Feeling tangled up? Stressed? Overworked? Sick? Hmmm… and still have to get to the classroom? Welcome to the teacher world. No one comes to teach every day with nothing else going on in their life…unless someone hasn’t spilled their beans about this, it’s normal! It happens to all of us–the demands of the music teacher are seldom acknowledged by our “Core”education peers. Teaching 7-9 classes per day, teaching 7 different grade levels, remembering 500-1000 student names, needs and interests, setting up instruments and equipment, moving, dancing, singing..and that’s just the tip of the ice berg. But there are some great activities that can help all teachers add some creative movement to their daily routines that will help them and their students to thrive. So many students today are involved in sports, dance, martial arts and other physical after school activities- let’s face it! Kid’s love to move. Movement activities used as brain breaks and transitions can help students CHANNEL negative feelings to positive and ENERGIZE student interest and be more calm and MINDFUL. That’s why I’m sharing creative ways to use Stretchy Bands in the classroom. In fact, I know you can stretch learning with Stretchy Bands.
There are so many ways and settings where you can use Stretchy Bands. Here’s a list of classrooms and uses I’ve collected to far. Can you add to it? Please leave a comment with your ideas!
Calming Down Activities
Elementary School Choirs
After School Programs
I call mine “Mr. Stretchy”, or, sometimes the “Magic Rainbow”. He comes out whenever I need to do some TEAM BUILDING, CREATIVE MOVEMENT and MINDFULNESS activities. It especially is helpful in teaching Kindergartners bubble space and practicing the steady beat. If you want to read more about that you can follow this LINK to “Five Ways to Teach the Steady Beat”
Every teacher does team building, classroom community, character education or respect lessons. Stretchy Bands can help you express and impress upon your students the importance of team work and respect when you do these activities. I’ve used the stretchy band with students from K-6th grade and all of them love it! These are my Chorus students. They are a group of 3rd to 6th graders who come one time a week and sing together. We put on 2 shows per year. Since they come from multiple grades, they don’t really know each other. I like to do a couple of Team Building activities with them with Mr. Stretchy.
Everyone finds a place on the band. Then I ask the students to step back as far as they can and stretch the band. Then I call out a grade level to let go of the band. Soon there’s just a few students holding on and trying not to let it go. Then I start a discussion that focuses on how each chorus member is important to the group and without everyone participating we have gaps in our ability to perform well.
We also get SILLY! I will have the students hold on to a color in the band so that no one is in between colors. Then I will ask the blue group to pull towards the middle and the other color groups to try to hold firm in their place. There’s a lot of pulling and tugging–but the students get how important it is to work together from these activities. I like to weave the team building activities in with the Creative Movement activities, then flow right into some calming down routines.
CREATIVE MOVEMENT ACTIVITIES
These activities help students channel their feelings. I’ve found it useful to use these activities at the beginning of school, right before and after breaks and during or after testing periods. With my younger students I’ll have them hold on to Mr. Stretchy and march around the circle to Sousa marching music. We might sit in a circle holding Mr. Stretchy and show the Steady Beat by bouncing the band.
Hold the magic rainbow in your hands.
Walk on the beat around the circle.
Keep your feet with the beat.
I’ll also have them use the band to show HIGH and LOW. They especially like this one. I encourage them to really stretch up high and then go all the way down low. A good story to use for this activity it “The Three Bears”. Or, I might play a xylophone or the piano and have them hold the stretch band high or low depending on what they hear. Students love to show FAST and SLOW too. I’ve used music selections like “Flight of the Bumblebee” by Rimsky-Korsakov, and Beethoven’s Symphony no. 5 in C minor, Op. 67
Stretchy band activities are a great way to add in some creative movement to any Composer themed lesson. Students can experience the music while moving. Then you can discuss how the music feels and sounds. I find these conversations to be more lively and intuitive after students play with the stretch band.
And, I’ve used them on reward days with my students. I select songs that my students like and make a playlist. Using the ideas of high/low, fast/slow, in/out, and standing, sitting or marching- gives me plenty of ideas to use the stretchy band with their music.
Helping students transition with Mr. Stretchy is another great use for this versatile resource. After a tough rehearsal or class I like to help my students calm down and relax. There’s a lot of giggling that goes on with this activity, but eventually we get there. I play some soothing music and ask them to hold very still and breathe deeply-in through the nose and out through the mouth. Of course not everyone can get calm–and the band bounces. Then I start a discussion asking them how they feel when they are trying to focus and relax and someone else is being silly…This is a great way to talk about how we affect others through our feelings, performance and actions and to assess how we did in the program. This an especially helpful activity in a performing group.
“STORM’S OVER” is a way to bring students back to calm. Play some quiet music as you talk to students:
Hold the magic rainbow Stretchy Band in your hands.
Move your arms in and out like the waves of the ocean.
Move with the beat of the music.
Mr. Stretchy has helped me keep calm and teach on…to quote an over used phrase. But it’s really true. I find that Mr. Stretchy helps all of us calm down, work together and be nice. What a wonderful way to spend the day!
STRETCH BAND LINK: I am in no way affiliated with this company but want to provide you with links to resources as a service.
And, if you’d like to subscribe to my Youtube channel, you’ll have access to my playlists for teachers. I have one called Stretchy Bands that you’ll be able to use in your classroom.
If you have a Stretchy Band, what are some ways you use it in your classroom?
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You might like to read more about Creative Movement Ideas Here: