treble Clef - corresponds to boomwhacker colors

Music Street
I like the music street printable.  Students fill in the solfa as we learn them.  Some students can use the floor staff, while others track the movement in their notebooks (as we discuss steps, skips, and leaps).
I also plan to include some sight-reading practice pages (more soon).

Students can also log listening experiences.  I like to include these basic vocabulary pages so students can refer to them.

And short assignments, like the ones described in 3rd Grade Listening Recommendations , can also be logged here.
Listening Recommendations
Exploration Report

Two years ago, I had a moderate obsession with foldables.  I'm currently "researching" (and by that, I mean browsing Pinterest) to see which foldables to incorporate in the interactive notebook.

Love this book!

Orchestral Instruments Foldable

Pentatonic Page from previous notebooks

Recorder Fingerings Foldable

Rhythm Value Look Book - I'll probably use this again
See what I mean?  Obsessed.  This year, I've already created one new foldable:
I love it because it was so simple to create (just print, cut out the square for the students).  I'm thinking we could use a few of these as we study composers.

That's about all I have for right now.  I'll update soon!


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  2. Hi Emily,

    I love the idea of the Music Data Notebook and am going to try it this year with one grade level; probably 4th. I was able to recreate some of the sheets you use but am having a hard time re-creating the Data Graph Rhythm Assessments page. Do you have your data notebook pages on TPT or would you be willing to send me a pdf of it? Thank you for your inspiration :)My email is
    I am in Jacksonville, Fl!

  3. Can you explain what you do with the rhythm value look book?

  4. Yes of course. On the back of each flap, I've written the value of the rhythm (for example - quarter note gets 1 beat). When students do "Music Math" activities where they are adding the number of beats in groups of rhythms or trying to separate the rhythms into equal measures, they can use this as a reference. I've also had students (5th graders) create these in past to take home (usually around our recorder unit so they have it again as a reference). Hope that helps!

  5. This is the absolute best thing I've seen for music!!! Is it on TpT? Can you send me the files!? That'd be fabulous! You made it extremely educational and fabulous!

  6. Sure! I will send you an email with what I have so far. Thanks!

  7. Your blog is incredible. It's been so helpful to have so many creative ideas all in one place. I want to try this with my 4th-6th graders. Can you send me your resources?

  8. Do you have these pages available on TPT yet? I feel guilty asking since you are so generous with a lot of your stuff, but if it's not on TPT and you are willing to share some of the pages you put in the notebook, I'd love to use them. My email is Thanks so much! Love all your stuff!

  9. Check your email Amy. I didn't put these on TPT because they are soooo still a work in progress. Please let me know how they work out for you/any suggestions you have. Thanks!


  10. Hi! :) I love all of your worksheets for the notebook! Is this on TpT? If not, can you e-mail them to me? Thank you so much for sharing all of your creativity! :)

  11. Can I feature a few of your ideas and pictures for interactive notebooks on my blog with a link back to your blog? I'm trying to put together several resource links for music interactive notebooks.

    1. Of course - thank-you. I look forward to reading your post.

  12. Hi! I would LOVE directions on how to make your recorder fingering, rhythm value look book, and composer foldables. I will GLADLY pay for them on TPT if you point me in the right direction! (Link). You can email me at

  13. Emily, Can you please send me a copy of the pages you have in this blog entry, unless you have posted them on TPT. In that case, I would gladly pay for them!!! Thanks, Mary at

    I have the rhythm graphs and instrument pages but not these! You are blazing new trails for music teachers it!

  14. Hi Emily! Would you be willing to send me the documents you used for your students' notebooks, or the link to your TPT page, if you have them posted there? Thanks!

  15. Would you be willing to send me the documents you used for your students' notebooks, or the link to your TPT page, if you have them posted there? Thanks!

  16. I am interested in creating student notebooks for my fourth graders next year. I have been searching TPT but have not been able to find them. Would you be willing to send me the documents you used in your music notebooks. I really like the idea of the composer foldable! Thank you so much for sharing your great ideas!

  17. Hi everyone!
    I know I've been saying this for a bit, but I am working on a TPT freebie (So take that "freebie-ness" into account when you download - it isn't a methodical set, it will just be thing that I created for my students throughout the past few years ;) ) that will have my music data notebook pages (those that do not relate to the 7 Habits) as well as my music interactive notebook pages included within it. My goal is to have the up no later than August 15th.

    I hope this helps!

  18. I would love a copy of your music interactive notebook ideas!!! Are they on TPT or would you email them to me? My address is Thanks so much! What an awesome idea!

  19. I really like ur ideas can you send me ur resources? :-)fantastic thanks

  20. I really like ur ideas can you send me ur resources? :-)fantastic thanks

  21. I LOVE your notebooks! Could I have a copy please?

  22. These look fabulous. I looked on TPT and only found a few. If you're still sharing your resources, I'd love to have this copy. Thanks :)

  23. Emily - I would be happy to pay you for your note value look book. Is this available on TPT?
    Margaret Ann

  24. I'm trying to figure out my own interactive notebooks for music that students can use and re-use from grade 5-8.

    Would you be able to send me a few of your resources with this? It would be greatly appreciated (

    Thank you

  25. Are these on TPT? Is there any way I can get/buy a copy of these? My email is They are great! I use chairs in my room, and each chair has a basket under it that has all the notebooks for students that sit at that chair, as well as pencils, scissors, glue and crayons. I have music helpers in the morning that put whatever sheets we're using that day in the baskets, so when class rolls around, there is nothing to pass out. :)

  26. I really like your idea of music interactive notebooks and would like to do this with my 4th-6th grade classes. Could you send your resources or are they available on TPT? My email address is Thank you so much and looking forward to trying this!

  27. I love your ideas. Are you selling on TPT? I would love to get copies of what you have. How can I get a hold of your interactive notebook ideas?

  28. Hi Emily,
    I am a new music teacher and your resources look absolutely wonderful! I taught 5th grade for 20+ years and now am the K-8 music teacher. Yikes! Could you please share your interactives with me. My email is:
    Thank you!!1

  29. Hi Emily,
    I am a new music teacher and your resources look absolutely wonderful! I taught 5th grade for 20+ years and now am the K-8 music teacher. Yikes! Could you please share your interactives with me. My email is:
    Thank you!!1

  30. Hi Emily,
    I love this resource! I'm teaching my 3rd grade daughter at home this year because of bullying. She loves music, and I don't want her to miss out on this. Is there any way you would be willing to share this interactive notebook and how it is put together? I found your recorder packet on TPTs and am purchasing a recorder for her as she would have started that this coming year. My email is:

    Thank you!

  31. I really like your idea of music interactive notebooks and would like to do this with my 4th-6th grade classes. Could you send your resources or are they available on TPT? My email address is! Thank you I look forward to using this in my music classroom.

  32. I love this! I currently teach 1st-3rd grades all together, and want to use lap books as an option for my older students who have had some music background (so they don't get bored). Is it available to download or purchase from TPT? Or can I get some of these some other way?

  33. Love all the great ideas! Are you on TPT yet? Please let me know at Thank you!

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