Saturday, July 23, 2016

Bring back the love for our country . . . PLEASE!!

What our country needs NOW is to hear our children playing and singing these wonderfully stirring patriotic songs!

“America the Beautiful” and “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” are two of the most loved patriotic songs that have endured the test of time. In today's political climate, there is no better time to have a program with children singing and playing the old favorites.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Saving Your Voice

My next few posts are going to come from questions that I have received over the past couple of weeks from teachers.

This question is a very important issue for all teachers but especially elementary music teachers who use their voices constantly, all day, every day.

How do I save my voice?

Because of the nature of what you do, you will strain your voice, especially at the beginning of every year and also, right after any lengthy breaks. Even though I usually lost my voice at least once every year, there were several things I did that kept the loss to a minimum.
  • Keep a large cup of water beside your chair all day. And drink it! Refill and drink some more!
  • Use recordings to help you teach, rehearse, and review songs. No matter what anyone says about how important it is for your students to sing along with you and to hear you sing (and it is), if you lose your voice because of over-use, that becomes irrelevant. Just be sure the recordings you use have top quality children's voices and your children will be just fine. They actually benefit from singing along with children who are using their voices correctly.
  • Use a recorder to give starting pitch. That's the next best thing to using your voice. It has the soft quality and flute-like sound that you want your students to have.
  • Pace yourself and your lessons by distributing movement, listening, small-group, and partner activities in-between the singing activities.
  • When (not "if") you lose your voice, gargle with apple cider vinegar. It's nasty, but it works better than anything I tried. Your voice comes back quicker.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Why I Do What I Do

In the past two days, I have received lots of comments about the Elementary Music Lesson Plans for a Year Bundle, K-5.
This is exactly what I was hoping for—to help new teachers and provide resources for teachers who were not as blessed as I was through the years with pretty much everything a teacher could want. This is why I do what I do . . .


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

How to include Gen Ed standards, writing prompts, etc. in music ed class

Our new principal is wanting us to reinforce the regular ed standards into our lessons (writing prompts included). Have you found it easy enough to find alternative songs and activities for your lesson plans that will tie into their standards and scope of work if the ones already on your lessons don't necessarily serve that purpose, as long as they're covering what we need to cover as music teachers?

We just got hit with this recently and it's extremely overwhelming, especially since it looks like I'll have to modify more things than I thought. I don't know how any one teacher can cope with all of this paperwork, and now we're expected to cover our standards AND theirs?! It's crazy.  
It's very common for principals to require that, so don't stress. It's fairly easy.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Glimpse into Retirement

Babysitting 101—Grandmama's Great Idea! 

This is long! But since I've been out of pocket for a while, I thought I would share a story from a day in my life as a grandmom and retired music teacher. This actually happened a couple of months ago and I realized I had not posted it. Oh, well . . . Here it is now—

Let's go to McDonald's after church! Yay, say the kids. Thanks, Siri, for finding one close. Two Happy Meals, please. What kind? Well, I don't know. The one with hamburger and fries. Who knew there were so many options? So far, so good. The toys were a hit. No repeats. Both kids ate great. The 2-yr-old dips everything in ketchup, yep, even apples. Yumm! Not real sure what I gulped down.

Back to the car. No, the 5-yr-old can't buckle herself in this time. OK. No problem. Ready to go. Siri, how do we get home. No answer. Phone is dead. Uh oh. This directionally-challenged granny has a problem. Lost in Chicago. Already off-route, we just turn, find a familiar street, and go until Siri gets charged. Get the directions, check on kids, yep, the 2-yr-old is asleep.

