Heading back to the classroom on Prince Edward Island

prince edward

I love my beautiful province. It is tiny, surrounded by water, and a protected haven from the chaos of our present health crisis. Prince Edward Island has managed to stay safe from community transmission of COVID -19. With strict border controls and self -isolation requirements in place, we currently have no active cases of the coronavirus. Yay!!!! So… it must have been easy to go back to school, right? Definitely, not the case. But we are back to our “new normal,” and when I am in the moment and teaching my littles, life is good.

Principals in our school district were given individual control over our operational plans. I teach at Westwood Primary, and we have a population of 600 4 to 9-year olds. So many little Petri dishes. My principal had decided that music would be taught from a cart. grade 2My colleague and I would travel to each different class – sanitizing in and out, wearing a mask all day, and not having the option of our own 6 feet of personal teaching space. With a lot of work and help from our union, we got our classrooms back late last week. It is not in anyone’s best interest to teach on a cart. 

I thought I would give you a peek into WHAT we are doing in music class since singing is a high-risk activity. For the beginning of the school year, I held my classes outdoors. Here are a few of my sweet students.

Building community and moving together

When I teach, I do a lot of movement. I believe it is essential for young learners to feel the music in their bodies. So we started our year with a fun movement game called “Jump in, Jump out” They love it.

jump in jump out

  • Introduce with movement.
  • Four volunteer soloists.
  • Four volunteer soloists.
  • Last day – Drum accompaniment. Any other volunteers.
  • Assessment – I can perform a poem in unison with my class.

This little video inspired me. I love her drum accompaniment.

Names, names, names. They are so important. I make a vow, each year, that I will know all 300 of my students’ names by the end of September. This year I started with “Hickety Tickety Bumblebee.”

hickety tickety

  • Introduce the poem.
  • Give everyone a turn to share their names.
  • Share names and test the teacher.
  • Assessment – I can create a short contrasting section using my name.

So far,  all poems, no singing, but still making music.

Creating original poetry

“One for the money” is a poem I found in my Gameplan Grade 2. I really like Gameplan by Randy Deslelles and Jeff Kriske. I tend to find poetry, songs, and listening selections on my own and create original lesson plans, but sometimes you see a little gem like this poem. So simple with a beautiful teaching process.

One for the money

  • Introduce with body percussion.
  • Body percussion suggestions from students.
  • Transfer the body percussion to non-pitched percussion instruments.
  • Last day – Create a non-pitched percussion arrangement with a partner.
  • Assessment – I can create an arrangement of a poem by transferring body percussion to an instrument. I can work with a partner.

Here are my littles performing their creations.

“All are Welcome” with rhythmic ostinato

Our school recently won an Indigo Love of Reading Grant, which allowed our staff to go SHOPPING. I found this lovely little story, and it rounded out my lesson for the first couple of days of school. It is called “All are Welcome” by Alexandra Penfold and Susanne Kaufmann. It has a lovely little rhythmic ostinato at the end of each set of phrases. We reviewed some mallet and pitched percussion technique by playing tone clusters at the end of the ostinato.

all are welcome

  • Introduce the story.
  • Add body percussion to the repeated ostinato.
  • Demonstrate proper mallet and bilateral glockenspiel technique.
  • Last Day – Play two notes at the same time on the glockenspiel at the end of each phrase.
  • Assessment – I can play a tone cluster at the right time.

The new normal is scary. As I write this, I have a sore throat, and I wonder, is it just allergies? But making music with kids is priceless. I hope you rejoice in all of your successes and realize how important you are to the children you teach. Take care, and know that we are in this together. 


Are you an elementary teacher? What has worked for you in the classroom practicing social distancing? Share in the comments below. 

Get Synthia’s book, Just Orffin’ Around, here!