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 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 (:

School – Week 1

So, it’s about 3 or 4 weeks into the school year (what?!), but I wanted to go back and reflect on the interventions and activities I’ve used so far.

I work in a school for children with emotional/behavioral disorders who essentially have difficulty in a regular mainstream classroom. I go room to room and bring my supplies. Many of the children have a very negative association with the word “therapy,” so some of the things I will share on here are a mixture of educational and therapeutic materials. Most can likely be adapted to suit therapeutic needs, and I will definitely share some of my own goal areas, but I wanted to mention that so help alleviate possible confusion.

ANYWHO! Here we go:

For the first week of school (or any first session in general), my main focus, of course, was building rapport! I found some activities online that I will link below that encouraged socialization and allowed me to get to know the students’ and their interests.

“Hot Potato” question ball: That’s how I worded it for my own sake in session plans. It’s super easy — I brought in a small to medium sized ball I purchased at the dollar store and had the kids throw it around to one another. When I paused the music, I asked whoever was holding the ball a question. I was originally going to write the questions on the ball and whatever their thumb landed on or was closest to would be the question they answered, but I wanted to be able to adapt this for younger classes who might have difficulty reading, so I just kept my own list of questions and read them out loud. Initially these questions were based on their music tastes (name 3 artists/bands you like, if you could see anyone in concert who would it be, etc.), but later I branched out and asked fun questions like “If you could have any superpower, what would it be?” (kids loved this question, and I usually let everyone in the class answer it – not just the person holding the ball) and “what is your favorite food?” This was a fun activity that got the kids interacting with each other and me in a positive way. It went over well in all my classes.
Credit: This is a common icebreaker activity using general get to know you questions — I just added my own musical spin on it.

Rumble If: I like to use this with younger classes, because they essentially just get to make noise with instruments. I usually start off by asking for everyone to give me a “rumble” on their instruments, and I explain what that means. Then I’ll call out different things such as, “Rumble if you’re wearing blue,” “Rumble if you like pizza,” “Rumble if your favorite color is red.” It’s a good socialization activity because I usually point out similarities (“Ooh, look, your friend likes pizza too!”) and I acknowledge that it is okay not to rumble for something because we all have different likes/dislikes. After a little while, I let the kids each take turns offering a “Rumble if.” Again, this allows me to develop relationships with the kids through a fun activity.
Credit: To be honest, I’m not sure if I made this one up on my own or found it somewhere online, so if anyone comes across this somewhere, please let me know and I’ll add a link here!

Paper airplane name game: I also tried a name game with a few of my older classes, but they weren’t as into it. I had everyone write two questions on a piece of paper — one related to music, and one could just be general. Then they folded their paper into a paper airplane and threw them around the room for about a minute or two. Then they were supposed to pick up a random one and answer the questions. Perhaps I didn’t present this in the best way, but my particular kids weren’t as interested. The idea of getting to throw paper airplanes was kinda cool for them though.
Credit: click here

Person Scavenger Hunt: I found this neat musical scavenger hunt on Pinterest (click here), and I had some of my classes complete it. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but basically you have the students fill in their answers, and then roam about the room trying to find people with the same answers as them. Again, another great positive socialization activity, and it gives me something tangible to walk away with that has their preferences on it.

I’ll hopefully catch up on the rest of the weeks of school pretty soon!

– Arianna (: