One thing that always bugged me last year was how hard it was for some learners (especially the younger ones) to put bars back on the instruments at the end of class. Any time we play songs in a pentatonic scale we take off bars that we don't need. This just makes it easier for kids because they don't hit the "wrong" notes and makes improvising a super easy task. However, I inevitably ran into the same problem in every class. I wanted to take our music making up to the very last second possible and in doing that I didn't leave students enough time to replace bars on the instruments. I would always assume that putting the bars back on the instruments would be a simple task, but that assumption would frequently make us late and would frustrate me to no end. So, this year I've decided to do two things to make this process easier and hopefully set us up for success later on.
#1 Take the time to teach procedure
This also gives me a chance to encourage critical thinking skills as we learn where the bars go and why. I'll take some good time at the beginning of the class to talk about pentatonic scales (at least with upper grades) and try and tie that learning to their math and science learning. We'll talk about the root "penta" and how that ties into their previous learning and then we'll discover the different pentatonic scales we can have. For instance, we'll talk and then set C pentatonic (removing F and B) and then we'll talk about F pentatonic and reset the instrument in F pentatonic (replacing F and removing E) and so on and so on. This would give all kids the practice of taking the bars off and figuring out where to put them (at my school we put the bars into the desk that holds up the instrument - Read this blog post about my instrument set up and what I use for Orff stands!). It would also be smart at this point to rotate through the instruments so that students get a chance to take off and put on bars at multiple instruments since doing this on a bass xylophone is much different than doing it on a soprano glockenspiel. Here too is another chance for critical thinking as they have to transfer the skill they learned on one instrument and perform it on a different instrument.
#2 Super Sticker! Labeling My Orff Instruments
One thing I LOVE about Sonor instruments that Lyons doesn't do is label the INSIDE of the instruments. That way, when kids pull a bar off there's a letter etched inside the inner lip of the instrument to show kids what they've pulled off and help them when it's time to replace the bar. I love that visual and think that it helps so much when kids are trying to figure out where their bars go. So, I decided to make that visual possible for ALL of my instruments.
I'm going to post the labels that I used in a PDF form (so that that font works well for you) in my TpT store. Look at the end of this post for a link. If you'd like to print and us these yourself I'd suggest that you use a label that's compatible with the 1 x 2 5/8" labels. Pretty sure it's the Avery 8160 label (here's the link to the product on Staples... though I'm sure you could get them almost anywhere) that you would need to make these work. The sheets have quite a few letters on them, enough for two of every letter (except for B's because there's usually only one B per instrument).