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Make It / Take It for Music Teachers

Last Winter I organized a Make It / Take It for the Kodaly Music Educators of Kansas.

I thought I would share with you what we did at this make it/ take it in case other districts, chapters, or groups of music teacher friends are interested in putting together their own "Make It / Take It".

We decided that we would make the following manipulatives/games at our workshop:

1) Solfege texting sticks
For this manipulative, each teacher got a set of Popsicle sticks and a pentatonic page of the texting tone ladders to cut out. We stuck them to the Popsicle sticks with rubber cement. It was a little sticky. Hot glue might work better, but glue along the top edges of the paper will help keep students from picking the paper off the sticks. Download a FREE template here.

(Photo credit: Jennifer Patterson)

A few ideas for using them:
-        Sing a known song on solfege and have students use finger to “text” the solfege as they sing
-        Sing a known song on words and have the students “text” the solfege
-        Sing do pentatonic melodic patterns and have students echo as they “text” the pattern
-        Sing melodic patterns on neutral syllable and have students respond with the solfege as they text. 

2) Foam rhythm cubes

Teachers got a set of 16 cubes. You can order them in bulk here. They could chose what rhythms to put on the sides. I really wanted a set for just ta, titi, ta rest, and takadimi (tika-tika, etc.), so I left two sides blank. Leaving those sides blank opens up the opportunity for student composing or improv if they can fill in their own rhythm on those empty beats. 

Ideas for use:
-        Students use the cubes in centers or small groups to find the rhythms of known songs (8 or 16 beats)
-        Compose new rhythm
-        Dictate 4 beat rhythm patterns
-     Compose or improvise new patterns on the blank cubes.

3) Sorted bags of colored transparent bingo chips to use on student high low charts or staves

There wasn't anything to make at this station, but a lot of teachers wanted these bingo chips to use on their high/low charts and staves. I have a high low chart, a staff without the clef, and a staff with the clef that is laminated for each student in my class. These chips are cool because although they are colored, they are transparent, so students can see the line going through the middle of them if it is supposed to be on a line and they fit between the lines perfectly for space notes. Each teacher got 250 chips and they could put however many they wanted in bags depending on their class sizes. You can order these chips in bulk here.

Ideas for use:
-        Use the chips to notate, dictate, or compose melodic patterns on student staff paper

4) Four Beat Heartbeat Charts

Teachers got 120 heart die cuts and 30 strips of paper that were cut/punched out ahead of time. They glued down the hearts four to a strip to create 4 beat heartbeat charts. 

Ideas for use:
-        Students may tap the beat to known folk songs or recorded music
-        Students use Popsicle sticks to dictate patterns on top of the heartbeats
-        Students use erasers, beads, etc. to show how many sounds they hear on each beat

5) I Have, Who Has game cards

I had a class set of "I Have, Who Has - Tika-tika" cards printed for KMEK members. If you want a ready to print set of cards, you can find them in my TpT store here (lots of different concepts are available), or you could create a rhythm list and create your own cards by handwriting them. If using my set with a big group of teachers, email me at for special pricing on additional licenses. The teachers who attended the workshop just had to cut them out and laminate them! 

Prep Work Before the Workshop

To prep for the make it / take it workshop, I spent a lot of time looking for ideas on Pinterest. I put together a Pinterest board with some ideas and let KMEK members comment in our Facebook group to say which manipulatives they would like for us to make. You can see the idea board here.
Once we decided what we were going to make, I ordered all of the materials. Some KMEK members helped in advance cutting out all of the heart die cuts cutting strips for the heart beat charts. Once we had enough materials for all of the participants, we sorted everything into bags for each teacher and I printed up a contents sheet with instructions and ideas for use for everything in the bag. Download the instructions page we used here and feel free to edit it for your own personal use!

Participants had to pre-register for the workshop so that we could anticipate how many sets of materials we would need to order. There was a lot of prep work that went into this workshop to make it a success, but it was a lot of fun, and our students got to have lots of new hands on manipulatives and games to use in music class as a result! It is always so much more fun to make these things with a group of friends than on your own, and you can benefit from buying in bulk if you are splitting the costs between several teachers.

Here are a few more photos of our make it / take it workshop:

If you have any questions about our make it/take it workshop or organizing your own, please do not hesitate to email me at

Halloween Music Manipulatives

This week for Monday Music Manipulatives I am sharing some Halloween themed manipulatives for the music room.

Halloween Music Manipulatives - These manipulatives are perfect for elementary music class around Halloween! Practice steady beat, rhythm, and solfege reading and writing. - Kodaly Inspired Classroom

1) Halloween Themed Erasers

You can use these Halloween themed erasers to show how many sounds on a beat by placing them on beat charts, or for melodic writing and dictating on individual staff pages. I have a class set of staff pages like these below that are laminated and having different erasers keeps it fresh and fun for the kiddos. 

I picked up some of these erasers over the years, usually from the Target dollar section.

