Exploring Musical Opposites: High & Low

flowersI’ve been teaching my students in kindergarten and first grade about musical opposites. Right now, we’re especially focused on how pitches can move up and down, high and low. I learned the following finger play from a friend; the author is unknown. I adapted the words to teach more clearly about musical themes.

As you say the rhyme, you can emphasize the changes in pitch by featuring a slide whistle or another instrument, or simply use your own vocal inflection, showing the sounds going from low to high and high to low. Wiggle and Waggle are your two thumbs, moving up and down. “Home” is down by your side.

This finger play can be followed by singing a major scale on “do-re-mi” as student move their hands or bodies up and down with the notes.

The Story of Wiggle and Waggle

This is my friend Waggle and this is my friend Wiggle

They like to walk together and they like to talk and giggle.

And so one morning on a bright sunny day

My friend Waggle goes out on her way

She goes up up up the hill and then goes down.

Up and down all through the town.

She goes up high high high and down low low low

High and low all through the town.

But she can’t find Wiggle no matter where she roams.

So my friend Waggle goes up and down, high and low, back home.

 

And then, the next morning on a bright, sunny day

My friend Wiggle goes out on his way

He goes up up up the hill and then goes down.

Up and down all through the town.

He goes up high high high and down low low low

High and low all through the town.

But he can’t find Waggle no matter where she roams.

So my friend Wiggle goes up and down, high and low, back home.

 

But the next sunny day, Wiggle picks up the phone

And makes a call to Waggle, who’s at home – Hello!

Wiggle says, shall we meet

On the street?

Waggle says, yes, let’s meet

On the street!

 

And together, they go up up up the hill and then go down.

Up and down all through the town.

They go up high high high and down low low low

High and low all through the town.

And then, they say: that was fun, going up and down, high and low.

Let’s do it again tomorrow!

For more up/down and high/low activities, you could also have children sing and move to Nancy Hershatter’s song “Once I Was a Seed,” featured in another post on this blog about learning about sequence and narrative.

Two Fun Songs for Pre-Reading!

Easy finger-play glove!

Easy finger-play glove!

This past week, I have had the chance to visit some of the children and families from the school where I’ll be working as a music teacher this fall. Many of the parents are so excited and eager for their children to learn, especially for them to learn to read.

Most children learn to read between ages five and seven, but there are many things parents can do to prepare even the youngest children for becoming readers when the time comes. The most important is taking time to read with children every day. Being introduced to books on the lap of a parent or another beloved caregiver is one of the most important ways to help a child learn to love reading.

Parents and caregivers can also build important pre-reading skills through singing, chanting rhymes, and doing finger plays with children.

Here are two songs that I shared at our July 17 Do-Re-Mi ABC time at the Wild Child store in Arlington. The first is a simple counting song that involves counting on your fingers. Finger plays help build children’s small motor skills, which develops the muscles used in important skills such as handwriting. The counting activity is a great way to practice counting down and subtracting. You can start each verse with fingers up in the air for the number of apples in the tree, then shake and wiggle your hands (or your whole body) in the middle of the song, and then tap your hand on the ground “boom” when each apple falls down.

Five Red Apples

Nursery Song & Finger Play;   Tune: Twinkle, Twinkle/ABC

Five red apples in an apple tree,

The reddest apples you ever did see.

So we shook that tree, and wiggled around,

And one red apple came tumbling down.

Now, how many apples are there? Four!

Repeat the song, each time taking away one apple from the tree.

When I sing this song, I use a glove with five cardboard red apples taped onto the fingers and thumb. Finger puppet gloves are so simple to make, and children adore them!

Photo on 2011-11-30 at 08.10Children also love my spoon puppets, Icky Sticky and Ooey Gooey. If you would like to learn this song, you can find out more about it in this video. The great thing about this song is it works at various levels. For very young children and older kids just learning English, this song teaches about body parts. It also invites children to think of rhyming words. So if you say, “Icky Sticky and Ooey Gooey played in the hose,” the child would guess that the rhyming body part is “nose” or “toes.”

Here are the words:

Icky Sticky and Ooey Gooey, they went out one day.

Said Icky Sticky to Ooey Gooey, “Won’t you come and play?”

