Thursday, October 4, 2012

sol mi la Build a Song

My husband is the art teacher and often has extra materials he can't use. (Many parents donate excess graph paper, card stock, and other supplies.) I spied several brightly colored tongue depressors in his room a few weeks ago. When I asked if he had plans for them, he said "no" and gladly handed them over. 
We've been preparing do and reviewing sol mi la songs in 2nd grade so I thought the sticks would provide a different way to practice constructing known songs. 

I used the following songs:
  • Ickle Ockle Blue Bottle
  • No Robbers Out Today
  • Lucy Locket
  • We Are Dancing in the Forest
I have a SMART Board file with each song written out in stick notation (with the solfa written in underneath the rhythm.) After printing out copies of each song I cut them up in 4 beat phrases and glued each phrase on one side of the stick. On the other side is a small picture indicating what song the phrase is from. (You can see the little pictures near the song titles.)

After reviewing the songs, we made a circle and students select one stick each. (One fun way to choose sticks is to play Apple Tree and have the eliminated student pick a stick until everyone has one.)

Students identify their "teammates" by finding those who have the same color and picture on their song stick. Each team rebuilds their assigned song as a team and practices singing and body signing the song. 

Once a team is confident their song is built correctly, they request a song sheet from me and check to see if it matches.

 2nd graders check their song

Are all of my students able to put together a known sol mi la song from memory 
with the stick notation? 
No way.

How can make this activity a successful learning experience for everyone?
  • Many students will benefit from being in a group where they can work together.
  • Some students with stronger skills have the option of building their song with a partner, (there are always uneven groups so this is a great way divvy out the song sticks.)
  • Some groups build their song with the song sheet in hand. Yes, they are essentially copying the song. This is still a reinforcement of the melody, rhythm and form of the song and those students can still be successful. 
I'm all about doing the same old thing in a slightly different way. 
(And I just love those colorful song sticks!)


  1. Thanks for sharing your creative ideas. You are so right about taking something we already do and putting a new spin on it. It keeps everyone excited about learning. (Me included!) I can't wait to do this with my students. Too bad I'll have to buy my popsicle sticks. :)


  2. Thanks Laura! I thought those colored sticks would be easy to track down but I have not been able to find more. I found uncolored sticks that size and colored sticks that are smaller. Now I'm hoarding the last few my husband gave me.

  3. Nice idea! Thanks for sharing. :) You mentioned playing Apple Tree to help select students that will pick sticks. What's Apple Tree?

  4. Thanks Clint! I just added Apple Tree. If you click on the Songs with games tab at the top of my blog you should see it.