Preschool Handbells: New-Sew Felt Musical Notes and Printables

Preschool Handbells: New-Sew Felt Musical Notes and Printables

Jax loves music. He LOVES it. If any song comes on, whether he’s heard it before or not, he is singing along. I’ve been collecting musical instruments for him, mainly from the thrift store. He loves to ask me to put music on for him while he “plays” along on his guitar or drums.

Arts are important in our family. I grew up in music and art. I have a Bachelors in Art Studio. My husband played in bands growing up and deejay-ed for years. We definitely want Jax to have strong roots in the arts from an early age.

Preschool Handbells: New-Sew Felt Musical Notes and Printables

Since Jax is only 3.5 years old, I needed to think of both his manual dexterity and his emotional maturity right now when planning our music homeschool unit. I needed something that he could use easily so that the frustration of not being able to make a note correctly was not a concern. I chose handbells. They are available in color-coded educational sets aimed to help children learn which bell plays which note. Music + Rainbows? Jax’s idea of heaven!

There are other choices that still let you start with color-coded notes (just make sure you are happy with the colors the instrument uses!) like a xylophone or Boomwhackers.

Preschool Handbells: New-Sew Felt Musical Notes and Printables

Thanks to my aunt, who values how dear music is to our family, Jax got his started handbell set. I chose the Kids Play Rhythm Band 8 Note Handbell Set because add-on sets were available should we need them in the future. They also use fairly standard colors.

Preschool Handbells: New-Sew Felt Musical Notes and Printables

Introducing Handbells

Preschool Handbells: New-Sew Felt Musical Notes and PrintablesWe started our music unit with some 3-part cards introducing musical instruments. Jax already recognized most of them, so it was mainly a review.

When our bells arrived, I started by presenting two bells on a tray with a mat and matching cards showing where each bell’s note is on the music staff. I showed him how the bells’ colors and letters match the cards, then we practiced sounding the bells and switching between the two notes. We moved on to playing the note on the card I held up. He had no problems, so I let him have a third bell. With all three matching note cards, we made patterns to play.

We continued on this way, earning a new bell about once a week. It took us about 2 months to work up to the full set of 8 bells. (He actually earned the last one the day we took photos.) I always include a rolled up felt mat on the handbell tray. Jax knows we have to unroll it and place it on the table for the bells. When playing the handbells, setting them on the mat dampens (cuts off) the ring. We started with two sheets of felt, but now use a long strip the width of our table.

Exploring with Handbells

There are a lot of ways your child can explore music and sound with handbells. Some of the things we’ve done are:

Preschool Handbells: New-Sew Felt Musical Notes and Printables

• I showed him that he could play two bells at once. We noted that it doesn’t sound good to play two bells that are next to each other at the same time. The discordance was obvious to him, but he hasn’t quite connected yet that skipping a bell when playing two at once sounds better. This is something I encourage him to explore.

Preschool Handbells: New-Sew Felt Musical Notes and Printables

• We play find the bell – I ask him for a certain color/number/letter note and he plays it. When I ask for the lower C bell, I call it “middle C” (named for its position on a piano. The higher C is our newest bell, and I will be calling it “treble C”. You can also hold up the musical note cards and have them play the right bell.

Preschool Handbells: New-Sew Felt Musical Notes and Printables

• Composing music can be done by preschoolers! Taking a cue from Montessori’s moveable alphabet, you can have the notes ready for your child to place on the music staff. Using control cards to help them place them on the correct line, they can arrange some notes and play their composition. My music notes are made of felt and involved no sewing for once!

Preschool Handbells: New-Sew Felt Musical Notes and Printables

Preschool Handbells: New-Sew Felt Musical Notes and PrintablesNew-Sew Felt Music Staff

Materials:

Start by cutting out your ovals. You need 8 red and 4 each of orange, yellow, green, aqua, indigo and violet. Using the narrow part of your paintbrush, sketch your letter onto the oval with fabric paint. By starting thin, you can adjust the size of your final letter: if you drew it too small, paint the final thick lines towards the outside of your sketch. If you drew it too big, paint the final lines towards the inside. I used the full width of my size 8 flat brush to make the final painted letters. This kept the lines a consistent width.