So Icky Sticky and Ooey Gooey, they played in the sand.

But Icky Sticky got stuck to Ooey Gooey’s….. HAND!

1-2-3 Unstick!   Boop! (pull apart)

 

Other verses:

They climbed up a tree … knee

They played in the snow … toe

They went to a farm … arm

They played by the track … back

If you don’t have time to make spoon puppets, you can always have your pointer fingers play the parts of Icky Sticky and Ooey Gooey.

Parents & Children Can Sing Into Reading

We sang about the Muffin Man!

We sang about the Muffin Man!

This morning, I offered a toddler version of my “Do-Re-Mi ABC” program that I’ve been enjoying with kindergarten students this year. At our local store that sells tots’ clothing and other fun kids’ stuff, I did a sing-along workshop for parents and children about how to have fun singing while building early literacy skills.

We talked not only about enjoying musical basics such as singing and tapping a regular beat, but sounding out letter sounds and building small motor skills through finger plays. We talked about singing favorite songs often, so that children learn them and feel comfortable vocalizing. Here are some activities/songs on my agenda for the morning:

Goal: Provide a sampling of music/movement activities that parents and children can do together in order to share the joy of music and develop building blocks of language & literacy

Emphasis on:

  • Language development
  • Vocalizing/singing
  • Music skills development, such as keeping a steady beat and fast & slow tempos
  • Physical – fine & gross motor skills development
  • Social-emotional skill development

The Songs:

  1. Hello song!
  2. Name Song – Hello, Name (to Goodnight ladies)
  3. Banana song (on my album Once Upon a Tune)
  4. The Wheels on the Bus – a song that most young children learn to sing and move to
  5. Itsy Bitsy Spider – common nursery rhymes involve small motor skill development
  6. Finger Family – more small motor skills
  7. Horsie, Don’t You Stop – keep a steady beat with my horse’s clip-clop!
  8. The Muffin Man – letter sounds, classic song – tried and true
  9. Little Red Caboose – slow & fast, steady beat, vocalizing (woo-woo!), using shakers & tambourine
  10. Chugga-Chugga Ding Ding – steady beat, shakers & tambourine (on my CD, Make It a Song, Song, Song)
  11. Two Little Robins – rhymes, letter sounds, vocabulary – use of simple visuals (on my CD, Once Upon a Tune)
  12. This Little Light of Mine or other upbeat song – songs from our culture
  13. The Lion Sleeps Tonight – shakers (on my CD, Make It a Song, Song, Song)

We calmed down with Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and a good-bye song. We also found time to do THE ANTELOPE DANCE! Fun morning!

I will be back at the Wild Child store for another “workshop” on Friday, July 17, at 10:30. Be sure to contact owner Erica Walker to sign up at join us.

A Robin Song for Musical Fun & Literacy

Photo on 5-4-15 at 10.53 AMHere is a finger-play and simple literacy activity that’s especially fun to do in the spring when you hear lots of birds singing. My “Two Little Robins” song is based on the traditional nursery rhyme and finger play that’s often called “Two Little Blackbirds.”

This song is on my CD Once Upon a Tune, available through CDBaby or Songs for Teaching. You can see a video of how I use the song at this link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQ6c9Tru9FM

Below are the lyrics and the connections to literacy learning.

Two Little Robins

Traditional children’s rhyme. Tune & additional lyrics by Liz Buchanan.

Two little robins, sitting in the tree

One named Rob and one named Ree.

Fly Away, Rob, fly away, Ree.

Come back, Rob, come back, Ree.

Tweet tweet tweet …

Two little bunnies, sitting on the hill

One named Bob, one named Bill.

Hop away, Bob, hop away, Bill.

Come back, Bob, come back, Bill.

Hop hop hop …

Two little fishies, swimming in the sea

One named Fred and one named Fee.

Swim away, Fred, swim away Fee.

Come back, Fred, come back Fee.

Glub glub glub … splash!

 

Here are some ways this song can help build early literacy skills:

1. Rhyming. Nursery songs and rhymes are perfect for helping children hear and learn about rhyming sounds. With this rhyme, you can talk with children about how ‘tree’ and ‘Ree’  and ‘hill’ and ‘Bill’ sound alike, and discuss what sound is in both of those words.

