Second/Third Grades

October 12, 2013

In second grade classes we have started a Native American Indian music and dance unit.  This week, students had the opportunity to explore Native American Indian instruments, singing, and literature in centers.

In the one center, students explored Native American Indian folktales, poetry, and non-fiction reading materials.  At this center, students found and wrote down one fact about Native American Indians.

In another center, students drew pictures that represent Native American Indian life, music, and/or dance.  

Namasket is a Native American Indian tribe.

This is a picture of a Native American Indian drum.  

Another center allowed students to explore Native American Indian instruments.  Students played a gathering drum, a smaller, painted drum drawn in the picture above, and ankle bells.  We will discuss more instruments in upcoming lessons.  

Another station allowed students to practice singing "The Canoe Song" with me at the piano.  We also added an "ostinato" using only the words "dip, dip, and swing," from the song.  

After all students had visited each center, students shared their facts and drawings.  We then sang "The Canoe Song" all together again as a class and added the ostinato.  

 We will continue our Native American Indian unit for a few weeks.  We will learn the dance steps for men and women, more songs, and a full dance.

October 8, 2013

Third graders have been learning a dance from West Africa.  It's called the "Mandjani."  It is a rite of passage dance that marks children's step into adulthood.  Students have done a wonderful job with the dance!

Boys show off their muscles that they gained while they were away from their families for six months.  During this time they also learn how to hunt and fish.  The fishing movement is seen in the bottom left picture.

The girls clap as the boys show off their muscles!

The boys perform a movement that represents hunting, another skill they develop while away from their families for six months.  

More dancing to come!

September 13, 2013

Third grade students create patriotic performances this week.  See the home page for more information about this lesson.

Second grade students learned how to sing a "round" (sing the same song at different times.)  We sang "One Bright and Sunny Morning".  Students learned the song first, then we created two circles.  The inside circle started the song after the outside circle.  This activity creates a physical representation of the phrasing of rounds.  Ideas from this lesson came from Dr. Amchin's lesson that you can watch here.

March 13, 2013

Second and third grade students are creating and performing a song in "rondo" form this week.  (Form: the way a piece of music is put together; Rondo: a kind of form; A keeps coming back)
The song we're using is called "Cobbler."  We are using the arrangement from Denise Gagne's The Orff Source. 

First, the students hear the whole song.  Then students repeat the words in rhythm while patting the pattern that will be played on the xylophones (quarter, quarter, quarter, rest).  Next, students learn the melody on a neutral syllable such as "bum" or "ba".  Then the melody is put with the words.  We add the movements when we're ready. 
We then work together as a class to create B and C sections to chant between each A section.  Students look around the room and name types of shoes they see.  We then notate the shoe names with quarters and eighth notes.  After students can sing the rondo comfortably, we then transfer to instruments. 

Also, to tie in St. Patrick's Day, we briefly mention that leprechauns are thought to be cobblers.  :)

Next week we will probably add the game to the song!

March 2, 2013
Second and third graders have been learning about spirituals, work songs, and game songs.  The book, No Man Can Hinder Me has been especially helpful with this unit.  The songs provided on the book's CD are quality and the book is very user-friendly.

A few weeks ago, students completed a listening response sheet for one of the songs in No Man Can Hinder Me.  The song was played for the class and students were asked to draw and write about things that came to mind as they heard the song.   
Here are some responses:

"It made me think of church because they would sing like that."

"It made me think of Dwane Wade."
Fair enough.  :)

"It made me think of someone lieing in the church and
god cyring and some kids playing in the water."

After listening and responding, we discussed the song.  The song is called "Wade in the Water."  This song was sung by African American slaves as a code song; it told the slaves to "wade in the water" when they escaped.  The slave owners' dogs would lose the scent trail when the slaves travelled in the water. 

Students are doing a wonderful job of identifying and singing spirituals, work songs, and game songs.  Next week we'll be learning a new work song!

The PDF for the listening response sheet can be found here.

