Poly Spots

Poly Spots: What to Do with Them?

Poly Spots and What to Do with Them

Ideas by Marcia Working

I teach Orff classes in a private studio. I have a wonderful and large teaching space. I’m also a traveling music teaching artist and I go to different locations as part of my job. For both types of situations, I LOVE MY POLY SPOTS!

I often use my poly spots as “sit spots”. With a large room for movement, I will toss out the spots so students can choose a color to sit on. Sometimes the spots are in random formation, sometimes they are in a circle, other times lines. The colors can also be put in a pattern or in random order. The spots can be spread out or condensed to make a  small or larger grouping.

Poly spots are a great way to define your space. I can set up the spots to create a large circle or make it a square or other shape. I can create several smaller spaces for groups to work in by using colors to set the outline of each groups’ space.

Is there anything else you can do with these spots besides define parameters? YES! Here are a few things I use my poly spots for when it comes to teaching musical concepts.

Music is about time and space. Children often have difficulty managing this concept. Here are a couple of different ways I address this with poly spots.

1.  Teacher keeps a pulse using a frame drum as students move their feet to the beat. I cue my students when to stop by playing the pattern:
After students recognize the ending cadence, add the polys pots.

2.  I put the spots out in random places throughout the movement space. There should be at least one per child. (I like to have a couple extras, especially to start with so there is a better chance of each student getting a spot without running across the room.) Play the pulse game as before, but this time students must stand on a spot when they stop. What if they don’t make it to a spot? The student is out. I have students sit out until someone else gets out, then they can go back into the game. If no one gets out after 3 turns, everyone automatically gets back in.

3.  I like to play this game with recorded music. My favorite is “Rock and Stop” by Eric Chappelle. (Music for Creative Dance Vol. 3) While students are playing the game, I can evaluate who is moving to the pulse.

Poly spots are great for marking student places for performances. I work with a special needs teen to adult choir. We often practice while seated as several members have difficulty standing for any length of time. When we do practice standing, some have a hard time staying in their standing spot. A polyspot can show them where their feet should be. Also, we never get to practice in our performance space, so I put out the poly spots to show each person where their feet should be in the performance venue.

Poly spots help students know when it is their turn to play an instrument. Don’t have enough instruments for your entire class, but want to make sure everyone gets a turn? I set up the instruments in a circle formation. In between each group of instruments is a poly spot or two depending on my student to instrument ratio. Even if I have enough instruments, I like to have a balance of singers to instrument players. If students are on a spot, it is their job to make sure they are focused on the vocal part of the piece. After each turn, students rotate to the next spot or part. I often add a speech interlude of 8 or 16 beats so students know just how long they have to get to their new job.

Ployspots make good drum pads! Whether you are floor drumming or bucket drumming, polyspots help protect your floor and your ears. I have a hard wood floor, so when we practice playing rhythm patterns with mallets or drum sticks, I have students use a polyspot for the drumhead. It also helps students to focus where they will be striking the drum head. When bucket drumming, put the polyspot on top of the bucket for practice purposes. Once the parts are learned, take the spots off and perform.

Use polyspots on your floor staff. I like to use them for note recognition games. You can use them to define line and space notes with your younger students, as well as high/low notes on the staff. Older students can play a game divided into 2 (or 3) teams. Call out a note name, and students race to see who can place the spot correctly on the staff.

Once you have your polyspots you will find many uses for them. These are just the most frequent ways I use them with my classes. There are many other situations that arise in your classroom and lessons that you might find them handy to have. I use them in every class. Please share the ways you use polyspots in your classroom in the comments below!

Marcia Working, Director Crescendo Academy Orff Studio Kalamazoo, MI

Marcia Working

Marcia Working has a bachelor’s degree in music education from Central Michigan University, elementary self-contained classroom certification from Western Michigan University; and received her Orff certification from Anderson University. She has a Master’s in Education degree from Cornerstone University. She has 30+ years’ experience teaching elementary music before her retirement in 2013. Ms. Working is the director/instructor for the Crescendo Academy of Music Orff Studio in Kalamazoo, MI. She is a Music Teaching Artist for the Aesthetic Education Program in Kalamazoo County. She writes and arranges children’s music, plays clarinet, is an active clinician, presenting workshops in Michigan as well as at the national level.

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  1. Mallory Martin on April 27, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    I use poly spots to mark standing spots for folk dances. This is especially helpful for older beginners who might have a hard time visualizing layouts such as a longways set or a double circle!

  2. Patricia Cohen on April 27, 2017 at 1:47 pm

    My classroom has wonderful folding chairs with adjustable desks. They are great for seated work, but when I want to play Musical Chairs with K-2 they are impossible to move! I use the dots as places to stand in the game instead – we call it Musical Dots. Kids love it! I also use them for dance formations, spread on the floor for sections of the orchestra as we ‘pretend’ to be one, and making groups.

  3. Kathleen Wassum-Hamel on April 28, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    I love your ideas about the Poly spots and I am going to purchase them with our lead money next school year! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Naser on April 28, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    The colors are very attractive for children. The main colors can mix and create a new one to show all notes to them.

  5. Debbie Davis on May 1, 2017 at 11:53 am

    I love the idea of using the polyspots for moving with the beat. I use them for places in recorder class and for dancing. I especially love your idea of using a song on my Eric Chappelle cd. I have all of them and use quite a number of the songs, but I haven’t used that one. I also like the idea of using them on my bucket drums. That would make it not quite as loud. I will tell you one other thing that I used in a program last week with bucket drums. My 4th graders were in groups and one group chose to use bucket drums to go with the recording of “Dance # 31” from Music for Children, Vol. IV. The drum sticks were really too loud. I have a plastic bin with “swim noodles” (cut into thirds – an idea from Billy Ferguson for working with rhythm). They used the “swim noodles” for movement, playing on the bucket drums and part of it they played a “floor-tap” pattern. This was totally their creation. The audience loved it and it is just another way of using bucket drums.

  6. Mitzi Endemano on May 1, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    Where do you get poly spots?

  7. Kathy Owens on May 3, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    Which brand?

  8. Mark on May 8, 2017 at 9:14 am

    A classroom teacher uses these Sit Spots with velcro for seating assignments at her smartboard. I have carpet in my room and I plan on ordering these for next school year.

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