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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Making Mother's Day Memories

My Mother's Day keepsakes rest on shelves and windowsills around my house. They are not expensive gifts nor are they mass produced or store bought. Instead, they are imperfect, unique items crafted especially for me by my children.

There are handwritten cards with stick figured drawings, ceramic hearts and mugs with inscriptions, and scribbled sayings on construction paper hearts. They were made with love and care, and to me they are as valuable as Monet or Renoir paintings.

In the past, I've had Mother's Day breakfasts in bed, buffet lunches at cafeterias, and candlelit dinners at expensive restaurants. Yet, none of those equaled the homemade gifts plastered across my refrigerator doors. I have wonderful memories of children's happy faces as I opened their works of art. Yes, Mother's Day is synonymous with love.

As an educator, I love holidays! They offer insight into cultures and traditions. They give students opportunities for researching and sharing. Holidays are special days of celebration. Mother's Day is cause for reflection--time to say "Thanks, and I love you!" A day to express gratitudes not otherwise communicated. 

What is your Mother's Day plan? A vase of flowers? A heart-shaped box filled with chocolate? Dinner at a fancy restaurant? Don't forget the handmade cards and gifts--those made with love. 


Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother's Day Products:
Mother's Day Activities to Make and Give


Monday, April 1, 2013

April is Jazz Month--Let's All Sing the Blues

Jazz and Rhythm and Blues lesson plans are credited with creating some of my most memorable classroom moments. It allowed artists, musicians, and writers to shine while it encouraged others to "word play" with rhyme and rhythm.  

Since a "picture is worth a thousand words", begin your Jazz and R & B unit with a history lesson at the Delta Blues Museum:

Tour the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's Blues section to learn about artists who influenced the music genre, or learn about Langston Hughes and the Blues. 
Preview video recordings from Jazz and R & B artists:

B.B. King
Billie Holiday
Dizzy Gillespie
Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
Ray Charles

From there, view and discuss important milestones in Jazz with a timeline of the history of Blues and R & B. Then,in small groups, have students choose specific time frames and build timelines to hang in the classroom for visual references. Bring in as many children's books about Jazz and R & B artists as possible. Children's books use figurative language, so they are good models for students who need to incorporate imagery and senses into writings. Also, simply stated facts are easy to comprehend, find, and remember. In addition, the unit is perfect for introducing and working with quotes and citations.  

Listen to the cd of Jazz Fly by Mathew Gollub, or watch a class interpret the text:

Students are ready to begin to write Scat, which brings patterns, rhyme, rhythm, and words to life. But, just what is Scat? It's a language of sounds, such as Za Zee Zay Za-baza, Boo-zaba, Zee-zah Ro-ni... Use the lesson plan Let's All Sing the Blues to introduce Scat writing. It's interactive and will have students' writing, singing, and moving! 


For free supplemental resources, visit The Blues, a lesson plan unit from PBS, or download Jazz Notes: A History of Music in New Orleans.  

Let's All Sing the Blues let's students create unique language combinations that are set to music while learning about the history of Jazz and R & B. It's fun for everyone...


Happy Jazz Month!