More Moving and Grooving!

Hi everyone! This is Kate from Kate's Kodaly Classroom. This past weekend was the Colorado Music Educator's Association Conference in Colorado Springs, CO. It was great to see so many wonderful presenters (like our very own, Amy Abbott!) and spend time with colleagues making music and sharing ideas. It is so easy to feel isolated as a music teacher, which is why I am so grateful for opportunities to collaborate and for all the online communities that have popped up to keep us connected and supporting each other!

I am going to piggy-back on Karla's movement post, and add a few more ideas for you to try! I am a HUGE fan of movement activities. The more I learn and research, the more I am convinced that giving our kids chances to move leads to higher engagement, increased learning and many more smiles in your classroom.

One resource I have been using recently and loving is Lynn Kleiner's "Kids Can Listen, Kids Can Move."

I have put my "Kodály Twist" on a few of her activities and my kids love them! Here is a highlight...

Hungarian Dance No. 6 with Queen Caroline

Queen Caroline is one of my absolute favorites! Like many of you, I use this chant to teach beat, rhythm, high/low, inner hearing, quarter and paired's a gold mine!

Given my love for Queen Caroline, I was so excited to find a listening and movement lesson to connect to it in my classroom. I have adapted the story from the book, to go something like this...

"Queen Caroline was throwing a birthday party at her castle for all the most important people in the land. She told her servants that they needed to be very proper and always bow or curtsy when they met a guest at the party. To prepare for her party she had the servants practice walking around the ballroom with their heads held high, bowing and curtsying to each other. What Queen Caroline didn't know is that when she would look away, her servants would dance and make silly faces to one another." 

I then play the recording of Brahm's Hungarian Dance, No. 6 (click here to hear the piece on YouTube) and let them listen for when they think the servants are serious or silly. There is a clear contrast between the a and b motives in timbre and tempo. They then get to act out the story walking around. You can also add another level, saying that if the queen (you) catches them being silly when she turns back around, they have to sit in "the dungeon" or sit out. It is fun, fast, and a good listening example for same/different and fast/slow for your Kindergartners or 1st graders. Plus, my kids BEG to play it, so it is a nice carrot to have on a wild or crazy day! 

There are many other great ideas for your younger students in this resource that you can tie into your folksongs, so I encourage you to check it out if you are looking for ways to meld listening and movement!

It is always fun when you can make a connection to your classroom literature in a movement or listening activity, but I also try to find ways to include opportunities for movement in day-to-day activities. Here are a few more ideas of ways to get your kids up and moving...

Movement with Flashcards

Flashcards are such a quick way to practice concepts, but let's be honest- they can get boring. I am always trying to keep my kids engaged and IMPROVING when we use flashcards, so one activity I came up with was "Music Walk." For this activity, I give every kid a flashcard with the concept that we are practicing (rhythm works best in this activity). Then I play something fun for them to walk and dance around to (ABC by Jackson Five is always a hit) and let them move throughout the classroom. When you pause the music, they have to partner with the person closest to them and read the rhythm on their card. Their partner reads their card, and then they switch cards giving each kid a new flashcard. The music starts again and they repeat the activity. It gets a little noisy, but I have found that my kids get more practice this way than when we read as a whole class. I also will often participate with them and strategically partner myself with kids I know need a little extra help.

Body Scales and other Simple Games

I sometimes find that as teachers, our tool box gets so full that some of our simplest (but still effective) treasures get buried at the bottom. I keep a list by my desk reminding of all the basic ways to prepare and practice to draw from when I am lesson planning, and I find it really helpful!

Things like body scales (having your kids move to show the contour of the pitch), walking the rhythm, chair dictation, etc. are great ways to give your kids a chance to wiggle and move while getting in some extra practice or preparation for what you are working on.

Using Movement Canons to help with Part Work

I am new to my school this year, and one thing my students need a lot of help with is part work. So, for my last tidbit, I thought I would tie into some of Sue's post and share some strategies for improving part singing through the use of movement. When teaching rounds, partner songs, ostinati, and harmony, I have found that movement is an awesome way to help your kids improve their part singing. Here's an example...

My 2nd graders are pretty strong singers, but were struggling with rounds. In particular, I found that the 2nd group would often come in on the wrong pitch, matching the group that had already started. For example, in "Are You Sleeping," my students would start the round on mi instead of do. There are many strategies you can use to address this (maybe I'll get to that in a later post...), but one strategy I've found very effective is including movement. Movement helps kids visualize how the pieces fit together so well!  You can break it down like this...

Step 1: Divide your class into two circles. Have both circles sing at the same time, walking around the circle and stopping at the end of the song.

Step 2: Repeat, but this time in a round. Being in the circle formation will help them hear their part, and the movement cues them to start from the beginning. I would recommend you join the 2nd group to start.

Step 3: As a challenge, you can repeat the round in concentric circles. I have used movement like this for programs before... it looks and sounds beautiful!

Adding movement like this, or even simple layered actions, gives your singers a visual representation of the harmony and keeps the active and engaged.

I hope you are having a great week and that you will find some of these ideas helpful! Happy moving and grooving!


  1. Love the Queen Caroline story and listening/movement activity! My K's are deep in Queen Caroline land right now and I'm going to add the story and activity ASAP!!! Thank you!!!

  2. I was wondering if you could do a post briefly going over all the rhythm activities you have on the list pictured above

    1. Hi Chelsea! Thanks for your comment and for providing my inspiration for my next post! I will definitely try to include some explanations and highlights in my next post!

    2. Did you post about the rhythm activities? What date or title is it under?


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