School – Week 14

As it was still around Thanksgiving, we also had Monday off this week, so it was another short week. Only one new intervention this week, too!

Busted: This one is all over Pinterest for music education. I made popsicle sticks with different rhythm patterns on them and put them in a drum. I also wrote the word BUSTED! on 5 sticks. Then I went around the room to each student. If they pulled a stick with a rhythm and clapped it correctly, they got to keep the stick. If they pulled a stick with BUSTED! they had to surrender all their sticks and start from scratch. It’s a pretty simple game that the kids seemed to enjoy. They all got excited when another BUSTED! stick was pulled. You can kind of play it by ear as to whether you want to leave the BUSTED! sticks out after they’re pulled or put them back in. Just depends on how long you want the game to be. This one clearly is more lesson-based, but it does address coping with a loss in a small way. You could also adapt it to write whatever you want on the sticks

Another short post for ya!

– Arianna (:

School – Week 13

This was the week of Thanksgiving, so it was a short one. I mostly finished up some activities with my classes that I’ve already talked about in other posts.

Turkey, Turkey, Turkey: One new intervention I used was Thanksgiving themed. I used the idea from this blog post. The kids in the class sat in a circle, with one person outside facing away. I sang the song listed in the post, while we passed a paper turkey that I colored and cut out around the circle. As it ended, the student with the turkey hid it behind his or her back. Then the student outside the circle asked or sang “Turkey where are you?” (I didn’t focus as much on the actual singing for my students – if they didn’t want to sing I didn’t force them). Then whoever had the turkey said “You’ll never find me” while trying to disguise their voice. A couple different categories I had for different voices were high pitched, low pitched, silly voice, under water voice (moving finger back and forth on lips while talking), whisper, talking with your tongue out, etc. Then I gave the person outside the circle two chances to guess who has the turkey. I used this less as a specific lesson or assessment focused on singing and made it more of a socialization activity where they got to be a little silly and make different voices. They also had to follow directions and continue to pass the turkey even if they wanted to be the person who holds it.

That’s really all for Week 13!

– Arianna (:

School – Week 12

Hide & Seek: This game was definitely a hit across the majority of my classes. There was one person as the seeker and one person as the hider. The seeker stood at the front of the room with his/her back facing everyone (eyes closed, too!), then the hider took an egg shaker and walked somewhere in the room, shook the egg, and hid it somewhere. I made sure they were shaking the egg right before they hid it, so the person seeking could get a good idea of where it was in the room. Once the egg was hidden and the hider returned to his/her seat, the seeker had an opportunity to look around for the egg shaker. If it took the seeker a little while, I allowed the class to give hot/cold hints to help out a little. Some adaptations are to do this with two rounds: first one is just the egg shaker, and the second is an egg shaker and wrist bells. I also had some kids pair up, with each team listening for a different instrument sound to really work on teamwork. Otherwise this intervention works well for attention to task and following directions.

Drum Circle (Cont’d): So a few months ago I went to a Drumming & Autism training led by Jim Donovan. He demonstrated some really cool drumming interventions that I was really excited to incorporate with my kiddos, since I was already doing drum circle work with them! At the time, this class was especially having difficulty with some of their relationships/group cohesion, so I was hoping to use drumming to develop some positive interactions and relationships. One game I used from the training used the concept of “The Wave.” First you go around and everyone plays just one hit on their instrument. Then you incorporate what he called a “flurry,” which is just a quick drum roll. Then you can add passing it with eye contact, doing it backwards, adding vocalizations (names, animal noises, opera singing, random sounds, foods, literally anything!). I also like to add funny faces, and something I incorporated for this class was compliments, so they each went around and said something nice about the person sitting next to them. I also asked if they wanted to send anything around — I think at one point we did jokes. But this activity is super flexible for adaptations! It creates a safe environment where everyone can be silly, and also engage in positive interactions.

Boomwhackers: Jim Donovan also showed us some interventions with boomwhackers at the training. With my class, we did some call & response rhythms using different sounds (tapping the floor, tapping them together, tapping our legs), and then one thing I learned at the training was having the students close their eyes and listen to the different sounds and try to repeat my patterns with their eyes closed. Of course, I did not force anyone to close their eyes — I only offered for them to do it if they felt comfortable. Then I asked the students to play the boomwhackers in a scale as I pointed to the letters on the board. I previously worked on chords with this class, so we started building chords and doing different progressions with the boomwhackers. I’d like to try some sort of ensemble work with them some day but haven’t gotten around to it yet!

