Music "Ask Abouts"

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Ask your child about how building Lego creations in a group similar to making music together in a group?  How is following Lego instructions sometimes the same as how we learn music together?  How is having a creative idea in music the same as taking apart a new Lego kit?  

Do Legos fall apart sometimes?  How do you help someone when their Legos fall apart?  Do our music games and songs fall apart?  How do you help when our music falls apart?  What do you need at the bottom of a tall Lego tower to make sure it won't fall down?  (A base! A solid foundation!) What do we need at the beginning of each music project this year to help us build them into amazing musical creations?

2nd grade vid - Shoo Fly - we discovered a series of "puzzles' to solve collaboratively, and this group was able to solve them all!

LowK Art News!

LowK Art classes have been making many inquiries with shapes this week! We had cars, boats, swing sets, flying houses, and many more wonderful ideas!

The students got to play Stars and Wishes: Partnering up, each student would take a turn telling each other one thing they loved about their partner's work (giving a star) and telling their partner what they would do differently in their artwork if it was theirs (giving a wish). Everyone had a lot of fun discovering what shapes can do on paper when put together. Good work, everyone!


Shape Art

Welcome Back to All our Amazing Artists!

 We have had quite an exciting start to this school year!  With the Art and Music rooms moving during the summer to our Hilltop building, we had the exhausting but reinvigorating opportunity to redesign our teaching spaces.  The new Art room better fits the spatial needs of our students, looks fabulous and will just keep on improving as the students customize our new environment over time.


My dog Brutus...who happens to be a bit of a local TIS celebrity, visited school during the summer to check out the new space:)

Quite the transformation!

 Brutus spends his days now busy keeping a watchful eye for squirrels in our yard...that is unless he's busy snoring;)

 Brutus spends his days now busy keeping a watchful eye for squirrels in our yard...that is unless he's busy snoring;)


Every year, 2nd-5th begins with a Collaborative Art unit!  The students are starting to work together to make plans for various design projects! We strongly encourage you to come by the New Art Room during the Open House Nights! 


Keep an eye out for our 2nd-3rd grader's Wood Cookie Totem Poles later this Fall.  

Here is a video I borrowed from an Art teacher friend I met at the NAEA Convention in New York last year. Cassie Stephens makes excellent videos that have helped us start the year on a productive, respectful AND silly note:) Thanks to Cassie for sharing your fun and informative videos.  


 Remember to ask our amazing young artists to share about their experiences in the art room!

Thanks for reading,

Sarah Harpole                                     Visual Arts Specialist Teacher          2nd to 5th grades

End of the year....

Happy Summer! I cannot believe how fast it snuck up on me. It seems like it was just April and now we are already done with classes and packing up our rooms. I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for such a wonderful year and to share some of the final smiles we had in class. I hope you enjoy your summer break and I look forward to seeing you next year! 

The Main Campus Art Show is up...

...and Kinder as well as First grade classes are putting their art knowledge to the test by means of a scavenger hunt!

Kinder key words: Primary Colors, Neutral Colors, Mixed Media

First grade Key words:   Patterns, Texture, Secondary Colors

Each student has contributed 2 artworks that they have selected themselves. They have also framed and made their own name tags. Sarah and I are very proud of how hard each and every one of our students has worked this year! If you see a K-5th student, please be sure to congratulate them!!!!

2nd Grade's Compositional Journey

We have taken quite compositional journey in 2nd grade music. The main skill that we have been practicing is to show what we know with our voices and hands.  Over the course of several classes, we chanted, stepped the beat, clapped the rhythm ("the way the words go") of "One, Two, Three - Mother caught a flea - Flea died, mother cried, One, Two, Three."  

Later students worked in pairs to improvise melodies on pitched percussion using only 5 notes (C pentatonic scale). Once both partners could say the words and play the rhythm on melodies with their hands, the next steps were to collaborate and decide on specific melodies for each phrase of the poem, and be able to play their chosen melody (composition) at the same time and the same tempo.  

One day they were asked to represent the rhythm of each phrase with rhythm flip books. Finally, they worked with their partner to notate their melody on a simplified treble clef - representing both pitch and rhythm. If they know where the Treble clef is, they can find G, and by comparing the visual pentatonic pattern on the worksheet with the pentatonic pattern on their xylophone, most students were able to correctly notate their melody.  

