Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Teaching Opposites to Kindergarten- A Unit to Teach Musical Vocabulary

Hi everyone!

     It's been almost two months since I've posted- December and January have both been crazy months, but now I'm back! First of all, I would like to thank all of the amazing bloggers who shared their resources for free in the Facebook Frenzy Giveaway! As a newer teacher, it was so wonderful to see what other teachers were using in December and January- and I'm having a lot of fun exploring the different uses for all the items I got!

      Now to get to the point of this post: Kindergarten. I have hour long Kindergarten classes, and boy is that long! However, the unit that I have been teaching over the past couple months has really been working well, so I thought I'd share and include the resources that I have been using.

We first focused on different types of sound: our 4 voices, loud and soft, and environmental vs. instrumental. Thanks to Pinterest and Smart Exchange, I have some wonderful technology that I have been able to use for two years in a row!

On day 1 of the unit, we focus on this concept: I Have Four Voices (and my voice can be loud or soft). I use this amazing SmartBoard presentation from Cherie Herring.

It can be found at this link: http://exchange.smarttech.com/details.html?id=d6165d3e-8b87-495d-aee1-6ee595250713. The presentation focuses on our Yelling, Singing, Talking, and Whispering voices and introduces the vocabulary for loud and soft: Forte and Piano. I use this with Kindergarten and then review it with 1st grade the next year. I also LOVE to reinforce the vocabulary by asking them to get into a piano line at the end of the class period.

On day 2, we focus on environmental sounds vs. instrumental sounds. First comes our Listening Walk! The kids love this because we walk around the outside and inside of the school and listen for different sounds, then check them off on our lists (plus it tires them out before our discussion!) Here is an example of the checklist I made:

We then come back to the classroom discuss what we heard- did we hear anything that wasn't on this list? We then use Dee Hoban's SmartBoard presentation to discuss environmental sounds vs. instrumental sounds: http://exchange.smarttech.com/details.html?id=32c14e5d-2512-457a-8404-fe26c662805b. I present the following slide first to distinguish between environment and instrument, then go through the rest to talk about instruments: 

Now that we understand the sounds that are around us, we can start to learn more musical vocabulary. On day 3, I review forte and piano, then go on to talk about fast and slow: presto and largo. I use this video (the kids are OBSESSED and want to see it every class period now): 

Then the students get to experiment with tempo from slow to fast with this great resource from the San Francisco Orchestra Kids Website: http://www.sfskids.org/templates/musicLabF.asp?pageid=11

Of course, at the end of class I play the sound from the Presto/Largo video and allow the students to move the way the music is moving (fast or slow). Somehow this worked out in all 3 of my classes- students ran in a circle when it was Presto, and walked very slowly around the room when it was Largo. Organization in Kindergarten!? I was pretty impressed.

On day 4, we talk about high and low using this awesome SmartBoard presentation from Amy Banas: http://exchange.smarttech.com/details.html?id=4a381d25-6a09-473f-a15f-5ba096a15f98

Kids get to identify high and low on the SmartBoard and then we play Boomwhackers and ID which ones make higher sounds and which make lower sounds using Denise Schneider's Ebeneezer Sneezer music: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Boomwhackers-Ebeneezer-Sneezer-595290. On their way to get in line, each student gets to play a high note and a low note on the piano.

On day 5, we review high and low and transfer that knowledge to talk about sounds moving up and down. I start the class with this activity, asking students to identify whether the bug ends high or low and then recognizing that if it ends on a low note, it is going down, and vice versa: http://exchange.smarttech.com/details.html?id=d7172b1f-937c-4e53-b568-c1b275ccb832.

Then I use Cherie Herring's SmartBoard presention: Sounds Can Go Up, Sounds Can Go Down: http://exchange.smarttech.com/details.html?id=a62e4940-728c-4bea-8d66-4bec8a3bd39c

The kids now have a pretty good understanding of musical vocabulary and are ready to do their first basic composition project. That means that this week we will be working with Eric Carle's book: I See a Song.

Groups of students will create sound curtains for the pictures that they receive using handheld percussion instruments (corresponding with pages in the book) and then perform it at the end of class. Here is a great YouTube video with music for the book if you don't have time for the whole project:

This project starts on Thursday, so I'll be back to let you know how it goes! Now to round out my first semester of 5th Grade Chorus with our Winter Concert tonight!!

Happy New Year!


  1. I love the scavenger hunt you did with environmental sounds. My kids would've absolutely loved doing something like that. They always had fun doing scavenger hunts in the classroom :)

  2. I love that Eric Carle activity- I did it for the first time with my kindergarteners this last year and it was an amazing lesson. This is a great roundup of some awesome lessons for that age- thanks for sharing! #fermatafridays