Submitted by Daniel J. Fee, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin

Idea posted April 13, 2004

For our spring concert, "Spring Sing Fling Thing," we're using a food theme. This is a new program for me, and it's really been fun. It's a fifth-grade-only program, and the students have really worked hard. They have been willing to do anything that I've asked (no matter how ridiculous). I am fortunate to work with children who are responsive and enthusiastic.

For those of you who work in a district large enough to have a few elementary general music teachers, I would like to suggest something we've started here in Fond du Lac. Those of us who teach elementary general music get together and discuss what kinds of programs we hope to do that year. Then, if possible, we plan similar themes for the programs in a couple schools. Most of the schools can't piggyback off of a common theme because "I already did that program," "That just won't work for me," or personal preference. However, when it is possible, it is terrific. This can really cut down on your planning.

In this case, another music teacher across town (where my own kids go) is doing her food spring concert in a couple weeks, using some of the same songs that I used. Still, the two programs aren't even close to identical. Her program involves more students/grade levels, and she's doing a couple songs I didn't care to include, and vice versa. However, when I'm done with my sombreros (which were borrowed from another school), she'll use them. This is the same for the 90 pieces of silverware we're using in "Food, Glorious Food." The flip side of this is that she shared lots of song possibilities, ideas (she's got a head full of creative ideas), and food poems to read between songs.

You can see how much easier it can be when materials and ideas can be shared, and plans can be tweaked just a little without having to come up with everything yourself. Why re-invent the wheel several times a year? We talked the other day and agreed that in order to make this a real collaborative experience, we should attend each other's programs with our students. If that is not possible, we are going to share the video tapes of our programs, so the kids can see and hear each other. That way, the experience truly becomes integrated.