Our next step in our composition journey is to use icons that each represent 4-beat rhythms. Some of the rhythms are syncopated, and the notation is beyond the scope of 2nd grade music (we will revisit the syncopated rhythm in 3rd grade). However we can say all sorts of complex rhythms before we notate them. These are the cards the kids chose from to sequence a couple icons into a pattern: Please ask your child how to say each of these cards.  Each one has a unique rhythm.  

Once they have their pattern, we then chose from various percussion instruments and finally add some improvised melodies. Many layers, sonically complex, and very fun.

Taking these composition skills, we began composing music to accompany a story by Kathryn Otoshi called "One." The story addresses the issue of bullying in a beautiful and inclusive way. Using the text and descriptions of each color character, our composers will create music, movement and sounds that help tell the story of how bystanders and the target learned to say "NO" when they encountered bullying.

The story involves Red, a color that picks on another color, Blue, but no one stands up and says "NO" in front of Red. When Red is mean in the story, he gets bigger and louder when no one speaks up.  

I added another perspective, which is that when some people are mean, it might be in a quiet way. A way that no one else around can hear.  Something like, "You better not play with Elsa at recess. If you do, I'm not going to invite you to my birthday party." That moment is when many little second grade hands go up, each resonating deeply with the story, each wanting to tell about something that like that that has happened to them personally. 

Someone is trying to stop you or someone else from having fun? You can take a stand and say, "NO." If that doesn't stop them, it's time to tell an adult to make sure that it stops.

"Three to Get Ready" ( improvise!)

Jazz & Democracy - "Freedom (to improvise) within a structure, with responsibility to the group."

Dave Brubeck - "Three to Get Ready" 

Dave Brubeck was known for experimenting with mixed meter / additive meter in late 50's and 60's jazz.  Think "Take Five," which is in 5/4 meter.  Our class experiments have lately been inspired by another Brubeck tune, "Three to Get Ready."   

To prepare for this piece (which is in additive meter - (3+3+2+2+2+2) We used a prompt - think of a couple structured activities that you enjoy, that has an element of freedom within.  One has to have 3 syllables, the other has to have 2.  

My example was "Basketball Basketball Ping pong Ping pong Ping pong Ping pong."

Students then worked in pairs (or threes!) to create movements that are repeatable, that match the metric pattern (3+3+2+2+2+2) and tempo.  

The goal was to "swing" together as a band - to be able to perform the speech rhythms and movements and then pass to the next group through non-verbal gestures.  If we happen to miss a cue, we "Go with the Flow!"

||: rollerskate rollerskate swimming swimming swimming swimming :||

||: filmmaking filmmaking gaming gaming gaming gaming :||

||: improvise improvise drumming drumming drumming drumming :||

||: listening listening singing singing singing singing :||

My favorite part of this is the giddy giggling.

We then transferred this to recorder solos (the classroom saxophone) in a C pentatonic scale.  

Every student is a Risk-Taker, and is ready to take an improvised solo.  Someone even improvised a couple syncopated sneezes!

Here's a Ted-Ed about how being exposed to "disciplined, structured practice in playing music" strengthens brain functions in other activities.

The Notes are Right!

Third graders are now able to play the recorder.  

Over a series of lessons we moved, sang, and played a well-known Japanese folk song, "Hotaru Koi"  - but we used an English translation - "Come, Come, Firefly.."

Then one day we played a concentration gameshow "The Notes are Right!" where students worked diligently to improve their recorder tone through warm air and fingerings.  They were tasked to play one (half) phrase at a time, and if their tone and articulation was good, they could uncover one of 8 panels on the SMRT board.  

Some groups completed the game in 2 classes, others needed 3 classes to complete it.  They showed commitment and as a result they all improved their skills.  

After they uncovered all 8 panels, some students recognized that all the small melodies are written in the same sequence of "Firefly."   

We then practiced to read and play the entire melody - and then other students recognized it from listening to the composite melody.  

Then we covered up the melody panels again, and Shazam!  Third graders can play the recorder.  

Reflections -

"We memorized a song!"

"We focused!"

"We practiced!"

How did the gameshow help?  

"We broke it up into small parts!" 

"The gameshow helped a lot." - 

"It really motivated me because I want my team to get more points, so I decided that I had better practice really well and try harder and harder so that we can get better sounds."

"I'm going to play this on my piano and also my violin! 

"The good thing about playing an instrument is that you can do it for your entire life!"

They are clearly proud of their accomplishments.  

