Friday, January 8, 2016

Stretching Learning with Stretchy Bands

Feeling tangled up? Stressed? Overworked? Sick?  Hmmm... and still have to get to the classroom?
It happens to all of us--the demands of the music teacher are seldom acknowledged by our "Core"education peers.  Teaching 7-9 classes per day, teaching 7 different grade levels, remembering 500-1000 student names, needs and interests, setting up instruments and equipment, moving, dancing, singing..and that's just the tip of the ice berg. 
But there are some great activities that can help all kinds of teachers add some creative movement to their classrooms and give students a focused way to channel their energy and emotions.
Stretchy Bands can be used in: 
Team Building
Mindful Teaching
Special Needs
Music Teachers
P.E. Teachers
Elementary School Choirs
Elementary Classrooms 

I call mine "Mr. Stretchy", or, "Magic Rainbow".  He comes out whenever I need to do some TEAM BUILDING, CREATIVE MOVEMENT and MINDFULNESS activities.


These are my Chorus students. They are a group of 3rd to 6th graders who come one time a week and sing together. We put on 2 shows per year. Since they come from multiple grades, they don't really know each other. I like to do a couple of Team Building activities with them with Mr. Stretchy.

Everyone finds a place on the band. Then I ask the students to step back as far as they can and stretch the band. Then I call out a grade level to let go of the band. Soon there's just a few students holding on and trying not to let it go. Then I start a discussion that focuses on how each chorus member is important to the group and without everyone participating we have gaps in our ability to perform well.

 We also get SILLY! I will have the students hold on to a color in the band so that no one is in between colors. Then I will ask the blue group to pull towards the middle and the other color groups to try to hold firm in their place. There's a lot of pulling and tugging--but the students get how important it is to work together from these activities. I like to weave the team building activities in with the Creative Movement activities, then flow right into some calming down routines.


With my younger students I'll have them hold on to Mr. Stretchy and march around the circle to Sousa marching music. We might sit in a circle holding Mr. Stretchy and show the Steady Beat by bouncing the band. 
Hold the magic rainbow in your hands.
Walk in a circle.
Walk to the beat of the music.
Ask students to keep their feet on the beat.

I'll also have them use the band to show HIGH and LOW. They especially like this one. I encourage them to really stretch up high and then go all the way down low. A good story to use for this activity it "The Three Bears". I might play a xylophone or the piano and have them hold the stretch band high or low depending on what they hear. Students love to show FAST and SLOW too. 

Stretchy Band Circle 

Stretchy band activities are a great way to add in some creative movement to any Composer themed lesson. Students can experience the music while moving. Then you can discuss how the music feels and sounds. I find these conversations to be more lively and intuitive after students play with the stretch band.


Another thing I do with Mr. Stretchy is to have them all lay down and relax. There's a lot of giggling that goes on with this activity. I play some soothing music and ask them to hold very still. Of course not everyone can do this--and the band bounces. Then I start a discussion asking them how they feel when they are trying to focus and relax and someone else is being silly...This is a great way to talk about how we affect others through our feelings, performance and actions-especially in a performing group.

"STORM’S OVER" is a way to bring students back to calm. Play some quiet music as you talk to students:  
Sit in a circle.
Hold the magic rainbow in your hands.
Move your arms in and out.
Move to the music.

Chopin: "Raindrop Prelude"

Haydn: "Water Music"


My favorite one is to make "ocean waves".
Sit in a circle.
Hold the magic rainbow in your hands.
Move your arms up and down.
Move to the beat of the music.

Mr. Stretchy has helped me keep calm and teach quote an over used phrase. But it's really true. I find that Mr. Stretchy helps all of us calm down, work together and be nice. What a wonderful way to spend the day! 

STRETCH BAND LINK: I am in no way affiliated with this company but want to provide you with links to resources as a service. 

If you have a stretch band, what are some ways you use it in your classroom?

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