Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Learning and Creating

Music Classes.....exploring the orchestra
Second and Third Grade music class is enjoying an iPad app called Piano Carnival as I project it on to the SmartBoard.  Piano Carnival is a narrative that accompanies Saint-Saen's Carnival of the Animals. Attached to each page of this story is a video of the appropriate piece of music as well as additional drawings AND a movie of those drawings being created in Photoshop!  SOOOO cool!
What really impressed me was the website for educators ) that is linked in the "grown ups" area. This site has lesson plans and activities to accompany the book AND Common Core Standards are listed that apply to each lesson! 
There are many ways to use this app with your classroom. Project on a SmartBoard, just use your iPad to present the story, or put on a classroom set of iPads for individual use. Another great thing about this app is that it is FREE!  Check it out music educators!
We are talking about the Instruments of the Orchestra in Kindergarten and First Grade.  Students have listened to and watched the classic story of Peter and the Wolf ( Петя и волк, Petya i volk in Russian)by Sergei Prokofiev
Peter and he Wolf was written in 1936, capturing the personality of each character with their own special instrumental sound.
Prokofiev actually visited the Disney studio when Disney was creating his animated version, released in 1946.
We enjoyed the Disney version very much!  The Russian film by Susie Templeton provides a great contrast to the animated version.  
Another great resource is the video of Peter and the Wolf with characters created by Chuck Jones, starring Kirstie Alley and Lloyd Bridges.  It's a unique approach to the story.  The added bonus to this DVD is an introduction to the instruments of the orchestra as well as a game.  There are 25 different combinations in the game to match instrument sounds with animals.
We have also watched the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra perform the piece, which gives great visuals of the musicians playing the instruments.  Of course, the Jim Gamble puppet version is a favorite as well.  Each version is a little different from the other in style, setting, and even characters.  Students compare and contrast those differences in our discussions.
Technology Classes....blending skill with creativity!
Younger students got creative while practicing our navigation and mouse skills this month with Easter egg decorating from the ABCya site. Each student had their own style, it was amazing to see!  
We have been creating Interactive Google Drawings in technology for Grades 4-5-6 these past few weeks.  The students were given a topic to research, depending upon their last name.  Countries of Asia, Symbols of South Dakota, Horse Breeds and Towns in South Dakota were the topics.  We learned how to use the tools of Google Draw, and how to link a photo or graphic to more content to tell more about it.  The content could be a video, a website, or the students' own Google document with information that was gathered.  Click on the photo below to see Olivia Lyon's Interactive Google Drawing.  She created her own slide show for South Korea.  When you get to the actual page, click on each country's photo to see the link to explore!
 Countries of Asia
Second and Third graders have been using their skills to create word clouds.  Since we are studying the instruments of orchestra in music, we created designs using the various families of instruments, printed them out, and they are now on display in the music room.  
This project was not only fun, but integrated many different subject areas:  technology, music, spelling, art and design, and math (did you wonder why some words are bigger than others??).
All students continue to work on their typing skills regularly with TTL4 and online typing games.  One of the students' favorite games is "Words Per Minute."  A cool feature of the game is the tally of best scores for the day.  The competitive side of typists comes out when we play!

Friday, March 3, 2017

.....According to His Purpose

Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—PURPOSE.  We simply write for 5 minutes on a prompt and see what is created!  I've enjoyed doing these quick writings.  If you would like to give it a try, check out the Facebook page or this blog:  Kate Motaung’s site


Purpose.  Romans 8:38 tells us that ALL THINGS work together for GOOD for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.  ALL THINGS.  Not just the happy, sweet moments of life, but the painful, gut-wrenching moments as well.  I've seen this over and over in my own life.
A small change of schedule resulting in a chance meeting to minister to another person, an opportunity denied, only to be presented with another that is more worthwhile.  Little things like this happen every day.  If I am looking, if I am aware, if I am TRUSTING that God has my back, then these "coincidences" of life are obviously God at work.
But it's not just in the little things that I've seen the hand of God....the purpose revealed.....
It's also in those things that are so life-changing that we will always know the day, the hour, where we were, who was with us, when it all went wrong. Not always easy to see the purpose there...but it is.
A job interview lost might give way to another opportunity yet to be revealed, a painful divorce transforming into a new life, the death of a son a path to reconciliation with my parents.
Yes, there IS a purpose.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Time is Flying in the Music Classroom!

WOW!  It's March already!  Spring is almost here!  It's a busy time of the year for music educators.....concerts, vocal and instrumental contests, preparing for graduation! 
We took time out from our concert preparations to help our community celebrate Music In Our Schools Month.
Martin Grade School has a tradition of decorating grocery sacks so watch for some artwork with your purchases in March!  Some classes have started decorating their sacks!  Of course, they all hope that their parents will be given THEIR sack when they check out of the grocery store!  As you can see below, there are some pretty crafty bags that will be filled with groceries in the coming weeks!

