What We Did In The Montessori Music Room That The Children Really Love!


Photo by Jeri-Jo Idarius for Magical Movement Company

I can't say enough about the many great uses of rhythm sticks for the exploration of music with young children! These lovely sticks make a variety of nice woody sounds and they are fabulous for helping children develop the muscles in the fingers and hands needed for playing just about any instrument. 
You can learn many of my secrets for a successful music circle and even train with me in my eCourse, "Musically Montessori: First Twelve Weeks." 

Click HERE for more information including a course description and enrollment information.

SCROLL DOWN to enter my eCourse Launch GIVEAWAY: A $100. Gift Certificate from West Music. (contest dates: 7/20-8/13, 2016)
Okay! Back to the lesson... We always begin instrument exploration by "playing our favorite way..." It's important that the children have some time at the beginning of each lesson for simply exploring all the ways they can think of for playing their instruments. 
I have gotten so many new ideas for playing these from children over the years!

Thing #1: Rhythm Sticks Finger Exercises

When the little children are getting warmed up for playing some rhythms & songs with their rhythm sticks, we start with finger exercise activities. 
This idea came from Tamara O'Brien and her music curriculum, We're Orff. 

> First we make "bunny ears" with the sticks held on top of our heads straight up like a bunny's ears.

> Next we make "bird wings" holding the sticks next to our cheeks and waving them gently up and down.

> Then we make "butterfly wings" with the sticks held at the shoulders and "flapped" quickly like the wings of a butterfly.
We tap our knees gently and then tap the floor.

> Finally, I ask the children to make 2 straight tall "trees" with their sticks. I remind them that the trees aren't moving! 

> Then, I invite the little ones to pretend that their fingers are caterpillars crawling up and then down their "rhythm stick trees."

The older groups are challenged to "flip" their trees over and then eventually to have one set of fingers crawl UP one of the sticks at the same time the other set of fingers crawls DOWN the other stick.

Needless to say, these little exercises are fun for the children and excellent for 3-7 yr olds to strengthen those small muscles of the hand.

You can see my demo video and more about rhythm sticks in my workshop featured in the Trillium Montessori Summer Summit 2016. 

Here's the link: Musically Montessori: Using the Montessori Method to Create Successful Music Experiences with Young Children.

Thing #2: The High and Low Sounds Game

In every one of my Preschool Montessori music lessons, we have a moment or two of focused listening. I ask the children to prepare their ears for listening by rubbing them gently around the edges (like giving the ear a massage!) This helps sensitize their ears and also gives the children a physical aid in listening carefully.

Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

For this activity, I have put together (on my iPod) a collection of sounds that are either high sounds or low sounds: cat meowing, cow mooing, bird chirping, frog croaking, siren blowing, and finally a tuba and then a piccolo. I downloaded various sound effects from iTunes.

I tell the children,  "We will be hearing some sounds. Not all of them will be music sounds. Some of the sounds are from nature and the neighborhood around us."

When I tell them that some of the sounds will be high sounds ( I say this in my high voice) I show them how to move their hands up high to show that they think the sound is a high sound.

Then, I show them how to move their hands down low and touch the floor when they hear a sound they think is low.
I am always surprised at how challenging this activity can be for the younger three and four year olds. 

Of course, they can watch for my motions/cues while listening to the sounds and then I offer this activity again at another time in the near future. That way they will be familiar with the sounds and will be more experienced at distinguishing high and low sounds.

Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

Thing #3: "Mr Pooch"

My groups of preschoolers and first graders all love "Mr Pooch!" This little tennis ball-turned-puppet is part of the materials in the music curriculum called the Toy Box Singing Fundamentals Kit.

I just found a similar puppet at this site: Fancy Decor, Tennis Ball Helper.

When the little children meet "Mr Pooch" for the first time, I explain that he used to be a tennis ball and now he has 2 eyes and a he's like a puppet. 

Then I show them the mouth when it is closed. We discover that we can't really sing with our mouths closed, but we can make a pretty humming sound.

Next, I "pooch" little Mr Pooch's "mouth" open and invite the children to pooch their mouths open and see if they can make a pretty singing sound: "Ah-h-h-h..."

With the older groups, I eventually introduce the puppet as  "Ms Pooch" (female) and see if they can sing the "Ah" sound in their high singing voices. Then, I ask them to sing in their low voices for "Mr Pooch" (male).

When it is time for our vocal warm-ups, I remind the children to take a long inhale through their "Mr Pooch mouths" (open and rounded) before singing. 

Later, in this lesson, we play our rhythm sticks along to some piano music from my favorite music curriculum, Music Room from Bushfire Press. When the music is high the children tapped their sticks together up in the air to make a high sound and when the music is low we play the sticks on the floor like a drum to make a low sound.

Photo by Jeri-Jo Idarius for Magical Movement Company

Thank you for visiting my Blog and I hope you found some useful ideas here. I love to hear from you so please feel welcome to leave a comment or two!

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