I remember very early on in my teaching asking my mom for advice: specifically songs what I could/should use in my teaching. Shanghai Chicken was one of them and for years I grappled with how to teach it. Do the kids really "get" the song? How could they like it when I have a hard time "selling" it? And in fact, I didn't really like it. . . . .
This past fall Leigh Ann Mock Garner presented a session for ROCKE. Side note: if you EVER get the chance to see her present, jump on that opportunity, she's magnificent!! One of the songs/activities that she presented as one that she learned from Susan Brumfield. Susan, who I had for four levels of Kodály, never taught me her fun egg passing game (lol!) and briefly makes reference to it in her new book that I blogged about (click here for that post). Just so we're all on the same page, here's the song:
Egg Passing Game via Leigh Ann Mock Garner (learned from Susan Brumfield):
Formation: seated circle, with ever player holding an egg shaker.
Beat 1: egg taps the right knee
Bt. 2: egg taps left knee
Bt. 3: egg taps the right knee
Bt. 4: egg taps left knee
Bt. 5: toss egg
Bt. 6: catch egg
Bt. 7: toss egg
Bt. 8: catch egg
Bts. 9-14: same actions as beats 1-6
Bt. 15: toss egg to neighbor to the right
Bt. 16: catch egg
Repeat. This can become an elimination game, where players that drop eggs are "out." "Outed" players can then play an ostinato on a non-pitched percussion instrument or form a new circle.
I use this song to practice ti-tom (eighth-dotted quarter) in fourth grade, so all the solfege of the song is accessible to them and ti-tom is the only "new" concept. I have five different colors of egg shakers so when I saw foam eggs (packaged in groups of five colors) at Walmart around Easter this year I just had to get them to add a decoding activity to Shanghai Chicken.
Here's how it works:
Students, after playing the egg passing game, get into groups of like-colored eggs. Each group either has a matching color of foam egg or is assigned a color (that would have been too perfect if all the colors matched my egg shakers!). All of the foam eggs are on the ground in the middle of the circle, with four eggs of each color containing phrases from the song "Shanghai Chicken" and three other eggs using phrases of other known songs. The students, working in their groups, must find and place the eggs in order to decode the correct rhythm and solfa of the song (as seen in the green eggs below). The first team to complete the task correctly is the "winner, winner, chicken-dinner."
And there you have it, my new-found love for "Shanghi Chicken." :)