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  • Writer's pictureMs. McKinnon

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

I don't know about you but November flew by with our "No-School November" thanks to Thanksgiving and then conferences. It's hard to believe Christmas is already one week away! There's a special kind of magic that comes along with the holiday season and we've certainly enjoyed the joy it brings.

In November, 3rd and 4th continued their study of half note rhythms by composing a turkey dance to go with our song "5 Fat Turkeys are We". They were so much fun to watch while they gobbled, ran, jumped, and hid. 5th grade learned some more circle games including "I've a Car", "Mama Lama", and "Let us Chase the Squirrel" which led to plenty of laughs. Kinder and First read the story "Run Turkey Run" and added glockenspiels to accompany our turkey songs. They also added unpitched percussion instruments to the song "Shoo Turkey" and worked on call and response singing. Even though many people associate eating with Thanksgiving, it gives us pause to be grateful for everything we have in our lives and we used Art Garfunkel's "Grateful" song book as a time to have somber reflection and share things that we appreciate in our lives. 4th grade had the pleasure of getting to work with our practicum student from the University of Oregon as he led them through an Orff-inspired lesson. Thanks, Logan, for choosing to spend your practicum with us!

With the schedule hodge-podge that was Thanksgiving break and conference week we pulled out some centers to reinforce concepts including vocabulary, musical symbols, and rhythm values. I'm pretty sure that the play-doh music station was a favorite! Have you ever tried sculpting a treble clef out of clay? It's more challenging than you'd think when you consider the different line thicknesses. Other stations included Mystery Melodies where they worked with partners on xylophones to figure out well known melodies, Story Corner, and the Rubber Ducky game which helps match vocabulary words to their definitions and corresponding musical notation symbol.

We kicked off December in 3rd-5th grade with some Hanukkah festivities and learned more about the Jewish culture through their icons, traditions, music, and dance. We read the story "I know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Dreidel" by Caryn Yakowitz which was a fabulous introduction to many icons of the Hanukkah holiday. Extra bonus: the illustrations are parodies of famous works of art so we got a mini art lesson thrown in while we were at it. Then we moved on to learning the Dreidel song and worked in small groups to play the game with our dreidels and gelt. If you've never played the game, each side of the dreidel has a different hebrew letter which has its own instructions for how much to add or take from the pot of gelt. We also learned a traditional Israeli dance called "Hineh Ma Tov"

4th grade playing the game. It landed on "Hei" so they'd take half the gelt in the pot.

We can't let December pass us by without a little bit of Nutcracker and Christmas carols thrown in! We even had a new friend join us this month for some shenanigans around the music room. His name is Peppermint and he's been spotted everywhere from hanging on lights in the display case to playing trapeze artist on our paper lanterns.

Kinder and 1st read the story of the Nutcracker and learned more about 2 of Tchaikovsky's pieces from the ballet: The March and the Trepak. For our march we moved like soldiers and mice around the circle and then scampered across our circle using color cues. Then we pulled out the scarves for the Trepak and identified the louder beat at the beginning of phrases as our cue to jump. See Ms. McClellan's first graders move along to our color spot march below. (It was only our 2nd time through it.)

3rd-5th got some practice with carols, both well-loved and new (to them) by playing Christmas Carol Bingo. Don't worry, everyone broke into song together any time Rudolph or Feliz Navidad came up on the playlist. It was interesting to see them figure out titles of lesser known ones such as The Holly & the Ivy, The Christmas Song, or Mele Kalikimaka. 3rd grade is diving into performance preparation for their upcoming show on Thursday, January 24th titled "Sing a Song of Aesop". More info can be found by clicking the Performance tab -> 3rd Grade. 4th and 5th had some fun with Boomwhackers and the play-along videos from Musication. These videos are such a fabulous tool and hold students entirely captivated! They played along to We Wish You a Merry Christmas and Let it Snow then we brought out unpitched percussion instruments for a play along to "Trepak" from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker.

Last but certainly not least was 2nd grade's holiday performance on Thursday, December 13th of "A Bugz Christmas". They've been working so hard the last few months learning stage presence, songs, choreography, speaking parts and more. I want to say a special thank you to the 2nd grade teachers for their support. It is truly a team effort that makes evenings like this possible. Our stage was infested with wood ticks, ladybugs, termites, dragonflies, mosquitos and more all to deliver a message of holiday cheer and share their "little lights" with us all.

5th grade orchestra kicked off the evening for us with a short concert of 5 pieces they've been working on since we started at the end of September. We're still new to using the bow but pizzacato is doing great and we're making some lovely sounds with the bow with each passing rehearsal. Orchestra shared "Arm Pitz Polka", "Cactus Collision", "Mozart Melody", and wrapped it up with a seasonal favorite "Jingle Bells". Learning instruments is not an easy task and I'm so proud of the commitment they've made to this new skill and to each other as an ensemble. We will resume rehearsals in January after winter break.

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