I’ve been working on a preschool curriculum this year, combining what I think are the strengths of John Feirabend’s First Steps, and the curriculums that use instruments more extensively – Lynn Kleiner, Music Together, Kindermusik. My hope is that Musicplay Preschool will be an easy to follow curriculum that will encourage students to enjoy singing, listening, playing instruments, moving, and creating. I’ve spent the past 2 years with the preschool students in my grandsons preschool. The first time I visited, they introduced me as Hunter’s grandma, and so for two years I’ve been Grandma D to 24 three, four and five year olds in the preschool.
This week’s lesson was mostly review. Preschoolers need lots of repetition! John Feirabend says you should do every activity four times in at least four lessons. I find that can be a bit of overkill, but I do try to repeat activities 2-3 times. We start our lessons with a beat chant, accompanied by a different instrument every week.
Beat, beat, feel the beat. Say hello to those you meet. I say, “Hello Hunter” and the students echo me. I use different vocal qualities: low/high, quiet/loud, fast/slow and I use melodic echo patterns as well. We discuss the instrument that I’ve played. What is it made out of? How does it make it’s sound?
This week when I got into the classroom, the kids were all wearing pyjamas, sitting in the dark and holding flashlights. They were pretty wired because it was panama day, so I changed the order of the lesson and did “Sleepy Bunnies” first. They love this song – it’s in Primary Dances and Singing Games. http://shop.musicplaytext.ihoststores.com/productinfo.aspx?productid=PD Doing the game first got the wiggles out and they were ready for the rest of the lesson.
Fingerplays and simple action songs are very important for this age group. They are engaging, and help to focus the students. They help students to develop vocabulary and comprehension, as the actions often describe the meaning of the words. They also get children used to watching the teacher – a great skill to have when they join choir or band later on.
This week we reviewed “Little Rabbit Foo Foo” with no accompaniment. (just our voices) On “Down came the good fairy” I really exaggerate the “downward” sound with my voice – helps them develop flexibility in their voices. If we review the song next week, it would be fun to add some instruments as sound effects. A glissando on a glockenspiel on “Down came the good fairy” would be magical. We could shake egg shakers to the beat while we sing. On “Boppin’ them on the head” a drum or woodblock could be added.
We also reviewed John the Rabbit. I pretended to be the farmer that was mad that a rabbit was hopping in his garden and eating his cabbage. The children were the “rabbits.” Each time they sang “Yes, ma’am” they took one hop towards me. At the end of the song the “rabbits” wiggle their tales back to back with another “rabbit” and then the farmer shoos them out of the garden. They squealed with laughter as they hopped back. Then I had them choose some new vegetables to eat out of the garden. I’m going to make some picture cards of vegetables to use next week, and at the end of the song we might chant the names of the vegetables that the rabbit ate: eg. Lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, corn. We could sing the song with instruments as well – one instrument for “yes ma’am” and a different instrument for the calls.
We reviewed “Bunny Boogie” from Sing and Play on Special Days. We also reviewed One Green Jelly Bean from Movement Songs Children Love.
Our listening selection was “Hens and Roosters” from Carnival of the Animals. I have a great visual that I printed from the Listening Kit 1 Digital Resources. They pretended to be little chicks pecking at the grain. They were scared of the big rooster who was trying to steal their grain.
I’m preparing them for the Rain Rain Story App so taught them Rain Rain go Away. We made up a new verse – all the children want to play. I brought out finger cymbals and we accompanied the song with finger cymbals. I don’t have 24 pairs, so gave each child 1 cymbal and a small wooden mallet. It’s easier to play like this and still sounds beautiful. This was our simple song, and it’s one that I expect all the children will be able to sing with enough repetition. More about the app in the next post.
We didn’t have time to give out egg shakers, but I wanted to review the Shakin’ eggs poem, so I played and said the poem.
Then, goodbye song and class was done.