Sunday, November 20, 2016

Over the River and Through the Woods!

Thanksgiving...the unofficial start to the holiday season and my favorite time of year!
As I write this, the wind is howling outside so loudly, whipping the fresh snow up all over the place.  Although weather reports predicted only about 1-2 inches, I measured 7 inches about 5 hours ago!

When I was outside shoveling snow earlier today, I was thinking about one of my favorite Thanksgiving songs, “Over the River and Through the Woods.”  Specifically, the text that came to my mind was “it stings the toes and bites the nose.”  I sang this song a lot with my elementary music classes last week, and will have a few more chances this week before Thanksgiving break.  I have loved this song since I was young.  

When I have used it in my classroom over the last several years, I normally just have students add jingle bells and temple blocks to the beat or the “clip-clop clip-clop” pattern to accompany the song.  This year I added a little bit more to my lesson, discussing with my 2nd and 3rd graders the history of this song.

The songs’ lyrics were written by Lydia Marie Child, who was born in Massachusetts in 1802.  She first published the poem in 1844, but it was actually titled “The New England Boy’s Song.”  Later the melody was added and the name was changed to how we know it today.  The novelist wrote this poem, recalling her childhood trips to her grandfather’s house every Thanksgiving Day as a child.

As I told my students about this, they seemed to truly enjoy hearing about all of the background and history.  They asked lots of great questions, like “How long did it take her to get to grandfather’s house?”  My reply was “not too long,” as I knew she grew up in Medford, Massachusetts, and her grandfather lived in the same town.  After discussion, we added some instruments: just rhythm instruments with Kindergarten and 1st grade students, and rhythm and melody instruments with 2nd and 3rd grade students.  They loved it, and although some classes seemed to sound much better than others (it always happens), I was pleased.

When I first started planning for this Thanksgiving lesson, I got busy early on, creating a presentation to supplement the lesson and to show students pictures of the author, birthplace, etc.   You can check it out here.

I love this song so much that I even added a simple dance routine.  My after-school Folk Dancing Club enjoyed it as well!  If you’re interested, here it is:

Thanks so much for reading this, and I hope that it can help you in some way in your classroom!  Happy Thanksgiving!


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Beat/No Beat Lesson

This year is moving faster than I ever imagined it could!  It is already November, and I just cannot believe it. I'm sure you feel the same way.

My goal was to have written a bit more often than this, but as a new blogger, I struggled after my initial posts.  I thought what I had to say wasn’t important or that others are much more knowledgeable than me.  I follow a lot of other fantastic music education blogs and I felt like I just couldn’t compare to them.  Then after much time and thoughts, I decided to just do it, if only for myself.  I am going to write my thoughts and if they should inspire or assist you at all, I will feel honored and blessed.   

Each year I like to create new or even update some of my old PowerPoint products to supplement my lessons.  I had a blast revamping my materials this year. 

I find that students of all ages understand and grasp difficult musical concepts much better when it is related to everyday life.  I recently began planning for a 1st grade unit on beat vs. no beat, and found myself needing some concrete real-life examples of things that had a steady beat and those with no beat.  

Through discussion and listening examples of these items, such as ticking of a clock, jumping rope, brushing your teeth, blowing of the wind, etc., I felt that my students grasped the concepts a little bit better.  

Somewhere on my journeys last year, I picked up an adorable book that matched this lesson perfectly.  It is a short children’s book/poem called “The Wind Blew” (by Pat Hutchins).  Along with the folk song “The Wind Blew East," I used it to help recognize steady beat and no beat within a piece of music.

I also added the traditional song "Who Has Seen the Wind" (Text by Christina Rossetti).  An interactive listening game also helped me assess the students' understanding of beat/no beat.

Another activity I used for further practice was having students play egg shakers or maracas to the sound of a bouncing/rolling ball. I tossed a ball in an open space in my classroom, and the students had to shake their instrument in the style and speed that the ball was moving.  Sometimes the ball would bounce off items or it would bounce high up into the air.  Each movement the ball made had to dictate how the students played their instrument – with a steady beat, bouncy, free, with no beat at all, etc.  They really seemed to enjoy it.

If interested, you can check out my Steady Beat vs. No Beat Lesson and Game here.

I want to thank you so much for reading this entry, and I will definitely be writing more often now.  So stay tuned for some Thanksgiving lesson ideas – coming soon!