Get home, have to park around the corner, and tell the 5-yr-old to try to unbuckle and get out on the sidewalk side of the van. Not happenin'. Had to unbuckle her first and leave all their paraphernalia in the van. Picked up the 30-lb 2-yr-old to begin the trek home. Almost died several times but finally made it to the gate. Unlocked gate and then the door, one-handed, and the 5-yr-old tells me, Grandmama, you can't take our stuff home with you. I know, I tell her, we'll get it later. Now, it will take me a while to come up the stairs (at least 200 to get to 3rd floor) carrying your brother. Please go up and unlock the door and get everything you need out of his room so I can put him down for his nap. Sure, Grandmama.

Made it up the stairs, wishing I had bought him a salad instead of that 10 lb hamburger. Almost died 3 more times. Put 2-yr-old down for nap. Ready to crash on the sofa with the 5-yr-old to watch Rescue Bots, and she says, I'm hungry!

Moral to this story? HOORAY for all the wonderful MOMMIES AND DADDIES everywhere who do this every day!!!!! You are my super heroes!

Mrs. Aston, What have you been doing?

Great question! So glad you asked. I've been very busy and I haven't been busy writing on my blog. Sorry.

First, I am in charge of our family's Cousins' Camp, which is a fantastic time for all of the cousin kids (13) on my husband's side of our family. He is one of four children and he and his brothers and sister all have grandkids. We have one daughter who lives in Chicago and she has two kids. Our grands didn't know the other kids in the family very well at all. So I decided to start a Cousins' Camp last year. The grandparents are the camp leaders and the grands were all invited to a 2-day, 1 night camp experience with their grandparents. Last year only 6 kids were able to participate and 2 sets of grandparents. But it was so successful, that 13 came this year and was fantastic. Only one grand could not come. The parents have 2 days of alone, kid-free time, and the grandparents have a wonderful time with their grands and without supervising parents! Works out for everyone.

Elementary Music Lesson Plans

Unit 1 

I have also been writing every day trying to finish Unit 1 that will complete the set of Units for Elementary Music Teachers for a year. I am excited to say that it is complete!! Finally!!

And the great news is—until July 31st, I will send Unit 1 to anyone who has purchased Units 2, 3, and 4,  FREE!!

These units are close to 200 pages each of lesson plans, songs, teaching posters, activities, and have assessments built into each lesson. All based on the Standards.

Family News

Finally, my biggest news is that our daughter and her family are moving to Nashville! And they are going to be living with us for a while. Oh, my! So my husband and I have been working hard trying to make room in our small home for their family of four. We are so excited and as much as I have loved writing and creating for my products on Teachers Pay Teachers, it's been hard to focus when I needed to be cleaning! Never thought I would be so excited about going through stuff and cleaning out. Goodwill has become our best friend. We could have opened our own store!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Sequential Learning Experiences or Random Activities?

Hopefully, today, many of you are ending your year and looking forward to some well-deserved rest. You have made a difference in the lives of children, even though you’ve faced the many challenges that go along with your job as elementary music teacher. No one knows how difficult it is and no one knows how rewarding, except those of us who have been there. I just have to say, You are appreciated for all of the hard work, extra time, and just plain giving of yourself to the children you teach.

Use your time this summer to rest and recharge. When you’re ready to start planning again, please visit my store at Teachers Pay Teachers. I have added many new items and everything is based on the successful experiences of 30 years in the classroom.

One thing I've noticed is that many teachers are asking for and buying activities on Teachers Pay Teachers because they are cute and fun. And I have seen some really great activities on TpT. My concern is that many teachers are trying to find enough fun activities to get through the day, the week, create a lesson plan, etc. and are not focused on the long-term sequential learning experiences that are necessary for children to develop a quality foundation in music education. It takes time to build a standards-based program that begins in kindergarten. Isolated, random activities that are plugged into a lesson plan just to fill time does not accomplish that goal.

The Unit Lesson Plans that I have made available will help you develop the kind of program that children need to be successful and lifelong learners of music education. I will be completing the bundle this summer. Currently Units 2, 3, and 4 are available. If you have already purchased these, email me and I will send you Unit 1 for no cost.

Send me your email so you will receive updates.