Friday, August 5, 2016

Got Music Lessons?

As fall rolls around, many parents are beginning to think about what their child's schedule will look like in the fall, and trying to figure out what sports, classes and of course, music lessons will be added to their schedules. 

As a homeschool parent and piano teacher, I'm thinking of this for my own kids as well as, putting together my fall music lesson schedule.  As a part of getting my fall lesson schedule together, I have carefully put together a policy as well as a schedule.  Then the fun begins!  I give my students (and their parents) a chance to tell me what their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choices are for lessons each week, and then I try my best to give them that schedule.  Not always easy, but this year, it seems to be coming together nicely.

Along with my past students, I'm also taking new students.  It's always nice to add a new student or two to the mix of students I currently have.  I teach piano, trumpet or drums (must have piano experience for drums) to beginning - intermediate levels for ages 3-103!  I love the challenge of a beginner student.

So how about you?  Do you have your kids enrolled already for music lessons for the fall.  Just an fyi, most music teachers like to get those lesson scheduled long before fall, so be sure to get yours scheduled today! Here's my info if you happen to be in the Northern Idaho area:

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Homemade Campfire Starter

I've been making my own Campfire Starter for at least the last 15 years.  Somewhere along the way, someone shared this idea with me, and I've done it ever since.  Not only is it made out of recycled materials, but it works really well to start a campfire! 
Dryer lint

 All year long, I collect all of my dryer lint and dryer sheets in a ziplock bag I keep by my dryer.  Then before we go camping, I get that bag out to make the fire starters.

I always have all kinds of egg cartons around.  Most people know we have laying hens, so they save their egg cartons for us.  I fill a bunch of them with all that lint and sheets.   There's no science to this, just stuff it in there.
 Shut the cartons and voila!  You've got your fire starter ready.

I pack a few of these egg into a Rubbermaid along with a bunch of extra lint. just in case.  Once I get to the campground and we are trying to start the fire, I cut the egg cartons with a scissors into halves or thirds.  You can light the egg carton or part of the insides with a lighter and your fire will start right up!   Because of the egg carton, it keeps burning for a while, so your wood has time to start up.  So cheap, but so necessary for campfires! 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

College Survival Kit

I am very proud to say, I have two kids that are headed to full-time college this fall, at two different colleges, and both of them are on college teams!  One of the joys of having a college athlete, is that they head to college an entire month early to begin training for their sports!  It's a rough time for this Mom, who's heart is breaking, but for you, it's great, because I'm going to share what I did to pack them each a College Survival Kit to take with them to school before you're getting your college students ready

I got so carried away with my purchases that I couldn't fit it all in, but if it's microwave popcorn, it doesn't really count, does it?

First side of College Survival Kit

Second Side of College Survival Kit

First, I ordered a container to give them all the goodies!  I wanted it to be cute and functional for my kids once they emptied out all their gifts.  I got the Double Duty Caddy in Charcoal Links to match my daughter's dorm room and in Digital Camo for my son's dorm room.  (I really love the Digital Camo!!) I love this container because it has two big pockets on either side of the handle, as well as 4 mesh pockets on the ends.  (Works great on the desk, in the bathroom and in the camper for all those paper plates, etc.)

Then, I made a huge list of all the things that I thought might be helpful to them that they wouldn't think to get until it was too late!  Here's my list:
  • Snacks (my daughter said that she couldn't live without animal crackers, so that's what they got!)
  • Chapstick
  • Sewing Kit
  • First Aid Kit
  • 3m Hangers
  • Tool Kit
  • Thermometer
  • AA & AAA batteries
  • Lint Roller
  • Stain stick
  • Pain & Cold meds
  • Duct Tape
  • Charging cord
  • Cough drops
  • Cold Medicine
  • Ibuprofin
  • Aced
  • Nail clippers
  • Tweezers
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Band aids
  • Neosporin
  • Microwave popcorn
  • Gum
  • Tic Tacs
  • Birthday candles
  • Lighter
  • Ear Plugs
  • Febreeze
  • Post-It Notes
  • Flip-Flops
  • Journal
  • Pencils
  • Pencil Sharpener
  • Erasers
  • White Out
  • Food Container (I got a set of 2 at Dollar Tree, so they can put left overs in the frig)
Of course, I didn't get everything on this list, but as I was shopping, I had something to jog my memory for things to get.  Most of my items I got from the Dollar Tree and Staples. 

One of the items I'm most excited and proud of is a pill box I adapted.  I found these 7 day pill dispensers at the Dollar Tree.  I've seen people put fancy pictures of the pill boxes on each day, but I was worried that my kids wouldn't know what each was used for and how many to take. 

I put the ailment: pain, vitamins, menstrual pain (my son didn't get this, although it works great for back pain), migraines, cold medicine, allergy stomach and pain & fever.  I then put the dosage and how many to take.  In the Cold medicine box, I put a pre-packed pm cold pill and daytime cold pill, as well as a cough drop.  I wanted to give them a week's worth, but at least they know what to get themselves if they get sick.  I printed these up on white address labels and then just cut them to fit. 

I may not want to say good-bye soon to my kids, but at least I've been able to give them a practical and meaningful gift to take with them.  I know that every time they go to grab an item from this kit, they'll know that I love them and thought of them ahead of time!

I am an Independent Thirty-One Gifts Consultant, so I do make a commission from all sales from my website.  I do not in anyway receive any sort of compensation from Dollar Tree or Staples. 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Chicken Farming Continues

 We've had laying hens for three years and last year, you may remember our adventure with meat chickens.  Well, we raised another 50 meat chickens again this year. 
Last year's chickens were a pretty good success, but our neighbor's dog, killed 17 of them four days before butchering.  That day, we all cried through trying to salvage all of them as best we could.  Unfortunately, although we processed them all, they tasted horrible, because they had, had a heart attack from being run down by the dogs.  The chickens that made it to butchering day, though, tasted so wonderful through the winter that we just had to do it again!
Our neighbor actually hooks us up and gets the chicks in.  He sells them to us after a week in his hoop house, and then we bring them down to our little addition to the hen house until they can be moved outside.  I will admit that these chickens are not that pretty and the smell really bad!  We get the Cornish Cross, and although they've been crossed to get this beautiful meat on the table, they sure are ugly until then!
Needless to say, nine weeks after they are born, we spend a couple of days at the neighbor's house, butchering both our chickens and then helping with their chickens.
Aren't they beautiful now?  Most of our chickens are 5-6 1/2 pounds each.  This makes a nice size dinner for our family of seven. 

Believe it or not, I actually was a vegetarian, and frankly, don't like any of the process of killing any animals, BUT we have to eat, and I'm so happy to be able to raise our own birds.  I have several friends who are pretty mortified at the thought of butchering their own birds.  Here's the deal, if you eat meat, you should at least once, kill and process your own meal!  We assembly line the processing and you'll never believe what I like to do!  I do the gutting!!  I know - I've certainly come a long way!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Summertime Piano Fun

This blog is named Prairie Scraps because it is about the scraps of my life, living on the prairie.  Right now, because I've taken on 17 students for piano lessons, my life is about piano lessons.  I'm wading my way through trying to be a good piano teacher!

I had, what I think is traditional, classical piano lessons.  I began lessons at the age of 7, when I was a proficient reader, and took lessons until 8th grade.  I worked my way through method books as most students probably did.  As I entered high school, I really wanted to sing in choir, and not be the accompanist, so when  I moved to a new school my Sophomore year, I quit playing and never told anyone I played piano. 

Jump ahead a few years, I enrolled in college in the Music Therapy school, and had to take Piano Proficiency classes.  In the first class, I realized I was far to advanced for the class, and subsequently, tested out of all Piano Proficiency.  The teacher I had, convinced me to sign up for private piano lesson, too, so I minored on piano for all four years.

Piano lessons were straight forward.  I wouldn't say that lessons were boring, but let's face it, I didn't necessarily find joy in going.  I've been doing a lot of research and searching, and have come to realize that lessons can be fun and educational at the same time.  As a Music Therapist, I like to think of myself as more creative in my teaching style, than the traditional, straight from the method book approach. (Not that this type of teaching is bad, I'm just looking to find my teaching groove, as well as set myself apart from the other traditional teachers in my area.)

So, as I go into my first summer with lessons, my summer lesson goal is to help my students learn and have lots of fun!!  So each lesson this summer, I plan to have a new game or activity of some sort to play with them.

