Monday, September 16, 2013

Manipulative Monday: Dynamics Sphere, Floor Staff and a Linky Party!

Manipulative Monday!

I'm very new to the Linky Party idea but I'm taking the plunge this week! Today I’m linking up with Lindsay over at The Pursuit of Joyfulness and her Munipulative Monday Linky Party! I am a fool for foam, Target specials, and other "every student gets a pack/stick/baggie" types of manipulatives, but today I'm going to focus on a couple of larger items.

Hoberman Sphere (in my room known as the Dynamics Sphere)
I love my Dynamics Sphere! This idea came from Holly Brinkman, a wonderful middle school choir director in my district. I purchased mine from Amazon during a school break a couple of years ago. After my son had a couple of weeks playing with it, I had to sneak it out of my house in order to bring it to school. It grows from small to very large.


I introduce the Dynamics Sphere in first grade while we are exploring loud and soft. After the first graders have heard Hyden’s Surprise Symphony through our acting out the audience’s surprise, they always want to hear it again. During the following class period I bring out the Dynamics Sphere. The students watch the sphere as I hold it while we're listening. During the music I show the different levels of louds and softs with the sphere. Of course when that sforzando surprise comes in I pull the sphere as large as it can go. SURPRISE! They all giggle and and then ask to see and hear it again! The Dynamics Sphere is also very useful during concert rehearsals and choir rehearsals when working on dynamics.

Floor Staff seating chart with velcro
I have been using a large floor staff in my music room for so long that I no longer can recall where this idea came from. I’m reasonably sure I saw it during my student teaching (which was many years ago)!
My floor staff is about 20' x 15'
I have been in many music rooms where the students have assigned seats on risers. I understand the benefits to having the class seats on risers. However, every time I’m in an in-service or meeting where I have to sit on risers for longer than five minutes, I feel uncomfortable and have trouble focusing. I can’t expect my students to do that when I can't do it myself. Also, having the large space free of risers gives us the room to move and play games!

I initially ordered my one sided velcro tape from a PE catalog I got from the PE teacher. (It is also sometimes called sew on velcro tape). It's the hook side of the velcro that you need. The hook side stays on my carpeted floor very firmly.
Yes, I do have to train the younger students to refrain from pulling on the velcro!
I use the Velcro staff as my seating chart  and students sit on the lines facing the SMART Board. 1st through 3rd graders know the lines by numbers 1-5. We refer to the lines and spaces with their letter names EGBDF and FACE in 4th through 6th grade.
(We make the transition from calling the lines and spaces of the staff numbers to absolute pitch letter names in 3rd grade when we start soprano recorder).

What is really fun about the floor staff is that we can play staff games with it. Some of those activities include:

1. EGBDF Says: EGBDF is a caterpillar puppet who helps to introduce the letter names of the lines and spaces. (His whole story is really one for another time)! We play EGBDF Says just like Simon Says. ("EGBDF says everyone on line B do three jumping jacks!" etc.)

2. Staff Races: "All girls wearing blue move to space C. Only the first 3 girls who make it there will stay in the game!"

3.  Melody writing and reading: Everyone moves below the staff and teams of students reproduce short melodies with their bodies. The rest of the class reads and sings their melody.

When a grade level is preparing for a concert I rearrange their seats into a "concert order" (based on height, sound, and behavior,) with 4 rows of students standing in the spaces. This easily transfers to the 4 levels of risers they perform on.

So, there are two manipulatives I love to use in my music room!
Thank you, Lindsay for hosting this Linky Party. Make sure you stop by The Pursuit of Joyfulness to check out more fun manipulative ideas from elementary music bloggers!


  1. THanks for sharing your ideas! I use the sphere for breathing in Choir, but I will definitely be using it for dynamics now!

  2. Thanks for linking up! Love your ideas! I have been using velcro on the floor for the first time this year, and I really haven't had much of an issue with it. The kids get that we want to keep our room nice by not touching it! :)

  3. Hi Tanya, I love your idea for the velcro floor staff! How wide is your velcro? I've been shopping around for some and was just wondering.

  4. Is there any problem with vacuuming with the velcro on the floor?

  5. No, there has never been any issues with vacuuming! It really stays stuck.