Saturday, July 28, 2012

MelodySoup Costume Solutions - Over-sized T shirts

Tip 1- Over-sized (L or XL) T shirts

Use this idea if you think that one of the following might be true: 

1. You don't want to or don't have time to sew, but you don't mind being a little crafty. 

2. You have a little money (between $75-100) and can invest for the future

3. You need to conserve and condense your storage space by making sure that all of your costumes have more than one use. 

4.  You need costumes that will work with a wide variety of students K-5

Here is what I did - 

I ordered 25 (most of my classes have 25 or less students) blank shirts in one color from an online vendor. In a recent online search I found that you could purchase really nice Hanes Heavy Weight white 100% cotton shirts for around $2.75 a piece from blank t-shirts.  Once you decide on a color they get significantly more expensive, but before you give up entirely on purchasing color shirts check with your local T-shirt printing companies. They may be willing to cut you a deal on some random color that they have in overstock, especially if you are willing to just purchase the shirts outright with no printing. If you can't find the color you want at the price you want then it's time for you to learn how to use some good old fashioned RIT dye! 

RIT dye

When using RIT dye it is important to READ THE DIRECTIONS!  By the way, the RIT dye web site is REALLY cool and worth a look just for fun and creative ideas. Plus they pretty much show you how to dye EVERYTHING!  

You might want to spend some time with your calculator to see if the money you save by purchasing white shirts is equal or less than the money you will spend on dye.  Typically, but not always, I've found that buying white and then dyeing usually saves me some money. PLUS, I get the color that I want! 

When I am purchasing shirts for "costumy costumes" I get either adult XL or L shirts....XL if I am going to use the shirts with 3-5, and L if I am going to use the shirts with K-2.....I don't typically do programs with the younger children, so my costumes tend to be a little bigger.   If you want a more uniform shirt to fit a specific child then you should buy their measured size.  But if you want the shirt to be wearable in many different guises and to look like a "costume", then XL works for almost all students. When I have a child that is particularly small I pin and tuck and tape to make sure they look their best. 

Here are some examples from years past. 
These  3rd grade students were asked to wear black shorts and knee socks.  I safety pinned pink felt circles and pink felt tails onto these XL gray shirts.  I also ran elastic through the bottom hem of the shirt.  Everything I did to the shirts could be undone.  They are also wearing felt pig noses and their hats have pig ears hot glued on. 
Recognize these shirts? - These are the same gray shirts as in the previous picture.  This time they have solder decorations on the front to make these mice look like the mice from the Nutcracker.
Oh Look! - More gray shirts!  This time, I found some gray knit, and spray glued some polyester fill on top. My sheep wore black tights on their arms and legs. Don't miss the white T-shirt chickens. The chickens were particular easy and these girls felt really sassy.  They wore white tights and I made little chicken feet for their feet. 

Here is a better shot of their feet.  This was after the show so some of the boas had come loose, but during the show they held and looked great. 

I don't think these boys remembered that not long ago these shirts they were wearing had been girls chicken costumes.  Keeping elastic in the bottom helps when you don't want the shirt to be down around their knees. 

These 5th graders didn't know that these used to be duck costumes.  I don't have a picture of the duck costumes, but they were very similar to the chicken costumes except with yellow boas.

If you like the T-shirt idea, then I would suggest starting with white T-shirts.  I've been able to add to my collection over time and have a set of XL red shirts, gray shirts and yellow shirts.  The possibilities are endless

One class set of XL white shirts can give you 25 chicken, duck, cow, dog, baker, elf, or snowman costumes just to name a few.  All you need is the right accessories which can always be made out of paper or felt depending on your budget. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

MelodySoup YUMMY! Award: July 2012 - Ain't Gonna Paint No More!

July 2012

I Ain't Gonna Paint No More!
by Karen Beaumont, Illustrated by David Catrow

I love this book! Now just by looking at it, you might not think this is a book that could be used in a music class..... however, it is such a fun read and when I use this book with students I always sing it......I've included the melody I use, which I don't think is original and may have been intended for this book.... I don't know.... in any case, my students love this book so much that I look forward to adding instruments the next time I use it.  

