Posted in 3rd Grade, 4th and 5th Grade, Chorus, Multicultural Activities

Paint the Town December!


The West School Chorus performed a special holiday musical last night: Paint the Town December!  The show was a great success, with 97 chorus students participating in the performance.  Santa even took time out of his busy schedule to make an appearance, can you believe it??!

The kids of Graysville do a community service project each year and paint all the shop windows on main street, to brighten their town up for the holidays.  Along the way, they met Mr. Ladin at the Dreidel Cradle, Ms. Abraham at the World Import Store, Mr. Scrooge at the Bank, and Senora Frida at the Inn.  By the end of the show, the dreary town of Graysville, USA went from looking like this….


to THIS!


Thank goodness for those Graysville kids and their holiday spirit!


And everyone was all smiles after the show…

Posted in 4th and 5th Grade, Composing, Instrument Activities, Ukulele

5th Grade Instrument Compositions


Today the fifth graders created songs.  The directions were to use their ukulele in combination with any other instruments in the room to create and write down a song… and to have fun!!  The creativity happening with this activity was incredible.





Posted in 4th and 5th Grade, Instrument Activities, Pop Music, Singing, Spring Activities, Ukulele

5th Graders Rock the Ukulele

This year’s fifth graders have been practicing hard for their big performance at the upcoming 5th Grade Farewell, where they will be playing and singing Count on Me by Bruno Mars.  We have also been playing Kumbaya, The Lion Sleeps Tonight, One Bottle of Pop, and Somewhere Over the Rainbow.  We have some very talented musicians here at West!


Posted in 4th and 5th Grade, Christmas Activities, Instrument Activities, Uncategorized

Carol of the Bells

5th graders are learning about the song “Carol of the Bells.”  This song is a popular Christmas carol that was originally composed by the Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych in 1904 and is based on a folk chant known in Ukrainian as “Shchedryk.”  The song is easily recognizable for its four-note ostinato.   We listened to three different versions of the song:

The Trans Siberian Orchestra

Libera (a boys chorus)

The Pentatonix (an a capella group)

We then learned to play the tune on our ukuleles!  Next week we will try it with note reading and xylophones.

Here are the ukulele frets to use to play this song:

A string: 3  2  3  0   (x4)    7  5  7  3    (x4)   12  12  12  10  8    7  7  7  5  3    5  5  5  7  5     3  0  0  0  

E string: 0  2  4  5  7  8  10  12  10  8    (x2)

A string: 3  2  3  0    (x8)




Posted in 4th and 5th Grade, Christmas Activities, Classical Music, Fourth Grade, Rhythm, Singing, Winter Activities

Sleigh Ride and Cup Rhythms!

Fourth graders are learning about the composer Leroy Anderson, who composed light orchestra pieces such as “The Syncopated Clock” (which we learned about in 2nd grade) and “Sleigh Ride!”  Leroy Anderson grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and many of his songs are still played by The Boston Pops today.  We watched a video of John Williams conducting the Boston Pops playing “Sleigh Ride” and talked about all the instruments we saw and heard.  Then we sang the song!  Fourth graders will be singing “Sleigh Ride” at our school sing-along assembly in a few weeks, so it was good to start practicing now.  After singing the song, fourth graders learned a special rhythm, which we then translated to cups.  We began learning the rhythm on cups.  We will be playing this special rhythm ALONG with “Sleigh Ride” next week!  Here is the routine we will be doing:




Posted in 4th and 5th Grade, Composing, Fourth Grade, Instrument Activities

4th Grade Composition Unit

Fourth grade students are working on a composing unit. Students begin by drafting a composition using a plain piece of paper folded into 16 small boxes. Each box represents one BEAT. If a note is worth four beats, that note must take up four boxes. Students are using xylophones and glockenspiels to work with partners to draft their compositions. A finished draft looks like this:

Displaying IMG_1618.JPG

Students label each note with a letter on the xylophone. The downward and upward arrows signify whether a note is a higher (smaller key) note or a lower (larger key) note. The notes A and B do not need arrows because each xylophone has only one A and one B!

When students are finished their drafts, they then transfer their composition onto real staff paper. The finished product looks like this:


The final step in the process is to enter our compositions into a music writing website! We will be using the website to transform our compositions into masterpieces! Students have been encouraged to check out the website at home and create their own free account.  Students use a checklist to make sure they have finished all the steps…

Displaying IMG_1619.JPG

and the final, FINAL product looks like this:

Displaying IMG_1621.JPG

Below are some examples of student work!

Mrs. Morrison’s Class

morrison shea will bradelee the laser dance

morrison maggie and lily midnight dream

morrison emily and chiyu ostrich dance


Ms. Keeley’s Classkeeley joyful fields yuna abby matt m

Ms. Grattan’s Class

dreamcatcher caitlin autumn

a rainy day peter and ethan

what if it happened adam and brendan

patches lucas

aqua zone



Posted in 1st and 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th and 5th Grade, Fourth Grade, Group Activities, Movement Activities, Singing, Steady beat

Draw Me a Bucket of Water

Students in third and fourth grade played the singing game “Draw Me a Bucket of Water.”  The tune and lyrics go like this:

draw 6

Four students start out by two holding hands standing across from each other, and the other two holding hands over the first two students hands.  While singing the song, students walk in a circle to the steady beat.  Each time you sing the song, you increase the number IN the bunch and decrease the number OUT the bunch. Every time you increase the number IN the bunch, one student goes “under” into the inner part of the students arms, until everyone is in the bunch!  At the end we all shout “FROG IN THE BUCKET!  HOP HOP HOP!” four times, and everyone has to hop on the “hops”!  The rule is we have to sing it in our nicest singing voices (and of course you can’t sing while laughing) but luckily you CAN sing while smiling, and everyone definitely smiles during this activity!

draw 1 draw 2 draw 3 draw 4 draw 5