Bounce High

Sometimes it's all about the little things that can motivate students, so when I saw these in Oriental Trading I knew I had to get them.  These are just two of the set of 6 playground balls that you can get by clicking here.  Read below to see an example of how I used them.

Before school got out I knew that I was going to be behind in my 1st grade curriculum so I used those final lessons of the year to build repertoire that I can bring back in the first weeks of school in the fall.  So, this was an opening song that I used for a couple lessons:


With the first lesson we used the balls to perform a steady beat.  The pattern was bounce the ball on the down beat and catch the ball on the second beat of each measure.  

With the second lesson we inserted different students' names into the song (instead of singing "Shiloh" we sang the students' names) and by the third lesson we had a student start in the middle and we sang the song two times.  The first time through we replaced "Shiloh" with the name of the student in the middle and the second time through the student in the middle sang the name of another student in the circle.  The "called on" studentswitched places with the center student.  For the sake of knowing who has had a turn, the student that was just in the circle sits down in the spot of the "called on" student.  This continued until all students had a turn in the middle of the circle.  Note: inserting other students' names is hard for first graders.  They will need a lot of preparation and experience with picking other students "on the fly." The first time through may be torturous if you don't take time to talk to them about it, give that prior experience of inserting everyones' names and encourage them to call on the first standing person that they see.  

When we bring it back in the fall, this activity will not only lend itself to helping everyone learn the names of their classmates but it will also prepare the students for learning "la."

Some extension activities include singing the song using body signs (I use hands on the shoulders for me, hands on the top of the head for so and hands in the air above the head for la), reading the melody from an iconic chart (I will post my chart later, it's at school and I'm on summer vacation), playing a simple bourdon on Orff instruments while playing the rhythm on non-pitched percussion instruments.  I believe this would also work as a partner song with "Miss Miss" (you would have to sing this song a couple times through to make it work).

The other thing that I loved about these balls is they made a really nice transition into "Hey Hey Look At Me," which we were using to practice "so-mi".


In addition to reading "Hey Hey Look At Me," students can improvise other things that they might be doing: frowning, crying, clapping, patting, running, kicking, etc.



Bee Songs for First Grade

When I took Level I Kodály at PSU, Susan Brumfield taught materials and pedagogy.  In those classes she taught us a lot of literature to use with kindergarten and first grade.  Three of those songs she lovingly titled her "Bee Trilogy".  Here they are with an additional song that I learned from Jo Kirk and some rhythmic and melodic teaching ideas.


Formation: seated circle, with one person, the "bee" on the outside of the circle.
Action:  this is basically "Duck, Duck, Goose" with the outside player, the "bee," keeping a steady beat as they walk around the outside of the circle and on the final word "out" tagging the seated player that they are behind.  That player chases the "bee" one time around the circle one time until the "bee" is tagged or the "bee" reaches the other player's seat.  I have a bee puppet that the player who is the "bee" gets to use. . . this is very motivating. :)

When I play this activity, once we know ta and ti-ti, if the "bee" is tagged they must sit in the "bee hive" (the center of the circle).  While the next game is played the player in the middle must compose a 4 beat pattern using known rhythmic elements.  I have a big poster bee that I got at a teacher store and laminated.  Using a Vis-a-Vis marker they compose the rhythm on the bee.  To leave the center of the circle, the rest of the class must read the rhythmic pattern that the center player composed.


I actually use Burnie Bee as a spoken chant (in our Kodály PST another member shared the melodic version).   Using Burnie Bee as a chant, I have the students perform it with different voices: singing voice, spoken, high voice, low voice, whispering voice, shouting voice, and any voices that they can improvise. 


Formation: seat circle (standing if we perform it later in the first grade year- they have to have the skills to keep a circle round to do this standing).
Action:  one student is the bee and weaves in and out of the "windows" in between the players of the seated circle.  The "bee" lands on the closest player on the text "me" at the end of the song.


This is a finger play:
"Here is the bee hive, where are the bees?"- fingers laced, tucked in towards the palms of the hands- similar to "here is the church, here is the steeple"
"Hiding inside so nobody sees."- turn hands "inside out" so that the fingers are showing
"They are coming out now, they are all alive", fingers "fly" away 
"1, 2. . .etc." count showing fingers.

All these songs are great for preparing and practicing ta & ti-ti, with "Here is the Beehive" adding the rhythmic element quarter rest.  In preparation activities I use cards with bee stickers.   The cards are the beat and the stickers are the number of sounds on a beat.  So, just to clarify: one sticker on a card equals one sound on a beat and two stickers on a card equals two sounds on a beat:

Once ta and ti-ti have been presented the sticker cards get replaced like this:

All of these songs are also great for teaching so-mi (extractable phrases) and la (Bee, Bee (in the so-mi-la turn) & Burnie Bee (in the so-la-so turn) are pure "la" songs while Busy Buzzy and Here is the Beehive have extractable phrases.  Once la has been presented I use these tone ladders and solfa charts to have the students track the solfége of the songs.  These can also be used for warm-up patterns, dictation (teacher sings a pattern on "loo" and students sing back on solfa), etc.  The possibilities are endless


Sea Shell

This is one of my favorite songs for solo singing for kindergarten and first grade:


Lamar Robertson and Ann Eisen have a different version in their book An American Methodology.  This version I learned from Sue Leithold-Bowcock.

