Winter Music and Movement Activities With Indoor-Outdoor Snowball Movement Props — By Matthew Stensrud
Anticipation fills the room. Eyes are focused and an entire class waits with bated breath. Ever so slowly, a student carries a hand drum filled with snowballs into the middle of the circle. One by one, classmates carefully and silently take a snowball, place it in front of them, and slide the drum to the next friend. Finally, all students have a snowball and mirror the teacher as hands move closer and closer to the snowball. At the last minute, they pull away.
“It’s too cold! We need our gloves!”
One might think this was a planned creative exploration. But that was not the case in my room this past winter! Rather, a kindergarten friend called out these words on their own. And so our playful journey into Bear Paw Creek’s Indoor-Outdoor Snowball Movement Props began.
And what a fun journey it has been! From beat keeping to one and two sound exploration to building snow people, here are three ideas for using these fabulous props in your own space.
1. Do You Want to Build a Snow Person?
First up in our winter music and movement activities list is, snow people!
“Let’s build a snowman!” a student chimes in. Yet another student-driven idea, and who am I to tamp down their enthusiasm?
We start collecting snowballs in the middle of the circle and quickly realize they do not stand up well on their own. But maybe two snowballs can be eyes? Maybe another the nose? What other instruments do we have in the room that could help us?
After a few minutes, we have a snow person built from hand drums, rhythm sticks, and more. The song “Aiken Drum” (which can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIgjIC6Xdk4) is a perfect way to bring this person to life.
Here are some possible lyrics to guide us:
There’s a snow person in the music room, music room, music room
There’s a snow person in the music room and their name is Frosty
And their eyes are made of snowballs, snowballs, snowballs
And their eyes are made of snowballs and their name is Frosty
And their body is made of a rhythm stick, a rhythm stick, a rhythm stick
And their body is made of a rhythm stick and their name is Frosty
2. Snow Falling, Falling Snow!
Falling snow. Falling snow.
Falling falling snow snow.
One and two sound exploration comes to life with these snowballs! Students can compose their own patterns by moving snowballs around and beat markers like the polyspots shown below only enhance the sense of pulse and colorful guidance for downbeats.
Pairing this idea with a snow song like “Dancing Snowflakes” from A Seasonal Kaleidoscope by Joyce Coffey can make a great rondo form as students sing the song and then share their snow patterns. There are many other songs that can also be used with these winter music and movement activities, don't be afraid to get creative!
3. Keeping the Pulse & Tossing Games
As we hold the snowballs with our imaginary gloves, take a moment and watch your students. Do they explore the way the fabric feels? Maybe they gently toss it back and forth between their two hands? Maybe they tap it on various body parts? Or scrub it like a sponge? This exploration should be encouraged and as facilitators, perhaps we add vocal sounds that slowly connect us to a pulse. Soon enough, we’ve arrived at a steady beat that we are tapping on an open palm.
Let’s play with our snowballs
Sung on a simple sol-mi-la, this playful start is key to encouraging students to making songs on their own. Each time I explore this with a class, the text above is a little different.
Students start calling out their own words and phrases, and we should capture that and bring it to life for our young friends. My favorite thing about these Bear Paw Creek Snowball Movement Props is how light - and quiet - they are. No noisy bean bags this time! Students of all ages can easily toss them across the circle for a simple tossing game using a sol-mi-la melody with the text below. First, have students toss back to you. Next, they can try a friend!
Toss the ball to Rosie
Toss the ball to Mr. S
Toss the ball to Evelyn
Toss the ball to Mr. S
Another fun movement prop to use in tandem with the indoor-outdoor snowball kit is a parachute. You can check out our small play parachute here. The smaller size is perfect for one-on-one use with a student, teaching patience and taking turns by having a few students go at a time, and if you have several small play parachute you can split your class up into several groups. Take turns seeing who can get the snowballs to fly the highest! Check out this video shared by Hannah Zimmermann (@musicwithzimm) to see the snowballs in action with a parachute.
Quiet Winter Music and Movement Activities (or any season!)
No matter what you explore with these snowballs and winter music and movement activities, it’s a beautiful and serene scene to behold - such play and in such a quiet space. You can’t say the same when exploring egg shakers or rhythm sticks!
Now, go play in the snow!
In Friendship, Matthew Stensrud (@mistersorff)