We Connect to Culture through Music and Dance

Fifth graders were treated to a visit by members of a Balinese Gamelan ensemble, Wahyu Dari Langit, meaning "revelation from the sky". The style is called Belaganjur, otherwise known as marching gamelan. It was traditionally used in Bali for Hindu cremation ceremonies, usually for several village members who have recently passed, involving a procession.

The instruments were made in Bali - Gongs from small to large play intricate patterns while "chang changs" play two interlocking syncopated patterns.  There are seven independent rhythms layered together in this example.  We noticed that interlocking rhythm patterns are found in other musical cultures as well, such as the Ghanaian drumming we studied earlier, as well as in Txalaparta music from the Basque region of Spain.  Another connection we made is that the Gyil, the Ghanaian xylophone we studied, is used for funerals as well.  

National School Library Month

April is National School Library Month.  What better way to celebrate than sharing with you some of the wonderful work we are doing in library class?  From 1st grade through 5th grade, we've explored books about the power of imagination, the joy of reading, and the ways that libraries transform lives and communities.


We are also working on grade-level appropriate library skills including how to care for books, selecting "just right" books, how to use the on-line library catalog, how the library is organized, and where to find information in the library and on-line.  Take a moment this month and ask your child what they love about library class and why they think we should celebrate school libraries.

4B Musicians of the Moment

Julian Benjamin Nigel Kais Alan Aaron Riley Sidonie Gwen Lucia Hina Harper Maia Kylie Midori Julia

On Thursday, April 6, music group 4B arrived to Stearns Hall just beautifully.  We spent no time waiting for Green Zone readiness.  Safe, Respectful, Responsible, and Fluent.

The class began immediately with a mature discussion about jazz elements, how they relate to democracy and freedom within an agreed structure with responsibility to the group.  Then, after watching Miles Davis perform "So What" with his band in 1959 (with John Coltrane on sax), we transitioned to learning a D minor pentatonic scale on recorders, kids helping kids, and once they were ready, we launched into a "swinging" jazz band.  We began a rotation to the drum kit, ride cymbal, improvised walking bass line, and recorder soloists and metallophone players were stepping in to the circle to improvise phrases with this new scale, all the while supported by their classmates. 

IB Attitudes:

Confidence: Feeling confident in their ability as learners, having the courage to take risks, applying what they have learned and making appropriate decisions and choices.

Cooperation: Cooperating, collaborating, and leading or following as the situation demands.

Creativity: Being creative and imaginative in their thinking and in their approachto problems and dilemmas.

Enthusiasm: Enjoying learning and willingly putting the effort into the process

Learner ProfilesOpen-minded and Risk-Taker

PreK Visiting Artist :)

Today PreK had a special performance by Rick Huddle. He came to help us wrap up our collaborative unit about How We Express Ourselves. His musical performance also highlighted how each person is a superhero and can help their friends and families with their special abilities like kindness, problem-solving skills and friendship. 

Call for Young Logo Designers! Our Northwest Association of IB World Schools needs a new logo!

What an excellent artistic design opportunity for our students! 

As we do not have time in our already tight schedules in the Art Room, we are passing the opportunity to participate in this contest to families. You may find the time to introduce the chance to create a logo for this fun contest at home.  ENJOY!

Here is the information you'll need:

As part of our celebration, we would like to invite IB students from the states we serve to participate in our celebration by submitting original artwork that will serve as the new logo for our organization.
The contest is open to any student at an IB school in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. All artwork needs to be submitted to the school IB Coordinator by June 1, 2017.  All artwork will be displayed on the NIBA website, and judging will be completed by June 15, 2017. All submissions become the property of the Northwest Association of IB World Schools.
The winner of the NIBA logo contest will have their artwork sent to a professional graphic artist for rendering, and the final artwork work will become the new logo for the organization.  Questions should be directed to Lynn King at
Art Work Criteria
1. One entry per student.
2. The artwork must be original and the student’s original creation. There should be no copyright violations. Unauthorized use of copyright materials will not be accepted for submission or judging.
3. All artwork should fit on an 8”x10” sheet, and a high-quality digital image must be submitted with the original work.
4. Artwork may not be signed on the front with the artist signature, initial or name. Any artwork with identifying characteristics will be eliminated from the competition.
Entry Form
1. The entry form must be completed and submitted to the school’s IB Coordinator.
2. The entry form must be signed by both the artist and a guardian/parent indicating that they have read the rules and criteria and that the artwork is an original piece of art.
3. Art entries must be submitted by June 1, 2017.
4. All submissions become the property of the Northwest Association of IB World Schools.






