8 Easy Music Ideas To Send Home When School Is Cancelled

With cancellations occurring across the country, there are still ways your youngest music students can stay musical while school is out. You could also send this out at the beginning of the year for parents or caregivers to refer to during snow days. I teach ages 2 – Kindergarten, so I like to keep things engaging, yet simple. Below are some suggestions you can send home to parents in a note or email. They are also great ways for parents to bond musically with their children.

You can also find the examples below compiled into a parent letter that you can send or email home for free here!

 I Can Sing A Solo 

Have your child sing a song from music class to you. The more chances they have to learn a song and sing it by themselves, the more independent they will be as musicians. Teachers, send home a short list of songs you’re working on. 

Sing Me A Song

Sing one of your favorite songs from childhood to your child. It would be wonderful if a grandparent could do the same! Sing the new song to them several times before they try it on their own. Singing (or chanting nursery rhymes), while bouncing, rocking, or tapping your child will also help them develop their sense of a steady beat. Fingerplays and songs with hand motions like “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” or “This Little Piggy Went to Market” are also great.

Storytime

Find a book to sing to your child, such as “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” or “There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.” If a trip to the library is not an option, find a book in your home with various characters and change the pitch and tone of your voice to represent the different characters. Find opportunities to read loud or soft, slow or fast, low or high, etc.

Listen And Draw

Have students listen to music that conjures up specific images that correlate with the music (program music) such as “Flight of the Bumblebee” and draw what they hear. You can also use soundtracks to movies such as Star Wars or The Incredibles.

Moving To Music

Have students move silently around the room to a few movements from Camille Saint-Saens’s “Carnival of the Animals” as if they were the animals portrayed in that movement.

Make An Instrument

Make percussive instruments from things found in the house or outside that you can hit, shake, or scrape. Play the instruments to your child’s favorite playlist. If you make several instruments, play some behind your child’s back to see if they can guess which instrument you played.

Singing Squiggles

Draw, or have your child draw some squiggly lines and trace them with their fingers while having their voices go up and down along the lines. You can use a neutral syllable like “oo” or “wee.” You can also bend pipe cleaners into squiggly shapes to sing. This is a basic form of graphic notation that leads to a smoother transition into reading music.

I Made It Up

Have your child tell you about what they did today, what they ate, who they saw, etc. but in a singing voice where they improvise the tune. Sing back to them!

Hope these ideas help!

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A Marching Band Fingerplay Lesson for Toddlers & PreK

My toddler and Preschool music classes love this fun fingerplay lesson on marching bands! It includes singing, movement, and playing instruments. They'll all want to join the band after these activities! Even though they were made for Pre-K, tots and Kindergarten enjoy theses lesson plan ideas!

Here are some fun activities for toddler and PreK music lessons I’ve used this month. I start by having the kids make some music with their hands and feet, then we talk about marching bands and watch a short clip of a band. With it being Black History Month, I wanted to showcase an HBCU marching band. Next, we sing and perform the motions to “The Fingerband” and then play actual instruments.

Making Music With Our Bodies

First, we listen to Ella Jenkins’ “Follow the Leader.” I tell kids that we are going to make music with our hands and feet.

Marching Band Visual

Then, I ask them if they’ve ever been to a parade and if they’ve seen marching bands perform there. I wanted to show a video for the kids who may have never been to a parade or football game. After some searching, I came across a video where students can see closeups of the band, drum majors, and color guard. The video and sound quality is impressive for a marching band show. There’s great playing, dancing, and even singing from this video of Florida A&M University’s band at the Rosebowl Parade Bandfest.

Since the video is 20-minutes long, and I only see classes for 25 minutes a week, I only show a short segment. The spot that I use to teach is 15 minutes into the video. I ask students to notice how they march, their tall hats, to listen for the drums, whistle, etc. I only show a minute or so, but if you watch it to the end, there’s a fun surprise with the sousaphones!

The Finger Band Is Coming to Town

Next, we move on to the fingerplay, “The Fingerband.” It’s sung to the tune of “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush” and goes like this:

The Finger Band

1. The finger band is coming to town,
Coming to town, coming to town,
The fingerband is coming to town,
So early in the morning.

Additional verses:
2. This is the way they wear their hats...
3. This is the way they play the drums...
4. This is the way they play the cymbals...
5. *Add verses based on what the children said they saw in the video
6. The finger band is going away...
7. The finger band has gone away...

