Take It Outside 2021

Making It Work: Take it Outside, 2021

Many schools continue to face restrictions due to the pandemic. Now that the weather is warmer for just about everyone in the US, it is a great time to take music class outside and maybe even take a mask break while we are at it!

When thinking about taking my classes outside for music, keeping the children in their own space to maintain social distancing was my first concern. Here are a few ideas:

  1. I have access to a blacktop area near the music room. I asked permission to spray paint markings on the black top so each child will have their own space to make music. 
  2. If painting is not an option, thick sidewalk chalk is a less permanent option. 
  3. Talk to the PE department and borrow large hula hoops, lay them on the ground to create a “music bubble.”
  4. If you have a grassy area, orange sports marking paint works well, and is cut away when the lawn is mowed.

Next, I thought about how we would sit. Black top is not super comfy on a warm day.

  1. I use plastic “Ikea-Style” stools as a seating option. They are easy to bring outside and move back in at the end of the day.
  2. Ask around for old carpet squares that classroom teachers may be willing to donate.
  3. A foam square, (the type that fit together like a puzzle) is great for sitting on any type of ground.
  4. If you have a grassy space a square of thick plastic or blue tarp is an inexpensive option that can be easily cleaned between classes, or provided for each student. Classroom teachers could also use the squares to take the children out for reading or other work that can be completed outside in the sunshine, and for mask breaks on warm days.

*I always have a few chairs with backs available for students who need them to be comfortable.

Lastly, what will we do when we are outside?

  1. Sing! Finally SING! If I am outside with children six feet apart we can sing. Check with your district leaders for specifics in your situation.
  1. Dance! Any folk dance can be modified for self space. Modify partner movements to move forward, backward or side to side. Sashay around your hula hoop or chalk circle. Instead of a right hand turn, wave your right hand in the air and walk in a circle in self space. Line dances of any kind are awesome in self space! Pata, Pata is one of my favorites for spring. (Pata, Pata can be found here: https://sannafolkstyle.com/)
  1. Drum! I will take my tubanos outside and drum with the children. I can’t haul them up the stairs and carry them class to class and on nice days I sure can set them up in the morning and put them away at the end of the day. If you have access to Tubano’s they can be cleaned with a wipe or spray without damaging the drum head.
  2. Creative Movement with (or without) props! If you made or purchased music kits for the children, bring them outside to use those scarves and streamers to make big movements in the fresh air. We are moving to “Popcorn” this week. The children choose what they want to use from their instrument kit while they move. We move in self space until the “popcorn” starts. We used leveled movement (low, medium and high) to match the changes in the popcorn theme. Adapt any movement lesson for self space and take a break from sitting at desks.
  1. Look back at the original “Take it Outside” post from 2018. Most of the ideas for outside learning suggested in the post will work with Covid restrictions, some just need a few tweaks to make them work for 2021.

After months of traveling class to class and being limited to what we can do behind a desk at the computer, I am looking forward to spending time with my classes outside. What ideas do you have for outside learning in 2021? Share your ideas in the comments on the blog so we can help each other to “make it work!”

LeslieAnne Bird

LeslieAnne Bird is a music and movement educator at University Schools in Shaker, Ohio. She teaches general music and choir to fifth through eighth grade young men and is an adjunct Professor at the University of Akron. She has previously taught in North Olmsted & Cleveland Ohio as well as in Prince George’s County, Maryland. LeslieAnne is a national presenter. She has served as vice president and membership chair for the Greater Cleveland Orff Chapter and is currently serving as the content curator for the Teaching With Orff community. In addition, she is the owner and CEO of Three Little Birds Music Education Services LLC where she offers teacher training, coaching and musical experiences for children and adults. She earned Orff Certification from Baldwin Wallace University in 2014, and has completed Music Learning Theory General Music Level One, Level One World Music Drumming training, Level One Google Certification and has earned the Ohio Master Teacher designation.

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