Jan. 3-6: The Week in a Nutshell, Primaries

The kids were subdued on Tuesday, our first day back from our Christmas break, but by Friday they were back to themselves, full of energy.

First Grade

In first grade we are about to begin adding pitches to our note reading skills. First though, I went back through some of the things we learned during the first half of the year, just to make sure they’re solid. I will copy and paste the original post for each activity.

Steady beat, and reading left to right:
We reviewed “A Sailor Went to Sea”.

Grade 1 worked on “A Sailor Went to Sea,” still a steady beat song, but since the beat is also the rhythm of the song we’re preparing to venture into rhythm territory.

l l l l l l l l
A sailor went to sea sea sea
s d s l s m s s

l l l l l l l l
To see what he could see see see
s d s l t d d d

l l l l l l l l
And all that he could see see see
s d s l s m s s

l l l l l l l l
Was wa ter in the sea sea sea.
s l l t t d d d

A slightly different version of the song can be found in MusicPlay, grade 2.

We keep the steady beat as usual by speaking the syllable “doo” each time I touch one of the beat lines.
Next we add 1 clap for each doo. Finally, they clap and doo while I sing the song to them.

I teach the words and melody by rote. Every time we sing “sea” or “see” we touch our foreheads in a little salute, always on the beast.

Verse 2: A sailor went to chop chop chop. Karate chop your own arm.
Verse 3: A sailor went to knee knee knee. Karate chop your own knee.
Verse 4: A sailor went to tap tap tap. Tap feet.
Verse 5. A sailor went to oo-wash-ee-wash. Twist around like you’re a washing machine.

Then do the whole song over again without stopping between verses.

Remember, what you see above was the original lesson, and took a lot longer than the review we did this week.

Next we added in the quarter rest, reviewing “Up and Down, ‘ Round the Town.”. Of course, we don’t just review the quarter notes and rests….we must play the game!

Up and Down, ‘Round the Town” is sung to the tune of “Sur le Pont d’Avignon”.

D D D rest, R R R rest

M F S D T1 D R S1

D D D rest, R R R rest

M F S D R  T1 D rest

We use the Gordon syllables in our district, so I would have the kids read aloud, saying,

Doo Doo Doo   (sh)   Doo Doo Doo   (sh)

Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo

Doo Doo Doo   (sh)   Doo Doo Doo   (sh)

Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo   (sh)

You may have the kids using ta’s instead.  As soon as possible I try to have them eliminate the “sh”, either pulling their hands apart in silence, or putting a hand over their mouth, since a rest is supposed to be silent.

There is a game that goes with this little song.  I tell the students to pretend that they are in our town on a Saturday…maybe they go to the library, the supermarket, the gas station….but everywhere they go, they keep running into people from our class.  By this time they know what a greeting is, so I have them silently greet the person next to them.  They could shake hands, smile, wave, bow or gently hug.  The game is to sing and walk around “town” (the music room), greeting each other in any way that is not rough and does not prevent them from singing.  The rules are  that they must keep singing, no running, no rough stuff, and no going where they cannot be seen. (Behind the piano, under chairs etc.  Believe me, this  needs to spelled out.)  At the end of the song they must freeze, and listen for further directions from me:

“Gentlemen, take a bow.”

DD D                 D   D  R-D

“Ladies, take a curtsie.”

DD D                 D   D  R-D

(You might have to teach them what a curtsie is.)

We then do our best singing, and start again.  Other directions for them to follow after the freeze could include touch your toes, reach for the ceiling, turn in a circle, flap your wings, clap your hands, snap your fingers, stand on one foot, hope up and down, etc.  The final directions are:

“Gentlemen, sit down on the rug.”

DD D                 D   D  R-D

“Ladies, sit down on the rug.”

DD D                 D   D  R-D

Our third review chart is “Are You Sleeping”, adding in pairs of eighth notes.

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)

Are You Sleeping

Finally, eighths and quarters, sung to the tune of “BINGO”.

I showed them a chart with the rhythm notation for BINGO, and had them read it without telling them what it was.

( TT = eighth notes, l = quarter notes).


