Submitted by Monica Autry, Ft. Bragg, North Carolina
Idea posted 2004-04-27
This list of centers came from my Network article in Music K-8, Vol. 14, No. 4. Centers are a culminating activity. For example, my first graders are reading/singing songs with the pitches so, mi, and la. We've spent a couple lessons now singing songs with "la" added. Centers are focused on the new songs and skills we've recently encountered.
1. Bells - Play and sing two songs with so, mi, and la. They play from notation.
2. Boomwhackers® - Students play the songs with Words Make Rhythm/Boomwhackers®. (Pictures are available at Boomwhacker® Central.)
3. Art - Students draw the pitches on a paper egg that has a music staff. They draw the notes, color, cut, and glue on the board.
4. Big Foot Keyboard - Students play the songs with their feet.
5. Make a Note - Students use "wikki stix" to make ta, ti-ti, and rest. They are bendable sticks.
6. Computer - Kid Pix - This is a draw/paint program. Students draw a music staff with the pitches so, mi, and la. They may also draw rhythm notes. My older students also do Music Ace.
7. Keyboard - Students play the songs on keyboards.
8. Reading Center - I make books out of the PowerPoints I've made for songs. I print out the PowerPoints, put them in sheet protectors, and put them in those $0.99 notebooks you can buy at Wal-Mart. This center is actually a huge Radio Flyer wagon.
9. I sometimes have listening/singing and drum centers. Both of these can get loud!
I have notebooks at each center that are divided by grade level. I have taught students where to find their music in the notebook. The notebooks are a recent addition. In previous years, I had separate notebooks for each grade level, and I was driving myself crazy running around the room to get each center ready for my next class. Then this idea finally dawned on me. I have colored dividers that correspond to the color of the textbook for each grade level.
These are the basic centers I do with everyone. My fourth graders have done Recorder Karate this year. They can play those Recorder Karate songs not only on their recorder but on the piano, on bells, with Boomwhackers®, and with their feet! I've found that when students can practice these skills so many different ways, they are much better musicians. I've been teaching for 20 years, and this is the most fun I've had with my students! It is also a natural time for assessment: You can see right away who needs help.
It takes two class periods to complete all of the centers. The first thing students ask me when they come into my room is, "Are we doing centers today?" It is a lot of work initially but will pay off in the years to come. It's constantly evolving. I'm still changing and re-thinking things.