2. Consonant Sounds. This song helps with learning about the sounds of the consonants R, B and F.  In each verse, the names of the creatures start with the same letters; for example, R is the beginning letter for robin, Rob and Ree. Articulate the sound of the letter with the children and then say the words in the rhyme that start with the letter.

3. Letter recognition. Use a simple stick puppet with the word and letter of each creature, or write out the words on a card. Discuss each starting letter and its sound.

You can create stick puppets with tongue depressors and pictures of the creatures, which are easy to find in books or online. My robin pictures come from the beautifully illustrated book Over in the Meadow by John Langstaff, illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky. Add the word itself and the featured consonant for letter sound learning.

You can expand this song to include many other birds and creatures with their initial consonant sounds. I’ve posted more ideas here at The Children’s Music Network’s blog: http://blog.cmnonline.org/2013/09/23/a-tale-of-two-robins/

Here are some learning activities that connect to the song:

Matching Birds and Sea Creatures – Create cards with a picture of each bird and sea creature in the expanded song (above). On each card print the letter and the type of creature. Mix them up and ask children to find matching pairs. You can play this as a “Concentration” matching game.

Stick puppets – Create stick puppets for the creatures similar to the ones in the photo. Encourage children to act out the song with the puppets.

Auditory Learning – Online, you can find recordings of different bird songs for the different species of birds in this song. Listen to the recording of each bird’s song as you look at a picture of that bird.

Movement Play – For a gross motor activity, act out each creature in the song with a movement. Flap arms to be a bird, hop to be a bunny, do swimming motions to be a fish.

Outdoor Activity – Go bird watching! How many different kinds of birds can you find as you take a walk around the neighborhood? What do you notice about the birds’ behavior? Talk about what birds eat and their habitats. Discuss the life cycle of birds.

Have fun with all the sounds of nature in the spring!

Finger Plays for Spring Days

Bee-illustrationBelow are two fun finger plays for spring days. Teachers can pair these with themes relating to gardens and growing plants, trees and flowers, reminding children that bees and worms play an important role in the life cycle of plants.

 

 

Here is the Beehive (traditional)

Here is the beehive, where are the bees?

Hiding away where nobody sees

Watch them come creeping out of the hive

One and two and three four five!

Bzzzz!

Here is a video that shows a simple “book” that I made for this song, followed by the finger-play motions. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbrkfvWvYE0

I’m A Little Worm

By Liz Buchanan

I’m a little worm, I’m a little worm

And here is how I wiggle and squirm.

I go under the ground, under the ground

‘Cause that’s where all the worms are found!

Wiggle pointer finger for first verse.  Put pointer finger under palm of other hand.  On last line, push all five fingers out from under the palm.

Why are finger plays great learning tools for young children?

  • Finger plays make a body-mind connection.
  • Most utilize music and rhythm, which helps build literacy.
  • Most utilize rhymes, which help with phonological awareness.
  • Many tell a story, and help children learn to organize their thoughts to tell a simple story/narrative themselves.
  • All utilize sequences and many utilize number sequences.
  • All encourage fine motor skill development. This is especially important as children learn handwriting skills.
  • They’re engaging and fun!

Finger Plays for Winter Days

IMG_0350Little Boy/Girl Is Going to Bed

Author unknown – rhyming poem adapted by Liz Buchanan.  Make your pointer finger play the part of the child and do the motions for the rhyme with the other hand. Act out a little boy and a little girl.

Little boy is going to bed

On his pillow rests his head

Wrap the covers ‘round him tight

Now he’ll sleep all through the night.

 

Morning comes and up he goes

Washes up, puts on his clothes

A plate of pancakes he will eat,

Then he brushes all his teeth

Goes along his merry way

All day long, he’ll play and play!

 

Four Little Icicles

By Liz Buchanan. Count out four fingers then point them down. On the crash, clap your hands and say the word extra loud!

Four little icicles, hanging around

Four little icicles, pointing down

If one comes loose & goes CRASH to the ground

Then there’ll be three little icicles hanging around

 

Three little icicles, hanging from the roof

I hope another one doesn’t fall off!

