I must confess: I do not love winter. About this time of year, I really start missing Haiti sunshine and "cool" season of mid-70's. (and Haitian babies that are now preschoolers, which Timehop and Facebook memories are quick to remind me of)
So what's a teacher to do when she finds herself slipping into the winter blues, and barely the middle of January? Well, lucky for us Mother Goose Time has got us covered! In week 1 of the Sights and Sounds of Winter theme, there are plenty of opportunities to write, color, dance, play, and sing our blues away with an intro to musical instruments. And that is exactly what we have been doing!
The story book for this month is The Mississippi Musicians, a tale of a rag-tag group of animals who feel hopeless and worthless in their present state, but choose to pursue lost dreams and end up not only chasing away some "mean people", but also chasing away their sadness, and restoring hope for themselves and others by playing music together on the banks of the Mississippi river. It's simple and cute, but has an incredibly profound message!
We read the story aloud several days in a row, then Friday I asked the class to look through all the books on the bookshelf and find the ones with music at the back. I pulled one of the school keyboards out and we formed our own band with various instruments, including several shoe box drums. This was my way of easing myself back into playing the piano in front of an audience. I played for years growing up, but since leaving for college, didn't have a piano readily available to practice. I finally talked myself into getting a keyboard last spring and I'm slowly getting back "in the mood" to share my talents with others. Of course my students thought it was the best "special activity" ever! Several of them take piano lessons as an extra-curricular activity, so I gave them all an opportunity to play a little blues scale duet with me.
The piano note activity provided multi-layer differentiation, not just the fine-motor aspect of cutting on the dotted line. For the 5-year-olds, several of whom are currently taking piano lessons, I had them write the fingering numbers for the C scale, as well as label the notes by letter key. The youngest ones snipped the short lines between colored musical notes, then matched the colors to the dots on the keys. My newest kiddo did his best attempt at imitating color words, then gave me a high 5 after every note. :)
I love that they love to write in their little journals, and they did an exceptional job of illustrating the front cover with their favorite musical instruments.
It's still cold outside, but as long as the music is chasing our blues away, our hearts will be toasty warm!