Thursday, June 7, 2018

Moving Day!!

A couple months ago I created a new website for the Mallets & Music blog!  It can be found at  I will be taking this blog off-line by the end of the summer.  I will be working on transitioning and revamping some of my old blog posts and moving them to the new space.  So make sure to check out the new space!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Makintosh = Rain Coat

Rain, rain go away.... This classic children's song can be used for sooooo many things.  From So/Mi singing to recorder playing, to whatever your imagination thinks of.  I love adding a fun English poem to my Rain Rain lesson.  I think my favorite part is saying the word Makintosh (which in case you didn't know is the word they use for Rain Coat in England)

I start this lesson by teaching the poem and adding body percussion to certain words.  We then transfer the body percussion to different un-pitched percussion instruments.  This is where I leave the poem (for now).

Then I use the song Rain Rain.  For younger students I teach the song by rote and use this to teach So/Mi.  If my students are able they can play the So/Mi melody on the barred instruments or just stick with the steady beat bordun.  My 4th graders can play this song on the recorder also, great way to introduce low E into their repitoire.

Finally I add a 3rd layer to the mix, the Rain Storm.  I usually leave this portion of the piece up to my students on how they want to accomplish the desired result.  We discuss how a storm might approach, starting out small then gradually getting louder and more intense and then tapering off again.  We decide if we are going to use instruments or body sounds.  Either way we make some decisions about what is going to be wind, thunder, lightning and rain.  Students work with me to compose this part of the piece.  Then either I or even a student conductor takes us through the storm.  

This can be used as a beginning and/or and ending to either piece.  I have even put all 3 together for a performance with great results.  Here is how our form went when we performed this:
Rain Rain: Singing & Barred instrument melody
Makintosh Poem
Makintosh poem w/ body percussion
Rain Rain: Singing & Recorder Melody


This lesson can be found at my TPT store: Makintosh

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Ducks in the Pond

Springtime is drawing closer and so is the end of the school year!  I can't believe it has gone by so quickly.  I love springtime and all the wonderful things it brings outside.  I love gardening and going everywhere outside with my dogs.  There is a hiking park by my house that we love to go to and they just splash around in the creek running through the woods.  Sometimes we even see some ducks and geese at the park, which my dogs enthusiastically scare off.

My song about this white duck is great for springtime or really anytime of year.  It would be wonderful for the beginning of the year to review/introduce Do to students.  I am using it at the end of the year as more of a review piece.


This lesson can be found in my TPT store ( or read on for a free copy!).  It is also a part of the Spring Bundle I have available.

I wanted more songs for reviewing/teaching Do that just had Do in them.  This way it was easier for my students coming from the world of So La and Mi to find that low sound of Do.  I took it upon myself to write a melody for this poem that I found about ducks.

As with many beginning music songs, I allow my students to work on maintaining the steady beat when first learning the song.  Then we work together to find the rhythm, noticing where the 1 vs. 2 sounds happen.  We also can find the rests and label them.  Finally, students are able to see the rhythm notation and clap and say it.

Working on the melody is the main part of this lesson.  I review the So, La and Mi (SLM) sounds with my students, taking some time to practice singing phrases with just those notes in them.  Then we look at the beginning of the phrases of the song and find the pattern of SLM notes in them.  I help the students to discover that the ends of the phrases sound lower than Mi, and we introduce Do.  Then we can practice singing patterns using Do along with SLM.  Then we can sing the entire song using solfege.  If desired we even see the solfa patterns on the staff.

Sometimes, depending on the time of year and how much time we have, I add a basic instrument accompaniment to the song.  Bass bordun pattern of "Will (rest) You (rest) Be My Friend (rest)" on the Do and So and then a cluster/triangle on the rests.  This is a great basic set up for any basic song in your Orff classroom.

If I am looking for a melodic assessment, or even something for a center after this lesson (or anytime); I can turn to my worksheets I have included for this lesson.  The first worksheet has students matching the Solfege words to how they should look on the staff.  Students cut and paste the correct staff pattern to the solfege word pattern.  The 2nd worksheet is great for older leaners who are practicing rhythm.  They pick which rhythm box certain "Pond" words fit into.

As I mentioned before this unit is available on my TPT store here: Ducks

But for a limited time you can download it for free here:

Also make sure to check out the Spring Bundle which includes Ducks and many other fun spring activities.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018


For those basketball fans out there it is almost the best time of the year...MARCH MADNESS!!!  My husband and I are big Duke fans and we love watching the tournament together.  This year I created musical versions of the March Madness tournament to use with my students.  4th graders are going to be doing the Recorder version starting next week and they are excited.


