This week, I began teaching at one of the many schools that I will be singing and dancing in this school year. I teach about 450 students at this elementary school (Kindergarten through 4th grade + after-school chorus) (the only students I don’t teach are 5th graders who aren’t in my chorus), and the job at this school also carries the bulk of my teaching hours. For the past couple months, I was honestly really nervous to go back, having not taught much at all since last May. But for some wonderful reason, I gained a surge of positivity last weekend, in addition to a massive stream of creative ideas, and ended up having an amazing first week back! Here are some of the highlights… 🙂

I found a song that works for each and every grade, from Kindergarten all the way up to 4th grade: “The Green Grass Grows All Around”. There are many, many versions of this song, in lots of different settings, using all kinds of objects of decreasing sizes, with plenty of melodic and lyrical variation. I like to start out with the tree in the middle of the woods, then add on the limb, branch, twig, leaf, nest, egg, bird, wing, feather, bug, and germ ^_^ Here’s a version that they do on the Barney show…

I absolutely love how so many of the comments on this video are “I’m [an age over 5] and I still love this song.” The song is entertaining to watch, easy to follow, and satisfying when you can remember the whole sequence. A lot of my Kindergarten students couldn’t sing along to the entire thing the first time—understandably—but they still followed along with all of the actions I did. I would say most of my 3rd and 4th graders caught on pretty quickly though, and some of them were able to keep up the entire time! I hope to find more songs that I can do with many grade levels 🙂

For my 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade classes, I had taught all of the students there (except for a few new kids) last year, so pretty much everyone remembered me ^_^ I start out each class by singing “Hello, girls and boys!” (so— mi— so-so-so-mi, if you can think of the pitches :P), and they all sing back in the same melody and rhythm “Hello, Ms. Russell!” It was so fun to be able to sing to them right away without any additional instruction, and have everyone remember exactly what to do. Of course, none of the Kindergarteners knew me, so I did have to teach them this routine, but they will catch on quickly 🙂 I hope it was nice for my students to start a new grade with a new classroom teacher and new classmates, but to have the familiarity of me, their music teacher!

My 4th graders this year will have me as their music teacher for the third school year in a row. So many of them were SO excited to see me, which warmed my heart nearly to the point of explosion. In one class, it was so moving for me to walk in quietly, see them all quickly start to notice that I had arrived, tapping their friends, pointing, and whispering excitedly “Ms. Russell!!! Ms. Russell’s here!!!!!” By the time I had gotten to the front of the room, the whole class was cheering, clapping, and pounding on their desks. Naturally, their classroom teacher condemned this behavior, telling them in a very serious tone to stop making so much noise. But there I was, thinking “I don’t mind the warm welcome…” 😛

I’m so excited to teach all of these wonderful children again this year! I so enjoy my job, and am very grateful for what I get to do every week ^_^

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