TT TT l l

l l TT l

l l TT l

l l TT TT

TT TT l l

We spoke it on doo’s and dooday’s, spoke it and clapped it, and then I sang it for them using the rhythm syllables instead of the words. (Melodic recognition). They recognized it somewhere in the second phrase. We then sang it all together using the rhythm syllables before adding the familiar words and clapping sequences. I add on a little twist….I tell them that the farmer had a duck whose name is D-A-F-F-Y. They decode the spelling pretty quickly and we sing the verse. He also had a pig named P-O-R-K-Y, a cat named T-A-B-B-Y, and a snake named H-I-S-S-Y. finally, I tell them that once a teacher had a kid, and his name was T-Y-L-E-R, (or Molly, or Jacob or any other 5 letter name of a student in the class). Once I tell them that the trick is to use a name with 5 letters they all start counting on their fingers, and then, of course, we must do every student in the room whose name has 5 letters. (But that’s ok).

All that, so I could say to them, “And now, here is something new.”

The chart I showed them is called “Sound Maps.” All they have to do is make their voice follow my finger as it travels up and down the maps. The app I’m using is called is called “Singing Fingers”. I show each map upside down and right side up. Above the pictures is a link to the YouTube demo of the Singing Fingers App.


Map 1

Map 2

Map 3

The last thing I did with the first graders this week, aside from a quick listen to “The Surprise Symphony”, is to read to the “So-me and the Spider.” This is from a series of 12 books using sol-mi, la-mi and sol-la-mi. (Three siblings.) The series is available from MusicPlay, Denise Gagne’s company in Canada.

Second Grade

I teach in 2 buildings on a 4 day cycle. One of my buildings is mine completely, and I am there 3 days out of 4. The other building is shared with a colleague, and each of us is there 1 day apiece. The smaller school did their second grade program in December, and will now be playing catch up for a few weeks. The larger school is now beginning to learn the music for their program. I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to put it together just yet, but I’ve decided to use Muppet Music. The reader’s Digest Children’s Songbook has a lot of the songs I’m going to use, including, “The Muppet Show”, “The Rainbow Connection”, “Sing”, “Rubber Duckie” and “It’s Not Easy Being Green.” I was able to purchase karaoke tracks for 3 of them. I play piano pretty well, so if necessary I can accompany them myself, and the book has complete piano/vocal scores. Another option may be “Sing Along With Ernie” while I project a YouTube video of “Rubber Duckie”…but first I have to find out if that’s legal. (If anyone knows, please comment.)

ISBN 0-89577-214-0

We started with “The Muppet Show Theme”, which is short and sweet, so we had plenty of time to review our Curwen hand signals for do-mi-sol. I then used the hand signals to teach them “The Lady With the Alligator Purse.”

Mother, Mother I am sick.
s m s m s m s

Send for the doctor quick, quick quick.
s m m s m s s d

the rest of the verses are:

In came the doctor, in came the nurse.
In came the lady with the alligator purse.

I don’t want the doctor, I don’t want the nurse.
I don’t want the lady with the alligator purse.

Out went the doctor, out went the nurse.
Out went the lady with the alligator purse.

Once they know the song, which doesn’t take them long, we sit in a circle and dramatize it. The sick person and his mother are in the middle, the doctor, nurse and lady with the alligator purse are outside the circle. When we sing the first verse, mother pretends to dial the phone and then goes to the “door” to let the visitors in. On verse 2 the doctor kneels by the patient’s head, the nurse in the middle and the lady with the alligator purse at the feet. Now we take a break in the song, while the doctor feels the patient’s forehead or listens for a heartbeat or checks reflexes. there’s always something wrong, so the doctor asks the nurse for a biiiiiiiiig needle. She doesn’t have one, so she asks the lady with the alligator purse if she happens to have one. the lady roots around in her imaginary purse and takes out a huge imaginary needle, which she passes to the nurse, who passes it to the doctor, who gives the patient a shot. (AAAAAhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!) So of course the patient sings verse 3, and the visitors exit the circle on verse 4. It’s so simple and short, but they love it, and we have to do it until everyone has had a turn to be one of the characters.

I have more to tell you….but this post is quite long enough. I’ll be posting my Tchaikovsky assessment for intermediate students shortly, as well as a link to an animation on our new composer, Franz Joseph Haydn.

Thanks for reading all of this! :0)


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Eric Rosenbaum
    Jan 08, 2012 @ 16:23:37

    Cool stuff! I’m the developer of Singing Fingers and I think it’s great to see it being used in elementary music education. I’d love to hear more about your ideas for how to use it, especially if the kids can get a chance to use it themselves.


    • Jane
      Jan 09, 2012 @ 05:27:42

      Wow Eric! How cool to hear from you! Stay tuned…I will post “Uses for the Singing Fingers App” sometime this week. I’ve already polled several colleagues for their ideas. Thanks for your comment! :0)


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