Musically Montessori: Day 1: "24 Strategies" for Group Management Through Music!


Here is what I have for you: "24 Strategies" ~5 Days of My Group Management Secrets of Success ~ they are musical, effective and there are 24 different strategies you can use! 

This article is "Day 1," the first article in my "24 Strategies" series. Watch for "Day 2," coming up next!

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After hearing from my AMS interns in a recent Montessori training I taught, I found that many new teachers are searching for group management strategies that really work. 

So, I decided to gather up my own best group management strategies and present them to you in a five day succession of Blog articles right here! (and a BONUS sixth day too)


Day 1: The VERY BEST Strategy: Using "Musical Messages!"

Day 2: Music for Lessons in Grace & Courtesy

Day 3: Music for Daily Routines

Day 4: Musical Techniques for Regaining Control of the Group

Day 5: Musical Ways to Create a "Community of Learners"

Day 6: Bonus! The Art of Opening & Dismissing Circle/ Group Time (3 more strategies... which actually brings the total to 27 strategies!)


Now, I have to tell you that I have not ever been able to come across as a strong authority figure with the children. That means that during my decades in the Preschool classroom, I have had to develop strategies for managing the group that are effective and also compatible with my gentle style of teaching. 

My most effective strategy: MUSIC!

Here is an example.

When it is time for the children to get ready for lunch. There are ways to prepare the children.

You can say: "Time to put your work away. It's almost lunch time!" Some children will hear your words and respond by quickly doing what is necessary to prepare for eating their lunch.


 ~ You can sing: "Time to put our work away. 
 Let's get ready for lunch today!"  Just about 
 every child will perk up when they hear you 
 singing and quickly do what is necessary to 
 prepare for lunch. This works like magic!

So many, many educators have said to me, "I can't sing!" or "I'm not musical!" That is when my heart genuinely goes out to each and everyone who feels that way. 

Because, I truly believe that we can all sing and I want to give you some insight about this belief of mine.

I have some tips that will help you sing with confidence:

*Breathe, in such a way that you support your lungs*

~ Part of what singing involves is breathing to support the voice. (this  can be practiced)

When you breathe from your belly, you are using the muscles of the diaphragm to support your lungs and this gives your singing voice strength and vitality!

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1) Stand or sit with your back straight. Place your hands on your belly. This is where you want to focus your breathing, rather than up higher in the lungs themselves. 
2) Breathe in through your open mouth and you will feel your belly go out. Using those muscles of your diaphragm will give you much more air for your exhale where you will be making your song come out!
3) As you exhale,  (breathe out) you will feel your belly moving inward and your lungs will be lifted upward. This is a little  like blowing up a balloon and then gradually releasing the air inside the balloon. 
4) When you begin to sing, remind yourself to breath from your belly, and you will see how much stronger and clearer your song will sound!

*Sing songs you love*

~ Part of what singing involves is choosing songs/ melodies that you love (this can be developed)
1) When you are singing a song that has a melody (or words) that you like, the children will feel your enthusiasm! Listen to collections of children's songs and you will soon develop a list of your favorites. You don't need tons of these...even half a dozen will be great for a start. However, you can choose from any of my favorites that I have assembled for you in my "Let's All Sing" on-line eCourses at this link. 
2) Here is one of my favorite resources for children's songs: "200 of the Greatest Nursery Rhymes Ever, " from Sugar Kane Music. 
3) You can also check out my listing of 100 favorite songs of my groups in this collection of my Blog Posts, Musically Montessori 100 Songs. All of the songs listed have links to hear samples of each.
****A special note: If you have a favorite song or two from your own childhood, the children will love learning it from you, even if it is in a different language! 

*Sing with ENERGY*

Part of what singing involves is channeling the energy of your heart (this can happen!) 
1) Choose your song
2) Take a nice breath in
3) Close your eyes
4) Let your song come out

Sing your song once again, this time with energy.  Let your heart open and just sing, baby, sing!

DAY 1:

Maryanna Higgenbottom, one of my AMS mentors, gave me this handy term, "musical messages." Basically, you can sing (or play) whatever it is you want the children to understand, and nine times out of ten, they will listen AND then do it! It's the magic of "musical messages." 

I have relied on this technique for decades, and I am so grateful to have discovered how effective it is for group management in the Preschool environment! If you are a seasoned Montessorian, then you probably already use this strategy consistently throughout your day...

 Strategy #1.  Sing your messages
 When you need to let the children know what you
 want them to do next, try singing it. You can make
 up these little songs with the simple "sol-mi melody."
 (melody of "Rain, Rain Go Away.")
 Another melody that works well for just about any 
 "message" you have for the children is "Twinkle, 
 Twinkle Little Star."

 Strategy #2. Play your messages 
 Try playing a rhythm instrument (or even
 piano or guitar) as a familiar "cue" for the
 children that it is time for the next activity. 
 (ex: time to get ready for lunch or time to come in from outdoor play.)

  Strategy #3. Play "wind-up" messages
  My groups have always LOVED playing a
  little music box to let everyone know it is
  time to prepare for the next activity. This is
  such a quiet and lovely way to announce
  your "message," since you have to walk
  around to get closer so each child can hear it.

  Strategy #4. Play"recorded"cues
  There are some delightful cd's that have 
  songs with appropriate "messages" for
  announcing the next activity.  The song, 
  "Come Join the Circle" is perfect! Also 
  Frank Leto's "Circle Time" (Clean Up)
  & his "Afternoon Nap" are sweet "cues" for the children.

Okay, so if you don't get to my upcoming 20 more musical strategies for group management, you will still have a solid foundation with these four techniques that are described here today. 

That is just how much I LOVE using "musical messages" for managing my groups of  little children. They really work!

Have you checked out my other educational resources? 
Thank you again for visiting my Blog today. I hope you have gotten some ideas for activities with your children and I know you will find "musical messages" to be an effective group management tool!

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