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LAST DAYS OF SCHOOL Cool end-of-year activities that combine fun and learning throughout the summer.

From: Pat Boozer
Put together a few nursery rhymes, "school slogans", raps, etc. that your kids know and make a speech/body percussion rondo. For "quicker", better behaved classes--add movement.

Write a Haiku with the class--maybe about "summery" things--crickets, water splashing, sunsets, etc. Add vocal sound effects.

From: Bill Morgan
Just today I took my 2nd graders outside for music. That's always a treat for everyone! I played one of the Orff pieces on the recorder while they created individual and then partner movements that showed the form of the song. Perhaps next week we'll create one dance together from their ideas.

From: Kathee Williams
I found a jewel in the Murray edition of Volume 1. It's called "How Many Feet Down the Street." I don't know what page it's on. The students say "How many feet down the street? Take a guess, more or less." Students are in two lines facing each other. There is plenty of room between the lines. At one end of the street there is a student who holds cards with the numbers one through six on them. THat student chooses a card, but does not share the answer. A student at the other end is "it." Everyone says the chant, then it tries to guess the number on the card. If it guesses right, it goes and take the cards, becomes the new leader, and a new person becomes it. If it guesses the wrong number, it has to "go down the street on the number of "feet" that the card reads. Three is 2 hands, one foot; 2 feet, one hand; one hops on 1 foot, etc. My students (2nd-4th grade) LOVE it, and it is good to observe coordination skills, creativity, etc.

From: Martha Evans Osborne
With 1-4, I have had fun in the past doing jump-rope chants. We get a large jump rope (I always turn one end, especially with the younger ones) and we take turns jumping. They enjoy it, and I figure it gives them a tool to keep beat and rhythm going over the summer.. We also make up some of our own chants.

From: Martha O'Hehir
Over the years, I have ended up with two end of year traditions. The second to last class is "Patriotic Day" and the last class is "Beach Party Bingo" day. As fairly staunch Orff teacher, these lessons are really a departure for me, but they are fun, serve a few good goals, and provide the movement and variety so needed to keep us all sane in the last week of school.

"Patriotic Day"

I have two wonderful CDs of Patriotic music. All the major marches (e.g. Sousa), patriotic songs, and Armed service songs are represented. Played by one of the Service bands, I think.

Name That Tune:
For the first activity, I divide the class into teams by placing chairs in rows, facing forward. The first person in each chair can win points for the team by guessing the title of the melody of a randomly chosen cut from the CD. With each round, the next person moves up to the hot seat chair, to earn points for the group......I prep this activity by having some rounds that are open to everyone, for practice. You'd be amazed how fast they learn to recognize and name the patriotic songs and marches. in the back of my mind, I am always hoping they will spout some intelligent remark come the 4th of July.

Show the Form through Movement
On one cut, there is a naval or martial tune that has remarkably clear form and only lasts 48 seconds. We listen to the piece together once. (They can listen for 48 seconds!) Then we discern the phrase lengths and form together. Then, I assign each student to a small group. They have to come up with movement that depicts both the form and the spirit of the sections. Then I provide scarves, crepe paper or ribbons...they choose colors etc, and practice their movement piece with the music several times. They perform for each other, and we ask,"What was the movement for the "A" section? the "B" section? etc.

Musical Chairs - Using the Marches, we play musical chairs.

Calming Down
I now own several of the trade books that have portrayed one of the patriotic songs we usually sing together. For example, Peter Spiers' Star Spangled Banner, or This Land is Your Land, or America the Beautiful. I also have the Pledge of Allegiance. I use one of these books (or more) at the end of class to settle the kids down before traveling back to class. We sing it through if we have sung it before. If not, we sing and talk about the meaning of the words and ideas in the song.

"Beach Party Bingo" Day
This actually has no Bingo!!! The title tells you more about how old I am than about the day.....It is from the old Annette Funicello movies of the same title....but I do try to steal the same spirit of the parties in the old movies. (I was a baby when they came out...but I saw the reruns on TV)
Each class has its own version of a party, and they plan part of it them selves, the week before. First, we decide what every good party has: entertainment, games, dancing, food, etc.
For entertainment, the students volunteer to play or recite something on the big day, so I keep track of who will do so, and when the day comes, I put their names on the board in an order that gives variety.
The party begins with everyone in a circle of chairs. The entertainment lasts until the volunteers have played or sung. They listen and applaud appropriately.
For many grades, we'll play the old birthday party games they rarely play any more: musical chairs (if we didn't play last class), Hot Potato.
Then, we divide into two teams, and we play Volleyball with a Beach ball, while I play some piece of current music of their choice. It is very festive.
With older grades, I'll sometimes have a boy's round and a girl's round because they are, by then, so different in their abilities and degree of wildness.
Then I bring out "the food," which is actually an empty cart! I explain that the food is all there, that they just can't see it!! So, I take volunteers to come up and mime the "food." It is like charades. The leader mimes the food they are eating, and then can call on up to three classmeates to guess what it was. After three, they have to tell keeps the fun moving along.. Of course, some very bizarre food show up at the picnic... spaghetti.... Icing on a cake. (since I don't do a lot of mimg, i demonstrate some ideas first and I ask the kids to as well, to prime the pump a little.
We dance their favorite folk dance from the school year, and then I pop in one of their favorites, and then I pop in my CD with Amercian novelty dances (what I call wedding reception music), and we do some of those. Also, we play a round of "Freeze Dance."
The class ends with the lights dimmed and the students straighten up chairs and "cleaning up" after the party, lining up, with music playing softly underneath..
This is the gist. I improvise a bit in the moment as well. This sends them into the summer with a happy feeling about music class....

