Hello from Norman, Oklahoma! I'm not from Norman, but I'm here getting ready to spend a wonderful day with Kindergarten Teachers at a lovely SDE conference. On the plane ride over, I was thinking about what I'd share with you. The one image I kept seeing in my mind's eye was children singing. Probably because I sing with children a lot and because my mom sang with me.... Thanks Mom!
However, today's blog is much more than just singing, although that, all by itself, IS A POWERFUL way to engage the energy of young children and expand vocabulary.
How about guiding young children in the process of
My colleague Corey Ferrugia does an amazing job of this with his own organization MyTownMusic. So, yes, it can be done, has been done and I encourage you to start... here we go!!!!
CHOOSE A SONG THEY KNOW AS A STARTING POINT
The first step is starting with a song children already know. For example, you could start with
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.
The next step is also very simple....SING THE SONG! Sing it with passion, joy and exuberance, even if it's the 1,582nd performance of this particular song! By the way, a tip of the hat to all you incredible teachers for doing many things with the energy of it being the first time.
As you're singing the song, try using the following tips:
- Ask the children to sing the song in a "Forte" manner (meaning loud)
- Ask the children to sing the song in a "Piano" manner (meaning soft)
- Ask the children to sing the song in a "Legato" style (meaning smooth)
- Ask the children to sing the song in a "Staccato" style (meaning with space in between the words)
- Ask the children to sing the song at an "Allegro" pace (meaning fast)
- Ask the children to sing the song at a "Largo" pace (meaning slow)
After singing the song, write the song out on white board, not with pre-written magnet words, but with you as their guide, writing the words. As you do this, ask them questions like "What's the next word?" For example, in the song Twinkle, "How I wonder what you..." As adults we quite often give away too much information. INVITE the children into the process of discovery.
DISCOVER PATTERNS LIKE WHICH WORDS RHYME
After you write the song out, try using the following tips:
- Look for patterns with your children
- Look for words that rhyme
- Talk with your children about what words make the song feel a certain way
AS A GROUP, CHANGE SOME OF THE KEY WORDS
Continue the dialogue with your children and try asking more questions like:
- Which words could we change if we wanted to change what the song is about?
- Which words would you like to change?
- What would happen if sang the song "Forte" and "Largo"?
Of course, I'm not suggesting that every tip on this blog be used in one sitting. This is a process and it's up to as to how much, how often, and when. I can say from having used this process with many young children between the ages of 4 and 7, that they love it, as long as the dialogue is a two-way street.
HOW DID THAT CHANGE THE SONG
We all want our children to be able to be both critical thinkers and creative in how they approach any problem, challenge and life in general. What I love about songwriting with young children is it opens a door to help them discover that THEY CAN CREATE and in doing so, understanding that THEY CAN CREATE MEANING. When a student of any age understands and experiences that, they become vested in the learning experience. This leads to becoming life long learner.
Here's an image I like. It's one of many ways to visualize what Critical Thinking is. I hope you've enjoyed this blog and share it with fellow teachers and parents you know. I also hope you take a moment to check out a new and relevant online resource that carries a number strategies for use in the classroom and home. I've been on the road a lot, but soon I PROMISE to add more.... thanks for your patience. Signing out from Norman, Oklahoma!