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Children's Books in Music - Part 4 Songs as told and illustrated by Iza Trapani

Here is a new book list just in time for the new school year! Iza Trapani is one of my favorite authors, but when I decided to create a book list for her, I'll admit that I was unaware of just how prolific an author and illustrator she is! Open Library has 39 titles listed for her!

Because of her amazing repertoire and because I've highlighted both Twinkle Twinkle Little Star AND Froggie Went A-Courtin, in previous YUMMY Award posts, I decided to limit my book list to books she has created that are based on songs.  I like the way she says it on the cover of her books..... "as told and illustrated by Iza Trapani." 

Please notice that in early 2012 Iza Trapani released a new book "The Bear Went Over the Mountain".  It is the only one that I don't have, so I'm very curious to hear from anyone who has this book already.....  

Click on the picture to get your copy of the list. 

For more music class book lists check out my book lists for music teachers page


Friday, July 20, 2012

Musical Alphabet, Music Clip Art and Music Fonts

I have never been happy with how my word wall has functioned in my room.  .I've sort of borrowed and shoved together lots of ideas and ended up with a word wall that was nothing more than a "space taker"..... I don't know about you, but I don't have enough wall space in my room to tolerate any space takers...... soooooo I'm revisiting word walls and trying to synthesis everything that I put on my wall so that everything is accessible, instructional and totally music. 

I found some basic letters that I was going to use as the basis for my word wall, but I decided they weren't quite big enough so I have been looking for letters for some time...... After looking and looking and looking and looking I finally decided to create my own.....  I used an OLD version of Publisher and an OLD version of Powerpoint to edit graphics as needed.  I'm happy with my final product, although it's not perfect and I may continue to tweak it before I finally print it, I thought that I would go ahead and share what I have. ALL of the sources for the fonts and graphics that I used to create my alphabet are included at the end of this post.  I did purchase a couple of the graphics when they were REALLY good, but I've found that purchasing the rights to use really good graphics for teaching are often worth it and the fees are minimal. I made my letters to fit on regular 8.5x11 card stock.  I decided to create them in black and white and then color them so that I can make them fit my decor at any given time..... Right now, my decor is rather colorful.

Download Musical Alphabet HERE! 

I found some musical fonts that I liked at this website.

Musical Fonts 

I learned how to install the fonts.... this part is a little tricky.... who knew????

Install Fonts  

I started collecting the "right" graphics...... as it turns out.... gathering good clip art for an instrument that corresponds with every letter of the alphabet is a little daunting.

For photographic clip art that I use ALL THE TIME in my classroom and on my blog I typically use

Stock Xchange   

but they don't really have clip art.... so I had to broaden my search.

I used clip art from

MSN clipart


Clip Art ETC

WP Clipart 


I hope you enjoy these!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Performances - My favorites!

At this time of year, many music teachers are starting to look at the school year with equal mixtures of excitement and resignation.

Yes - Summer is almost over
Yes - The school year will start.... ready or not
Yes - We will be expected to provide performances for our students to demonstrate their musical skill.
Yes - We always need new ideas!

My proposed performance schedule - (I was recently asked by my admin. what performances I hoped to accomplish... these are the performances I submitted to be worked into the calender at this point I cannot know if anything has been subtracted OR if anything new will be added.... anything is possible.)

5th grade SHOW! - Mon & Tues before Thanksgiving - this is the "big" production of the year and the only one for which I create a backdrop and costumes..... Since this program occurs before Thanksgiving, I do not do a holiday show....

All School Sing Along - early dismissal day in December - I LOVE this one! We all get to sing together.... it's the only time during the entire school year when the entire campus is together at once.

Go Texas Day - late February - joint program with PE in celebration of Go Texas Day!  Each grade level prepares their own Texas songs

2nd grade choral informance - March or April depending on the testing schedule - 1st chance for students to practice good singing and good riser etiquette.  This is a singing concert.... no speaking parts, no costumes... just singing.... - the kids LOVE it!

4th grade instrumental informance - March or April depending on the testing schedule - students present whatever work they have done on whatever instruments they have used.... Sometimes this informance is predominantly recorder.... sometimes we incorporate boomwhackers or Orff, whatever the students are working on at the time.

4th and 5th grade Choir - May - my choir meets in the spring semester.  We present a concert immediately before we perform at our district elementary choir festival.

