Here's what I've learned about forming the course:
- The course is one hour each week for four weeks, and if there are energetic attendees, that is plenty of time!
- Depending on the length of the games, we were able to complete 3 to 5 activities in one hour. Always plan more than you think you will need!
- Since I am not a trained music educator, it took me a LOT of time to brainstorm activities. Luckily, there are also a lot of seasoned educators out there with great resources, such as Susan Paradis's Piano Teaching Resources.
- Attendance was low (I had two great attendees), and their mother said holding it later in the day might get more attendance due to competing day camps. I held it from 2:30 to 3:30 PM, so maybe next time I'll try 6:00 PM. We advertised at several neighborhood locations, but next time I plan to do much more!
- The first time you host the class, it will take HOURS of work. I underestimated the amount of preparation it would take, and as a result undercharged for registration. However, once you get the initial work done, you will be able to reuse most of the games for the future.
- Always test your games out with friends before the day of the class. Doing this helped me time games and find mistakes that would have hindered game play in class.
- Make sure some games are competitive, and some are not. I tried to have a good mix so that they were not keeping track of their medals the entire time.
Week 1 of 4 Activities:
- Opening Ceremonies - Torch Rhythm Relay: History of the torch ceremony, then students pass torch to one another and choose a rhythm they'd like to clap from the markerboard; this one is good because it is noncompetitive, like the actual running of the torch.
- Opening Ceremonies - US National Anthem: Sing/Learn the first stanza of "The Star-Spangled Banner" in preparation for National Anthem Trivia during Week 3.
- Pinwheel Spinning Competition: Students get timed blowing a pinwheel as long as they can - this is to get them to see what it might be like to be a wind musician. This is also an exercise I use in my horn studio, but the Olympics kids loved it!
- Sound Memory Game: Played like the standard memory game, but students are looking for matching sounds in plastic Easter eggs. It was very difficult to make distinct sounds, even to the most discerning ear. The combinations I settled on were (1) plastic straws & salt, (2) toothpicks & spaghetti, (3) rubber cap eraser, (4) silence, to illustrate that silence is just as important as sound, (5) metal binder clip, (6) popcorn kernels & bottlecaps. I tried dozens of sounds for about two hours, so these were carefully thought out!
- Musical Bug Shuffle (Board Game): This is one of the resources I got from Susan Paradis; she named it the "Ladybug Board Game." This bug-themed game is kind of like Candyland, but children draw cards that are notes on treble or bass clefs, and piano keyboards. This has helped the students reinforce the clefs they were weakest at. There are also trick cards, and I made up some extra cards that say things like "Your reed broke - lose a turn!" and "Good job practicing - move forward three spaces!". I made game pieces by drawing bugs on cardstock and using binder clips to stand them up. This game moves quickly, but you can put a few boards together to make it last longer if you need more material. See PDFs of the game here.
- Music Notation Bingo: Used the letters M-U-S-I-C instead of B-I-N-G-O. There are tons of versions of this game, but I settled for one that used musical symbols I wanted the kids to know like rit. and <.
This concluded week 1 of 4. The first week was lighter on physical activity, but that was more than made up for in later weeks. Stay tuned for more!