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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Musical Transitions

Several years ago when I was teaching Kindergarten, I had an idea in the night.  I used to keep a notebook next to my bed to jot down these ideas... I need to start doing that again!  It was an idea that I quickly implemented and loved.  For some reason I fell away from it but I plan on reinstating it this year.  What might it be?


Musical transitions!

Now you may have heard about singing chants to transition from one subject to the next.  I love to do that too but this is different. The musical transitions I am referring to are designed for literacy stations or centers.

In the classroom music helps manage volume.  If you play soft background music, the children learn to keep their voices low.  Being able to hear the music helps them self regulate their volume.  (You have to explicitly teach this of course!)  It is also soothing and peaceful.  Couple these two notions with transitioning from center to center and you have my favorite idea of all time!

I decided to burn instrumental cds for literacy centers.  Basically I decided how long I wanted the children to work quietly at a center.  I found piano music for that length of time and then a five minute guitar song for clean up and time to move to the next center.  The piano music can be a variety of songs but the clean up/transition guitar song is always the same.  At the beginning of the year I have two to three ten minute rotations and by the end two to three 25-30 minute rotations.

The best part of having a cd that continually plays is that you can focus on your small group instruction.  When I am teaching guided reading groups I do not need to stop at a set time.  Some groups meet longer than others.  I simply call children up to the table and the rest keep on working at their centers.  After the children have this down pat it's amazing to witness.

Just picture kids spread throughout the room working quietly with soft piano music playing in the background.  The teacher is at the guided reading table with five students.  Suddenly a soft guitar song comes on.  The children quickly begin cleaning up and transition to the next activity while the teacher continues to teach the small group. 

It takes practice but once they have it down pat, it is so worth it!  For this to work you have to have set routines and procedures.  In my class the children know that if they are not cleaned up and at their next station, then I choose the next activity for them.  If it happens repeatedly, they do not get to go to stations until they earn the privilege back.

It does take a little time to pick out the play list where it is timed just right but once you have a few cds for the beginning, middle, and end of year in varying length, you are set.

What do you think of this idea?

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