Volunteer Appreciation - May - Whatever class is with me during the Volunteer appreciation lunch visits the luncheon and sings - for the last two years, this has been 2nd grade and we have simply sung a couple of songs from our concert.

Kinder graduation - late May - I prepare kindergarten to sing a few songs for their graduation

5th grade graduation - late May - I prepare a song for 5th grade to sing for their graduation

This has not always been my performance schedule.  With different schools, and co-teachers and administrations I have conducted student performances for each grade level.

Here are some of my favorites! 

Best of the Best! 
By Ruth Artman
I did this program with 3rd graders for 5 years.  We were able to compile costumes enough for an entire grade level and it was a wonderful and exhausting tradition.  I especially like this one because it is based on a major work.

The American Dream
John Jacobson & Roger Emerson
The American Dream is MY FAVORITE program of all time.... This show starts in pre-colonial America and goes through the Civil War.  I had a year of almost literal "show insanity" as I personally sewed 80 of the 110 costumes..... Even if you decide not to go costume crazy, the music of this show is compelling and exciting to sing!  It's simply beautiful! Now that I've been at my current school for a little while, I'm hoping to do this show again in a year or two..... we'll see! GREAT for 5th grade because it contains practically their entire unit of study for Social Studies.

We Haz Jazz
John Jacobson & Kirby Shaw

Just wonderful!  - LOTS of factual information with just enough fun. ALL of the costumes for this musical were purchased from a 2nd hand shop!  I like to accompany this show with a powerpoint because the jazz musicians are mentioned so quickly that a picture helps.  It might be nice to have students where the name of the musician they are portraying around their neck.  (Just a thought)

Song and Dance Man: George M. Cohan
By J. Gallina & M. Gallina

This is a wonderful combination of biographical information and patriotic music.  You don't need very many costumes but it's easy to make it more elaborate if necessary.   If you choose to do this one, this is the perfect time of year to purchase your patriotic items on sale since it's after the 4th!

Cheesy Fun! 
John Jacobson & John Higgins
This is an oldie but a goodie.... My co-teacher and I chose this one because of the line "I'm a maggot".  We were at TMEA previewing music and that statement made us laugh so hard we practically cried.  We did the musical with 4th and 5th graders rather than young children and it still worked very well.  This one is pure cheesy fun! 

How Does Your Garden Grow?
John Jacobson & John Higgins 

This is a great show because you can augment your vegetable and fruit costumes with bug costumes! I did this show with the little ones. 

John Jacobson & John Higgins

Your collection of farm animals can be augmented with bugs and vegetables. I did this show with 3rd grade.

Music Express Musicals! 
I find that I have less instructional time than I used to, so every moment is prime real estate!  In order for me to be able to produce musicals, I have had to scale back some on their scope.  I like these musicals because they lend themselves to the further study of musicians and their music. These musicals are all somewhat similar and therefore the costumes are entirely transferable.  Plus, I find that there are similar selections in our textbook adoption, so if I find that I have an extra class or need another song to highlight something, it is a simple matter to augment these musicals as needed.

On the Radio
John Jacobson & John Higgins
I love that this musical has the Andrews Sisters!  - This musical is VERY VERY Singable!

Rock and Roll Forever
John Jacobson & John Higgins

I almost didn't choose this musical because it has the Beatles song "I want to hold your hand"  Little did I know that "I want to hold your hand " was written for the 5th grade mind!  That song was their favorite!

Destination America
John Jacobson & Roger Emerson
This musical comes with great articles for students to read! This is a great musical, but rather than using "real" music, each song is composed to sound like a particular genre of music.  Very creative, but in my opinion it lacks some of the appeal.  I was pleasantly surprised at how much my students enjoyed it!

This is my choice for this year's 5th grade show
Broadway Beat
John Higgins, Cristi Cary Miller, Tom Anderson & John Jacobson

Just listening to the preview makes me excited about next year! 

As I was writing this post, I realized just how much John Jacobson has dominated my classroom.  I don't know if that is good or not, but I admit that I really like his musicals.  So in celebration of the fact that John Jacobson has become and almost omnipresent element in music education, here is the youtube video that catapulted him beyond the music teacher conference circuit and into the youtube hall of fame!