Motions for each verse:
1. Bring hands out from behind back, move to beat (crescendo optional)
2. Make a tall hat with hands and sway bodies
3. Pat knees (or floor)
4. Clap
5. *For any wind instruments - sing on the syllable "doo" while
miming playing the instrument
6. Bring hands behind back (decrescendo optional)
7. Whisper, you can even get to the point where they are mouthing the words silently.

Break Out the Instruments!

Lastly, have the class play instruments to a march. If your classes are big or the kids are harder to manage due to class size or age, have them sit around the hula hoops and explore instruments that you’ve set in the middle. If they can handle it, you can hand each child an instrument to march around the room in line with. The child in the front can be the drum major and lead the line while holding a rhythm stick or pointer. I march to whatever songs we’ve been working on, but Sousa marches or a New Orleans style brass band would be great to use. Rebirth Brass Band’s, “Do Whatcha Wanna” is a really fun one!

I hope your classes have a lot of fun with these activities! If you are looking for more Preschool activities, I’m currently working on adding more resources on TpT.

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Sneaky Practice Charts For Instrumental Students This Year

Here’s another tool in your toolbox for getting music students to practice their instruments at home. It’s part of the foot-in-the-door phenomenon and works well for all sorts of tasks that we tend to put off.

The foot-in-the-door technique is a way to coerce someone into doing something big by asking them to do something small first. For instance, you could ask your principal for permission to display music advocacy posters throughout the school. Then, when you ask for funds to buy new music stands, your principal will be more likely to say yes to keep the positive momentum going.

There’s also a way to use this technique on yourself. For instance, if you tell yourself that all you have to do is put on your running shoes with no obligation to go for a jog, you will inevitably find yourself jogging more often than not. The same principle applies to practicing. Students must agree to open their cases every day at home. Just open it and nothing else. Students will have to fight the urge to pick it up and play every day. Chances are they will practice a time or two when they otherwise wouldn’t.

Right now is an excellent time of year to do this because winter break is about to begin, and the new year is coming up. Why not have your students make a New Year resolution to do the simplest of tasks that may lead to practicing. Have each section or student commit to something like opening the case, buzzing for 10 seconds on their mp, or putting on their neckstrap once a day. Even sitting for a minute or two and thinking about technique or the clapping a rhythm can do wonders. I’ve added a Small Steps Chart to my Monthly Practice Chart set as well as my New Years Color-By-Note set, but you could easily make your own!

In light of COVID-19, I’ve decided to upload a free page that can be used for any month. Download it here or click on the image below!

Wishing your students a year of happy practicing!

A Fun and Easy Singing Game for “Five Fat Turkeys”

Need a engaging song to sing with your primary students this Fall? Five Fat Turkeys is a popular one and here’s a little game I came up with to keep the kids interested, while providing plenty of opportunities to sing as a class.

After teaching the song, I wanted to make it the focal point of my lesson by reinforcing the song through repetition. I still had a drawing of a tree on the whiteboard from an earlier activity and this is the game that developed out of that.

  • Draw a tree on the white board and stick 5 turkeys on it with tape or magnets. I used die-cut turkeys.
  • Tell the class that they need to close their eyes so the turkeys can hide because, they think some of you are cooks!
  • With their eyes closed, take the turkeys off of the board and place them out of sight. Tell the class to open their eyes.
  • Choose a student to be the cook. While the class sings the song, the cook walks around and tries to guess where the turkeys are hiding.
  • Little do they know that you’ve hidden another set of 5 turkeys under their seats/sit spots before they arrived.
  • When the song is over, the cook get 1-3 guesses as to where a turkey may be hiding by pointing to another child’s seat.
  • The seated child checks underneath for a turkey. If a turkey is found, that child becomes the cook and the game repeats. If all of the guesses are used up and no turkey is found, you can appoint a new child to be the cook.

Hope your students enjoy this fun, fall song!

A Fun and Easy Singing Game for "Five Fat Turkeys" that your students will love to play in music calss this November! It's great way to boost your Fall elementary lesson plans for PreK, Kindergarten, and first grade! It's simple to play and requires almost no extra materials. Your primary students will ask for it again and again! #sillyomusic #elmused #musiceducation