Are you tired of scouring the internet for elementary music songs to enhance your curriculum? And what if those songs came with music activities designed for your elementary students? If you’re an elementary music or classroom teacher and you’ve answered YES to any of those questions, we have just what you need and more! Sign up for our free membership today to get all of these amazing goodies and read the rest of this blog to discover the back story!
- Monthly releases of new music curriculum by PBS Kids celebrity SteveSongs
- Virtual class visits with SteveSongs
- Virtual competitions (win the chance to be included in a remix of one of SteveSong’s videos)
- Focus groups (get compensated for your feedback)
- On-demand professional development training
SteveSongs: the elementary music songs genius
If you don’t know who SteveSongs is, think back to popular PBS Kids shows like Curious George and Clifford the Big Red Dog….more on that in a minute. Let’s start from the beginning.
Steve Roslonek of SteveSongs has been writing and performing his award-winning music for kids and families for the past fifteen years. Steve blends participatory songs, clever stories, and great melodies to create what the Boston Globe called “not just a musical journey but an entertaining, interactive and educational one.”
In May 2008, Steve took on the exciting new role of “Mr. Steve,” co-host of the PBS KIDS preschool destination that features the popular shows Curious George, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Super Why, The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That and Peg + Cat. He performs original interactive songs that reinforce the day’s curriculum theme. Steve recently released his latest CD Orangutan Van (2014) which can be heard regularly on Sirius XM Radio.
In 2020, SteveSongs partnered with Joanna Puello from World Upside Down to create elementary music songs videos and curriculum units. Let’s hear about it from Steve himself.
SteveSong’s first elementary music songs curriculum unit
In the spring of 2021, Joanna Puello, founder of World Upside Down, partnered with Steve to create his first elementary music songs curriculum unit for his song Brush, Brush, Brush.
Brush, Brush, Brush: perform, practice, and song game
The unit includes six instructional videos that walk students and teachers through learning the song, the hand motions, and the song game. We start with a performance video where SteveSongs sings the song straight through with his band partner Chris, just as though they were performing it for a live audience. Then we move on to a practice video where Steve introduces the hand motions that go with the song. Finally, he teaches students the song game which is not only a load of fun but helps students practice singing a melody in their heads so they can improve their internal sense of pitch.
Minute on Music Series
We also created three Minute on Music videos. [In reality, they ended up being longer than one minute so we’ll be tweaking that moving forward.😆] The 🎶 Call and Response video helps students identify the call and response elements in the Brush, Brush, Brush song and gives them a historical background on this technique in the history of music. The 🎶 Audiation video teaches students how to improve their internal sense of pitch by singing a melody in their heads. It shows them how they can rehearse in their heads any time, anywhere. The 🎶 Audience Engagement video prepares students to become SteveSongs on the stage. It walks them through the process of using the song game to engage their audience and prepares them to implement these techniques for a live performance.
We will continue to grow our Minute on Music series trying to stick to the one-minute time frame. Content will focus on music theory and music vocabulary based on national standards.
Lesson plan in music elementary
The Brush, Brush, Brush unit comes with lesson plans for six days of content. The lesson plans are simple and to the point. They show teachers the national music standards implemented and give teachers the flexibility to teach with digital or in-person teaching tools and activities. We include tech tutorials and introduce teachers to digital tools like FlipGrid, SeeSaw, Kahoot, Google Slides, and self-grading Google Quizzes.
All of our lesson plans target national standards established by the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards and Common Core standards related to English Language Arts: reading, writing, and listening skills. All of the standards are listed clearly on each lesson plan for teacher orientation. This is ideal for elementary classroom teachers with no musical training who are required to teach music standards to their students.
Focus groups tests Steve’s first elementary music songs unit
It’s one thing to come up with an amazing idea and another to actually create content, package it, and test it out. In the spring of 2021, we decided to create a focus group to test out. We did this for two reasons.
Reason 1: time equals money
Video curriculum development is extremely expensive and time-consuming. Therefore, we didn’t want to waste time creating volumes of curriculum that teachers wouldn’t use.
Reason 2: teacher input
We knew that if we could get direct input from teachers, we could appropriately customize our content to our teachers. Therefore, teachers who participated in the focus group tested gave us feedback on the video content. They also gave feedback on the print/digital resources and activities. It was amazing!
The focus group evolution
Often when you start a new venture, things evolved, and that’s exactly what happened to us. Our focus group started with seven teachers and ended up including thirty teachers who not only tested out the Brush, Brush, Brush curriculum unit but also participated in a virtual class visit with SteveSongs.
DonorsChoose.org and Virtual Class Visits with SteveSongs
Even though World Upside Down is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, funding hasn’t been easy. We have had a huge challenge finding grants that will fund video curriculum development. In the early years after we incorporated and were granted our nonprofit status, we invested a lot of time in grant writing. We even wrote hundreds of letters of inquiry to philanthropists who contribute to arts education. However, we were not very successful simply because we haven’t found many organizations that contribute to video curriculum development. The organizations who might have contributed to our project disqualified us because we were not a well-established nonprofit. Some denied us because we hadn’t been in existence for ten plus years. Others denied us because we didn’t have a significant budget (100k or more). Yes, I found that a little ironic.
So we decided to partner with DonorsChose.org to create a Virtual Class Visit with SteveSongs project. Not all teachers in our focus group could or wanted to create a teacher project. But every teacher who did got fully funded. It was amazing! As a thank you to our teachers for their participation in our focus group, we gave them a cash reward from the funds raised.
Per our teachers’ requests, the Virtual Class Visit was pre-recorded. This enabled them to show the virtual visit videos to all of their students in all of their classes. Steve created two pre-recorded videos: a 30-minute sing-along for students grades K-2 and a 20-minute songwriting session video for students grades 3-5. Steve also record a personalized shout-out to teachers and students. It was the experience of a lifetime that our teachers and their students will never forget! You can read more about our Bring SteveSongs on a Virtual Visit to your Classroom Spring of 2021 on our blog!
Here’s what some of the amazing teachers who participated in our focus group said about their experience.
Classroom Teacher Testimonial: Barbara Tedesco
Classroom teacher Barbara Tedesco integrated the Brush, Brush, Brush unit into her kindergarten class.
Elementary music teacher Kelley Wiggins integrated the Brush, Brush, Brush unit into all of her K-5 classes. She used the performance and practice videos for all of her students and the song game for her upper elementary students. She used the Minute on Music: Audience Engagement video for her upper elementary students so they could perform the song game for the lower elementary students and teach them how to play the game. Kelley’s upper elementary students even wrote another verse for the Brush, Brush, Brush song and performed it for the youngers as well.
General elementary music teacher Lisa Thyssen used the Brush, Brush, Brush unit with her kindergarteners and first graders. She loved the song itself and the game that went along with it.
Sign up for new elementary music songs every month
Join our membership today to get free access to the Brush, Brush, Brush unit and new magical elementary music songs created by SteveSongs each month!
Elementary music songs suggestions for your classroom
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