These kitty cat heads are perfect for Naughty Kitty Cat:

Naughty Kitty Cat Melodic Writing - Halloween Music Manipulatives - These manipulatives are perfect for elementary music class around Halloween! Practice steady beat, rhythm, and solfege reading and writing. - Kodaly Inspired Classroom

The ghost ones are fun for Skin and Bones, Ghost of Tom, or using to show the rhythms of Miss White.

2) Halloween themed table scatter

I found this pumpkin table scatter one year at Target and it is great for melodic dictation and writing (like with the erasers above), or to show the rhythms on top of beat charts.

3) Foam Halloween Shapes

You can write rhythms, rhythm patterns, solfege, etc. on these! Scatter them around and have students see if they can figure out the song. 

You can also have them compose their own pumpkin patterns using these. You could easily pair it with these Pumpkin Composition Pages.

4) Rhythm Blocks

Use these rhythm blocks to show the patterns from Halloween songs. You can find these pre-made rhythm blocks in lots of colors here. Read more about them in this blog post.

Bulletin Boards for Halloween in the Music Room

I got to invade one of my friend's classrooms this afternoon and decorate a few of her bulletin boards for her to get them ready for Halloween.

I always wished that I could change out my Solfa Street board just a bit throughout the year, making it match what is going on in the year, so I finally made some haunted houses to go on Solfa Street to create a SPOOOKY SOLFA STREET:

I didn't staple the houses down so they can easily come on and off. Instead, you can put sticky Velcro pieces on the back and they can come on and off the board easily. You could also make or find little "for sale" signs to put on the unknown pitches. 

The bats came in a package of five from Dollar Tree. The orange tissue poms came from Hobby Lobby.

If you love this bulletin board, you can find the houses and headers in my TpT store here.

Up next I worked on her long board. This board is huge - 4 ft. by 8 ft. I backed the board in purple butcher paper from the teacher's work room and then added a sheer black spider web fabric from Hobby Lobby on top. 

You can't really tell in any of the pictures but the sheer fabric has some sparkle to it. All of the kids really seemed to love this board and the pictures do not do it justice! (darn school lighting!)

I used my new Halloween themed lines and spaces bulletin board kit. The heading reads "Double, double toil and trouble. Lines and Spaces all will BUBBLE!" 

Since the background was so dark, I used orange crepe paper from Dollar Tree to make the lines of the staff. You could always add a clef, I just have never been able to make one that big that looks right and I don't usually get to bass clef with any/many of my classes.

My friend got the super cute decor that we used along the top of the board from her office. A parent had made it for the school and they hung it in the office last year but weren't planning on using it this year. It was such a cute touch to this board and we didn't have to pay anything for it! Use your resources! You will be surprised what might be hiding in a box at your school.

 A bit of a closer look at some of the fabric and cutouts:

I think this set could easily fit on a square 4x4 board not be so spread out. 
If you would love this bulletin board kit for your classroom you can find it here.

Monday Music Manipulatives - 4 Beat Rhythm Blocks

I am so excited to share with you one of my students favorite manipulatives for rhythm practice, 4 Beat Rhythm Blocks.

The four blocks each have a hole going through them and are on a little stick, so they can rotate, butare secured by the pieces on the ends. The four visible sides of the cube have a different rhythm on them: ta, titi, ta rest, and tika-tika, so these are great for tika-tika practice. 

I love that the cubes are all connected, so you don't have pieces everywhere. They are so easy to pass out, and collect, and don't require any time at all to clean up (no baggies full of individual blocks).

The first time I pulled these out to use with my students, they seriously thought it was Christmas or something and they had just been given the best toy ever! Yay for music nerds, right!?!

These rhythm blocks came with a sheet full of several ideas for using them in your classroom, and I am so thrilled that I get to share some of those ideas with you!

1) Rhythm Dictation 

Say, clap, or tap a rhythm on a percussion instrument. Students listen, clap the pattern back, and then twist the blocks to match the pattern they clapped. You can give them a little bit to find the pattern and then say "One, two, three REVEAL!" and have all students show you their pattern at once for a quick assessment. It is so easy to see who is getting it and who needs more practice.

2) Rhythm Composing and Writing Practice

Have students compose a four beat pattern by twisting the connected rhythm blocks. Clap and read the pattern they created. Notate the pattern. Practicing notation is a step that is often missed and kids need to practice WRITING these rhythms that they can read.

3) Decoding

Leave these in a music center with the lyrics to some 16th note songs and have students use the blocks to show the rhythms of the whole song. They can then read the whole song on rhythm syllables or notate their answer.

4) Form

Using more than one set of Rhythm Blocks, have students demonstrate knowledge of forms such as ABAB or ABAC, etc. 

If you love these blocks, you can order a set for your classroom from Rhythmically Yours on Etsy here. She sells them as a station/centers set of 6 or as a class set of 20. She also has options for vinyl or stamped rhythms (mine are vinyl) and I think you can even pick the colors. I have a class set and she sent me four colors, a dark pink, orange, green, and black. 

You can also enter below to win a free set of 6 to use in centers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

How would YOU use these?