Monthly Archives: December 2008

Sharp and Flat Race to Middle C



Cecilly has  another game that she has said I can post here. This is a great idea to teach sharps and flats and the direction they move. I can’t wait to try it out with my students.

I made some cards to go with this game that I plan to use, and I’m posting them here to share with you. There are 2 pages, one for flats and one for sharps. Cecilly didn’t have a lot of time to proof these cards for me, but she gave me some quick suggestions for the natural cards. I made them rather quickly, so let me know if you see any mistakes. These cards are not on my web site, but you can print them here: alphabet-cards-sharps-and-flats


Here are the directions for this great game, in her own words:


Sharp/Flat race to middle C:

Materials: 2 pawns and 2 sets of music ABC letter cards, one marked
as A# B#, etc., the other as Ab Bb, etc. Shuffle each set separately
and place the Flats set to the right side of the piano, the Sharps
set to the left. Have the student choose one set with you having the
other. Sit one your respective side of the bench as your set.

To play, hold card sets face down and place pawns on the highest &
lowest C’s on the piano. Players take turns turning over the top
card from their set and moving their pawn to the nearest key
corresponding with the letter ALWAYS in the direction of middle C and
never going back toward the player’s end of the piano. After all
cards are played, the player who ends up closest to mid. C is the
winner. Switch sides.

The idea is to not only become familiar with identifying the keys as
flats/sharps, but to become more aware (with play always directed
toward center) that flats move down and sharps move up. Get it?? ;)

You can also mark some of the letters with a natural sign, just to
mix things up a bit and keep ‘em on their toes (to see if they really
understand that naturals are always white keys)!!

I played the game on a flat paper floor keyboard with each pawn on
the last white key at each end. They were both 18 white keys away
from mid. C. I also placed a little piece of colored highlighter tape
on the mid. C key to make it more obvious what we were both moving
toward. So if you use the actual piano, just count 18 keys away from
mid. C. That distance made the game go quickly and we played “best
out of 3″. I won 2 of the games so the kids definitely want a
rematch next week. Fun fun.


Filed under Cecilly's Games, Note Identification

Merry Christmas!

christmas-treeMerry Christmas to everyone who reads this and has emailed me this year! I hope the new year will be a blessing to you and your family.



Filed under Teaching Business

My New Laminator

laminatorI was at WalMart the other day and I saw this laminator for $23.44.  Since I have so many games and cards that I like to laminate, my husband urged me to buy it. He said he could use it  for laminating his hiking maps and photographs.  I came home and immediately tried it out and I am very impressed. It was easy and did a very professional job. I lamintated card stock game boards for one of my games and they were very sturdy. The machine is not big and it heated up in about 8 minutes. The laminating pouches roll through easily on their own. The letter-size (8.5 X 11) pouches are sold in packs of 20 and cost $ 7.77  which is about 34 cents each. The 5 X 7 size of laminating pouches were only $2.38 for a pack of 20.  It’s very hot in Texas some parts of the year (not now!),  and the students’ hands tend to cause the ink to run on my games and flash cards if I don’t laminate them. Those of you in cooler climates may not have this problem.

 If you’re on a strict budget, this might be too expensive for you. In that case, you can laminate with the clear book covers that I mention a lot.  


Filed under Teaching Business

Using Peppermint Notes


Peppermint Notes

I’ve been using my Peppermint Notes  staff with students in the last week. First of all, the staff is not quite large enough for a peppermint, but we just pretend it is.   If you’re a real stickler for that sort of thing, however, use a dime because that fits and is easy to move around. You can still give them a peppermint to eat. I drew in a line for middle C, and we moved one peppermint around to find the notes that I would call out.

It has been a fun activity  and my students like it. I’ve only spent a little lesson time on it, just something to do away from the piano to add interest to lessons and hopefully learn or reinforce a concept.  It’s been successful to reinforce landmark notes. I’ve found that younger students seem to have more trouble visualizing the peppermint being on a line or a space, but it has been a good way to go over the music alphabet for the ones who haven’t learned their notes yet. We started on A and pushed the candy up the staff going over the music alphabet. Yesterday I really wanted  a thin cord or string  so I could show how the note was really “on the line”.

Here’s some observations I noticed with a student who just turned 5. He had a light-bulb moment when he realized the notes on the staff have the same letters as the keys on the piano. “It only goes to G just like on the piano”. That made the activity worthwhile.  My peppermint staff was working for something!  At the time I thought he didn’t get the difference in the peppermint being on a line or space, that it was too abstract. After several tries, I still wasn’t sure he understood so I let it go. [Note to me: get some red string and try that.] But when we got back to the piano, he was quickly able to find line and space notes on a large grand staff in his piano book, so he was understanding it better than I thought. You know that feeling a teacher gets when she knows she has taught a concept? That’s what teaching is all about to me!

I could have used another staff I’ve made, the Grand Staff for Dimes, for the same purpose, but this one with the  peppermints added a lot of fun to the lesson so I’m glad I made it. I asked my students and they like having seasonal activities and they overwhelmingly said YES!

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Filed under Christmas, Note Identification, Teaching Business

Skittles Board Game






This is a fun game that Cecilly thought up. I only made the cards and the game board. The objective is for students to identify notes on the grand staff. She thought it best to have a black and white staff because the game is colorful enough when the boards are covered with Skittles. Also, a lot of you have black and white printers. Be sure and  laminate the game boards with clear book covers or Contact paper and I highly suggest using card stock for everything. I made the game cards so there would be less cutting on your part but  you may have to adjust it for your printer. Print the game board in landscape and the cards in portrait mode. Print one game board for each student.   These cards are not hard to make, so you might want to make your own, with your own variations. Thanks, Cecilly for another great game.

Here are her directions in her own words.


Prepare a grand staff board on poster board or something similar for each player. Prepare a deck of cards with Clef & letter indicated (Bass F, Treble G, Treble D, Bass C, Middle C, etc.) making multiples of these. Along with these cards, throw in some cards that say: Loose a turn, Take away 2 Reds (make a few of these cards with different colors too), Remove a Treble (or Bass) line (or space) note, Eat all the C’s from the player’s board on your right, Reverse, Skip, Eat a Skittle from each player’s board, Steal a line note (space note) from another player’s board and put it on your’s, etc. etc. (as far as your imagination will go).

 Give each student (or you and the individual student) a king-size individual bag of Skittles. Or you can buy a big bag and place them in a dish for all to draw from.

 To play, players place their boards on the table or floor in front of them with the Skittles & shuffled deck of cards in the center of the playing area (If your staff boards are on copy paper, secure them on a clip board for support. Decide who’s to start with that player drawing the top card and placing a Skittle as directed by the card or following whatever other direction is given. The card is then discarded beside the deck, and play passes to the next player. Reshuffle the discard pile into the deck as needed.

 To win, the first player to have a Skittle on all their lines & spaces wins. Or the player to have the most covered at the end of the playing time wins.

 This is a great way to test their note naming skills.

 Have fun.


Filed under Cecilly's Games, Note Identification