But if one comes loose, and goes CRASH to the ground

Then there’ll be two little icicles, hanging around

 

Two little icicles, shining bright and clear

Two little icicles, dripping like a tear

But if one comes loose, and goes CRASH to the ground

Then there’ll be one little icicle, hanging around

 

One little icicle, all alone

One little icicle, shining in the sun

But if that one comes loose, and goes CRASH to the ground

Then there are no more icicles hanging around.

 

I hope spring comes soon!

Fun Finger Plays for October

Liz with pumpkin & ghost finger play glove

Liz with pumpkin & ghost finger play glove

In a recent post, I discussed how finger plays make a body-mind connection and help children act out simple narratives with their hands. Finger plays are also simply great fun, and very engaging for young children.

I love to add a prop such as a glove with faces on it, or individual finger puppets. I use different gloves for various finger plays. One of my favorites for October is the traditional “Three Little Pumpkins.” I learned this one from my mom back when she did music with young children many years ago. I wrote the final verse about the ghosts! Be sure to keep the ghost fingers hidden until they pop out at the end.

The glove puppet is easy to make. Just buy a simple knit glove and stick paper faces on it with a glue gun or masking tape. You can also make more permanent faces out of felt and create the facial features with fabric paint. You can see the glove and hear the song in this video.

Three Little Pumpkins (traditional, additional lyrics by Liz Buchanan)

Three little pumpkins, lying very still

In a pumpkin patch on a great big hill

This one says, “I’m very, very green,

But I’ll be orange by Halloween.”

This one says, “It’s my big night

To be a jack-o-lantern bright.”

This one says, “Oh me, oh my,

I’m going to be a pumpkin pie!”

But all three say, “What scares me most

Is that I just might see a ghost!”  Boo!

My second October finger play is a simple hand-motion chant. The kids also love the surprise in the end of this one. I find that some groups like to change what’s out there to something scarier than the wind. This is fine, as long as the kids in your group don’t get too scared!

Something at the Door

By Liz Buchanan

There’s something at the door, it goes scratch scratch scratch (scratching motion with hands in the air)

Better keep it shut (clap hands together), and close the latch! (turning motion with hands)

Peek out the window, and what do I see? (fists up to eyes like glasses)

The wind in the trees goes woosh at me! (make a big wooshing motion with your arms)

All original lyrics ©2012 by Liz Buchanan.

 

Fun & Learning with Finger Plays

DSC_3291Why are finger plays great learning tools for young children?

  • Finger plays make a body-mind connection.
  • Most utilize music and rhythm, which helps build literacy.
  • Most utilize rhymes, which help with phonological awareness.
  • Many tell a story, and help children learn to organize their thoughts to tell a simple story/narrative themselves.
  • All utilize sequences and many utilize number sequences.
  • All encourage fine motor skill development.
  • They’re engaging and fun!

Two Little Robins (c) 2013 Liz Buchanan

You can have some fun with the traditional “Two Little Birdies” rhyme by adding different birds and animals and rhyming names.  You could also discuss consonant sounds by featuring the same initial consonant for the names, as I’ve done in my original version of the song, which you can download at this link: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/lizbuchanan2

Two little robins, sitting in the tree

One named Rob and one named Ree

Fly Away Rob, Fly away, Ree

Come back Rob, come back Ree.

Tweet tweet tweet…

 

Two little bunnies, sitting on the hill

One named Bob, one named Bill

Hop away Bob, Hop away, Bill

Come back Bob, Come back Bill.

Hop, hop, hop…

 

Two little fishies, swimming in the sea

One named Fred and one named Fee

Swim away Fred, swim away Fee

Come back Fred, come back Fee.

Glub glub glub glub, splash ….

For even more creatures for the song, click here. For a visual element beyond using your fingers, add stick puppets with the initial consonant. This video shows the hand motions and the stick puppets.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQ6c9Tru9FM

Here is the Bee Hive (Traditional)

Here is the beehive, where are the bees?

Hiding away where nobody sees

Watch them come creeping out of the hive

One and two and three four five!

Bzzzz!

See my video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbrkfvWvYE0

Turn this finger play into a “supersize” activity by having children act out the parts of the bees. Expand movement vocabulary by changing the word “creeping” to jumping, dashing, bounding, leaping, fluttering and stomping.