Friday, August 12, 2016


I am so excited to have hit a milestone on my Teachers pay Teachers store - 100 FOLLOWERS!  To celebrate, I will be offering:
  • Mystery Freebies:  Tuesday-Thursday, August 16-18, 2016:  Search my store for 3 mystery freebies located in my store.  Get them before they’re gone for that day!
  • Storewide Sale:  Friday, August 19, 2016:  20% off my entire store

If you're not on Tpt, it's a great place to find new resources, lesson plans, games, and all kind of products for your classroom.  You can find my store at:

It's that time again:
Check out these newest arrivals:

I will be updating and adding new products often, so check in frequently, and as always, feel free to e-mail me with any questions or special requests:


Tuesday, August 9, 2016


 Hello and welcome to my first entry on my brand new blog, Beth’s Music Classroom.  I have long wanted to start a blog, and now I am so excited that this time has come!  My hope is that it is a valuable resource for like-minded music educators, a place for sharing pedagogical resources, advice, and other relevant information.  I appreciate you taking the time to read this, and I would also love to hear from you in the future.

When I look back on my teaching career, it just seems surreal that I am about to begin my 10th year of teaching!  The time has flown by, and I have enjoyed every moment.  My first two years I taught Choir, Band, General Music, and Yearbook for grades K-12.  That was a whirlwind of a year!  I moved to a much larger school district, teaching 6th-7th grade Choir for 3 years.  After a restructuring of the district and many layoffs and furloughs (including me), I was thrilled to be called back to teach K-6th grade Choir and General Music.  This fall I will be continuing with the little kiddos, K-3rd grade General Music, for my 4th year.

Each August I look forward to starting a brand new year, fresh from the beginning, blank seating charts ready to be penciled in with students’ names.  I love to revive my class rules and procedures, revisit curriculum and tests, and incorporate creative ideas into my lesson plans.  I approach the start of the school year similar to New Year’s, when many of us make resolutions to eat healthier or exercise more.  I enjoy writing my own back-to-school resolutions, as it is a great way to get my thoughts down on paper as I embark on a brand new journey, with many new students and often co-workers, administration, or curriculum.

My Back-to-School Resolutions:
  1. Maintain accurate and consistent records.  This can be a major challenge with so many classes each day.  I am trying to come up with some new ways to record participation grades, behavior, etc. 
  2. Keep a journal … consistently.  I love writing, and despite my repeated attempts to journal, I always end up having a notebook only a quarter of the way completed, and wishing I had kept up with it.  I try to write 2-4 sentences about my day, mostly the good things that happened.  In years to come, I want each entry to remind me about specific positive events that played an important part in my growth or in the lives of my students.  I find that it can be a great reflection for me at the end of the day.  Without the pressure to record anything lengthy, it is easier to make it a habit and to make it happen!
  3. Read more books and articles.  I absolutely love to read, but, I’ll be honest, it is an activity that I often tend to put aside after a long, hard day of work.  It is just easier to watch a movie, listen to music, or just go to bed!  My goal is to read at least 3 books this school year.  That may not seem like a whole lot, but with a busy schedule, like we all have, it can be difficult.  I love the warm feeling of cuddling up on the couch reading, especially as the weather begins to get colder in the next few months.
  4. Complete my final Orff level.  In 2014, I was thrilled to complete my Kodaly certificate/training, which was such a rewarding and enriching experience for me.  That same summer (I was crazy!), I started my Orff Level 1.  I am looking forward to completing level 3, hopefully next summer.
  5. Create new products for TpT.  I first opened my Teachers pay Teachers store in August 2013.  I had about 25 products available up until just this past spring.  I currently have 156 active products!  I hope to keep growing as I create new activities, games, and presentations for my students and share them with the Tpt community.  Feel free to check out my Tpt store: Beth’s Music Classroom.

The start of this blog is not my only milestone to celebrate.  This past week I was so thrilled to reach 100 followers on my Teachers pay Teachers store!  I will be announcing a special freebie and sale beginning next week.  Don’t forget to follow me for updates and notifications on new items.

The blogs and books of so many music educators, Kodaly enthusiasts, and Orff fanatics before me have inspired me to become a better educator and musician.  I have grown from their advice and inspiration.  My hope is to now encourage others with this blog.  I hope that my first attempt at blogging will be succeeded with many more to come.  Thanks so much for your time and your listening ear!