Arts Festival

A Different Approach to A School Program
Happy Easter and Happy Spring everyone! This is Karla from CMajorLearning.  I hope that everyone is enjoying this wonderful time of year - flowers are blooming, grass needs mowing, allergies are back and kids are full of all kinds of wonderful energy! Ok - so maybe somethings about spring are not that great but it is a time of change, especially here in Ohio where everything is coming back to life after a long winters nap. 

And as spring comes around, the music teacher in me is drawn towards thoughts music performances, end of year assemblies and graduation celebrations of all sorts.  I work at Indian Trail Elementary in Canal Winchester, OH, a K-2nd grade building of around 800 students.   In years past, before state funding reductions and levy failures, there were 2 music teachers in the building (and both of us Kodaly trained).  We worked together on everything from lesson planning to cross curricular work to music programs - boy do I miss those days and my fellow music teacher Liz Young.  When the reductions hit, it mean that Indian Trail went from having 2 art, music and PE teachers to 1 in each department.  Some significant changes had to be made in order for us to take on the large student/class load now placed upon us.

While it was not an easy time by any means, the related arts program has settled into something that I can live with where I teach what I love to the age of students I love - really I can't ask for much more.

One of the major shifts in thought and practice has been how we approach our music programs. It was nearly impossible for me to put together a successful performance for each grade level of 12 homeroom classes by myself - even the administration got that! So, when presented with this new challenge, the related arts department put our thinking caps on and came up with something new for our school with the focus on families and community building.  We put together the Indian Trail Arts Festival - Super Hero's at Work!  

During this event, we invite families to come to the school for 1 hour on a Saturday morning where they can go around to different stations and do an activity that represents our related arts classes: art, music, PE and social skills.  Each of us has taken a slightly different approach to this hour community building - and that is partly what I think makes it so much fun for students, families and teachers!

For the music portion of the arts fest, students learn a game or dance during music class in the lessons leading up to the event and then we teach our families the 'moves' during one of three appointed 10 minute sessions during their hour at school.  

This year, my 1st grade students will be teaching their families "Sasha". I learned this from the New England Dancing Masters and you can get everything you need for FREE at their website. Click on the picture below to be taken directly to their website and download.  

If you are not familiar with this dance or even if you are, check out this youtube video.  It is of adults (lets call them mature adults) - what I love is that they enjoy this just as much as my kids do!!!

I love this game for so many reasons, it is a great mixer, can be done by anyone from age 5-95 and is a real crowd pleaser!  It also allows me to teach my students about music from other parts of the world.

My 2nd graders will be taking their families to Australia to play "Highway Number 1" by the Shenanigans.  Click the image below to find the recording at

In my classroom, the students act out the words of the song by driving on Highway #1 (it is a real highway in Australia - goes around the entire continent and is approximately 15000 miles long).  When the music says "I stopped to meet someone", the students stop, listen to the action that is said and then do it.  The music picks up again and we begin our driving.  

Along with learning the song, the students have been learning all about Australia.  We have read a book on BookFlix titled Australia.  (Does your school have this wonderful resource published by Scholastic?  It is a service that provides books to be read on the computer - I just put it on the smartboard and off we go!).

We learned about animals native to Australia, read the book "Do You Do a Didgeridoo" by Nick Page.  Click the picture below to be taken to for info on purchasing the book.  

We also listened to Didgeridoo music and we are going to learn the dance to "Sesere Eeye", a new song/dance in my teaching repertoire - can't wait to try it out!.

"Sesere Eeye" and many other Australian repertoire can be found in Aileen Miracles "Australia ABC's: Musical Program" from TeachersPayTeachers, click the picture below to be taken to TpT. 

The students have enjoyed our preparation activities so far and are really excited to be the experts when we teach everything to our families at the arts fest.  I have found that preparing for this event is fun for me and the students, a great out reach to our community and a wonderful learning opportunity relating music to other parts of the world.  Last years event was a huge success and we are hoping for another great turn out - I'll have to let you all know how it goes in my next Kodály Corner post.

What types of performances are you expected to do from your district, anything happening that is outside the normal performance format?  If you are affected by reductions and cuts in funding, can you take a difficult situation and turn it into a positive event for your school?  I would love to hear what others are doing to support their school and community in regards to student performances, especially with the younger students.

Have a great week everyone - remember that no matter what type of performances you are doing with your students, you are making a difference in their lives each and every day!

1 comment

  1. Great post! I used to do something similar with the art and PE teacher when I taught in New Mexico. We called it "Weeknight Specials" and we invited one grade level for an evening. Students came with their families and a sack dinner. They ate for 25 minutes and then we rotated them in groups for 20 minute sessions. It was always a hectic night but great fun and a wonderful chance to connect with families!


Back to Top