Preschool Handbells: New-Sew Felt Musical Notes and Printables

Take 4 of your red C’s and cut strips of black ribbon an inch wider than the oval. Coat the entire top of the ribbons trip with felt glue (including the raw edges to keep them from fraying.) Center the oval on top, press it down and allow it to dry. This adds ledger lines to the middle C’s that go below the staff.

Preschool Handbells: New-Sew Felt Musical Notes and Printables

Cut out as many rests as you’d like. I have two quarter rests for now. I’ve included the rectangle needed to make half and whole rests.

To make the staff, cut a 12″ strip out of your 36″ wide felt. You can adjust the width to suit your needs. 36″ is the width of our school table. You could even use the full 36″ x 36″ felt piece and make 3 rows of staff lines if you have room to lay or hang something that large. Using the spacing guide, glue 5 strips of ribbon down to the felt and allow it to dry before use. make sure you allow enough room at the bottom for middle C’s ledger line to be properly spaced.

Preschool Handbells: New-Sew Felt Musical Notes and Printables

For now I am presenting the notes in a bowl with matching control cards and the rolled up staff chart. I think we will do some games in the future with matching and sorting the notes to each other and to the control cards.

Preschool Handbells: New-Sew Felt Musical Notes and Printables

Preschool Handbells Music Unit Printables

I have a lot of printables for this unit – many I haven’t even started using yet. Before I use them, each printable will get laminated. I also like to mount my 3-part cards to colored paper or card stock prior to laminating.

Preschool Handbells: New-Sew Felt Musical Notes and Printables

Colored Music Note Control Cards

These cards show the position of each of the notes used in the 8 note handbell set. They are color coded to match the bells. Later I will make a new set that do not have color. Grab the free printable here. (This file was updated on 01/16/14 to fix the wrongly-positioned B. You can also get a page with just the fixed B cards here.)

Music Symbol 3-Part Cards

This is a set of Montessori-style 3-part cards that cover basic music symbols. So far I’ve only given him a few of the cards to start getting used to seeing. You can download the free printable here.

Preschool Handbells: New-Sew Felt Musical Notes and Printables

Twinkle, Twinkle & Ode to Joy

I wrote up the music to two fairly easy songs that can be played with the first 6 notes in the handbell set. For now, I play them for him and we use them as reference to set up his felt staff so Jax can play small excerpts. You can grab the song sheets here.

Preschool Handbells: New-Sew Felt Musical Notes and Printables

We are having so much fun with our music unit! Have you done any music homeschool lessons with your preschooler? I’m excited to see where Jax goes with music as he grows older.

Here is a Pinterest ready picture for you!

Preschool Handbells: New-Sew Felt Musical Notes and Printables

Visit Montessori Monday on Living Montessori Now for more great homeschool ideas!

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31 thoughts on “Preschool Handbells: New-Sew Felt Musical Notes and Printables

  1. Jamie M.

    Thanks again Stephanie for sharing! I just wanted to let you know that you started me down this homeschooling path and I am totally hooked. Me and my husband have decided that homeschooling our daughter is the way to go!!! Thanks for all that you do. 🙂

    Reply
  2. Jessica

    Thanks Stephanie. My preschooler is also into his handbells at the moment and your hard work is super appreciated. Much love to you and Jax!!

    Reply
  3. Alice

    This is pretty cool! 😉 I wish I had the drive (and time) to assemble things like this for my two kiddos… !!! Jax is one lucky guy!

    I can’t wait to see your next quiet book page too! Have a great weekend!

    Reply
  4. Rachel | Racheous

    I can’t thank you enough for these ideas and printables. I’m not musical in the slightest so am embarrassed to say I’m learning alongside my kids! These are such a great help. I’m lucky that our handbells are all the same colour, aside from the treble C which is white 🙂
    Rachel | Racheous recently posted..Beach Play Tray

    Reply
  5. Sherry

    Well, we have the Schylling hand bells so our bells don’t match in colour. But I am hoping that if I print the 3 part cards and the music sheets in grey/black/white that I can carefully colour the notes myself. 3 part cards with colours for notes! While I can read super basic music, I still consider myself music challenged so these are perfect. I love them!

