Saturday, January 31, 2015

Children's Books in the Music Room: The Loud Book and Duck at the Doo

It's time to share some books!

My sweet husband planned an AMAZING trip to New York City for our 10th anniversary!

When we found out that the Juilliard gift shop was nearby, we added it to the itinerary. I spent an hour digging through the children's section shelf and I think I took home most of it. Ha!

Here's some of my loot! (Plus a few that I got for Christmas - thanks Mom!) I can't wait to dig in to these books and share. For now, let's check out some books I found at Half Price Books!

The Loud Book - by Deborah Underwood

I love this book! It is perfect for my Kindergarten loud/soft unit. Even the pictures are perfect! I love the different examples of loud like candy wrapper loud and walking-to-school song loud.

So sweet!

This is a companion book to The Quiet Book - which is equally sweet. And the best part - I can bring this book out again when we label dynamics! (shameless plug: Kindergarten loud/soft cards and dynamics cards!)

Duck at the Door - by Jackie Urbanovic

This book is part of a fantastic series by Jackie Urbanovic - Duck and Cover, Sitting Duck, Duck Soup... I love this series! 

This one is a very sweet story about a duck who doesn't fly south with his flock and needs a place to stay. He makes himself quite at home - and starts to annoy the other animals with his antics. 

I pair it with "Who's that Knocking at the Window," a half note song - it's a perfect pair! 

I love to read this before learning "Who's That?" For this song, my students love to take turns knocking on the door and window and singing "I am knocking at the window!" The other students have to guess who it is. Timbre lesson - check!

The best part is the animal friends hear the knock at the door and go get an adult - Irene (she always knows what to do! *giggle*). 

While at the Juilliard gift shop, I also checked out the horn music for my studio. So fun! I had to get a book of duets to add to my collection. 

What books do you love in your classroom? I would love to hear from you! 

Check out these products for teaching Kindergarten in my TpT store. Follow Sweet Sounds on TpT by clicking the green star next to the name!

Don't forget to follow Sweet Sounds on Facebook to keep up with new products and sales!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Teacher Survival Guide

Brr! It's super cold where I live here in the arctic Tundra of South Texas (teehee). I promise - it's definitely hot chocolate and blanket weather. 

It's time to stay inside, cuddle up with my laptop and do some blogging with a few of my favorite music teacher bloggers - it's a linky party!

I would love to tell you that I have it all figured out - but I don't. ;-) So instead I'm going to share some things that I'll be trying this semester. Maybe you'll want to try some of them with me. Maybe not. (you won't hurt my feelings!)

If you follow my personal Facebook, you saw that I recently posted an article about 17 small changes you can make that make a huge difference in your life. Now, I'm not going to list all 17 - you can read them for yourself here - but I do want to pinpoint 3 of her ideas that I think I can start in January. And hopefully they will change my year! 

3. Go outside during the day: How many times in the past did I go to work before the sun came up and leave after it went down? Now I have windows in my classroom(!) so I get a little sunlight during the day. Imagine if you could take a short time to do a mental reset, breathe fresh air, use your large muscles, get a dose of vitamin D and treat your eyes to a little green. 

I feel like I don't have ANY time for a "reset" during the day, but in reality I get more done when I take a few minutes to center my thoughts after Kindergarten than I do by checking my email for the 19th time before getting down to lesson plans. Even if I just open my blinds for a few minutes during lunch or planning, I think that will be a nice change of pace.

And remember that your students need that, too. I read on Facebook today about one of my friends that took her class outside (bundled up!) in the frigid weather just so they could let loose some energy, use their big muscles and see the sunshine that came out briefly. They only stayed outside for 10 minutes, but I bet their minds and hearts were much more ready to learn after that!

2. Figure out tomorrow's "To-Do" list before you leave today: I love this! I think it would be helpful to have an idea of what's coming up before I leave for the day. Some days this is automatic (hello program season), but I want to make it happen daily.

I usually have on-going to-do lists (post its, notes on the calendar page, notepads, marker on my bathroom mirror) but maybe I can assign a day and a time to a few tasks - maybe 3 tasks I think I can get done in the morning between cafeteria duty and the first class arriving. (Umm, #1 Bathroom break. #2 Scrub breakfast off my hands. Hehehe)

Maybe that will help my mornings be a little less frantic. :-) And we could all use a little less frantic.

1. Make a Bucket List: I spend so much time thinking of the day to day details, the nitty-gritty, that sometimes I forget to come up for a breath of air. Part of that "purposeful pause" is to let my brain relax and part of that is to let my heart dream. I want to have more going on in my life than my job. I want to have space in my brain and my heart to allow God to move me in certain directions.

I was reading this article and I decided that a Bucket List is a nice way to organize my dreaming. What might I do if I had no boundaries? Where might I go? Who might I become? I might even make a Pinterest board for it! Who knows?