Ask-It Basket: This is an intervention I used a few times when I was in a mental health facility during my internship. I got the idea when I observed a drug and alcohol rehab group. The therapist asked everyone in the group to write down a question they had and put it in a basket. He then pulled each question out of the basket and the group talked about them. I adapted this idea for my patients, and ultimately used it here at the school for my older students. I gave each student a slip of paper and asked them to write something that was on their mind that day. I collected the slips of paper and redistributed them randomly to the group, so each person had someone else’s paper. Then I asked each student to read the slip of paper they had from another person and pick a song from my list for that person. I went through and played each song live, and I asked each person how they chose that song for that person. I also said at the beginning of the activity that if anyone felt comfortable sharing their thoughts on the song chosen for him/her, they certainly could, but I did not force them. This is a nice way to encourage some group cohesion, positive interaction, and empathy.

School – Week 11

Rhythm Squares: To set up this rhythm game, I got two white pieces of posterboard and divided them into 4 quadrants. Then I drew quarter notes, half notes, eighth notes, quarter rests, and half rests on index cards. I taped the notes to form different rhythms in each of the boxes, making sure that both posters had the same rhythms. I also put a piece of velcro in each quadrant, and then I took two yellow circles I previously made as tokens for another activity and put the other half of the velcro on the back of those. I asked for two students to come up to the board and gave each of them a token. Then I played one of the rhythms on a drum and the students raced to put their token on the correct rhythm. I’d usually ask the class who was on the right rhythm to keep everyone engaged. This one was really a hit across all my classes — even some of the students who initially said, “I’ll try it but I won’t be good at it,” found some enjoyment out of it. There was just enough of a competition to keep the kids having fun, but not fighting or getting upset over winning/losing.
Credit: Rhythm Squares. I would love to try this game as she actually describes it in her post, but I wanted to come up with an indoor activity, and the idea of the kiddos running didn’t really appeal to me, haha. But I might try it one day during the school summer program!

Grocery Rhythms: This activity I did with my younger classes, mostly. I took strips of paper and wrote different foods on them (mostly from my actual grocery list). I ended up with 1 syllable words (quarter note), 2 syllable words (2 eighth notes), 3 syllable words (2 eighths + 1 quarter), and 6 syllable words (4 eighth notes + 2 quarter notes). I put each rhythm on a paper plate, and the students’ job was to sort the foods on the correct plates. Even for my younger classes without much rhythmic knowledge, they were able to be successful in this activity by sorting by the number of syllables. Then I had them “go shopping” and pick 4 foods. Each person got a turn to play the rhythm of those foods on the drum. I almost made up a rap to go along with it, but never got around to it. Some kids added their own words, like saying “I like to eat” before they started and things like that.
Credit: Musical Groceries. You’ll see here that I took my own twist on this idea, but this is also a great way to go about it.

Pass the Ball: This was just a simple intervention I used with my younger classes. I put on some popular music and we worked on feeling a steady beat by passing a ball around. We started with slow songs (like Radioactive) and gradually worked up to faster songs (like Can’t Stop The Feeling).
Credit: I saw my supervisor use this once in a session.

Carnival of the Animals: For this intervention, I printed out cards that had each animal represented in Saint Saens “Carnival of the Animals.” Each student got a ziplock bag with the animal cards in it. They laid the cards out and listened to the music to guess which animal was being played. We also talked about certain qualities of the animals that were represented in each piece (e.g.: the cheetah was fast, elephant sounded like it was stomping, kangaroo sounded like it was jumping, turtle was slow, etc.)
Credit: This was also a suggestion from my supervisor that she used while she was at this facility!

