Mrs. L’s Thanksgiving lesson: drmfs and introducing note values

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Teaching fa and sol, reviewing drm and introducing note values using Thanksgiving-themed songs and visuals

  1. Welcome Song (“Delicious Music“)
  2. Review the school song. Learn or review a portion or all of the song for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Nature/history/life connection: Discuss any changes in the weather, etc. or other events leading up to Thanksgiving vacation. It rained and then hailed the day I taught, so I had the children make a pitter patter sound, patting their hands on their thighs lightly, then faster, mimicking how the rain comes down faster, then louder and faster, pretending how it began to hail, then going in reverse order back to pitter patter. We then had a brief discussion about learning to listen to music in nature. I asked them what makes music in nature. They answered wind, rain, crickets, birds, and a turtle. I said that they would need to be a very good listener to hear the turtle! Other answers might have been thunder, leaves rustling, etc. Welcomed every answer and connect it back to learning to listen and observe. 
  4. Review drm and “Hot Cross Buns.’ Ask them which hand signs and note names they remember from last week. Play these on the bells and review them as you play. Go slowly at first, then faster and faster. Do ascending (drm) first several times, making it a little game to go faster, and then descending the same way. As you sing “mrd” ask them what it reminds them of, and then sing and sign “Hot Cross Buns.” You could ask them if they are going to have special rolls for Thanksgiving.
  5. Over the River and Through the Woods.” Sing the song while reading from a picture book of the song. Many children are familiar with the song. Some are not. After singing it through once, sing the notes of the first line aloud. Open the bells set and start to play, beginning with sol. (ssssmrsss, etc.) Then point to sol and tell them it’s name, and fa and tell them its name. Play the first line again having them sing the new notes with you. Teach them the signs for these notes and sign/sing the first line. (ssssmrsss sd’d’d’tls). (As shown in the photo above, we use this version of the book at our school: Over the River and Through the Woods: A Thanksgiving Poem by Lydia Maria Child and illustrated by Christopher Manson.) 
  6. Apple pie and note values and “I Am Like an Apple Seed” song. Hold up a green apple (Granny Smith—if you’ve got one—or any other variety if not) and a pie dish. Ask who loves apple pie at Thanksgiving. Tell them that when they help make apple pie next week that you hope they might think of something. Hold up the Song Seed© version of “I Am Like an Apple Seed” and/or “Hot Cross Buns” and ask them what is different about the notes besides their colors. (Size or how long you sing them, etc.) Hold up the apple slice chart and explain that the large circle is like a whole apple. If you cut a whole apple in half, you have 2 halves, right? If you cut it in half again, you have a (you can ask the children to fill in the blank by pausing and seeing if anyone knows) quarter, and in half again, you get an (pause) eighth of an apple. Each of these apples is half as big as the one before it. Notes are like this. Some are long, some are short, some are very short, and some are the shortest. Tell the children you are going to “sight read” (explain that that is what you call singing a song from a piece of sheet music for the first time) this song. Hold up the “Apple Seed” song and sing it. Sing and sign it. Teach them the words. Ask the teacher to be your metronome and clap one beat for the small notes and tell the children to listen and count how many claps the bigger notes at the end get. Sing it once while they are listening and then count it while singing the notes and count “1-2” at the notes at the end of the song. Tell them that the small notes are half as long as the larger ones in this song. Go back to the apple slices page and remind them that each each or note is half the size as the one before it. Invite them to think about this as they help someone make a pie for Thanksgiving.
  7. Music composition. Tell the children you are going to write an “apple pie” song for Thankgsiving. Give them a line of lyrics (make one up) and then ask for suggestions for one more line of lyrics. (There isn’t necessarily time to write an entire song. It’s just the process of creation and composing that we are modeling.) Then ask for volunteers to suggest a Solfa note for each word/syllable. Write the abbreviation for each note above the word or syllable. After composing one line, sing and play it on the resonator bells for the children to hear. Then compose the second line and play it. Then sing the entire song all together while playing it on the bells. Invite them to compose a song over the holiday.
  8. Sing “Adios, Amigos.”

Teaching Tip:

Sometimes I write my lesson plan on the board before I begin teaching.