I don’t know about you, but I’m always on the lookout for creative and inexpensive items for my teaching. The dollar store is one of my favorite places to go!
In the craft aisle at Dollar Tree right now, there are packages of foam cubes, as shown in the picture. I’ve always wanted to make scale blocks like Natalie Wickham’s, but have never got around to buying the wood blocks and paint. These foam cubes seem like a pretty good alternative, although they may not last as long I suppose. On the upside, it doesn’t take long to write the alphabet letters on these little cubes with a marker! I am going to go back to buy a couple more packages, so I can make a nice set of scale blocks using the orange colored cubes.
With the rest of the colors, I am going to make rhythm dice, Major/minor/augmented/dimished dice, time signature dice, and whatever else I can come up with. I’m sure they will be useful for games down the road!
Now, you may be wondering about the “technique monkey” mentioned in the title of this post. Well, I can’t claim this idea as my own either. Irina Gorin uses a similar monkey with her students, to teach them about arm weight.
This little friend (yes, also from the dollar store) has velcro on his paws, so you can wrap the monkey around the student’s wrist and have them swing the monkey for a ride with loose, weighty arms. I always find teaching basic piano technique to young ages pretty challenging, so I’m happy to have any kind of prop that may help! Once the student has experienced an awareness of arm weight away from the piano, they can hopefully begin to transfer the same feeling over to when they are at the piano. :)