So my yearly order to Oriental Trading just went through… and my credit card is shedding some tears. But yours doesn’t have to! Piano teachers have a lot of expenses, and there are easy ways to add some pizazz to piano lessons without breaking the bank.
Last year we shared a week’s worth of awesome activities courtesy of the Dollar Tree and $10. It was so popular that today we’re adding some more ammunition to your arsenal of “don’t break the bank fun”.
A New Piano Teaching Tool Every Week For 7 Weeks!
Head on over to the Dollar Tree (as if you don’t go there weekly already!) and give these 7 lesson tools a try. If you space it out right, you can have a new tool or activity every single week… for 7 weeks… for $7.00!
*Please note – all of the items in bold can be found at The Dollar Tree. You can check out the website here and search for each item to see what they look like… however you’re best to purchase the items at your local store as the website is for bulk purchases only.
- I picked up a foam alphabet puzzle for my teeny tinys and have added this to my tool box of “play it again” motivators. I use this to reinforce their letter recognition (important for piano, but also for life!) and to keep them on task for just a few more minutes when needed (“After we finish this activity you get to choose a letter for the puzzle!” etc.) This is perfect for students who are of WunderKeys age and who haven’t yet started Kindergarten. Their parents will thank you for the pre-literacy skills you are also working on!
- I’m saddened that most kids today have no idea how to play checkers, so I take pride in reinforcing skips and steps with a throw-back to yesteryear. With a printable checkerboard and a package of checkers you can have a lot of fun getting your young beginners really comfortable with skips vs. steps. Show your student how checkers can either move by steps diagonally or by skips (by skipping over an opponent). Have a mini game of checkers with your students and each time they make a checker piece move, they have to 1) find a skip or step notated on their current piano piece sheet music and 2) play it on the piano.
- It was like finding piano teaching gold when I stumbled across a package of “finger lights”. What an amazing way to reinforce finger numbers at a very first piano lesson in a super memorable way! Turn off the lights and let the games begin (“Use your 2 finger to play a white key, use your 3 finger to play a black key, show me your 4th finger” etc.)… all tasks that are usually mundane… until you make fingers glow!! I’m going to use them with my seasoned piano students as well to demonstrate and reinforce the fingering from difficult passages using tap practice (and made tolerable with this super cool tool).
- I snapped up a couple sets of Disney Princes Figurines ($1.00) for my little ones who are Disney crazy. I plan on using them for note naming (“On what note is Jasmine standing?”), for flash cards (“Place Ariel on this note”), and for marking out hand positions before they begin a new piece (“Put one princess where your left hand 5 finger goes and one princess where your right hand thumb goes”).
- Do you have a student who mixes up treble clef and bass clef? Grab some super cute snap bracelets and pop one on their right wrist. This helps to visually remind your student, and prevents the confusion they can experience when switching between treble and bass clef in a primer level book.
- I’ve blogged before about the steps my students follow when decoding a new piece. My little 7 year old coined the phrase “The Piano Piece Ninja” as he felt as though he was completing some sort of mission in finding all of the important pieces (and he’s just slightly ninja obsessed). Imagine my glee in scoring a $1.00 ninja hood for him to wear as we go through this “learn a new piece” process!
- Finally, after watching my daughter’s delight in receiving one of these, I’ve picked up a package of grow capsules. These are teeny little pill-like capsules, that, when submerged in water grow to many times their size and become a spongy ocean creature. Gimicky.. yes… but my plan is to send one home with the instructions “Memorize this piece before your ocean creature grows to it’s full size”. It makes for a great practice visual for those kids who need a little extra incentive!
Do You Use Silly Tools To Spice Up Your Lessons?
$7.00 later I have some seriously fun surprises up my sleeve for those days when I think “What am I going to do with Sam today?” or for when I just want to kick back and change things up. And… the Dollar Tree also sells some wonderful snap-lid containers to keep it all in! What silly little items do you use to spice up your lessons? We’d love to know! Share in the comments below.