Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Instant Songs for Your Classroom

It's Scott from Brick by Brick. I love to repurpose materials—use materials in ways different from their intended purpose.

Today let's think of a different type of repurposing - repurposing or recycling tunes.

Early in my teaching journey, I learned that I could take a song or tune that I knew, adjust the words to fit what was happening, and I had an instant song that was relevant (and that I could probably remember). I knew lots of children's songs and traditional songs: "The Farmer in the Dell," "Happy Birthday," "London Bridge," "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," and so forth. 

Repurpose the tune with new words and a new song was born. And remember, no need to create lots of words; just repeat ones that fit. Kids love repetition and they will learn your "new" songs more quickly, too.

Since it's Thanksgiving week, let's create an instant thank-you song.

Thank You Song
Tune: "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star"
"Thank you for my family, Mommy, Daddy, and there's me,
We work and we play each day, We work and we play each day,
Thank you for my family, I love them and they love me."

Adjust the words as you choose. Ask the children to name things they do in their families and work those ideas into your song. Or change family to other things that children are grateful for (friends, teacher, food, whatever.) Repurposed songs can be versatile!

And Christmas is coming, so here's an instant song about Christmas.

A Happy Time
Tune: "Mary Had a Little Lamb"
"Christmas is a happy time, Happy time, happy time,
Christmas is a happy time, We decorate our tree."

Add other things that children do at Christmas time. Or change the song to reflect whatever holiday or celebration that your children celebrate.

A few tips:
  • Choose songs/tunes that are familiar to you. Songs that have simple, repetitive melodies are best. They can be familiar to your children or not. The kids will pick up the tunes quickly.
  • If you have a song that you use regularly in your classroom, change up the words. It makes the song new and uses something already familiar to connect with new ideas or content.
  • Make sure the words you choose fit the rhythms and notes. Sometimes I try to use too many words for the tune. While some of these tunes will adjust a little more easily, I often just reword or find a new tune to make the blend easier.
  • Don't worry about rhymes. If your new lyrics rhyme, that's fine. If they don't, that's fine too. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Don't force it. Just sing the words you need, even if they do not rhyme.
  • Have fun with your new songs and don't sweat it! 
  • Sing, even if you don't think you are a singer. Kids love music and will enjoy one of their favorite adults singing with them.

So...go make some music this holiday season. Music that you have repurposed and recreated yourself!

(What songs or tunes have you repurposed or recycled? Share them with us in the comments.)

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