Formation:  seated circle
Action:  as the song is sung, the students pass a sea shell around the circle.  Whoever has the seashell on the final "do" of the song ("sing about the sea")  holds onto the sea shell.  All players ask that player "What do you see?"  The student sings the answer "I see a whale," but they improvise something they would see at the sea or ocean for the word whale.  

I love that it's a simple solo singing exercise but also has a simple introduction to improvisation.   In addition to some traditional answers of seeing sharks, whales, eels, crabs, etc., I've had some pretty funny and clever answers to what my students see. Some of the more popular/silly ones include seeing Spongebob Square Pants and some other characters from his series.  Others include pirates, treasure chests, lifeguards, umbrellas and so forth.  But the all-time high chuckle answer is "bikini."  :)

Pedagogically, I use the song to reinforce "so-mi" in first grade.  A fun coincidence is that it starts "so mi so mi" just as the song "Snail Snail" does.  With my students we actually use seashells to write the so-mi pattern on the staff.  This year I did use it with my second graders and we wrote the entire solfa of the song on the staff using seashells.  This alleviated the rhythm writing, which they aren't able to do yet.  (I teach dotted eighth/sixteenth pattern in 5th grade)  And they really enjoyed using the seashells to write the song. :)

With kindergarten there is a really sweet finger play that can be used in conjunction with the Sea Shell song:

Five Little Seashells:
Five little seashells (hold out five fingers)
Lying on the shore.
Swish! (open your other hand and pass it over the five fingers)
Went the waves (make a light fist with the first hand and pass the open hand back over the first hand)
And then there were four (hold out four fingers on the first hand)

Four little seashells, pretty as can be.
Swish went the ways and then there were three.

Three little seashells, all pearly and new.
Swish went the waves and then there were two.

Two little seashells, lying in the sun.
Swish went the waves and then there was one.

One little seashell, lying all alone.
I whispered "shh!" and I took it home.

Some extensions include using scarves to act as the ocean waves on "swish!" and/or an ocean drum or rain stick to sound like the ocean waves.  

Some Like It Hot

I think it's always fun to find new, more sophisticated versions of songs for my older students.  Songs that have familiarity but are fresh and challenge them to sing, play and read melodic and rhythmic concepts that are grade level appropriate. 

Here's today's example.  We all know this song:

I use it with my first graders to teach and reinforce the rhythmic concept of quarter rest and I bring it back in second grade when we learn to read "do" on the treble staff.

Here's a more sophisticated version of the song from Trinidad:


Game:  Circle, with one player in the center.
Action:  The center player in the middle holds up one finger in the middle of the circle while the verse is sung.  During the chorus ("some like it hot"), the ring players start clapping the beat while the center player improvises a dance.  On the second line of the chorus ("sweet porridge hot. . .") the center player chooses another person to join them in the middle.  The song continues but the song is now sung "two fingers. . ." as each of the players in the middle are holding up one finger.  The chorus is the same, with each of the two players in the middle choosing another player to come to the middle.  The third time through the verse it's now "four fingers. . .".  This repeats with singing the verse (four fingers) and each of the players choosing another person from the ring.  It then goes to "eight fingers" but never passes that as there are only 10 fingers on a hand, so the text when there are more then 10 players is "all fingers."

I love the familiarity that comes with this song.  It's also a great song for reinforcing low "ti".  The movement improvisation lends itself to be a lot of fun.

Freddy Oaka

I am so lucky to teach in a district that now has 9 teachers with some level of certification in Kodály with more teachers who are interested in obtaining levels.  When I started in this district I was the only one who was certified or had levels and it's so nice to now have collegiality in a methodology in which we all love and know is a great way of teaching music to children.  

Four years ago we started a Professional Study Team in which we collected songs that were applicable to kindergarten and first grade songs.  The following year we focused on 2nd and 3rd grades then the next was 4th and 5th grade.  With this we developed a HUGE repertoire of music.  One of my goals this year was to find new song material within that collection to use to teach grade level concepts.  In this goal I found this gem for use with third grade:


GAME: Everyone sits in a circle with left hand palm up and right hand palm up (on neighbor's left hand) sing through the song tapping neighbor's right hand with own right hand, on beat, one persona at a time. (Start somewhere in the circle, that person taps neighbor, neighbor taps next etc. ) when the song gets to "oh no" the person that just got tapped says a number between 2-20. That person starts, taps the neighbor's right hand until the designated number is spoken. When the person is about to say the designated number, the person who is about to be tapped pulls their hand away-If the person misses, they are out of the circle, if the person doesn't, the student who is tapped is out of the circle.

Why do I love this song?  
  1. I love that is has a tone set which is perfect for late practice in teaching low so.  And did you notice that nice interval between la, and re at the end?  
  2. I LOVE that it has tika-ti without tika-tika or ti-tika.  And did you notice the text on the tika-ti?  "Tick-i-ty", very similiar, huh?!  Love that coincidence!
  3. Lastly, it has a game that the kids love: it's familiar but has a different twist that makes it its own game.
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