Today, I want to share a few things that make my teaching a little more fun for everyone. The following toys really help bring the information to life and when used carefully can help children focus. Good Luck Minis First we have the little animals. In Music Mind Games teaching there are lots of opportunities to use these…

Today, I want to share a few things that make my teaching a little more fun for everyone. The following toys really help bring the information to life and when used carefully can help children focus.

Good Luck Minis

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First we have the little animals. In Music Mind Games teaching there are lots of opportunities to use these little guys (Clefs, GGG, marking measures on the bingo cards….) They are called Good Luck Minis and you can find them at Safariltd.com.

Squinkies

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I also use squinkies. These are inexpensive, soft rubber animals and people. They can be found at thepracticeshoppe.com, which has lots of cute teaching accessories for teachers and parents.

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I also use them with my beginner violin students for bow games. They have a small hole in the bottom and stay on nicely.

Stikeez Squinkies

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Here is another item from thepracticeshoppe.com. These creatures have suction cups at the bottom, stick to most surfaces and happen to be the perfect size for magic notes!

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I’ve also used these creatures to keep students from tilting the violin in either direction and to focus on the hand staying in front of the neck.

Novelty Rings

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Plastic rings can be found at party and dollar stores, and often in goody bags. They are useful when practicing the G and F lines on the grand staff with your hands. See the snowflake on the G line in this picture.

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I also use rings with violin students to help keep the pinky perched on the stick. They place their pinky in the ring and onto the stick. If the pinky comes up the ring falls off. It helps make them more aware of the proper bow hold pinky.

Finger Puppets

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I found these finger puppets at a craft fair. I thought they were so cute and figured I’d find something to do with them. I was right!

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They can also be used for practicing lines of the staff when using your fingers “put the piggy on the F line”

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They fit well on tips of bows as well, good for group class and early bow games.

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Sometimes I use these puppets to practice finger numbers with beginning string students. “Put the piggy on the second finger” and so on. It can be fun to use folk tunes like Old McDonald “Let’s all tap our 2nd finger e i e i o, with an oink oink here and an oink oink there…..” students can tap their fingers to the rhythms of the animal sounds. Numbers can be replace with letters later, “let’s all tap our C# finger…..” Then the exercise can be moved to the instrument by replacing the word tap with “pluck” or “play”.

Dice

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Then there are dice. I use a foam number dice, a twinkle variation rhythm dice, and a dynamics dice in regularly in my teaching. They can all be found at thepracticeshoppe.com.

There are endless ways to use these dice in all classroom and studio teaching. I find new ways all the time.

Here are a few examples of how I use each one of these:

  • Rhythm – which twinkle variation will we play?
  • Rhythm – copy the dice with blue jello puzzle pieces or real rhythm cards
  • Dynamic – what dynamic will we read/play blue jello cards or music?
  • Dynamic – roll for each section of daily do: Intro, Major Scale, Intervals, Minor Scale, Minor triad and intervals, then sing with those volumes
  • Number – how many times will we practice something?
  • Number – Rolling Measures – Choose a time signature. Each student rolls the dice then collects that many magic notes. They can use the magic notes to buy actual notes: 1=16th 2=8th 3=dotted 8th…. Once they have notes that complete a measure with the number of beats in time signature they get a gold coin and start again. (This can be played as a group, in pairs or as a solitaire game)
  • Number – Rolling Intervals: lay out the MMG alphabet cards as a scale.(GABCDEF#G) Set out a magic note for each color of the do re mi (Red orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, purple, red). Roll the dice and place the magic note of the matching solfege color on the alphabet card (or on the staff) which is the rolled interval away from do Ex: In G major if you roll a 3, place a yellow magic note above the B card (a third above G) or notate it on the staff. Keep rolling until you’ve gotten all magic notes either above each alphabet card or have a complete scale notated on the staff. (You will need to use a pair of dice or roll one twice for 7th and 8th intervals) Once you have done each interval, receive a gold coin, pick a new scale and start again. (This can be done as a group, in pairs or as a solitaire game)


Spinner

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Another great tool to have around is a spinner. The link leads to my favorite one, which comes as a set of three spinners. They are magnetic and stick to large and small white boards. You can make the wheel for anything you need! The two games mentioned above with numbered dice (Magic Note Measures and Rolling Intervals) can also be played with a spinner (Spinning Measures and Spinning Intervals) by writing in numbers 1-8 with a dry erase marker.

Other ideas for use with the spinner:

  • Scales – write in Key signatures to practice
  • Rhythms – write in rhythms to practice scales. In orchestra its fun to let each section spin then have them play their scales with different rhythms in the same key.
  • Practice agenda – spin to decide what order to practice your assignments (can add fun things as well: give mom a hug, do 10 jumping jacks, tell a joke….)
  • Review pieces – write in titles and once it’s practiced erase and replace with another.
  • Twinkle variation rhythms – write in words or rhythms. It’s also fun in group class to have each child spin so they play multiple twinkle rhythms at the same time.
  • Intervals talking – the Music Mind Games Intervals Talking game can be played with one spinner wheel for interval numbers (2nds, 3rds, 4ths and 5ths) and a second wheel for direction (up and down)
  • Daily Do – write in sections of daily do and spin what order to sing Daily Do.
  • Dynamics – write in dynamics and spin for pieces, blue jello cards, or sections of pieces.
  • Tempos – practice pieces, blue jello cards and/or daily do in different tempos for fun by writing appropriate tempos into the wheel

What toys and props do you use in your teaching? Please share in comments below!

Happy teaching ????