This unit can be done as a whole class or as an individual playing tool.  you can print, cut, and laminate the sign and posters to display in your room or hallway to make an interactive and fun showcase of the students work.  This is a fun way to help your students practice their recorder playing or even learn new notes along the way.

How I Run My Tournament:
It works out nicely that I have four 4th grade classes playing this.  I can do the typical “regions” for each class. Then once we get down to a winner from each class, we have a “final four” round during recess.  Then the final “championship” round takes place during recess the next day.

When I do this with my students we do it on an individual basis, instead of a whole group.  Students are paired up, by me, and given a chromebook or iPad. Then these partners play against each other seeing who can get to the 10 points first.  My school utilizes Google Classroom, so I shared the powerpoint with them via their classroom so they could access it on their own device. I did not share it prior to the class so that they could not see it before hand.

After that first class we have a set of “winners”, and they advance on to play each other in round 2.  For the second class the students are either playing round 2, if they were a winner previously, or they are playing round 1 again for more practice.

Round 3 and beyond brings smaller group of players and I also begin having the rest of the class be the fans.  For me this means it does not take up as much classroom time and we can do other activities besides this. This is also a great way for them to cheer on their classmates as they try more and more difficult melodies.  You could still continue with the previous format of everyone playing the melodies just on different levels.

My students have found it really easy to use and play. It is a fun way to check on how students are doing with their recorder playing. I tend to float around the room listening to different students play, assessing them along the way.

You can find the recorder version, as well as rhythm and melody versions on my TPT store! March Madness Recorder
I can't wait to see which student is the "Champion". Here is my set up outside my classroom!

Ickle Ockle...Fishy Rhythms

I love doing things with Fish in my classroom.  I know it's a little strange but they can be used in lots of different songs and they are a year-round character.  I don't have to wait till Christmas/Valentine's Day/Spring to use Fish!  I have a couple different lessons and ideas using Fish, this one uses the song Ickle Ockle.  

I also have a lesson idea using the Rainbow Fish book that you can check out here:
Rainbow Fish

Ickle Ockle is a simple melody song that you can use to teach La or even Mi Re Do depending on how you sing it.  I prefer the MRD version and I use it in my introduction to MRD lessons. 

I have 2 different lesson ideas using this song:

Version 1:
For this version I have the students stand in a circle.  They sing the song while one student walks around the outside of the circle tapping heads (just like duck, duck, goose). Students standing in the circle can pat the steady beat while singing. At the end of the song whichever student is tapped goes into the middle of the circle and pick a Fish to read the rhythm of.  I have rhythms on my fish but they could be made with melody patterns as well depending on what you were practicing at the time.  Once they read the pattern they "throw the fish back into the sea" and they get to be the person tapping the other students.  This lends itself to various quick assessments; patting the steady beat, reading rhythms/melody patterns, singing voices.

Version 2:
For this version each student gets a Fish with a pattern on it.  Student then scatter around the room placing their Fish on the floor.  While singing the song students "swim" through the "ocean" to find a fish.  At the end of the song students find a fish to read the pattern of.  Then they sing again and move on to a new fish.  Again, this is a great little assessment.  I like to have students to solos of their rhythm patterns periodically so that I can assess their reading skills.

I have fish made up using basic rhythms and half notes.  I will be making more using sixteenth notes and maybe even syncopa in the future.  You can find my fish and my complete lesson plan on my TPT site:

Rhythm Fish Manipulatives & Game Ideas - FREE!!

Ickle Ockle Lesson Plan w/ Manipulatives


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Formative Assessments & Exit Slips

I have tried to do different exit slips over the past few years.  They are a great tool to use as well as a great thing for principals and observers to see.  Over the past few years I tried post-it notes, small pieces of paper, thumbs up/down; all to no avail.  It was either too much or too little and never seemed to help.  This year I am trying something different, again, and I already like it a lot better.  I do not to exit slips every day with every grade, but I am trying to do them 1-2 times per major concept we cover.  

I bought a over the door shoe hanger to use for my organization of the assessments.  Each pocket has a number that corresponds to the students cubby numbers in their classrooms.  Each pocket is equipped with a pencil and ring of index cards.  When I ask a question students must write their answer on the card along with their name.  

