Submitted by Linda Wood, Omaha, Nebraska

Idea posted January 3, 2002

In the winter, my first graders are learning that notes on the staff can be high or low, so we make Snowball Melodies.

I copy a large staff with treble clef (lines about one inch apart) on light blue paper. Each student gets glue and about eight or ten cotton balls. They place the cotton balls high or low on the staff as I direct for a bit, and I check to make sure they understand the spatial-pitch relationship. When they're ready, they glue their cotton balls on the staff to create a melody of their own. (They all want to make snowmen, so you have to decide ahead of time if you're going to get into chords or not!) They can then go to a station where there are a couple of high and a couple of low notes on bell steps (those bell stands that show high and low vertically), and they can play their melody - I remind them to read notes from left to right, just like letters and words. (I don't get into exact pitches at this point, just high and low.)