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!

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

How to Use Simple Routines for Classroom Management in the Music Room

Did you know that simple routines in your music classroom can knock out a majority of unwanted behaviors? If you don’t have a clearcut routine for most of your lessons, your students walk in not knowing what to expect. Routines also help students transition from activity to activity without feeling insecure. They are able to transition quickly and focus on other things like reading, composing, and listening.

Think about going to the grocery store, what if all the foods were in different aisles every week? Think about your bedtime routine, it’s usually the same every night, and that’s ok! It’s great to have spontaneous moments, but it’s also beneficial to give your students an idea of how your time together will be spent. Ensemble classes like band and chorus may lend themselves more toward a routine. Students know how much time they generally have to set-up, they also know that tuning and warm-ups come before rep. The same can be true for your general music classes. Do this by deleveloping a series of activities. Then plug in old objectives for new ones.

Here’s an example of what I mean:
1. Entering the room: have assigned seats, will students enter with music and/or movement? Pick out a hello song that lends itself to changing with your objective for the day.

2. Roll call. Sing roll or use a chant, just be consistent while also adding new twists as the year progresses.

3. Sing warm-ups. Don’t worry about being boring, children love repetition! Switch it up when you start getting bored, chances are you’ll get tired of the songs before they do. You can start with a simple tune that eventually becomes a round.

4. Review with some fun flashcard games tailored around your objective. You could also use whiteboard or powerpoint games.

5. Teach the new song you have picked out. Maybe on the first lesson, they will only learn the rhythm, and in the next lesson they will learn the melody. Then in their final lesson they will play a circle game with the song.

6. Review something new that you’ve learned with some centers activities or another whole group game. Maybe you will work on a project at the end of class. Taylor to your teaching needs, but be consistent.

7. Exit the same way every class. I’ve used good-bye songs with primary and with the older kids, something as simple as clap 1: stand, clap 2: turn, and clap 3: file out of the room, has worked for me.

Do what works for you, just be consistent! To hear an in-depth conversation on this subject, check out The Elementary Music Teacher’s podcast where I chat with Jessica about my journey in developing a routine!