This month is full of celebrations!  March 3 is a special day for our nation.  March 3 is National Anthem Day.  On March 3, 1931, President Herbert Hoover signed into law “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the United States’ national anthem.  As we know, Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics for the Star-Spangled Banner on September 14, 1914, during the Battle of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812. It was originally called “Defence of Fort McHenry”.   This was one of many patriotic songs, but grew on the American people.  America did not have an official national anthem a the time.  It was over 100 years before the Star-Spangled Banner was our official anthem.
We have several musical performances coming up.  Hope to see you there to help our students celebrate Music In Our Schools Month! 
Students and educators appreciate the support they receive from their families year-round!  Thank you for supporting the arts in your child’s school by attending concerts, encouraging him/her to practice an instrument and sing in the choir!

Friday, February 24, 2017


Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—SLOW.  We simply write for 5 minutes on a prompt and see what is created!  I've enjoyed doing these quick writings.  If you would like to give it a try, check out the Facebook page or this blog:  Kate Motaung’s site

Slow is not me.  I am quick.  I multi-task.  I make lists.  I complete my lists, before the due date.  I walk fast.  I pass people in the hallway.  My husband says I drive fast, but really, I just go the speed limit.  Most of the time.
So perhaps I need to SLOW DOWN.  
The upcoming season of Lent is a perfect time for me to SLOW my thinking, my pace, my soul.  

I will take time to slow down and walk WITH someone I approach in the hallway.  Not pass them up to quickly get to my all-so-important (not) destination.
I will take time to stop by church and pray awhile before I head home after school or after being in town.
I will slow down when I drive to take better notice of the beauty around me.
I've noticed that when I take the TIME to BE, that things DO get done in spite of it!  So I will probably still make those lists, but instead of letting the list control me, I will be the one in control of that list.  
I'll take the TIME to SLOW myself.  I will be aware of the path that perhaps God is calling me to....instead of zoom by it, not even noticing the option.  

Friday, February 17, 2017

For when I am WEAK, then I am STRONG

Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—WEAK.  We simply write for 5 minutes on a prompt and see what is created!  I've enjoyed doing these quick writings.  If you would like to give it a try, check out the Facebook page or this blog:  Kate Motaung’s site


Weak.  It seems that no one likes to admit that they are "weak" in any area of life.  I am weak in my resistance to sweets.  I am weak in my resolve to pray the rosary every day.  I am weak in many areas of life.  Now, I'm not weak 24-7 in these areas.  There are days/hours that I am STRONG!  I resist that candy, I put prayer first in my agenda.  
Where does this strength come from?  Am I born with an inner reserve of strength for those times I need it?  Did my upbringing train me for resolve and strength in my endeavors?  Do the people around me encourage and therefore strengthen me as I journey through life?  
Yes, all of these are true....but.....
I know that my real inner strength comes from God.  When my children were very small, the very first bible verse I taught them was Philippians 4:13:  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  I firmly believe this....whether it's resisting a sweet, keeping my mouth shut and not gossiping, or making it through the sorrow of a death, my REAL strength lies in Jesus Christ.  For when I am weak, then I AM STRONG!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Just Breathe...

Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—BREATHE.  We simply write for 5 minutes on a prompt and see what is created!  I've enjoyed doing these quick writings.  If you would like to give it a try, check out the Facebook page or this blog:  Kate Motaung’s site

When I think of breathing, what comes to mind this morning is the sense of smell.  Our sense of smell is a precious gift!  Today I'm thankful for all of those smells in my life that manifest themselves in the many blessings I experience.

One of the most precious smells to me is the smell of a baby.  That precious life.  The sweet smell of a baby after a bath.  But also, the smell of a dirty diaper (all's working well with the digestion), or the smell of dried on food on clothing (solid food here we come!).  I treasure these smells...from my own children, from my grandchildren, and from any baby I see!

The smell of my husband.  Sometimes he asks me if he "smells"!  AKA, "Do I need to take a shower?? " Regardless of if he needs a shower, though, he has a smell unique to him.  That wonderful smell the stirs up my love for him when we are close.  The smell of love.

The smells of nature....totally worth stopping and breathing in....freshly mown grass....the air after a in bloom....the ocean (how I miss that smell!) that have been caught...wet fur on a pet....even the manure of horses and cows.  One of my most treasured memories is of one of our granddaughters, Martha, commenting while we were on a road trip of the smell of manure as we drove by a feedlot of something (can't remember what it was)...she said, "AH, the smell of home!"  She obviously treasured that smell, and it meant more to her than messy, smelly cow poop!

What are your favorite smells?