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5th Grade - Architectural Design Unit

Hello All,
The 5th graders have completed their Architecture Unit after several months of brainstorming, research, practice design plans and finally their completed blueprints of their own dream home. These plans show students' creativity and ability to think outside the box to create functional and interesting architectural plans.

Danish architect: founder and creative partner of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) since 2005. He is known for buildings that defy traditional architectural conventions and dimensions, ranging from representations of mountains to snowflakes. His designs incorporate sustainable development ideas and sociological concepts, along with sloped lines that are shaped to their surroundings. Students learned from this inspiring video by Bjark Ingels:

Danish architect: founder and creative partner of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) since 2005.

He is known for buildings that defy traditional architectural conventions and dimensions, ranging from representations of mountains to snowflakes. His designs incorporate sustainable development ideas and sociological concepts, along with sloped lines that are shaped to their surroundings.

Students learned from this inspiring video by Bjark Ingels:

5th Grade Blueprints - The ability to think outside the box is quite an important skill. 

5th Grade Blueprints - The ability to think outside the box is quite an important skill. 

   Our students use architectural symbols, speaking the visual and universal language of architectural and landscape design. The spatial planning aspect of this project can be particularly challenging. I am pleased to report that after this unit all of our students have improved their spatial planning skills and understanding of scale.
   They also identified renewable energy sources that would be appropriate for the environment/climate of their chosen dream home location and learned about how to design a home that utilizes passive solar energy. Their chosen location could be any habitable place on Earth. Students attempted to design a building that is appropriate for the location they chose.

   Please walk through Stearns Hall to appreciate their hard work, technical skills and creative vision.

5th Grade Blueprints hanging in Stearns Hall

5th Grade Blueprints hanging in Stearns Hall

Central Idea: Responsible architecture aims to create interesting, comfortable physical spaces while also considering natural resources and climate.

Lines of Inquiry:

  • designing aesthetically pleasing structures that are climate and energy responsive
  • analyzing a range of architectural styles to appreciate creativity and craftsmanship
  • communicating through symbols as the universal language of architecture

First Day Back!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Spring Break!

 I thought I would try to get back in the swing of things (and hopefully help myself to start posting more often) by showing some pics of what the music room looked like on our first day back. There is at least one picture from PK-1st graders doing everything from driving firetrucks to creating their own dance moves with Popsiko. I hope you enjoy! 

3rd Grade - Recorders are out of the BAG.  

3rd graders are now able to get a good tone with their soprano recorders, and they can self-correct if the tone is not sounding the way they want. Starting first with improvisations, they are now finishing their small group collaborative recorder compositions using B-A-G.  

Recorder improvisations take place using musical questions and answers, where the player asking the question improvises a melody and rhythm, and the player answering uses some of the rhythm and melody from the question, but adds something new in the answer.  

In English, it might sound like this: 
"What did you have for breakfast today?"  
"Today I ate a bagel for breakfast."

In music, the question can't end on the tonic (in our examples, G is the tonic, or "home tone") but the answer should, because it sounds more complete.  If the question sounds finished, that's like asking "What did you have for breakfast today, probably toast."  Leaves you nowhere to go.  

See the examples of the written compositions based on a rhythmic launchpad poem, "Acka Backa" - you can see the progression of rhythm notation over the words with letters written below, to a 2-line staff with notation written either on lines or the space between for G-A-B.  

Ask your child how they know which line is G.  If they know it, they're in "treble."  Same joke.  

4th Graders Explore Jazz Rhythms in Music

How is Jazz like Democracy?  Freedom within an agreed upon Structure.  

"But you have to LISTEN to each other... I mean, that's the point!" - Sandra Day O'Connor

4th graders exploring Jazz rhythms.  Our entry point for learning a Miles Davis piece, "So What" is through creative movement within a set structure.  

We then dropped in on a conversation between Sandra Day O'Connor and Wynton Marsalis:

..before learning the classic "So What" call & response pattern, using ... recorders! 

LowK finishes their Planning and Making unit!

LowK Art students have been making plans of people who somehow help others. It was great to participate in the brainstorming that went on during this unit, and the ideas the students came up with ranged from the more traditional (firefighter, police) to the very imaginative (Vigilante, robber who gives money to people).

If your child has not shown up with a found item sculpture of a tiny person this week, chances are this project will be in our upcoming EC art show!

Foun item Art