Wednesday, September 3, 2014

How to Teach Vocal Timbre Using Puppets

We've finally made it through the first few weeks of procedures, hello songs, seat charts, names and games. Now we're on to learning music skills.
I like to focus on a concept for the month. Right now we are just wrapping up Steady Beat in 4/4 and 3/4 Time Signature. We've had fun "feeling" the beat with our scarves in Kindergarten and First Grade and Patting and Clapping to feel Strong and Weak Beats and in upper grades making Popsicle stick 3 beat patterns in small groups and sharing with the class. I'm so glad we are now getting into the meat of teaching and learning. 
Next I will focus on VOICE CHOICES with K-2 teaching the 4 Voice Choices SING-SPEAK-WHISPER-SHOUT. 
Kids love puppets and will listen to them better than me. So why not use puppets to teach these concepts?
To keep it fun I use a different puppet for each voice:
Whisper-Snake puppet
Sing-Cat- meow, meow, meow meow 
Speak-I use some kid puppets. The boy is "speak", the girl always shouts because recess is her very favorite time of school. I have the class help her learn how to speak instead of shout. The boy puppet helps her understand that she can use her shouting voice outside, but needs to keep her voice quiet in the school.
The kids giggle and I let them experiment with the puppets encouragement. I also have a special song that each character sings.

There are many types of puppets that can help you teach. I found these hand washing animals in Wal Mart and turned them into puppets. I just made the sleeve out of a towel.

Sing, Sing, Sing, I like to sing--

The Owl asks us to "whisper" so she can sleep during the day.

The Lion "shouts"

Monkey "speaks" 

This puppet has become a big hit in my classroom. Without any prior thought, I named her "Fermata the Frog". 

I say to the students, "do you know why she's called Fermata?"  They don't know, and so I ask the puppet to sing their names, and she does-except she doesn't stop singing until I cut her off with my other hand (musically!) The students are laughing and now I teach them what "fermata" means. The next class time I ask them to help me by conducting Fermata as she sings their names. They love to "cut off" her voice, sometimes short and sometimes long. 
And have you seen these adorable tennis ball puppets?  You could make one for each character.  

I will let my students come up and show/tell me about their voices when holding one of the puppets.
There are so many great things going on here during this lesson. Kids are actively engaged in listening, analyzing, speaking, singing, moving--which are so important to language development.
These skills are also important for social development. When kids laugh together they learn that they have something in common with the other kids in the class. Their subconscious is telling them "see--you fit in just fine--everyone is laughing and so are you!" And--"it's okay to laugh!"
Creative experiences in the music room help children be creative.
Here's some additional activity ideas:
Students could make their own puppets and put on a little play either in small groups or as individuals.
Students could make puppets and take them home to show their families.
Students could write about a place where they had to be very quiet and speak in a whisper, or sing, or shout or speak....
Students could make up a story about an animal who speaks, whispers, shouts or sings.
Maybe the title would be "My animal, _______________________ who only __________________.

If you're interested in my resource, you can find it here:

Vocal Timbre

                                 Vocal Timbre *Song *Games *Lessons *Posters *Printables

Have fun singing, chanting, whispering and "shouting"! 

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