Drum Circle: I started working on drum circle activities with some of my older classes around this time. I used Kalani’s Let’s All Play Our Drum to start the group, and then I used his Orbit – II game. First I did this by just sending one pattern around, and eventually I tried layering patterns at the same time. Layering the patterns was pretty tricky, so sometimes I stopped the group to process what we could do to make it easier. Some ideas they came up with were only paying attention to the person in front of you, making eye contact, and tuning me out (hello problem solving!). I’ll talk about more drum circle interventions that I learned at a training in my next post!

– Arianna (:

School – Week 10

Guess the Halloween Song: This happened to be the week of Halloween, so I wanted to do a fun Halloween-themed game. My supervisor previously picked up a large foam die from Five Below, so I was trying to think of a way to use it. What I did was I made 6 different playlists just numbered 1 through 6 and put different Halloween-themed songs on them in order of difficulty. So all the songs on the 1 and 2 playlists were the ones I considered “easy,” and then the 5 and 6 playlists were “hard.” Each student got the chance to roll the die, and whatever number it landed on was the number playlist I would play from. I said any student could answer – it didn’t have to be the student who rolled, but you could certainly do it that way.

Statues Song: Going along with Halloween, I adapted this song and changed the words to include something Halloween-themed (I lost the lyrics somewhere), but at the end I had the students yell “Boo!” One student laid on the floor with his/her eyes closed while the students walked around and sang (although, mostly it was me singing), at the end when everyone yelled “Boo!” they had to freeze, and the person who was laying down walked around trying to make everyone laugh! When someone laughed, they could join in and help make others laugh. This was a great way to encourage some positive socialization and impulse control!

Silly Sentences: I found a set of silly sentences from this Pinterest post, and I thought it would be fun to use them to write silly song lyrics with my youngest class. I’m sure there’s a better way to do this, but it was sort of spur of the moment so I just went with what I thought was best at the time. Here’s how I did it: I cut out small pieces of paper that had each of the words on them and grouped them into Who, How, Type, What, Where (paper clipped together). I wish I could’ve printed out the words with the cartoon images on them but I didn’t have the time. I made enough sets for the 6 or so students in that class. During the activity, I gave each student a piece of construction paper. Then I gave out each category one by one and let the students tape (didn’t have glue) their words in sentences on the paper. They chose one word from each category and then I collected their words again and they got to pick the next word. It was a pretty decent struggle keeping track of all those tiny squares of paper, so this is definitely where you could put your thinking cap on to make it more functional for you. After we finished our sentences, I took everyone’s and made up a melody to go along with the songs!

– Arianna (:

School – Week 9

Rhythm Ping Pong: The students LOVED this, no matter how old they were (I admit I haven’t tried it with my youngest class yet because I’m a little nervous how they’ll handle it…). I adapted the idea from this post on Pinterest. So I brought in a large tub that I had at home and conveniently had a box of ping pong balls in my room at school. I went ahead and drew different rhythms on the ping pong balls – whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes, quarter rests, and half rests. I designated one student as the “thrower” and one as the “ball getter” (because ping pong balls are pesky and just roll all over the place). The thrower had a bag of maybe 15 or so ping pong balls and his/her goal was to toss or bounce them so that they landed in the bucket. The bucket I got was large enough so that a majority of the students were very successful at scoring ping pong balls. Once they were done throwing, the students took the ping pong balls they scored and wrote them down in any order on a sheet of paper. After everyone got an opportunity to throw, then they got to perform their rhythms on a drum. The only tricky part is that I included half notes and whole notes, which are a little tough to comprehend on an instrument that doesn’t necessarily hold out a sound. I just told them to let the drum ring out when they had rhythms with multiple beats. One adaptation I did for my younger classes was instead of focusing on the act of playing the rhythms, I focused on the note values. I had the kids spread out in a circle around the container and one by one they threw their ping pong balls in. Then I collected all the ones they scored and as a group we counted the total “points” based on the rhythmic values. Then we did it again (and even a speed round at the end because they loved the game so much) to see if we could beat our score. While this is certainly very educationally focused, it does address impulse control, following directions, and also frustration tolerance if they happen to miss a few in a row (however, as I said, I tried to set this up so that students would be successful).

