After my second graders learned the note “do,” I was in need of a creative way for them to practice singing, playing, reading, and writing the new note. I came up with a very simple composition worksheet and SMART Notebook template. During one class period, we completed the entire activity as a whole class first, then I split the class into groups of 3-4 students.
During the next class period, each group began with the worksheet only. They had to check off one box at a time to graduate to the next level of complexity. For example, I had to approve their composed rhythm before they could move to a barred instrument to begin adding the melody. Once their song was completed on the worksheet, I listened to the group members sing and play it on their barred instrument before they could move to the computer phase.
While some groups were on the computers, other groups were using instruments with three choices: continue to practice your own song, trade papers and practice other groups’ songs, or play known do-mi-so folk songs by ear. This was quite raucous, but it kept everyone busy with only 5 computers in the room. The variety of activity also allowed me to roam around and assess the kids’ reading and playing skills. The whole activity only took three class periods, and the amount of learning, music making, and assessing was awesome!
Below are two of the many amazing songs the second graders composed. (As you can see, it was approaching winter break when we completed this activity last year.)
I printed a color copy of the song for each child in the group and one for me. They all turned out so beautifully that I made a bulletin board for outside the music room. (Confession: My amazing husband actually put it all together and hung it in the hall. Who knew he was such a meticulous bulletin board designer?) It was up the rest of the year! The best part about that bulletin board was the first graders’ reactions. I can’t remember how many times I was asked, “Will we do that in second grade?” Indeed, we will!!