Assignment: Education – Music and Literacy

Onalaska music teacher working in harmony with...

Kindergarteners in Ms. Martin’s music class at Eagle Bluff Elementary School in Onalaska have a little pep in their step.

“The favorite thing about music class is instruments because I like the ‘tangereen,'” said kindergartener Chloe Harmphanich.

But Ms. Martin’s music class is about more than singing and playing instruments.

“A lot of the things that we do in the music room are parallel to the things that they’re doing in their classroom and the things that they’re learning,” said Christiana Martin, Eagle Bluff Elementary School music teacher.

So, Ms. Martin has created a curriculum which includes reading books in her music class.

“We just try to incorporate some literacy goals into all of those other activities,” said Martin.

“The book that we’re doing today is all sound effects.”

To practice their reading skills, students are assigned a “sound carpet” which is a carpet square with a designated instrument for each child to play.

“So, when the students are listening and following along in the story, whenever they hear their word or their character, their instrument gets to play,” said Martin. “So, it’s helping them identify that word by sight and also listening; making sure they’re really listening.”

Martin has created a library of books within her classroom to work on reading concepts like sight words, as well as, rhyming and syllables.

“When I introduce rhythm, I introduce it through syllables which is really easy for kids, and it helps them connect on,” said Martin. “And so now we look for rhythm through syllables.”

“They come in and they don’t realize that I’m trying to reinforce these skills. They don’t understand that when we’re adding instruments to a book that we’re working on literacy skills.”

Those instruments and songs have the students tuned-in to music rather than reading.

“I really hope that kids find and fulfill that desire to read,” said Martin, “and maybe find it in a new way in the music room that they weren’t connected to in the regular classroom.”