The organization of the pocket chart has really helped to keep me on top of the formative assessments.

Most of the time we are only doing 1 or 2 questions per day.  Students answer the question and then rip or take that card off their ring and hand it to me.  I can quickly grade it if I want so get a general idea on how the students are grasping a concept.  I have done some multiple day questions in the past as well.  

Here are some examples of the type of questions I ask of my students:

Draw a Ta
Draw a Rest
Draw a Ta-di
Write a 4 beat rhythm
How many beats are in a half note?
What are the melody notes that you know?
What is the fancy music word for 5 notes?
How many notes in a Pentatonic?
Name the 4 families of the Orchestra.
Name 5 different instruments that you know.
What does a crescendo do?
What does Forte mean?
What does Mezzo Piano mean?

The list could go on and on....

When I have done multiple day questions we are basically just adding things onto our cards.  For example; in 2nd grade we started with the first day writing a 4 beat rhythm.  We saved the cards on the rings for the next class.  Then we added some melody notes (Do Re or Mi) to our rhythms.  Then on the 3rd day students took their melodies and tried to play them on the barred instruments.  

Hope this can help you with your assessments and exit slips!  Enjoy!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Muddy Cincinnati

Here in Cincinnati we have had a "little" bit of rain.  An by a little I mean a TON of rain.  There is really bad flooding all along the Ohio river, flooding that we haven't seen for 10 years.  At my house we have had standing water in our backyard for an entire week.  That isn't good for 2 labs who love to play outside.  This weekend when I would let the dogs in we would have to take them straight into the tub to rinse them off.  It was bad...

But with rain comes mud, which is perfect for my new Mud song!  I was looking for a 1-2 day lesson for my 2nd graders who have been starting to work with the entire pentatonic scale.  You could even stretch this lesson for 3 or more days depending on how you split up the process.  You can find my plans & powerpoint if desired FOR FREE at my TPT store: Mud Lesson

The lyrics and process for this song are written by me, but the music itself can be found in Music For Children Vol. 1 pg 88 Rondo #1.  This is the A section to the Rondo.  For this song I repeat the first 2 measures of the A part, changing the 2nd ending to MRD instead of LLS.  Then we do the 2nd 2 measures as just rhythmic speaking (repeat the rhythmic part)

I begin with hula hoops scattered around my room.  We begin by echo singing different solfa patterns using the entire pentatonic.  This is about the time of year I begin to teach my students the word pentatonic, so we review that.  Then I move to teaching them the lyrics by rote.

Students sing the melody while I play the melody on the barred instrument and walk to the steady beat around the room.  Then I play the rhythmic 2nd 2 measures on the temple blocks and they have to get into a hula hoop.  We repeat this process, with them coming up with different ways to move through puddles/mud.  After a few times getting into the hula hoops, the students then learn the words to the "B" section.  We work on patting the rhythm on our laps, alternating hands.  Then we continue singing and moving, then getting in the hoops to do the mud part.

On the 2nd day we begin by reviewing the song and hula hoop movement.  We also remember the form of the song and the word pentatonic.  After a good amount of review, we move to the barred instruments.  We set up in whatever Pentatonic you desire, we did C as written.  Students find Do and So and play a steady beat bordun while singing the A section.

For the B section we went through a process to get to improvising a melody on the Mud rhythms.  First we said the words and click the mallets to the rhythm.  Second, we put the entire rhythm on Do, making sure to alternate our hands.  We talked about how in Pentatonic Do is the most important person.  We then repeated this playing exclusively on So, that is the 2nd most important note.  From here students could choose to play all on Do or all on So, then they could go back and forth between the 2, but they had to keep their mallets together.  We then performed this in the ABA form from before.

You could stop there or continue with the improvising further.  I continued within the same class, but this could easily be stretched to another class for 3 days of instruction. 

For the 3rd round, students could choose from Do Re or Mi for the "Mud" section, remembering that Do is the most important.  Then we tried using So and La for the improvising.  Finally, students could choose any of the notes in the pentatonic remembering Do is the most important and So comes next.  Make sure to end on Do at the end.

Perform the whole thing as ABA.  You can even have some students do the improvising as a solo if desired.  Add it to the hula hoop moving and got have an fun "muddy" movement, singing, and instrument playing performance.

I hope you and you students can enjoy this silly spring song.  It's at my TPT store for FREE: MUD!

Here are my students singing and playing the song, as well as some solo improvisers: