Music in the Outdoors

My school teaching highlight last week was the two music lessons which I delivered to my primary 6 class.  I am not musical and will admit that there were children in the class that understand musical terms and techniques better than me.  These are children who benefit from the council music tuition programme.  Today we will talk about these lessons and later this week we will explore why music education is tricky for teachers yet vitally important.

As I said, I am not musical.  Despite over a decade in the classroom, I still lack confidence in teaching music.  When we lack confidence we reach for our comforts.  For me, that is outdoor learning.  Whilst these lessons started in the classroom, we quickly got out into the playground.

The Grounds for Learning website has some great resources and lesson plans.  I love their plans as they are brief, simple and adaptable.  I used the Bang, Crash, Whoosh plan with a You Tube video from Stomp.  (plan is – , Stomp video is ).  The video helped us explore the difference between beat and rhythm,  different techniques to make music more interesting and “instruments” we could use before heading out to the playground to work in groups.  The children had themselves, their school bags and the bag contents to use as instruments.

Quickly, the children began, exploring different ways they could create noise and the turn that into music.  They worked as teams and communicated well.  Yes, it was noisy, yes it looked a little crazy but yes, the kids were absolutely on task.  They had time in groups to create their music before each group performed for the rest of the class.  What started as a noise soon became music.  The lesson was simple but effective and the pupil’s came back into class buzzing.  They must have enjoyed it as I had the pleasure of observing them from my window at lunch continuing playing with ways to create sound and rhythms.

I had them interested, so it was time to develop the lesson.  As said earlier, I am not musical in the slightest, however, I once had the opportunity to watch an amazing music teacher teach notation and could use his techniques.  Each group created a simple sheet with 8 beats.  Each instrument was represented by a symbol and was noted on a different line.  It may have looked a little like this



We could then explore why we would want a visual representation of our piece of music.  Children, who like me, do not feel talented in this area realised it could really be simple and accessible to them.  They participated and worked together in a way I have rarely observed from this class.

And me?  Well I left the lesson feeling I might just be able to teach music.

Look out for our blog on Thursday where we explore why music education is important.

This Past Week – 22 April

Wow – what a week! It was great to be back on my normal tutor schedule.  Not to say I didn’t enjoy a break but I did miss the kids.  So what learning highlights have I experienced this week?

To begin, my group sessions have started!  We have some great kids coming along and they are turning into a wee team already which is fantastic!  The groups are still small which means children can get plenty of individual attention but also work together.  I am really looking forward to these continuing.

My individual kids have been making me proud this week too.  From Lewis whose handwriting can now truly be described as beautiful to Sean who is now beginning to sound out and build words. Lexie, Thomas and Evie are all growing more confident in maths and are keen to challenge themselves and not forgetting Daisy, who is now feeling confident about starting high school.  It really has been a great week all round.

In terms of the business, we have continued to develop our website,  Our Facebook page has reached 100 likes  And we now have twitter and even Instagram . It doesn’t matter which social media platform you prefer, you’ll find us there!


Why Read?

I recently posted about reading, why children may not enjoy their school reading and approaches you can take to it.  Whilst I happily state I really do not care what a child reads, whether it is games, websites, books, comics of even the Argos catalogue, I really do believe they should be reading something.  So today, we are going to explore five of the reasons why it is important to read.

  1. Vocabulary

Reading helps a child expand their vocabulary.  Think of all the different genres and the different types of words you will find in therein.  They will discover words they never knew existed and then begin to add them to their vocabulary.  How many kids love dinosaurs when they are young due to the fancy sounding names?  That magic of words never leaves you!

  1. Success

There have been studies conducted which show that children who read and were read to achieve better results all the way through to university!  Did you realise that short 15 minutes together a day could make such a difference over such a long period of time?

  1. Improvement

Children who read are exposed to different ways to write.  This can improve their writing, grammar and spelling.  I have seen whilst tutoring that improvements can be made through an increased time in reading books children enjoy.

  1. Confidence

The more you do something the easier it becomes and the more confidence you become at it.  This is true for reading!  Even reading to your child helps improve their technical reading skills.  As they grow more confident they will become more independent and be able to read alone.  This also has the advantage of keeping them occupied and out of mischief.

  1. Exploration

Reading exposes children to cultures different from their own.  It opens their eyes to the possibilities that exist in their world.  This increased understanding of others can help a child develop empathy.  So often children at young ages are playing violent games.  This can have a detrimental impact on them.  Carefully chosen books can do the opposite and help create children who care for their world.

I may have said five reasons but here is an extra one – it is free!  We are lucky in that we really do have some great libraries and they are free to borrow from.  From books to graphic novels, magazines to audio books, you can borrow them for free!  So why not get along and visit your local library?


I don’t care what you read, just read!

As a teacher, and now as a tutor, I am often asked how a child can improve with their reading, writing, spelling or grammar.  There is always 1 simple answer to that.  Read.  Yup, you read that right, my simple answer is to read.  In my opinion, being a reader will teach you more about all these things than the best tutor or teacher can.  However, some children just do not enjoy reading. Why not and what do we do to encourage them?

So, your child gets reading homework and they hate it right?  It is a stress and you dread it.  But why might they feel that way?  I would suggest the problem is actually the books themselves.  Rarely, children get to pick their reading books.  This instantly can decrease enthusiasm for reading.  Furthermore, have you had a good look at most reading schemes within schools?  They often are not that interesting!  Would you enjoy being forced to read these books?  Can you blame your child for not wanting to read it?

What can you do?  I always tell parents that homework should not be a stress.  Children in the middle to upper primary years tend to be competent technical readers.  They have learned the skills to do this.  So, is it important that they read every word themselves?  I don’t think it is.  It is however important that they keep pace with the book, so they can complete work set by the teacher both in and out of school.  So, can you take turns reading paragraphs or pages?  Could it be their bedtime story?  Can they break the set pages down and attempt smaller chunks over several subsequent nights?

But stop a wee moment, whilst I might be saying it is ok not to read every word in their school book I am not saying do not read.  Reading is essential for children, but it must be something they enjoy.  There are many ways to get children to read without it being a book.  Do they like to cook or bake, why don’t they find the recipe and lead the way?  What about gaming? So many games have a lot of words and they do not even realise they are reading!  What about comics or magazines?  Reading really isn’t just books.  Think how often you read without it being a book, this blog for a start, Facebook, that text you just received, the care instructions on your new jumper or even the address on an envelope to make sure it is yours before you open it.  Words really are everywhere!

But if you really want to go the book route I would suggest you go to your local library, let them explore a huge range of genres for free!  From comics to magazine, novels and graphic novels, you’ll find them in there.  There are even audio books you can enjoy in the car.  If they enjoy that you can then suggest books by the same author.

So in short, I do not care what a child reads, merely that they read.

This Past Week 15th April

Well my weekly round up this week will be a little different! This week I had a week off! I had a few bits to do with my family so headed to Bristol for that.

I find when I’m home I’m often a little bit of a workaholic. Both my husband and best mate will attest to this! So rather than deriving straight home from Bristol I decided to take the scenic route.

To begin I explored the Cotswolds before reaching the home of Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon. Here I visited the Anne Hathaway house and learnt about Shakespeare.

Then I was on to York. What a beautiful friendly place!

Finally, I took to the A68 and made it home!

I’ve not been driving a year yet so this was a huge undertaking. I loved it though!

I’m really looking forward to getting back to tutoring this week. I’ve missed my kids!