This first week, I drew a huge chalk keyboard on the sidewalk leading to my studio.  It's not perfect, but you get the idea. 
Ideas for educational games using the giant keyboard:
  • Musical Spelling Bee:
    • NEED: Chalk, Musical word Cards (words spelled using the musical alphabet like, BEG, GAB, EBB, BAG, etc.), 3-5 Splash Balls (I found these at the Dollar Tree for 2 for $1.
    • PLAY: I randomly showed the student the card, and they placed the Splash Balls in order on the keys to spell the word.  I started with 3 letter words, and only went on to 4 letter words, but you could do as many letters as you can find.
    • CONCEPTS: Letter names of keys, Sequencing of word letters, gross motor skills
  • Musical Rhythm Hopscotch
    • NEED: Chalk
    • PLAY: Have student write as many rhythms as they can on the sidewalk. then have them hop the rhythms on the keyboard.
    • CONCEPTS: Rhythms, Sequencing, gross motor skills, rhythm recognition
  • Keyboard Twister
    • NEED: Chalk, Spinner with RH, LH, RF, LF with musical alphabet written for each on the spinner places. See my Dollar Tree Spinner Here.
    • PLAY: Spin the spinner to direct where to place hands and feet on the keyboard, such as: RH - G, RF - E, etc. Student follows directions.
    • CONCETPS: Letter recognition on keys, gross motor skills
  • Beanbag Toss
    • NEED: Chalk, beanbags, Staff white board, dry erase marker
    • PLAY: Have student toss the beanbag on the keyboard and then write the note on the staff.
    • CONCEPTS: Note recognition, staff note recognition
 I'm sure there are a lot more ideas for using this keyboard outside. After playing the first one with my students, they were really concerned about what I would do if it rained! (It did rain during my final lesson of the day.)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Piano Recital Awards

This week, I had my recital with my piano students.  I wanted to make the night special with some sort of gift and a certificate!  I was going to give each of my students a flower with a certificate, but then I stumbled on an idea two weeks ago, when I ran into a clearance sale at Walgreen's.  I'm actually pretty proud of myself on this one!

I got the Superfruit Starbust regular size candy bars for $.30 each!  I grabbed up all of them that Walgreens had!  There 18 and I needed 16, so it was meant to be! (I only ended up needing 11 because 5 students dropped out the last week, but I didn't know that yet!)

I also found these Certificate of Excellence certificates at the Dollar Tree in the Teacher section.  They just happened be the same colors of the Starbursts - purple and yellow.  I went as far as picking up purple paper plates and napkins to match and printed my programs out in the yellow paper!  I'm not sure anyone noticed, but it made me happy!

Here's the tag I printed out.  I designed one, and then printed 9 to a sheet.  I then cut them out and put a hole in one side to tie them with yellow ribbon to the candy.  The tags say: "You were so awesome at your recital, that my heart BURSTS with pride!  Today you are a STAR!  Congratulations on your great accomplishment!"  This award could really be used for any sport or activity.

I also filled out each of the certificates with a different award for each child.  Here are the awards I used:
  • Practicing All-Star
  • Splendid Singer
  • Most Improved
  • Rhythm Rockstar
  • Most Determined
  • Dazzling Duets
  • Marvelous Musician
  • Best Attitude
  • Budding Musician
  • MVP Award
I got really great feedback from both parents and the kids for giving these awards at the end of the recital.  I wanted to create a reason for all the parents and kids to stick around for the end of the ceremony, as well as recognize the kids.  I love that I was able to do the awards for under $5 total, while still giving the kids recognition individually.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Spinners for WunderKeys games

I've recently begin teaching WunderKeys (go to this site for more information about lessons, to find a teacher near you, or to become a registered teacher) Preschool Piano Lessons to four students.  I love this program and all the games and ideas that are offered for teachers.  The first book has supplemental activities for each lesson as an extra for teachers, but there are just a few ideas for Patterning Games at the beginning of the lesson.  I've been trying to come up with ideas and searching the web, but have not come up with much!
I've also been putting together lesson plans for Summer Music Camp for all of my ages this summer, and ran across quite a few games that use a spinner of some sort.  I found this awesome, magnetic spinner that can be used on whiteboards and have been stalking it on Amazon! It was just a little more than I wanted to pay for the spinners, so I waited!
A few weeks later, I was perusing the aisles of  The Dollar Tree and I found individual magnetic spinners for $1 each!!  I almost shouted for glee right there in the teacher section of The Dollar Tree!  I bought four different spinners, just to be safe!
Well, of course, I had to come up with a Patterning game that used my new spinner! 
 Here's what you'll need to play:
  • White board
  • Magnetic Spinner
  • Magnetic laminated WunderKeys Finger Friends
How to Play:
  1. Place WunderKeys Finger Friends in a circle with spinner in the middle (like a clock).
  2. Have child spin the spinner.
  3. Where the spinner lands, have child say the name of the Finger Friend and show you the finger to go with it.
  4. For more advanced students, have them play a key with that Finger Friend on the piano.
Hopefully this will give you a ton more ideas for WunderKeys lesssons, or even your piano lessons!  Best of all, it only cost $1!