    Reply
  6. Mandee

    This is so fantastic- I really appreciate you posting! 🙂 I do not have a music background, so I cannot tell you enough how helpful I find this. Will you please update if you do any new song sheets? I have no clue how you made those to even attempt something like that. :)Thank you for so much for sharing and I’m very impressed with your work! 🙂

    Reply
  7. nicolette @ the classroom creative

    Wow. I just stumbled upon your site this evening, and I am impressed. Given that I’ve read 1,000s of teaching and educational blogs in the past three years, that is no small feat!

    After ten years in the traditional school system and know having two children of my own with special needs, Montessori began to make sense. And, I’m smitten that I’ve found your DIY blog, b/c here in Chicago, the Montessori schools are financially out of reach for most.

    I plan to grab a glass of something, and cozy up here. And pin all I can that’s relevant from you site.

    A new reader,
    Nicolette
    nicolette @ the classroom creative recently posted..Thematic Halloween Word Wall: 2 options

    Reply
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  9. Christina

    This is wonderful! Doesn’t take long looking at your page to see how creative and talented you are! SO glad I found your site.

    Reply
  10. Kay

    Your ideas are just wonderful. I have ordered the 13 note hand bells. Do you store your hand bells in anything or just leave them out all of the time?

    Reply
    1. Stephanie Post author

      We are just keeping them upright in a basket/tray that is lined with felt right now. I do have a bell bag on his wish list, but I think the basket is easiest for now. He is able to grab it himself.

      And thanks for your note! I’ll look into fixing the file asap.

      Reply
  11. Jennifer Murphy

    Love your creativity! I’ve been looking for some materials/ideas to use with my son and his colored resonator bells! Thanks! FYI, you need to change the sixteenth notes to eighth notes in the Ode to Joy music. Let me know when you do and I’ll print it. Thanks again for sharing!

    Reply
  12. kay

    I wanted to tell you that I made all of your wonderful ideas. In addition, instead of a white felt damper for the bells to sit upon, I made a felt keyboard. Since I bought the 13 piece set, I will have the black notes, too. I plan to let them sit on this keyboard when we are working on our music lessons. Here is a link to the keyboard if you would like to see it. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=204705009718471&set=pb.100005369199535.-2207520000.1388758045.&type=3&theater
    Thanks again for taking the time to post your wonderfully creative ideas.

    Reply
      1. Esther Ortiz

        Hi I just started at church with the small ones (kids) and I found the Hand Bells in the closet, but it does not have the song sheet included and I truely would like to know where I can find it because I do love to show my little ones how to play them. Thank you. Esther Ortiz

        Reply
  13. Monique

    Hi, thank you so much for the great printables! My 3 and 5 year old have already been using the cards to arrange their own “songs” and playing together. What a great resource. I’m wondering if you can answer a question for me since I am pretty musically illiterate. I noticed that the A and B notes are in the exact same spot. Is this a typo or should they both be there?

    Reply
    1. Stephanie Post author

      I actually had been notified of the mistake and updated the files last week – but forgot to upload them! Thanks for the reminder! The post and files have been fixed.

      Reply
  14. Linda Krueger

    Thanks so much for these amazing resources. I am just starting to have grand kids and this is wonderful!

    Reply
  15. Bea

    Hi Stephanie
    This is so beautifully done and so creative! I was not surprised to see you play oboe. I’m an oboist too and I love the Montessori philosophy. I would like to use the color music note control cards, but the handbells I have are the ChromaNote bells. Their colors coordinate with the Boomwhacker colors and there is a slight difference with the F and the G. The F is a lighter green and the G is the color of your F.
    I was hoping you might be able to make another F and G card, or would you be willing to let me know how you made them? They are so beautiful, I don’t think I would be able to make a version that comes close to yours.

    Reply
  16. Sophie

    I have returned to this now one of my children has exploded into a music sensitive period! I know your son is probably past this now, but do you have any other plans to make more song sheets, or could you help me make some of my own in the same style as yours please? Thanks!

    Reply
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  19. Bethany

    How do you handle the line for the lower c? Is it glued to the note or on the staff? I’m not very musically inclined and this is an amazing alternative to the very expensive Montessori bells! Thanks so much for sharing!

    Reply

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