February 20, 2013

Check out these instruments made by third graders for their "Physics of Sound" unit:

This one was a snare drum.  He used paperclips for the snares.  

This was a clarinet.  It had a kazoo attached at the top.

An oboe!  The straw was cut at the top and vibrated like a reed when played.

Here's a video of a student playing her instrument:

Impressive, right?  :)

January 12, 2013

This week we learned about a form (the way a piece of music is put together) called "call/response".  We sang an song from Ghana that uses call/response.  Students enjoyed singing and making the movements to this African song, pronounced "Che Che Koolay".  You can hear a short clip of this song at here.

Students also had the opportunity to create their own call/response rhythm.  Here is a short clip of one class performing their rhythms (we are still comfortable with "ta, ta, ti-ti, ta").  :)

December 8, 2012

Second and third grade classes have learned about forte (loud) and piano (quiet) and we have talked about different purposes for music--ceremonial, recreational, and artistic expression.  Both grades sang a song about Kwanzaa and learned about African percussion instruments.  

Second grade learned a song about Hanukkah this week that we sang with forte and piano dynamics.  Here is a second grade class singing "Light the Candles" (Making Music, Grade 2) with an added dance:

Third grade classes will soon take a field trip to see "The Nutcracker" ballet.  We listened to a summary of the Nutcracker at while following along in a book.  Then we discussed why the Nutcracker music was written (for artistic expression). 

Next, we learned some ballet basics, such as the first five positions, plies, spring pointes, tendu, and rises.  You can see these in the video below of a third grade class as they dance to the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy."


November 3, 2012

In second and third grades we have been learning about sol, mi, rhythm, how to play xylophones, and reviewing steady beat.  We learned how to sing and play sol and mi through the song "Apple Tree."  Then we read a book about Johnny Appleseed, and after each page we played "apple tree, apple tree" (sol-sol mi, sol-sol mi) on glockenspiels.

In the next class, we sang "Apple Tree" while one student played the steady beat on sol and mi and another student was "the tree" for our game.  Each student had a turn playing the steady beat on the xylophone, and after their turn, students taught the next person how to play.

The students were great teachers!

This week, we learned the song "Pick a Pumpkin" and added an ostinato (a repeating rhythm) on the xylophones.  The ostinato used do and sol.  We also learned our mallet rotation chant:

One, two, three, four
mallets down get off the floor.
Five, six, seven, eight, 
hurry don't be late! 

Students did a great job playing the ostinato and singing our new song.

(This photo was taken on Book Character Day, October 31.  Second and third grades read biographical books.  In just this picture you can find Cleopatra, George Washington Carver, Wilma Rudolph, Daniel Boone, and others.)

September 28, 2012

September 15, 2012

Second and third graders, what is a steady beat?  What is tempo?  You've been doing a great job of playing rhythm sticks, passing and moving to the steady beat, and singing in music class.  Do you remember the song "Kookaburra"?

Next week, we'll learn a new song and we'll listen to some music that may be new to our ears.  Here's a hint about the new music:  Who were the first people who lived in North America?  :)

August 23, 2012

Second and third graders have been moving and singing and learning about each other in music.  Parents and guardians, ask your children if they remember singing the following songs:

Hey, children!  Who's in town? (This song helped us learn each other's names.)
"Sheep in the meadow, cows in the corn..." (There are some fun things that go with this one!  We learned in which months our classmates have birthdays.)

Also, you might talk to your children about what they saw in the music classroom.  We noticed lots of instruments!  Students, do you remember what instruments we saw?

August 1, 2012

Music in second and third grades will be a wonderful time exploring and creating music.  Here are two charts that show the music learning targets for second and third graders in our district: 


  1. Are your district lesson standards at all related to the common core standards?

    1. As far as I know, they are not. I'm sure that our district standards will be modified next summer after the new national arts standards are released.

  2. After looking at an advanced copy of the new standards there are very few exceptions. And the biggest difference is there is more of an emphasis on listening to, analyzing, and creating music.