How to get students to write their name on their paper EVERY TIME

I used to feel like a broken record. "Put-your-name-on-your-paper. Put-your-name-on-your-paper. Put-your-name-on-your-paper." Yet somehow, I would go through that stack of papers to grade, and find 4 papers that didn't have names on them.
Does anyone else have this problem? I couldn't be the only one! But then I tried something that actually worked. I learned it from this awesome lady named Salonna.

She was my mentor when I started teaching, and I have to admit, at first I was a little scared of her. She was one of those teachers with a really stern face, and when I was interviewing for the job, I thought for sure she hated me. If a student got sent to her office, it was bad news. She was not afraid to tell it like it was. But after working with her for a few weeks, I discovered she was a lot of fun, and she was a very kind, very passionate, very talented teacher. She had so many tricks up her sleeve from years of teaching. 

I had been teaching for a few weeks and was having trouble getting my students to write their names on their papers. Over and over again I would remind them, but it was no use. I asked Salonna, and she had the most simple trick. It was a song, and it was to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know it." She told me to sing the song every time I passed out papers to the class. As they got their paper, we would be singing the song and they would write their names. It goes like this:

The first thing on your paper is your name.
The first thing on your paper is your name.
Mrs. Beckstrand needs to know if you did your work and so,
The first thing on your paper is your name.

Sometimes the simplest things can be the biggest life-savers. My students loved to sing this song with me, and it really helped cut down on no-name papers. 

However, sometimes you have a super stubborn class that just cannot seem to remember. If this sounds like your class, here is another trick you can try:

I thought this was a great idea, too! When students turn in their paper, they have to highlight their name. This is a surefire way to get them to write their name if the song didn't work. 

Try these ideas out in your classroom and let me know how they worked out for you! Hopefully you will now be able to toss out that broken record and get on with class. : )

Valentine's Day Activities for Music Class

This was my twin 3-year-olds’ first year of preschool, and we were all so excited! The second week of school, there was a note sent home saying they needed a new music teacher. My initial thought was that I would love to take that job! Before the twins were born, I taught second grade, and absolutely loved it. I had missed being in the classroom, and this sounded like a great opportunity. But on the other hand, I was so excited to finally have a few hours a week to myself. Did I really want to give up some of those hours? It would only be one day a week for a couple hours, but my time without kids is so precious!

Ultimately, I decided that I would enjoy being back in a classroom for a few hours a week, and it would be a fun way to be involved in my girls’ preschool experience.

Fast forward a few months, and I am really enjoying teaching music. It’s so fun to see those little 3 and 4-year-olds dancing and singing. It’s especially fun when there is a holiday and we get to sing festive songs to go along with the holiday.

Last week we celebrated Valentine’s Day. I found some great activities that I tweaked to fit the needs of my cute little preschoolers.

If you haven’t heard of Jbrary, you need to check them out. I have used a lot of their songs in my music class. Here is a little Valentine rhyme to do:

But I added a tune to it; you can hear it here:

Then we sang Valentine words to the song, Bluebird, Bluebird Through My Window.***** 

Valentine, Valentine, through my window,
Valentine, Valentine, through my window,
Valentine, Valentine, through my window,
Will you be my Valentine?

Find a friend and give them a Valentine,
Find a friend and give them a Valentine,
Find a friend and give them a Valentine,
Happy Valentine's Day!

Here's one of my 3-year-old classes:


I cut out a heart for each child and put tape on the back of it. On each child's turn, they pick up a heart and weave in and out of the windows as the class sings. When the song is done, they put the heart on the shirt of a person they end near. Then trade places with that kid, and it is the new kid's turn.

FOR OLDER CHILDREN: Instead of trading places with the kid they give the Valentine to, they take their hand and lead them through the windows as they sing the next verse. Eventually everyone in the class will be in the train of kids going through windows. If you do this way, you probably want to be the leader; it can get a little crazy:

(credit: Deborah K. Oates)

The last activity we did was a matching game to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb:

Who will be my Valentine, Valentine, Valentine,
Who will be my Valentine, be my Valentine

I cut out enough hearts for each child to have one, so that there were two hearts of every color. The students stood in a big circle with their hands behind their back. I put a heart in each child's hand and told them not to look or let anyone else see their heart. Then they sang the song and showed everyone their hearts. When they saw someone with the same color heart as them they went over to that person, gave them a high five and said, "Happy Valentine's Day!"

FOR OLDER CHILDREN: Instead of cutting the hearts out by color, make the hearts all the same color. Then you can write anything you want to on the hearts. You could write sight words, a number problem with an answer on the matching heart, money (pics of the coins on one heart and the total value on the other heart)

We had a blast with these Valentine's Day songs, and I hope your class will too!