Saturday, July 18, 2015


Ms. Brigid here, from Merit School of Music  in Chicago. Thank you for joining me. On a hot summer night in Chicago – and we’re having a lot of them all of a sudden – I met with a group of Pre-K teachers to conduct a workshop on  “Musical Building Blocks” focusing on elements and techniques for successfully integrating music into the classroom and circle time. We discussed fast and slow, high and low, piano and forte, sound and no sound, stopping and starting, how to teach a song and sing a book. Woven throughout were transition chants and songs to facilitate movement and change levels from sitting to standing. Here are a few of my favorites. Please share yours below in "Comments" or email them directly to me ( I will post them to our community so we can all benefit!

Down Is the Earth (chant)

Down is the earth.                    (Drum the floor)
 Up is the sky.                            (Fling arms up in air, above head. Voice rises) 
Here are my friends,                  (Both hands gesture to friends on either side)
And here am I.                           (Both hands touch chest)

I found this chant on one of my down the rabbit hole internet searches, purely by accident, and have not as yet been able to track down the provenance. Thank you to whomever penned it! My 2-3s and 3-5 year old children loved this from the beginning of the  year to the end. It’s extremely flexible – and can be performed sitting or standing. Use of comparatives (high/low, piano/forte, etc.) are especially effective. When children are comfortable, try the chant using opposite movements, e.g. standing and reaching up to the sky while chanting "down is the earth," etc.
*A chant merely means that the words are spoken, not sung.

Two Little Hands (chant)

Two little hands go clap, clap, clap. (Clap hands simultaneously with “clap”)
Two little feet go tap, tap, tap. (Stamp feet – more fun than tapping!)
One little body turns around. (Turn body around one time)
 Everyone here sits right down. (Everyone sits down)

The rhythm and rhyming words make this a fun and easy group activity to move from high to low, or standing to sitting. Eventually, my kiddos “audiate” the chant, i.e., they hide the words in their heads and perform the motions, all together, entirely in silence. Silent round of applause! Many of you may be familiar with some version of this rhyme that uses “one little child turns around.” I changed it after the umpteenth child – over many years – rightfully pointed out that I was not a child.

Everybody Have a Seat 
Piggyback tune: Shortnin’ Bread

Everybody have a seat, have a seat, have a seat,
Everybody have a seat on the floor.
Not on the ceiling, not on the door,
Everybody have a seat on the floor.

Everybody have a seat, have a seat, have a seat,
Everybody have a seat on your chair.
Not on the ceiling, not on the stair,
Everybody have a seat on your chair.

A favorite with both children and teachers, this is a great way to get from high to low, from standing to seated. Encourage other rhyming pairs – the sillier the better.
Some ideas: Everybody have a seat… on the rug. Not on a ___, not on a bug,… or
Everybody have a seat…at the circle. Not at a ___, no at a birkel,… and etc. This chant can also be used to line kiddos up at the end of the day (Everybody line up… at the door) – really, there are no limits to the way it can be used. Pre-K and K teachers are the champions of creative “piggybacking” – adapting words to known melodies for their own purposes!        

Tall As A Tree (chant)   

Tall as a tree.                                    (Stand and stretch arms as high as possible)
Wide as a house.                                    (Stretch arms and legs out wide)
Thin as a pin.                                    (Jump body back, arms glued to body)
Small as a mouse. (x2)                           (Curl into small ball)

Movement is key to learning! The similes used employ the whole body – so it’s an effective way to bring a dose of gross motor after an period of inactivity. Repeat the chant more than once to wake up the body. Comparatives may also be used.
Per friend Allison Ashley:  To transition to lining up, end with “quiet as a mouse.

Thanks for reading!

Please share your transitions chants and songs below in “Comments” or
email me:
I hope you’ll join me next month for musical musings.
Until then, happy singing!

Merit School of Music, Chicago
Call on Merit School of Music! Our onsite school is in the West Loop. We work in the schools throughout the area providing band, orchestra, percussion, choir, early childhood, and general music instruction with project based units including Recorder, Music and Storytelling and Songwriting. We do great work! YoYo Ma is a supporter!

Chicago Families
Please come to Merit’s Storytime sessions – the 2nd and 4th Mondays of the month. It’s free, fun, and facilitated by singers and storytellers Amy Lowe, Irica Baurer & me. Stories and songs start at 11am, and we end with instrument exploration and family networking. Storytime will continue through the summer months, so come on down!
The next session is July 27.

I am continually inspired by The Children’s Music Network (CMN) community. an international group of socially conscious musicians, educators, librarians, families, songwriters and good people, who “celebrate the positive power of music in the lives of children by sharing songs, exchanging ideas, and creating community.” Please visit CMN, and find a gathering in your region.

©2015 Brigid Finucane  * 847-213-0713 *

Blog History
June 2015. Summer Songs

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