Stories and Songs

Hi everyone, this is Aileen from Mrs. Miracle's Music Room. I am excited to contribute the first post about the music classroom for this blog! We have already received so much positive support for this endeavor; thank you so much!

Today I am going to post about children's literature in the music classroom.



In my studies in the Kodály institute at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, we had to take a class called "Children's Literature in the Music Classroom" as part of the masters program. This class was so very helpful in discovering picture books to use in the music classroom. I also learned about many books in each pedagogy class I took. Today I will blog about three of my absolute favorite books...the books that I see sitting on the counter, waiting to be read, and I have to smile because I'm so excited to read them!

#1: "Who Killed Cock Robin," illustrated by Kevin O'Malley

I first heard about this from Julie Swank, my Level I teacher, and immediately fell in love with the book. The book can be sung, using the melody of "Who Killed Cock Robin." This song is beautiful and haunting, and can be used to prepare or practice low la. The song can be found in one of my favorite song books, "150 American Folk Songs," by Erdei and Komlos (click on the picture below to view it at West Music.)


The book has beautiful illustrations, and tells the story of the detective investigating a string of jewel thefts, and the bird behind Cock Robin's death. Each page has a clue, and the kids have such a fun time finding the clues and then forming their hypotheses! When I sing the book, I tell the students that my lyrics will sound a bit different than what is on the page, as I learned the song with the repeated lyrics, "It was I, oh it was I."

A couple months ago, I asked my librarian who the author/ illustrator visiting our school this year was, and she replied, "Kevin O'Malley." In shock and excitement, I replied, "THE Kevin O'Malley?!?!" She looked at me funny and said, "Yes, why?" I then told her how much I love this book, and that I would definitely be integrating with her lessons!

She had not seen the book, I think partly because it is out-of-print. When you click on the picture above to see the book on Amazon, you might get sticker shock, as it is $174. Yikes! Don't worry, though...there are a couple sellers on Amazon selling it for less than $20. You can also purchase it on www.alibris.com for $25 or so, and if all else fails, you might be able to find it at your local library. It will be well worth it!

#2: "Possum Come a Knockin'" by Nancy Van Laan and George Booth

I also learned about this book in Level I, from Julie Swank, and it is so much fun! I use this to practice steady beat with my Kindergarteners. As you read the book, you can have them pat a steady beat on their laps. The story is about an opossum who keeps knocking at the door, even while "Granny was a sittin' and a knittin' and a rockin'" and "Brother was untanglin' all the twiny line for fishin.'" It took me a little practice of reading it by myself before I was ready to read it to the kids, because it is fast and a bit of a tongue twister! Afterwards, you can discuss what happened in the story, who the characters were, and what an opossum looks like in real life (there is a picture and fun facts about opossums in my book, which I like to read to the kids after we are done with the book.)

#3: "Click Clack Moo" by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin

This is a wonderful book I learned about in Level II with Bruce Swank. Many kids already know the book from their classrooms, but we can extend the story through rhythmic practice. After I present half note, I have students clap "click clack moo," and figure out the rhythm ('ta ta two," or "ta ta ta-a," depending on your rhythmic language.) Every time that phrase happens in the book, they clap the rhythm; I have students drag their fingers up their arms for the half notes. Then I hand out rhythm sticks and have students play the rhythm each time "Click Clack Moo" happens, sliding one stick up their arms for the half notes. It is such a fun story, and a really fun way to practice half note!

I hope these ideas have been helpful to you! Lindsay Jervis and Amy Abbott will both be writing about more picture books to use in the Kodály-inspired classroom soon...stay tuned! We will also be introducing more of our collaborating teacher bloggers soon. Here are more blog posts about children's literature.

Do you have any books you absolutely love to use in your Kodály-inspired classroom? Please share in the comment section below, and have a great week!

11 comments

  1. Great post Aileen, as always!!!! Love the ideas!!!!

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  2. I love Crocodile Beat by Gail Jorgenson for practicing beat with my Kindergarteners. And my kids are always mesmerized by All the Pretty Little Horses by Linda Saport... :)

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    1. I love "All the Pretty Little Horses"! I will have to check out "Crocodile Beat"!

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  3. My Level 2 teacher, Lisa Simmelink, actually use Possum Come a-Knockin' during ti-tiri prep and practice with the pattern tiri-tiri tiri-tiri ti-tiri ta | tiri-tiri tiri-tiri ta z || I haven't used the other two you suggested! I'm excited to check them out!

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    1. I forget to mention that some people use Possum Come a Knockin' for ti-tika...I haven't done it but I bet it would be fun! Excited to read your ideas soon!

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  4. I love incorporating children's literature/picture books into my music lessons whenever possible. One of my absolute favorites to use shows my "Ozarkian" roots and heritage. Being from the Ozark mountain area has given me a biased love for this beautiful lullaby and story, Mama, Buy Me A China Doll. This song depicts a story of a young girl who longs for a beautiful china doll but because she is from a poor family who lives in the back woods of the Ozark Mountains, there is no extra money for luxuries such as these. This particular picture book of the same name as the song titled "Mommy, Buy Me A China Doll" by Harve and Margot Zemach is one of those rare, out of print gems that when you go to search for it, be prepared to pick your jaw up off of the floor when you see the price. I will treasure my VERY loved, well used copy of my book for MANY years to come as it has brought my students and I many joyous, musical, and teachable moments that will not ever be forgotten.

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    1. Thanks for your comments, Erin. I looked on Alibris, and although there was one for $34...but then there was one for $2,356! Oh my goodness! Yes, treasure that copy you have! :)

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  5. I also love the book 'possum come a knockin' and I have used it for both ideas (steady beat and tika tika ti tika work). I have added a glockenspiel at the end of each time it says 'possum come a knockin at the door at the door, possum come a knockin at the door' mi do on the glock like 'ding dong'. I think I originally saw this done by Thomas Borden years ago. Kids love it and have to be paying attention to know when to play it!

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    1. Thanks, Karla! I love the "mi do" idea as a doorbell! How cute!

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  6. I like to use "Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb" to practice steady beat with kindergarten and first grade. I have students take turns playing the "Dum ditty dum ditty dum dum dum" part on the drum. That book is $5 at Kohl's right now!

    January 15, 2014 at 11:24 AM

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