Musically Montessori: Day 4: Musical Techniques for Regaining Control of Your Preschool Group


This post is my musical group management article "Day 4," the third in my "24 Strategies" series. 

            You can read "Day 1" at this link. 

            You can read "Day 2" at this link.

            You can read "Day 3" at this link.

Today's activities feature my musical ideas for regaining control when your group is becoming a bit chaotic.

First of all, if you thoughtfully plan and establish your classroom schedule, routines, and procedures, you will likely have very few times of chaos.  

However, things happen!... like power outages, unexpected visitors, and even a tiny spider crawling across the circle rug. Things like this can easily cause a bit of chaos!

"Out of control" young children in a group can be challenging for us teachers to guide back to a manageable level. Of course, prevention is the best way to keep chaos from happening, but what do you do when you feel you have lost control of the group?

Okay, when a little spider suddenly lands in the middle of the circle rug, there is no way that children are going to keep paying attention to your lovely lesson. They are going to pay attention to the lovely little creature in their midst! 

So, you calmly and carefully remove the spider and take it to its home outdoors. (this might be a great time to sing the itsy-bitsy spider song!)

However, it may take a bit for the children to re-focus. 

I have a few little musical strategies in my back pocket that I pull out quickly and handily. 

Here are my favorites: 

Strategy #14 

If you have taken any of my eCourses, then you are familiar with the way I use "The Little Pony Song" to help children get focused and sit cross-legged at group time.

Here's a quick video to demonstrate how I do it:

If you would prefer to play a recording to guide the children through the actions I use with this song, try this one: 
"Macaroni Pony Song" at Amazon.

Strategy #15

Sometimes, I've found myself with half the group ready for Circle and the other children still transitioning with cleaning up from their work-time activities. 

This catchy little clapping rhythm can capture the attention of the children sitting ready for circle,  and also engage the others who are busily tidying up.

This is a clapping rhythm with actions :
"1-2, buckle my shoe" (act out clasping a shoe)
"3-4 shut the door" (move arm as if closing a door)
"5-6 pick up sticks"  (pretend you are gathering sticks)
"7-8 lay them straight" (pretend to place "sticks" one by one in a line)
"9-10 a big fat hen" (make a big motion with arms stretched wide)  

Strategy #16 

If you've ever observed an experienced Kindergarten teacher gathering a group of children, you've seen the age-old technique of clapping a rhythm and how it gets the children's attention right away!

The trick is to clap a simple, short rhythm pattern, such as "clap, clap, clap-clap-clap!" Sometimes children will spontaneously join in and clap the pattern themselves. Be sure to leave them time to clap back. Or better yet, continue the activity by repeating the pattern yourself. 

Another important part of clapping a rhythm pattern with children is to keep the underlying pulse steady and not too slow, not too fast...but just right!

As the children become more engaged, you can add a pat to the rhythm. Even if you keep the same rhythm pattern, you can change to tapping the thighs or stamping the feet. These little changes, with the same rhythm pattern, will easily be picked up by the children and before you know it, the group is organized and attentive! 

Strategy #17

If there was ever a traditional technique to gain the attention of a group,  ringing a bell has to be that! Bell-ringing is used everywhere in the world to signal that it is time to quiet down and pay attention. 

In the classic Montessori environment, bell-ringing is done in a gentle manner with the pure sound of a small brass bell. The sustained ring of a sweet, shiny bell. Teachers through the ages have used the familiar sound to call the group to attention. 

Sometimes, there is a need for the children to look away from their work to listen to an important announcement. Many Montessori teachers rely on the designated little bell that is always heard when it is time to transition to the next part of the day. Because the children are accustomed to reacting to this bell, they will automatically direct their attention to the teacher who is ringing it at another time that is off the regular schedule. 

When using a bell to regain control of the group, it is important to reserve this strategy for times when the group level of activity during work time is reaching a crescendo, but is not yet out of control. It is most effective as a preventative and less effective when the noise level has gotten so high that the children may not be able to actually hear it. 



If you haven't yet joined my subscriber's list, I invite you to consider joining! I have more than 30 free downloadable resources exclusively for my subscribers that includes my 165 page eBook: "Musically Montessori: The First Lessons eBook."

You might benefit from taking one of my Musically Montessori eCourses. Explore a free sample class. Learn about my approach to Montessori music for children from babyhood to age 8!

~Take a training~ 

~Visit my TpT Shop~

I have lots of digital resources at my Magical Movement Company TpT shop, including music activities for your Montessori music curriculum: 
Basic music concepts, Famous composers, Cultural & World music, Seasonal themes, and Music notation games.

Thank you for visiting my blog today. I hope you have gotten some ideas for musical fun with your group!

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