January 30-February 3, The Week in a Nutshell; Primary

I didn’t post my primary lessons last week….time just gets away from me!  So, I’ll cover a few extra things this week.

Grade 1

Last week I introduced “Skinnamarink” to first grade by playing the recording from “Share the Music”, Grade 2, and then teaching the song by rote. (I also reviewed it with second grade, who learned it last year.)

Once they know the song I have them sing along with the recording while I play a steady beat game.  I keep the beat by pointing at a different student on each beat.   Whenever the phrase stops, my finger stops and points at whoever it was on at the end of the phrase.  (The implication being ” I love YOU”,  “Yes, I DO”, etc.)It is so touching to me that they are genuinely pleased when the beat stops on them.  Everyone needs to be told that they’re loved.  The song plays through 3 times, so I have plenty of opportunities to love various students.  Then I tell them that it’s their turn to keep the steady beat.  (Great assessment  song; you can watch for 3 verses).  Again, I am amazed at how little embarrassment there is, and how much pleasure at telling each other they “love” them.  I always do this a few weeks before Valentine’s day, and I mention it now because I reviewed it with them at the end of this week’s lesson.

We’re continuing to work on sol-mi.  Last week we worked on “Fuzzy Wuzzy was a Bear, which  utilizes mi-sol.  Before we reviewed it this week I read them So-Me book #3, which also introduces reading the interval “backwards”…starting on mi instead of sol.  (“So-Me, Oh, and Romeo”.  The books are available from MusicPlay).  The kids love these little stories.  Every time So-Me’s name occurs I sing it to the kids, along with all of the other patterns of mi, sol and la that are incorporated into the stories.  A cd comes with the books, but I prefer to read them myself.

So Me....Oh and Romeo

So Me....Oh and Romeo

Our new chart this week is “Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, Turn Around”.

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, Turn Around

We learn the rhythm on doo, (quarter notes), and doo-day, (eighth notes). We speak it, speak it and clap it, and clap it while thinking it silently in our heads.  We practice singing “Sol is higher, Mi is lower” several times with the correlating hand signals, the read the S’s and M’s underneath the rhythm.  Where there is no letter, the students speak the rhythm syllables.

I sing them the tune using a book by the same name, by Steve Scott.  ISBN 0-694-01162-2.

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear

The melody is:





(Z = rest).

Finally, I teach simultaneously the following words and corresponding movements:

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, turn around,

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, touch the ground.

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, tie your shoes.  (Pretend to tie shoes.)

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, that will do.  (Shake finger.)

I teach this to them s l o w l y.  We repeat the song numerous times, each time a little faster.  I use the keyboard to control the tempo, using the chords C and G.  By about the third time through they begin to understand what’s happening, and the smiles start to appear.  We keep going until we’re singing and moving as fast as we possibly can.  Seems like such a simple, silly thing to do, but it’s little things like this that make music class fun.  Yesterday, when we were sitting back down on the rug I hear one tiny girl say, “I love Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear”.  Made me smile.   By the way, just about the entire lesson this week happened with the kids on the rug in front of my chair.  I had a lot of things I wanted them to be able to see.

Since last week was about the bear “Fuzzy Wuzzy”, I’d brought out the book, “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic.  This week was about Teddy Bear, so I brought out “Jenny Jenkins” performed by the same bears: Jerry Garcia and Dave Grisman.  ISBN 0-06-028263-0, Bruce Whatley, illustrator.

What Wll You Wear, Jenny Jenkins?

I go through the book, singing the song, asking what color we will sing about next, noting details in the illustrations, (like how cute Jenny looks in her beige robe and slippers, or “I bet that banana peel on the ground will have consequences on the next page.”)  By the time I play the recording, (and go through the book again), they’ve got the tune, the pattern of the words and just need a little help with “roldy-poldy-tildy-toldy-seeka-double-use a cozza.”  There is one more book in this series, which I will use next week:  “There Ain’t No Bugs on Me.”  After that, all of the books on this page except for the So-Me book will be for sale.

We finished up this week with Skinnamarink, as I mentioned at the beginning of the post.

So, in this lesson we did:  solfege, rhythm and tone reading, singing, movement, and 3 children’s books.

Grade 2

A while back I taught a chart called “Valentine, but only used the solfege syllables as words.  Here’s a re-cap of that lesson.

“Here’s how the song actually goes:

Mi Sol Do

But this is all the kids ever see. I teach “Swinging” and “Round we go” by rote.

Once they can sing the whole thing, they stand and face a partner. “Mi” is a patsch on their lap, “sol” is clap their own hands once, “do” is two fists, hands at sides. “Swinging, swinging to and fro” take partner’s hands and swing from side to side. (Gently….always tell them, gently.) Mi sol do as the first time. “Round and round and round we go”, take partners hands and walk in a circle. (Slowly…always tell them slowly.) We do the dance several times. If they’re a particularly mature group I might start slowly and speed up each time.”

 That was back in October, so you can see why I didn’t use the Valentine words at that time.  This week I reviewed what we did in the fall, and added the Valentine words.

Won'tcha be my Valentimes

Complete lyrics:

Valentine, Valentine, won’t you be my valentine?

Valentine, Valentine, yes, I’ll be your Valentine.

I’ll never forget the student who used to sing, “Valentimes, Valentimes, won’tcha be my Valentimes.”  I still smile when I think of him.

So, now we have 2 verses for the clapping game, which we DO start slowly and speed up.  Why do they find that so enjoyable?  Don’t know, but I run with it.

You may recall that we’ve been adding “la” to our do-mi-sol reading, so in addition to reviewing “Valentine” we also worked on “Little Snail.”  All quarter notes and quarter rests, again, the Z = a rest.

S S M M S S M Z      Little Snail I cannot see

S S L L S S M Z         Why you always hide from me.

D M S S L L M Z      Little Snail oh don’t be shy.

D M S S L L M Z      I won’t hurt you, no not I.

S S M M S S M Z      Little Snail I cannot see

S S L L S S M Z         Why you always hide from me.

The rhythm is so easy that we go directly to the melody, singing from a chart with the rhythm stems with the letter for Do, Mi, Sol or La underneath.  (Sorry…I forgot to take a picture.) It’s an easy song to learn and remember, so once they have it down I have them line up behind me, and hold the hand of the person in front of them.  Then, as they sing, I start to turn in a circle, right in my personal space.  This has the effect  of winding them all tightly around me, turning us into a snail.  I have the last person lead us out of the snail as we sing the song one more time.  Caution:  tell the students they may not run, push or pull, or someone will fall and get hurt.

I sang them a book, The Ballad of Valentine, by Alison Jackson, ISBN 0-525-46720-3,  stopping for vocabulary and terms that they might not, (and most did not) understand: Morse Code, Smoke Signals, Homing Pigeon.  It’s a silly song to the tune of Clementine, about all of the different ways this guy tries send a message to ask Valentine to be his valentine. It also gave me a way to explain to them what a ballad is.  That will come up again as the year goes on.  (Think  “Senior Don Gato” and “The Cat Came Back.”)

The Ballad of Valentine

We finished up with Skinnamarink and the steady beat game.  Always a hit.

Wow, I’ve been sitting here writing for an hour and a half, and I still have intermediates to go.  It always amazes me how much stuff we do in a week.  Stay tuned.




2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Betty
    Feb 05, 2012 @ 18:10:44

    interested, as always. still trying to find the so-mi series online.


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