January 16-20, The Week in a Nutshell, Primary

First Grade

In First grade this week we continues working on our new notes, sol and mi. As soon as we’re done warming up we use the hand signals as we sing “sol is higher, mi is lower” several times, always working on matching the pitch, which is still tricky for a significant number of them.

Last week’s chart was “Star Light, Star Bright”, using sol, mi, quarter notes and eighth notes.  This week we set “Fuzzy Wuzzy Was a Bear” to sol mi, quarters, eighths and quarter rests.

Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear.     ss mm mm s

Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair.   ss mm mm s

Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn’t fuzzy.   ss mm mm ss

Was he?                                    ms Z Z Z

The tricky part here is that they are not just alternating sols and mis….they have to actually read a new pattern and sing higher for sol and lower for mi.  ( A common problem is that they’ll sing the right syllable, but the wrong tone). It usually takes several tries before they understand that they must sing what the chart says, rather than what they expect it to say.

Because it’s a bear song, I tie in “the Teddy Bear’s Picnic” using the “Dead Bear ” book and recording by Jerry Garcia and Dave Grisman.    ( “Dead Bears” were Grateful Dead Teddy Bears, not literally dead bears….just in case ya didn’t know.). I read through the book with them first, then show the book again as they listen to the song.  There is an instrumental interlude part way through.  I just sing along with it to hold their attention.  They quickly pick up “That’s the way the Teddy Bears have their picnic.”.  (I tell them that when they come to school all of  their Teddy Bears climb out the window and have a picnic in the woods.  “Nuh-uh”, they say).

The Teddy Bears Picnic

The book originally came with a cassette recording of the song, but it is also on an album of children’s songs by Jerry and Dave called “Not For Kids Only“.  The  album or individual songs from it are available on iTunes.  Other books in the series include “Jenny Jenkins” and  “There Ain’t No Bugs on Me”.  The kids really enjoy all of them, and it’s a great introduction to another style of music.

Finally,  we began listening to “Carnival of the Animals” and reading along as  John Lithgow narrates his book by the same title.  We only had time to get through  “Aquarium”, which is fine, because the book is too long to get through in one sitting anyway.  I just reblogged my original series of lessons on this ….I think if you click on the “previous” arrow it should come up. Then click on “reblogged from Tuesday Music.”

Second Grade

Second grade is continuing to work on Muppet songs for their program.  This week they learned “Rubber Duckie”, as published in the Reader’s Digest Children’s Song Book “.  That makes our fourth song, and we go over the others in addition to learning the new one.  (“The Muppet Show Theme”, “The Rainbow Connection” and “Sing”).

ISBN 0-89577-214-0

STILL figuring out what to have them wear and how to glue the whole thing together.  Jokes?  Very short skits?  Any ideas?

Last week we worked on do mi sol using”49 Bottles.”. This week I threw  la back into the mix, using a game chant called “Little Sally More”.

Little Sally More

I always start with the rhythm patterns, spoken on dooday for eighths, doo for quarters and a silent, covered mouth for rests.  Say it, say it and clap it, clap it while saying the rhythm in our head.

This song begins with the typical “nya nya nya nya nyaaaaaa  nya” playground pattern, and I tell them that first thing to help them get the sound in their ear.  We review that        “do” “mi”and “sol” are all line notes…bottom line, middle and top, and note that “la” has no line through it…it is different in that respect from “do”, “mi” and “sol”.  We sing through the tones using hand signals several times, to help them get the pitches in their ear, then slowly read through the song.  Several tries may be necessary.  Once I’m happy with their reading I teach the words by rote, and then put them in a circle for the game:

One person sits in the middle with their eyes closed.  If it’s a girl she is Sally, if a boy, Johnny.  Sometimes we have also played using the student’s real name.  All of the students in the circle sing.  The child in the middle rises when the song says to, stretches out their arm and points while turning first in one direction, then the other, and finally back in the first direction.  they stop moving when the song is over, and whomever they are pointing at becomes the next Sally or Johnny.   Such a simple game, but they love it, and naturally we must play until everyone has had a turn.


I don’t think I mentioned that in first and second grade, as with the older students< I assessed their pitch using “Jambo.”  Arrow back 2 posts if  you haven’t read about that yet.

Ok, I think this one is ready to go.  Stand by for some retirement sale books, coming up soon.

Thanks, as always, for reading.  :0)


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