Staff Word Game: I adapted this one a little bit depending on the age of the students. For my younger class, I set up 5 taped lines on the floor and labeled each line/space with the letters. I only happened to have one student in class that day, so her and I worked together to spell different words using A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. I told her the “high score” was 10 so she had something to work towards. Once we spelled a word, she had to walk over to the tape staff and mark where each of the notes would be with her hands and feet. With my older students, I put sheets of paper with a large staff on them inside sheet protectors. I also gave them little squares of paper that had the letters of the musical alphabet on them. These were supposed to be for the students to manipulate and move around to help them spell different words. They sort of just ended up being a source of confusion rather than helpful, and I just lost a lot of paper clips in the process, haha. I explained how the lines/spaces on the staff are labeled, and then let the students work on figuring out how to put the words on the staff. Each time a student got a word, he/she raised his hand for me to come over and check it. I kept a running list of the words from each class, and the highest score was 42!
Credit: I got the idea for the tape staff and marking the notes with hands/feet from my supervisor, Katie.

Magazine Articles: So, teenagers are tough to plan for. I tried thinking outside of the box to come up with something music-related but still cool that they would like. This idea came to mind and then I did a little searching on the internet to find stuff to help me. I thought it would be cool for them to use their favorite songs and write a music critic article about them. I found a list of questions to guide them in their writing somewhere online but I can’t find it right now /: It was from a project someone had about writing about bluegrass music. Anyway, I wrote the questions on the board and had the students take notes to answer the questions:

  • Name of the artist/band
  • Name of the song
  • Genre
  • Any background about the band
  • What do the lyrics mean?
  • Does the song fit with the artist’s typical sound?
  • Unique elements (instruments/sounds/etc)
  • Overall impressions – rate on a scale of 1-10 or letter grade

Those are just a few of the questions. I also asked them to reflect on the tempo, dynamics, voice, etc. Once they wrote out their notes, they got to type up their article in paragraph form on the computer. I put all the articles on my new handy dandy flash drive, and I am going to compile them into a magazine format (once I find some time…). I was nervous about this activity because I thought it might feel too much like “work” for them. Most of the students ended up completing it eventually. They didn’t go quite as in-depth as I hoped, but they did put some nice thought into it.

Song Challenge: If you Google “30 Day Song Challenge” you’ll find a list of questions that ask you to fill out different songs for different scenarios. That’s a bad explanation, but if you Google it, you’ll see what I mean. Basically I compiled a bunch of these questions and put them on a worksheet for the students to fill in their own answers. I used this mainly for my high school class because this classroom is acute, so the students are only there for a few weeks usually. This activity was a way for me to gain some rapport; we could just sit, be chill, and talk about what music they liked.

– Arianna (:

School – Week 8

Music Jeopardy: So here’s a fun little story about always being prepared with back-up strategies! A week or so ago I played a game with my classes, and whoever won got to pick what we did in music the next time. The student who won picked Jeopardy, so I spent a good chunk of time making this Jeopardy game, put it on the Google Drive because the powerpoint was too big to email, and planned to pull it up on the teacher’s computer once I got to class that day (My MacBook Pro doesn’t hook up to the SmartBoards, as far as I know). So that day I had brought a backup of mandalas that were divided into 4 quadrants. If the kids got a little too rowdy during Jeopardy and weren’t listening, I was going to switch to this activity. The plan was to have them pick 4 songs for me to play live, and then they had the opportunity to draw a picture that they thought reflected that song. So I go to log in to the Google Drive on the teacher’s computer in the morning, and lo and behold, the Google Drive is blocked on the school’s internet! Sooooooo I quickly switched to my backup. The next day I come in and spend my entire morning (I usually get to school around 45 minutes early to prep for the day) trying to figure out another file sharing website to use. I tried using DropBox but for some reason it wasn’t working. So after failing miserably to figure out a way to get this file onto another computer, I just brought another back-up to class (this day it was MadLibs songwriting). Finallllllly I went out and bought a flash drive that day so I could put the file on there and plug it into the teacher’s computer. It worked! And we got to do Jeopardy that day. Third time’s the charm, amirite? Pro Tip: Have a flash drive handy. Haha. ANYWAY. Here’s how I laid out Jeopardy:

Category 1: Emoji Lyrics (Shoutout to our intern, Allie, for helping with a lot of the emoji ones)
– These were popular song lyrics that I substituted emojis for certain words.
– Example:


Category 2: Guess The Song
– Just played clip from a popular song for the students to guess

Category 3: Fill In The Blank
– Example: Lately I’ve been, I’ve been ______ _______, dreaming about the _______ that we could be

Category 4: Genres
– Example: This genre of music became much more popular and mainstream in the 2000s and featured superstar artists like Jay-Z, Kanye West, Outkast, Eminem, and many others. (I got this question from a website somewhere)

Category 5: Multi-talented
– The questions here referred to musical artists that also have another talent (such as acting)
– Example: This actress and singer had the “best of both worlds” on her TV show.

