Today on the podcast, in part II of this two part series, I’m chatting all about where to find STUFF for your music classroom. If you’re looking for some great ways to include lesson enhancements and make your teaching come alive, this is the place to be!! Today I’m sharing all about manipulatives, technology, and some additional teaching resources you might not have thought of before.
Resources & Links mentioned in this episode:

Puppets – My absolute favorite brand is folkmanis puppets. You can find them here on Amazon, and often at Barnes & Noble as well!
What I use them for…
  • Audiation – I love using puppets (or other toys) that can “hide” to show students when to sing and when to use their inner hearing skills for a song or activity. My two favorite puppets to use for this are this monkey one, and this owl one.
  • Echo Songs – having a prop or a “friend” who can sing along with your students can be a great way to indicate “my turn, your turn,” particularly with a difficult echo pattern (i.e. like the song “Lemonade.”) Any puppet will do for this!
  • Solo Singing – I find that for younger and older students alike, having a prop is a fabulous distraction from the fact that they are singing alone in front of their peers! I have used this strategy with my younger students, but it has surprisingly been the MOST effective with my older kids. For example, one of my core 6-8 songs is “Charlie Over the Ocean,” which I play as a solo singing chase game in fifth grade. Using this clown fish puppet gets my students really excited to have a turn, and it’s almost like they forget they are singing alone!
Target Erasers – I know you’ve seen them for every season and every theme, and I absolutely LOVE these for the music classroom. They typically come in a bag of 60 for $1, although you can buy them in other places as well, such as Oriental Trading Company.
What I use them for…
  • Theming or seasonal tie-ins – I’m not a huge proponent of tying in themes to my lessons, unless there is a clear conceptual tie-in. However, it’s super fun to use apple erasers for “Apple Tree” or bee erasers for “Bee Bee Bumble Bee” if there is an appropriate literacy activity that can go along with it!
  • Rhythmic & melodic dictation – These erasers are fabulous for rhythmic and melodic dictation–and not just after students know formal notation! They are great for the exploration phase to reinforce aural, visual, and kinesthetic preparation for a literacy component. I love using them with beat blanks and these dictation staffs.
  • Composition – Particularly if you’ve used these manipulatives as an exploration activity, they are a fabulous extension activity as well. Use them as a bridge to formal notation by translating the iconic representation into formal notation. Then, have students use them as manipulatives to create their own compositions!
Picture Books – I absolutely adore using books in my classroom. Aside from the obvious cross-curricular tie-in, speech is an inherent part of what we do with music making, whether it’s rhythmic speech or text set to a melody. Using picture books is a fabulous way to reinforce and build predictive skills for students musically, based on the way the language works. If this is a new idea for you, I highly recommend checking out Iza Trapani’s nursery rhyme books here.
Three ways to use picture books…
  • Song Tales – One of the most important things you can do in your classroom is give your students a sound vocal model (pun intended). Particularly in the younger grades (although older kids love them too!), I tend to end each class period with a story. Two of my favorites are Over in the Meadow, and Over in the Hollow.
  • Exploring comparatives – Picture books are fantastic for reinforcing comparatives, or opposites, such as higher/lower, faster/slower, etc. There are about a million and a half books that do this, but one of my absolute favorites is Mortimer.
  • Reinforcing tonal center – Because of the predictive nature of rhyming words, there are so many awesome ways to give students the opportunity to audiate and predict tonal center. Read the blog post I wrote here about 5 books to reinforce tonal center in the elementary classroom.
Technology – In the spirit of staying true to enhancing your music lessons, I am a firm believer that technology should not take the place of active music making in your classroom. However, there is no doubt that it is an integral part of our world, and shouldn’t be ignored in the context of the music classroom–when it is conceptually and appropriate for the learning task(s) at hand.
Here are three entry points to using technology in the classroom:
  • Incredibox – I’m willing to bet you’ve heard of this app/website! I’ve used it as an extension for my lesson(s) on ostinato, and the kids absolutely love it. Make it more active by seeing if your kids can transfer their creation from the digital world into the music room with unpitched percussion instruments and body percussion.
  • Interactive white board activities – Even if you don’t have a smartboard or promethean board or any of the fancy new projectors that are popping up in classrooms everywhere, you can still find ways to include interactive whiteboard presentations in your classroom. Whether it’s as a PDF, powerpoint, or keynote file, these games and activities are super fun to reinforce literacy skills and explore concepts with your kids in a way that still promotes music making, literacy, and fluency. If you don’t feel technologically savvy enough to create your own, there are many on Teachers Pay TeachersHere is one of my favorites that I use with all my kids in October. 
  • Seesaw – This is a wonderful website/app that can be used just by the teacher, or integrated with a 1-to-1 or 1 to however many teaching scenario. Again, this is one of the more popular apps to use in the classroom, and it’s a great way to create a classroom portfolio and allow your students to interact with one another’s’ learning. Here’s a video I recorded sharing how I’ve used Seesaw as an assessment tool for my kids.
Other online resources – Although these aren’t things you would necessarily share in your classroom with your students, I wanted to make sure I included these resources in this two part series, because they are invaluable to us as music teachers. Since we are often the only one in our building, take the opportunity to collaborate with your peers and use the internet for good!
A couple places to take a peek…
  • Blogs – There are so many amazing music educators sharing their ideas on blogs, particularly elementary folks! What I love about blogs is that you can visually see what folks are doing inside of their classrooms, and there are often free resources that accompany blog posts! The Anacrusic blog has been a little quiet for a while (thanks to the podcast!) but it will be making a resurgence come this fall. Another great place to check out blogs is The TpT Music Crew!
  • Podcasts – Although they are fairly new to the party, there are more and more music education podcasts popping up every day! Search around wherever you listen to podcasts, and you’ll discover folks who are sharing lots of great lessons and professional development ideas through this media. If you need a place to start, check out The MuTed Podcast Network here.
  • Social Media – There’s no doubt that I loooove me some social media! It has completely changed the way that I do everything and create resources for folks inside of the Anacrusic Community! Whether it’s through the TAP Insiders Facebook Group, scrolling on Instagram, or peeking through Pinterest, social media is definitely a place to be collaborating with other music teachers.

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