From: Martha Barbee Stanley
Here's a game that my kids love to play. It even works with subs! It's a cooperative 2-team game, reminiscent of baseball.

Basically, what happens is the "batter" gets to choose how hard a word to spell out. Index cards with each letter (extra for vowels and a blank one for whatever is needed) are laid out alphabetically in 3 lines on the "field" between the two teams who are in the "dugouts." The batter chooses a single, double, triple or home run word (1, 2, 3 or 4 point words) without knowing what the words are ahead of time. S/he has 30 seconds to complete it. I keep score on an overhead.
I choose words from songs, from any musical vocabulary we have used, from grade-level spelling lists, from any content we have covered. Example: note is a one point word; music is 2 as is piano; musician is 3; Tchaikovsky is 4. It's a hoot to watch the kids choose - very telling, sometimes. Second and third graders have a slightly easier set of words to choose from, but a lot of the words are in both lists.

Now, here are the twists that make it interesting.

1) Only the batter may make decisions about difficulty of the word or the spelling of it. BUT the batter may get help and input from his/her team if the team stays IN the dugout. Over the line I draw on the floor with chalk and the team loses a point. S/he indicates completion by saying "Done" or "Finished". If a teammate says it, they forfeit the point, with no further loss.
The batter is STRONGLY encouraged to check with the team before saying "done". The smart ones need to know how to play as a team member; the slower ones need to learn to ask for help and be comfortable getting it. Cooperation points are awarded when necessary to reinforce the desirablilty of checking with the team before saying "done."

2) Good sportsmanship of any time can be rewarded by an extra point. I am consistently inconsistent and arbitrary about this so that the kids don't start clapping for the opposing team's effort just to suck up.

3. Poor sportsmanship is always rewarded with the loss of a point. Talking, not being ready, going out of the dugout into the field at the wrong time, booing, blaming, etc., stop real quickly when they realize what's going on.

3) We use the LifeSkills program and we accent a skill a week: cooperation, integrity, flexibility, problem-solving, friendship, active-listening, etc., etc. So I call the Good Sportsmanship points LifeSkill points and note which lifeskill I see happening. Put-downs, blaming behaviors lose points.

4) I put the spelling scores in one column and the lifeskill points in a different one (+1,+1,-1, etc., to keep the outcome a little cloudy). Then at the end, I add up all the spelling scores and then factor in the lifeskill points and make a deal about how the lifeskill points affected the total. More than one team has had good spellers and lousy sportsmanship and LOST because of -1 points. It's a great object lesson.

I use these general cooperation rules/scoring procedures for drill and practice games, too, like identifying keyboard pitches on paper keyboards, identifying pitch names on the staff, etc.
There is enough competition to be very interesting and enough cooperation to keep things friendly. Good combination and everybody wins!

From: Kathy
I enjoy playing an "edible" rhythm game at the end of the year. I have done this with 1st-6th grades. . .keeping the rhythms simpler with the younger ones. I have found that I will miss a number of classes who are on field trips the last day or two of classes and that is when I usually do this game.

What you need:

small paper cups (one per child)
several bags of short, stick pretzels
one bag of small "twisted" pretzels. . .the typical "pretzel" shape
one 8 1/2" X 14" piece of paper per child (with a line drawn down the center to create 2 measures on each paper)

Each student gets a cup with at least 20 stick pretzels (they need to break a few in half to use as beams for eighth notes and a couple of the twisted pretzels to use as quarter rests.

They "write out" (using pretzels on their paper) the rhythms they hear me play on a drum and/or say. (Great assessment time). When they have "written" what I have said/played, they "erase" the two measures (pretzels back in the cup) and we do another rhythm. The game continues. . .they love it.

The last few times they create their own rhythms on the paper. When they hear their rhythm played they "erase" their pretzels to the cup.

FINAL TIME: After each has created another original rhythm, I will play one person's rhythm at a time. . .when they hear their rhythm they may EAT their pretzels.