I also put an additional twist on this one, because instead of having two teams where they have to ring in using an instrument or something (because that starts a lot of fights and hey sometimes I’m not perfect with who I say responded first), I made it more of a group cohesion experience. Each student got three lifelines (just written on index cards): ask the audience referred to getting help from another staff member in the room, phone a friend allowed them to ask a peer, and 50/50 gave them two options from which to choose for the correct answer. They could choose to hand in these lifelines if they didn’t know the answer, and the entire class was trying to reach a certain score (something I made up). The kids still got upset when they weren’t able to answer questions, so that definitely allowed for some processing of frustration tolerance there.

Music Class & Chill: (I didn’t call it this around my students, haha) This was another option for students to choose when they got to pick the next activity for music class. It was inspired by someone in my 8th grade class one day who exclaimed, “Can’t we just sit and listen to music?!?!” I understood where he was coming from, but obviously I can’t do that every day. So I decided to include it in the options for rewards. I was a little nervous as to how it was going to go, but the class that picked it actually did fairly well. A few of them had suggested songs to listen to, so I put those on a playlist mixed in with a few of my own selections. I really just played the songs while we all just “chilled” and chatted. Honestly, I think it was a good way to continue building rapport and just allowed the students to have some down time. I came in with a structured activity to use as backup (4-song mandalas) just in case things got too out of hand, but all was well! Naturally, I wouldn’t recommend this on a consistent basis, but it might be good for use as an incentive for following expectations.

Picture Songwriting: I really wanted to do songwriting with my little guys for some reason, but they’re not as independent with writing yet, so I tried thinking out of the box a little. Somewhere on the internet (I forget where, eek /:) I read that kids tell stories through drawing. I thought to myself that a song was like a story, so what if they drew a picture that was based on a story they made up, and then they could tell me the story. As they told me the story I would write it down and then sing it. This activity didn’t really turn out like this, but it was still neat to see the outcome. I ended up allowing the students to sing their stories that they drew/wrote. One student actually wrote about all the kids in the class, saying that they were all her friends. Although it wasn’t an original goal, that ended up being a great way to enhance group cohesion. I made sure to emphasize this and encourage interaction between her and her peers.
Credit: Stephenie helped me formulate this one! (:

Science of Sound: I found this experiment on Pinterest and thought it sounded cool! I won’t necessarily go into details here — just click the link for the directions. I’ve only done it with one class so far, and they did start to lose interest sort of quickly (they were more interested in taking the string and tying it around their waist to use as a “tail”). Ideally, I’d like to do a whole “Science of Sound Day” with multiple experiments, but I haven’t found others I’d like to include. A lot of the ones I come across seem to be messy… which is awesome, just probably not conducive to a school environment where I’m moving classroom to classroom. Really not too much therapeutic intention behind this one, but I did hope to reach some of my kids that might not directly be interested in music. I hoped this would be some what new and different for them. I also showed the class this video, because it is REALLY neat, and demonstrates a similar concept using music.

Unknown Songs: In preparation for an activity I’ll talk about in the future, I brought a list of songs that I assumed would be less familiar to my 8th graders and I had them pick ones to listen to. After we listened (recorded, not live), I asked them to share what they thought about the song — what about it did they like/not like, what would they change, etc. I was trying to get them to think critically and expand on their thoughts/explain themselves. Thinking about it now, it might’ve been better if I had a worksheet or something to accompany it. Another thing I would probably change would be to pick songs that sound more like what they listen to, like find rap/hip-hop/pop songs that they might not know, because they were pretty sick of listening to “old” songs by the end of the class period.

– Arianna (: