Solfa manipulatives

Solfa manipulatives: How to use them to deepen understanding of melody in the music classroom!

Today I'm linking up with Lindsay Jervis' Monday manipulatives linky party, to blog about solfa manipulatives!

 One of my favorite ways to have students use manipulatives is solfa manipulatives. I first came upon the idea of solfa manipulatives when I was studying in Hungary. My friend Bonnie presented about it to our level III class; she had learned about them in a previous level. I adapted the idea she presented a bit, and came up with laminated circles. Here is a picture of my students working with solfa manipulatives; usually I have them work individually, but this class was so big they had to work with partners!

The idea of solfa manipulatives it that each student has a bag of his/her own solfa circles; I make 4 circles for every solfa the student knows. So if the students are working on “la,” then they would have 4 sol circles, 4 mi circles, and 4 la circles. Each solfa is made in a different color, so they are easy to organize and easy to assess!

What I really love about the manipulatives is that the students don't have to worry about the staff-they just think about which solfa they hear, and then whether there are steps, skips, or leaps in between each note. It's like a precursor to working on the staff. I've also noticed that for many students, rhythm comes much easier than solfa, so I love having a strategy to really focus on melody!

Even though I don't have them work on the staff, some of my students found my floor staff and wrote it on there. Love it!

Solfa manipulatives: How to use them to deepen understanding of melody in the music classroom!

I made mine by using an ellison die cut and construction paper. Once I cut out the paper, I wrote the solfa on each, then laminated each circle and cut it out. It was a very time-consuming process, but totally worth it, as I'm still using mine from 12 or so years ago! I have included a set of solfa manipulatives in each of my melodic sets, like “Songs and Activities to Teach Do,” shown below.

Here are a few ways in which I've used solfa manipulatives:

  • Put magnetic tape on the back of a set of the manipulatives, like shown below (click on the picture to buy the magnetic tape on Amazon; I think it's one of the best inventions EVER!)
  • After putting tape on a set, sing a pattern to students on solfa, then have them “write” the pattern with the circles, then put in the contour, remembering the steps and skips.
  • Next, you can do the same as above, but you play the pattern on the recorder or “loo” the pattern.
  • After students work with the manipulatives on the board, they are now ready to work individually or in pairs. You can start with the same process-singing a pattern on solfa and having them write, then, when they're ready, play the pattern on the recorder or “loo” it.
  • Have students work individually or with partners to compose their own pattern, then sing it aloud.
  • Work in learning centers and assess students in small groups. This is eye-opening, because you can really tell whose melodic understanding is where it needs to be and who still needs a lot of help!

I try to use the manipulatives with every new melodic concept. It is such a great way to improve melodic understanding and inner hearing, and a great step to working on the staff! Hope you're able to use them too! Thanks to Lindsay for hosting the party! Click the picture below to read the other posts.

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Hi, I'm Aileen

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