Making the Monsters
Next I brought in some scrapbooking paper, googly eyes, foam stickers and markers. I tried to choose things that would create bold colors because I knew we would be photographing them later, so no colored pencils were allowed. The music class prior to this told the kids to start thinking about what kind monster they would make. What sound would it make? How would it look? I gave the kids a blank paper, a pencil, scissors and a shared glue stick and told them to get busy. We used 2 1/2 music classes to make our monsters and photograph them. I took one picture with my personal iPad so that I could post them to our school’s Artsonia site(which I still haven’t gotten done yet).
By the way if your school is not using Artsonia you should check it out. It’s a great way to let parents and extended family view the artwork students make. In addition, it can also be a easy way to raise some funds for your school.
Then I gave the kids some homework. I asked them to begin thinking about what kind of sound their monster would make. High or low, fast or slow, vocal or instrumental were just some of the questions I asked them to think about. The next week we started making our recordings. I used the MadPad app to bring the monsters together with their sounds. We found we got the best recordings if the vocalist or instrumentalist was close to the iPad. This meant that sometimes another member of the group had to hold the monster picture during the recording process. I believe it took us 2 music classes to make our recordings. In all of our recordings classroom noise can be heard in the background. This is annoying but I can not think of a way to get the recordings made in a timely manner without having multiple students recording at the same time in my open room. I seriously considered bringing in large cardboard boxes to serve as mini “studios” to record in but recording the images was problematic in a dark box. If any of my readers have an idea how to address this I would be most interested to hear it. Please leave me a comment below.
Coming Soon: Composing Using My Singing Monsters – Part 3
This summer I came across a wonderful new-to-me app called My Singing Monsters.
I showed it to my music techie friends Carol Broos and Jennifer Kolze and now they too are addicted. We were so amused we even recorded a podcast about it for the aRTs Roundtable.
As I played the game it struck me that monsters are basically singing various ostinato patterns. It was a more advanced version of what we already do for some of my 2nd and 3rd grade music classes. Once I had this thought, I realized this game would be a great addition to my music curriculum. I decided I wanted to use it to get the kids composing. Creating something is very important in my room. I wanted the kids to create their own monster sound and record a song using their classmates’ sounds as a sound bank. If My Singing Monsters had included in the app the ability to record I probably would have just had the students create a song using the monster sounds included in that game but that is not an option at this time. So decided to go all out and have the kids create all of it. After looking around I found an app called Mad Pad that would let me make short recordings attached to a video. So Mad Pad and My Singing Monsters were the 2 main apps that the students used to complete this project. Enough back story! On with the process!
First we played the game in music class. Plain and simple. Sometimes I would ask questions about the sounds the monsters were making. Was the sound high or low? Was it vocal or instrumental? Did it sound fast or slow? But for the most part we just had a good time playing the game. I did manage to pull in some math connections. Very quickly the coins begin to add up in the game. So we have been getting some great practice at reading numbers in the hundreds of thousands and even in the millions. This was my contribution to Common Core Math. I could have really gone crazy and asked them to subtract and add up our various coins but time is limited in my class room so we kept it basic.
After we had at least four monsters in class’s game, I started throwing in questions like:
Do all the monsters sing at the same time for the whole song? (The monsters take turns. Sometimes their parts overlap but only when it sounds nice together.)
Is there a pattern to the monster song? Can you predict when a monster will start singing again? (Yes but the more monsters you have the harder this becomes for elementary students)
What types of sounds do the monsters make? (They sing high and low. The Entbrat even yell sings, which can lead to great discussions about proper singing technique. Some make percussive sounds like a beat box. Some play instruments.)
Part 2 – Making Our Own Monsters
I taught my first summer iPad classes. The two classes I taught this year were Make a Face (portrait drawing) and Claymation. The classes came from a desire to use the iPads in a summer enrichment class and from a lack of an art program in grades k-8. So I sent home some forms with the 2nd and 3rd grade kids to see if there was interest in classes that ran for a week in the summer for 1 hour each day.
About that same time my friend Tricia Fuglestad introduced me to a company called Edbacker. I did some investigating and found them to be a perfect fit for this project. Edbacker helps teachers get the word out about projects that they are trying to fund. They also provide a way for donors to give electronically to your project. The the work that they did for me on the the backside was so valuable. They contacted various groups that might have been interested in funding my project and made them aware of it. This resulted in some sizable donations from people I never would have thought to contact. One of those people was John Balestrieri (@tinrocket on Twittter) an app developer who created the app Percolator, which I was wanting to purchase for the portrait class. The kids had great time running all their different creations through Percolator and adjusting the “grind” until it was just right. By the end of my Edbacker campaign we had raised all but $100 of the funds I needed. So with a few minor adjustments the classes were on!
I hope to run classes like this again next year but there are a few changes I would make:
1. Claymation takes longer than I think. Allow more than just an hour for each Claymation class.
2. Making clay figures is a great lesson in physics. Even though you show the kids that tall skinny figures will not stand up and be moveable, they will not listen. Allow time for them to test movement and remake their character.
3. 13 2nd and 3rd grade kids in a Claymation class is too many. I don’t want to feel rushed. Limit class sizes. Also Middle School kids can be pretty much self run in this class so don’t count them toward the limit.
4. Advertise this as a way for kids to complete their summer time 4H Fair entry. Parents will love me for taking one project off their hands.
5. Add a iPad photography class.
6. Put the word out that adult classes could be offered in the evening if there is enough interest.
7. Get those forms out earlier. April might be a good time.
Make sure to do these things again next year:
1. Take one work from the Portrait class and get it printed as a 8×10 photo. The kids love seeing their work made big and important.
2. Post videos to Youtube. I heard about movie nights where parents invited the extended family for a movie viewing party!
3. Use most if not all of the class time for DOING not listening. It’s summer. No one wants to hear a lecture.
I was looking at my Audio Boo feed today and realized that somehow I had missed a few posts over the summer. Here’s to catching up!