Yes, of course, some of my dreams will include professional and classroom "wishes" - but I don't want that to be the whole of me. Maybe a gardening ambition or two? Books I want to read? Blog posts to write, TpT milestones to plan for, family traditions to start. Balance would be nice.

This isn't just about keeping my head above water and avoiding burnout (which is obviously a good idea), it's about living life to the full.

I would love to hear from you! Do you have a bucket list? What do you do to survive the winter blues?

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Follower & Feedback Frenzy: Music Teacher Edition

It's time to get back at it! Writing plans on Sunday night, prepping materials and manipulatives, making props and costumes... Here we go!

I'm teaming up with some of the music teachers on Facebook for a giveaway! We're each giving away $10 in products from our stores - winner's choice!

Here's how to enter on Rafflecopter:
5. Leave feedback on a product that you have purchased from my store!
6. Pin a Sweet Sounds product on Pinterest!
7. Share or comment on a Sweet Sounds Facebook post or blog post about this giveaway!
You can get started today, but be sure to stop by each day for extra entries!

Why leave feedback? Check out this post by Shelley Tomich to learn about how to leave fair feedback and get TPT credits for future purchases!  

Click on the rafflecopter below each day Jan 5-10. Some categories you can enter multiple times!

Here's the link to the other teachers participating! Stop by their blogs to enter!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

New Year's Resolutions Linky!

"Should auld acquaintance be forgot..." Happy New Year! It's 2015!

2015?!?!?! Eek! I'm so excited - I can't wait to get my own hoverboard!! (justkidding. notreally.)

It's time to think about the past year, look ahead to the next semester and make some resolutions. I love making goals!

Here are a few things I'm going to be working toward:

Personal: Bible study! Last summer I got to do an AWESOME Bible study by Priscilla Shirer called Gideon. WOW. Game changer.

At an after-Thanksgiving sale I bought another one of her Bible studies called "God is Able." I haven't had a chance to dig into it yet, so it's on the New Year's list!

Professional: I would love to get a little more organized with lessons and programs. I usually feel pretty good at the beginning of the year, but by Christmas my brain is a jumble of ideas and lessons. I'm working on a binder with each of my lessons, monthly plans, semester plans, etc that will hopefully get the jumble under control. Another binder will hold my assessments and hard copies of printables.

Classroom: My classroom atmosphere is pretty laid-back, but I'm always trying to amp up the content. Like all music teachers, I want my kids to know EVERYTHING when they leave me. While I know that's not possible, I want them to be grounded with some solid skills when they leave. So in addition to amping up the content of my lessons, I'm going to try to snag the first few minutes of each rotation for reviewing rhythm and melody cards. I've done a "ticket to ride" out the door with vocabulary before, so I'm also going to try to incorporate a flashcard-reading-out-the-door. Let's do this!

Blog/Social Media: Writing is so much fun, but it takes time! I averaged 2 blog posts per month last year (my first year to blog!) so I'm going to try to increase to 3 times per month.

I have been pretty active on Facebook this year and I'm going to try to keep that up - my favorite things to post are music videos, pin of the day and articles about all things education. I'm going to be teaming up with some of my music teacher friends to bring you some giveaways and fun stuff, so make sure you are following Sweet Sounds on Facebook!

Pinterest is a place where I let my creativity run wild! Most of the time I'm not your typical pinner. Many times I'm inspired by the picture of the pin, not necessarily by the content. Sometime I don't even click on the pin! (shh! don't tell!) I like to pin things that inspire me in the classroom - I have so many pins on my music boards that to the casual observer would mean nothing. But to a music teacher, it will hopefully inspire you as it has inspired me!

I have no idea what this pin is for, but what a GREAT idea for a little prop! K, 1st, maaaaybe even 2nd grade for acting out songs. Got a song with no game that is pretty awesome in your curriculum? Why not create a mask with the main characters? I like how this mask is not fabric (lice!!) and super-cheap and easy for me to create.

Are you on Pinterest? I'd love to follow you! Post your page in the comments so we can follow each other. :-) I have a personal page that I've had for a long time - beware: I post a lot of cute puppy dog pics along with music stuff. Here's my favorite Music Teacher Tricks board if you just like to follow that. And my new Sweet Sounds page is up and running, too!

TPT: I'm hoping to create slides for each of the "focus songs" in my Kodály sequence. So far, I have finished 10! This is something that gets me excited since I use these songs over and over, adding layer after layer. What would you like to see on TPT this year?

Just for me: Top 3: Spend more time with hubby, puppy and less time stressing over work! I also hope that we can spend more time with our church friends. Friends are so important when stressful times hit!

That's it! I'm linking up with Aileen at Mrs. Miracle's Music room. Check out all of these fantastic goals & resolutions!

What are some of your goals for the new year? I'd love to hear from you!