October 21: The Week in a Nutshell – Primary Grades

Grade 1

We had several things going on in First Grade this week.  “Apple Crunch Day” is next week, and while most classes learned “The Apple Song” from MusicK-8, there were just too many words for first grade to learn.  So, we reviewed the phrase chart for “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush”.

“Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush”.

This is sung to the tune of “This is the Way We Wash Our Clothes”.   All I ask the kids to do is listen as I sing each phrase while going over the loops with my finger. I ask them not to sing, even if they know it, because I’m going to have to run from one phrase to the next because of the spaces in between. (For some reason they get a big kick out of watching my to little leg-fingers run from the end of one phrase to the beginning of the next. Kids are so easy to please.) :0) I’ve never run across a bunch that couldn’t sing this immediately with me, so I have them sing each phrase while making the loops in the air, left to right, and walking their fingers back to the left for the beginning of the next phrase. The last step is to sing through the song without stopping at the end of each phrase, which means that they have to put roller skates on their leg-fingers and quickly skate back to the left for the beginning of each phrase.

Next we sing through the book. ISBN 1-57755-666-6

Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush

Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush

Finally, we change the words to   “This is the way we plant the seeds”

“this is the way the little tree sprouts”

“This is the way the apple tree grows.”

“This is the way the apples grow.”

“This is the way we pick the apples.”

“This is the way we eat the apples”

Since the kids are already sitting on the floor in front of me  we move  on to some echo clapping, which is how I will introduce eighth notes.  I clap several patterns, first without Gordon syllables, and then again using syllables.

doo  doo  doo  doo

doo  doo  dooday  doo

dooday doo  dooday doo

dooday dooday dooday doo

doo  dooday  doo  doo.

dooday dooday  doo  doo.

dooday  doo  doo  doo

doo  doo  dooday  doo

doo doo  doo  doo

So far so good.  The students already know what quarter notes look like, although they call them “doo’s” at this stage.  Now I will show them what eighth notes look like, using the song  “Are You Sleeping,”  (“Frere Jacques”)

Are You Sleeping

I show them what eighth notes look like before we begin the reading/echoing.  (Feierabend advocates echoing before doing anything else, because just as children learn to talk before they can read, we learn to hear rhythms and associate them with their symbols by hearing and seeing someone else perform them.)  Following that, I make sure that they understand what an echo does….it repeats the original sound exactly.  I explain that my part is to the left, but when we cross over the line, they take over by echoing exactly what they heard.  I point to every symbol…quarters, rests and eighths.  After reading, we read and clap.  Then I sing the melody on the rhythm syllables, and they echo back…still pointing all the while. All that’s left to do until next time is to add the words.  Next time, after reviewing, I’ll ask them to be the leader so I can be the echo.  Since the melody is the same, I paint 2 little face on my thumbs and sing “Where is Thumbkin” with them….at this early stage of first grade, I can still get away with it.  :0)  That naturally leads to a review of Mr. Wiggle and Mr. Waggle….a sound story that gets them using all of the parts of their vices.  (See John Feierabend’s Book of Pitch Exploration.  I’m not sure if the story is copyrighted to him or not, but I don’t want to take the chance by printing it here.)

Singing:  We learned “Pick a Pumpkin” from Share the Music, Grade 2.  (1995 from MacMillan/McGraw-Hill.)  Even though this is technically a 2nd grade song, the first graders pick it up very easily and love it.  I always have them read the words while tracking with their finger, then have them read to themselves as they listen to the song.  (I call out what line we’re on, just in case anyone gets lost.)  Finally, I teach the song line by line, by rote, then have them sing the whole thing with the recording twice.

Grade 2:

Second grade is working on using “do”.  Our warm up uses “do mi sol mi do.”  As we sing it, I have them show me the hand signs.  Please see https://tuesdaymusic.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/vocal-warm-ups/ for details on how the warm ups are sung.  After echoing some do mi sol patterns, I show them a simple chart for “Who Has the Penny, Who Has the Pin?”  We verify that the notes are space notes, because there are no lines going through them, and they are either between two lines or below a line.  We then identify which ones are sol, mi and do.  I start them off on the first phrase, which they echo, then allow them to continue on their own.  Although at times they will say “do” but actually sing the tone for “sol”, many times they remember to follow the path of the notes and make their voices go down.  This is pretty new to them, so I’m really pleased when they sing the correct tones.

Who Has the Penny, Who Has the Pin?

The game is very much like “Mr. Potato Head.”  The students sit in a circle with their hands out and eyes closed.  I place a penny in one student’s hands, and a pin in another.  Everyone keeps their eyes closed as we all sing “Who has the penny?”  Only the person with the penny answers, on the correct pitches.  Then we all sing “Who has the pin?”  Again, only the student with the pin answers.  Everyone keeps their eyes closed as they try to guess who the singers were.  Once they’ve guessed, the two student who had the objects quietly get up and put them into someone else’s hands.  NO PEEKING!  Great for assessing pitch, too.

Pitch Assessment:

I am using the Music K-8 “Apple Song” to assess pitch this week.  I put on the recording without the voices, then circulate around the room while they sing.  For most kids I need only a few seconds with my ear next to their head to tell whether they are matching pitch or not.  I only mark on my seating chart those students who do not match pitch.  Those with no mark are automatically assumed to be on pitch at report card time.

For Fun:  “Hey Jack!” from MusicK-8,  this year’s Sept/Oct issue.  On the “Boo Shakalakalaka’s” we bounce to the beat 2 to the left, 2 to the right, back to the left etc. while rolling our fists one over the other.  They love it!

Next up: Intermediates.  :0)


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tina McGrew
    Oct 20, 2011 @ 16:30:19

    I’m sooooo impressed and I thought that I was a creative, innovative, Whole Brain Teaching, YouTube using, websites guru, and techie, ALAS, I am clearly not there yet!! How did you make this page? Why did you make this page? How do you have time to update this page? Is it a free page? Thanks for the inspiration, free lessons, and ideas!!


    • Jane
      Oct 20, 2011 @ 17:03:24

      Hi Tina,
      This is absolutely a free page! I’m due to retire in June, and I wanted something to leave behind for whoever takes my place, as well as for anyone else to whom it may be useful.

      Setting up the blog was so easy…you just open a free account with WordPress, choose one of their templates and start writing! Picture uploads are free…I had to pay $19.95 to be able to upload audio. If I ever decide to upload video it will cost me more. I just take pics with my iPhone, email them to myself, put them on my desktop and upload from there….only marginally more difficult than uploading to FaceBook.

      As for finding the time to do it, I love to write, so I make the time. :0)


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