Even More Stories and Songs!

I'm so excited to write my first post for our new collaborative blog!!!  I hope you all find it as fun and inspiring!  I know with all the other amazing teachers that will be soon be blogging I will gain a wealth of knowledge from their ideas and I hope you do too!

I'm piggy backing on Aileen and Lindsay's theme of Stories and Songs.  Song tales and books that either have a song or music connection, in the music room provide such a rich learning experience for our students.  First of all, they provide us an opportunity to sing to and for our children.  They provides an opportunity for our students to relax and enjoy a story.  The song tales are often very rich in language and vocabulary and provide a great opportunity for cross curricular learning.  And they inspire imagination!  I'm going to share three that I'm currently 

One of my favorite song tales is "The Tailor and the Mouse", adapted my John Feierabend and illustrated my John McGann:

Here's the song that I sing with my students:

2.         The tailor thought the mouse was ill, Hi diddle umkum feedle

            Because he took an awful chill, Hi diddle umkum feedle

3.         The tailor thought the mouse would die, Hi diddle umkum feedle
            And so he baked him in a pie, Hi diddle umkum feedle

4.         He cut the pie, the mouse ran out, Hi diddle umkum feedle
            The mouse was in a terrible out, Hi diddle umkum feedle

5.         He gave the mouse some catnip tea, Hi diddle umkum feedle
            Until a healthy mouse was he, Hi diddle umkum feedle

This song is great for teaching ti-tika, and I isolate that rhythm in the chorus (that way I avoid the anacrusis that my 3rd graders haven't yet studied).  Additionally, there's a great line dance that they perform with it:

Formation: two straight lines, with partners across from each other.
1.  On the verse, the head couple sashays down the set for the first 8 counts and then back up for the second 8 counts.
2.  On the chorus, the sets "peel the banana" or "cast off", with the head couple meeting at the foot of the set.  They head couple makes a bridge and all other couples proceed under the bridge and up to the top of the set.  Play continues to the end of the song.

With this particular book, I have them learn the song and dance and then introduce the book as a closing activity in a separate lesson.

One of my all time favorite illustrators and authors is Eric Carle.  "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" and "Polar Bear, Polar Bear" can be used the same way with first grade classes:

I sing the song to them, with the following melody:

I use this for so-mi by isolating the first phrase, "Polar Bear, Polar Bear".  Every time they have a new verse start I have them use body signs for so-mi preparation.  That is, they put their hands on the head for "so" and their hands on their shoulders for "mi."  During the next lesson (and assuming that they've been doing many other so-mi preparation activities) they write the so-mi patterns on melody boxes:

I'm not sure if anyone else uses melody boxes, they might actually be an "Original Abbott Idea", but I really like using them because it helps them get the idea that they can't "stack the notes."  Or, in other words, it helps them write the melodic line horizontally.  Since I started using them I haven't had problems with students putting so and mi on top of each other, and thus forming an unintentional chord.   (By the way, the cute polar bear erasers can be found at Oriental Trading).

After writing a few different songs on the melody boxes, they easily transfer the patterns to a 2-3 line staff:

And to a 5-line staff.
(You can find these staves and more activities in my "so-mi" bundle at my TpT store.)

Finally, I'm going to be using this one with my 5th graders in a couple weeks (and yes, it might be a little "young" but they're going to be reading the melody and the rhythm and figuring out the chordal progression so hopefully that will provide a nice challenge for them: they've been reading ti for a little while now and we're about to present tim-ka):
A few years ago, when I was ROCKE president, I asked Susan Brumfield to present at our state conference.  We found this little gem in the exhibit hall and it goes perfectly to the tune of "Clementine":

Like I mentioned above, I've got to create a way for the 5th graders to "buy into it", so we'll be singing Clementine before we read this.  Additionally, in the Colorado state standards, 5th graders need to be able to read I, IV and V chords.  We'll derive the chords as a class and make a simple accompaniment that they can easily play using tone-chimes and/or Orff instruments.  From there we'll be playing a Cupid's Arrow game to reinforce tim-ka.

I hope you're enjoying this collaborative blog as much as I am!  Thanks for stopping by and don't forget to visit again soon to meet more of the contributors and to get some more ideas!


  1. Love the polar bear idea...especially since I have that book AND I have polar bear erasers that I've been using for staff writing! :) The tailor and the mouse is one of my favorites...I also have the book but didn't know the dance. And I hadn't heard of the other book...thanks for sharing!

  2. I haven't used any of these books before in music! I know Polar Bear and Brown Bear, so I will have to add those and get the erasers right away! I have heard of another music teacher doing the whole song on s-m (ss m ss m | s mm s Z | s mm s m | ss m s Z). I think I saw that on TPT, actually, but with so many things, you see them and if you don't implement them right away (or pin it to pinterest!), you forget all about them! So glad you posted all of these great ideas!

  3. Love the melody box idea, I'll defnitely be stealing that one as I get into my s-m prep next month!!

  4. My 5th graders always adore The Tailor and the Mouse, too!I am not familiar with The Ballad of Valentine; what a find! I will have to hunt that book down.


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