Friday, January 27, 2017

Control....And Letting Go Of It

 Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—CONTROL.  We simply write for 5 minutes on a prompt and see what is created!  I've enjoyed doing these quick writings.  If you would like to give it a try, check out the Facebook page or this blog:  Kate Motaung’s site

Control.  It IS good to have self-control.  To think before I speak or act.  To maintain some sort of moderation in my actions.
However, to BE IN control, is not always as wise.  I love to be in control.  To know how many are coming for dinner, to have my plans ready for the next class, for students to behave and act in a manner that I expect.  Doesn't always happen.  And that's not all bad either.  Sometimes it's the serendipities in life that are the biggest blessings.  Although, it doesn't always seem that way.....
As a parent, it' not that I want to control every move of my childrens' lives, BUT there is part of me that wants very badly to take their hand and point the way that "I" think is the best choice.  But that isn't the way is goes.  I can suggest, guide, but in the end, they are all individuals with the freedom to choose.  
As a spouse, ideally my marriage is always peaceful, there are never money issues, and everything is peachy keen.  Nope, that doesn't happen either.  In fact, I've had a marriage end in divorce.  That situation in my life was I think the beginning of a journey of handing over control to God.  Control of both little and big things.  
Another life-altering event for me was the death of my youngest child, Timothy James.  I had tried my best to be there for him, to support him, to encourage him, to listen to him and his dreams.  And I DID do that, and he DID love me as much as I loved him.  BUT, he still had his own freedom to choose.  And he did.  I was not in control of that situation.  At all.  Only God is. 
I'm still not very good at it - this "letting go of control" thing.  BUT, I'm better at spotting situations where I need to step back and let God do His thing.  If I have a part in it, it will become apparent.  Otherwise, I am not in charge.
So, rather than "Keep calm and stay in control"  I think I like this quote better:

Friday, January 20, 2017

REFINE: 5 Minute Friday

 Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—REFINE.  We simply write for 5 minutes on a prompt and see what is created!  I've enjoyed doing these quick writings.  If you would like to give it a try, check out the Facebook page or this blog:  Kate Motaung’s site

When I think of the word refine, I think of doing something to come closer to pure, closer to ideal.  Most of the time, refining takes time, effort, sacrifice, and sometimes pain.  Pain not always physical (although sometimes it is!), but also emotional, spiritual pain.  The pain of letting go, and receiving blessings that come to fill the supposed void.
What do I need to refine in my own life?  Several things come to mind:
*A deeper relationship with God...daily, hourly, minute by minute
*Eating habits....wiser choices, a commitment to say NO when I need to
*Fortitude....taking time to search my soul before acting, searching for wisdom in a situation
*Possessions....the hardest for me I think.  Give away what I don't need....don't buy things that are just 'Things" minimally.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Scratching, Itching, Blogging, Singing and Dancing OH MY!

Scratching?  Itching?  In technology class?  No, we didn't walk through some poison ivy!  We have been coding!  So, what IS coding?  Coding is learning how to speak and think like a computer.  Coding provides an opportunity for students to improve problem-solving and thinking skills at a digital level.  Instead of being passive consumers of technology, students are transformed into active producers.  
Right now grades 4-6 are coding, younger students will be starting in a few weeks.  For several years, students have participated in activities developed by®.® has a vision of every student in every school having the opportunity to explore computer science.  Each year new activities have been added, and students have learned new skills in the coding world.  As students are creating with Scratch or Itch they learn to think creatively, work collaboratively, and reason systematically. 
For a more in-depth article, please take a look at Why Teaching and Learning How to Code in Schools by EdTech Review.

Third Grade Students are blogging about the role that music plays in their life.  Blogging and social networking have become huge forums for discussions and the sharing of knowledge. As I work to prepare your child for their future, I want to give them as many authentic writing experiences as possible.

Each classroom blog is totally private to the students and teachers in that particular classroom.  These blogs are NOT public.  Their classroom teachers, Miss Amie, and myself are the only people who can see the blog besides the students themselves.
Kidblog (at is designed specifically for teachers and students, and is completely secure.  I have set up a class network of blogs, where each child has their own, and they are all connected through me. In this way, we can communicate amongst each other, but our work will not be visible or accessible to the public at large. Your child has their own specific password, which will give them access to edit their own blog, as well as the ability to comment on other studentsʼ blogs. However, each and every post and comment will come to me first for approval. In this way I can monitor the conversations and ensure that everything is positive and appropriate. Ask your student to show you our classroom blog!  They can access it simply by going to my webpage.

First and Second grade students are working on typing skills using TTL4 as well as online games.  Using the Home Row is a must for whichever activity we are doing, ad well as awesome posture!  Kindergarten students have JUST learned what the Home Row is, and we have practiced finding it and placing our fingers there.  We are also continuing to work on navigation on the computer and mouse control.
Featured today are Kindergarteners!  We have been studying dance in the ABC Music and Me program.  We have learned about Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Hip Hop and the jig too!  We've learned about the Treble Clef, how a violin sounds (we pretended with rhythm sticks we were playing violin), and most interesting of all, the fact that a male ballet dancer is a ballerino! 

Younger classes are working on rhythm reading readiness.  All classes will be exploring tempo and the Italian musical words associated with the different tempo.  A favorite new echo song, especially for Kindergarten and First Grade is "No More Pie!"  Here's a favorite video with Ella Jenkins singing.  We also use this song to differentiate between speaking and singing voices.  Our classroom version is a little different, and we'll soon be making up our own verses!
Even though temps have been in the freezer, we are thinking, "SPRING CONCERT" in the music room (as you can see in the graphic above!)  K-3 have a performance on March 16, which might seem a long ways away, especially in 0 degree weather!  Since March in Music In Our Schools Month, we are preparing fun songs and activities to share with our friends and families to celebrate MUSIC!