Making Screencasts Fun

Solfege Screencast Screenshot

As if practicing solfege wasn’t fun enough, right? Just kidding. I’ve got a pot of “Tell Tale Dark” roast coffee on this morning and I’m getting some screencasts ready for the kids to practice this summer/next year. A class I took in iMovie last week has got me thinking: how can I up the fun factor in my screencasts so more students will practice at home?

Two amazing videos I ran across on this week have me focusing on

1. Content (for solfege in Upper Grades, why not make it Pop?)

2. Visual Interest (…make it pop part 2)

Videos from U Better Sing. I love these- I wish there were more! Not sure if there are more episodes if you buy the DVD. If anyone knows give a shout out in the comments. Full Disclosure- I have purchased the stickers and cards. Because, c’mon it’s stickers. Solfege stickers!

How do you like to share practice videos or practice audio with your students? For the past year or so I have been sharing straight up screencasts of myself singing parts along with Sibelius. I make the videos available via Blackboard so that they are password protected and only available to my classes. Here’s what I’m playing with now to make the screencasts a little more exciting for them.

Side note: I’m currently obsessed with the final credits song from the movie “Epic”. How gorgeous are those harmonies? Wish I could try it out with 3 or more parts but SA should be pretty fun, too.

Some resources you might find useful making your own screencasts:


Noteflight On-line Notation Platform

Finale Notepad Free Download

If you use Sibelius, and want to screencast solfege here’s a great plugin-

Solfege Plugin for Sibelius

and how to install the plugin-

Installing Sibelius Plugins

I’m sure you’ll agree… nothing beats not having to manually type in your own solfege syllables.

Happy Screencasting!


Cookie Rhythms

So have you guys gotten into Google Draw yet? I’ve been dabbling and have to admit… it’s pretty fun and a little addictive. Not as fun and addictive as say- a warm batch of chocolate chip cookies, but not too far off either. This brings me to the real point of this post which is: how can I rationalize baking (and eating) cookies at school.

An interactive rhythm lesson seems like the way to go. One great option for this activity would be to get a whole mess of cheap measuring cups, sharpie label them with their coordinating rhythm and have some wild center play. Dry beans, mini cotton balls, and pom poms in big bins to practice measuring? Why not!

However, if baking cookies is what you really want to do then you might not want to buy the ingredients, haul in a toaster oven and purchase your own manipulative items. Here’s a zero prep and totally free manipulative option via Google Draw.

Let’s Bake Some Rhythm Cookies! ⬅︎ Google Draw Link

Let's Bake Some Rhythms!

Let's Bake Some Rhythms! (1)

Note: if students haven’t used Google Draw for manipulative work before they may need some practice selecting and dragging. Each cookie sheet is meant to be a measure in 4/4 time. Practice and brainstorm as a whole group and then students can work in small groups on laptops. This could also easily be a Google Classroom assignment that the students can “mark as done” when they are ready to turn it in. What next- could they play their composition with rhythm sticks? Assign boomwhacker pitches to the colored cups? Sure!

Would you do this activity before or after baking the cookies? I’m thinking the lesson before and cookie baking would be kind of the unit grand finale. I’d love to hear if you’ve done a similar activity or if you have any thoughts on the sequence. Have you baked with your students before? Was it disastrous? Was it wonderful?

Here’s an adapted recipe from my favorite cookbook author Isa Chandra Moskowitz over at Post Punk Kitchen.

Rhythm Cookies Recipe ⬅︎ Powerpoint Link

I’ve made these at home but not at school yet, stay tuned for the update.



Post Punk Kitchen Chocolate Chip Cookies ⬅︎ Source Recipe/Directions

Allergy Info:

These cookies are nut, dairy, and egg free so they are pretty allergy friendly. Enjoy Life, Sunspire and Chocolate Dream are some of my favorite brands of dairy-free chocolate chips. Since the cookies have no animal products they have a really low carbon footprint. Bonus: if you use shelf stable non-dairy milk, none of the ingredients need refrigeration prior to baking! Any gluten concerns? Bob’s Red Mill all purpose gluten free flour is a great product that works really well in baking.