In this newsletter I’m going to share the process I use to teach ties, using the song Obwisana. When first writing and recording songs for Musicplay in 1999, the internet wasn’t the wealth of information it is today. I asked everyone I knew in Red Deer, Alberta (not a very multicultural city in 1999) if they know someone from Africa who would teach me some African children’s songs. I finally was able to connect with “Nana” who was a health inspector in Olds. I had some songs in secondary sources, but wanted some that came right from the source. Nana had been born in Ghana, lived in Botswana, then emigrated with her family to Canada. She remembered singing Obwisana as a child. She didn’t have a literal translation for the song, but remembered that it meant, “Grandma, the rock hit my finger. It hurt.”
1. Teach the song, and tell the students what the words mean These projectables are from the Concept Slides in the Musicplay Digital Resource PowerPoints. They are also in the Concept Slides section at www.musicplayonline.com .
Play the Game!!! The traditional game is a stone passing game. I’ve done it that way with students, but when I turned the game into a stick passing elimination game, it because a requested activity! When doing passing games with grade 2, I start with the pile of sticks in front of me, and pass them out one at a time to my right. I say, “Pick up, set down” and the child on my right does that. Then there are 2 children who pick up, set down, then 3, then 4 until the whole class has a stick. This is the way to get kids to all go in the correct direction when passing! I mark one stick with tape. The pattern we used was: tap, tap, set down (in front of the person on their right), pick up. (pick up the new stick) . We sing the song and at the end of the song, the child with the marked stick is “out” and starts a new circle in the center. I go into the circle with the first out. They change sticks so the marked stick stays in the outer circle. Once you’re in the middle, you’re just playing for fun. There’s a kids demo video of this in the Musicplay Digital Resource, and at www.musicplayonline.com .
2. Show where Ghana is on a world map, and show the students what life is like in rural northern Ghana. My friend, Marilyn Pottage, took these photos on one of her many trips to Ghana. She runs a foundation that helps provide secondary and university education for girls. These photos are in the Concept Slides of the Musicplay 2 Digital resources and are in the Concept Slides of musicplayonline.com.
3. Have the students pat the beats in the song. I like to have them count the beats, then check if they have them right, on a beat chart.
4. Then I have the students clap the rhythm – the way the words go. Then we figure out how many sounds are on each beat.
There are a series of beat/rhythm interactive activites at www.musicplayonline.com . The interactive activities follow the same process.
The interactive activities at www.musicplayonline.com are awesome BECAUSE they are interactive. When you press PLAY on “Point to the Beat” – the beats pulse as the song is sung.
3. Pat the Beats as you sing the song 4. Clap the words as you sing the song
5. Be sure your students understand the difference between beat and rhythm.
You can use “Is the drum playing beat or rhythm” to assess formally if students can tell if it’s beat or rhythm. If you have student iPads or chromebooks, students can use the student login for www.musicplayonline.com . and they can complete the One sound, two sounds or more than one beat activity on their device.
6. Clap a phrase of the song, and have students figure out how many sounds are on each beat. In this song, they’ll be figuring out if there are some sounds that last more than one beat.
If you prefer to have hands-on manipulatives for your students, printable manipulatives of the same activities are given in the printables section of www.musicplayonline.com .
The Beat Pointing Page could be used in place of the interactive “Point to the Beat.”
The Rhythm Pointing Page would be in place of “Clap the Rhythm.”
For some songs, I like to give the students a set of the rhythm cards (#3-4) and ask them to re-create the rhythm of the song. Easy sets include the words of the song, but if I want to challenge the students, I’ll take out the words! We’ve made the rhythm cards so it’s very quick to copy onto cardstock, then cut out. I store them in CD envelopes so I can see through the envelope window and know what song the set is for. The Rhythm Sort worksheet is a written version of an online rhythm sort activity. Write the Rhythm would be a great assessment.
Should you do every activity for this song? Of course not. I’ve given the wealth of activities at musicplayonline so you can choose the activity that meets the needs of your students. If your 2nd grade are amazing readers, challenge them with a rhythm sort. If you have a challenging class, or this is the first year you’ve taught these children, they may still need a beat pointing page.
How many lessons will this take? That also depends on whether your students are struggling or strong readers. But, I would allow more than one lesson, especially when you want to get kids creating their own music!
Create and Perform: Whether your students are amazing readers or still struggling, all students should be encouraged to create their own music. One of the ways that works well, is to have them create with word rhythms. Two ways to create are given at www.musicplayonline.com . The first is creating with words or just use the notes. When class time is really limited, do this as a teacher led activity.
If you have more time, students could do either of these activities on devices, or you could print out rhythm cards or word cards for them to use to create an 8 beat rhythm.
Teacher can model with the interactive projectable above – then it’s easy for students in pairs or small groups to create their own word rhythm, or note rhythm using the cards pictured below.
Assessment: As with all new concepts, you may want to assess if students understand. The Rhythm Sort and Rhythm Erase activity at www.musicplayonline.com . are both great. I might do the rhythm erase first. Note that we haven’t included the song title. We did that so you could use it as a mystery song. The Rhythm Sort is a great activity to do as your assessment of the “Obwisana Unit.” There is a printable version of the rhythm sort in printables online.
Rhythm Sort worksheet Create a word rhythm: Accented Beats
Obwisana Lesson Ideas Screen Cast: I created a screen cast to show teachers in a video the materials in this newsletter. I made a mistake though – and didn’t include in the video the Concept slides about Ghana. So be sure if you teach this lesson, you include the cultural context. You can watch the video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLB99FyylsA&t=5s . The video includes the kids demo of the game.
Hope you enjoy the screencast and newsletter with lesson ideas on Obwisana!
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Next Blog Post – Chinese New Years lesson and ideas!
If you want a sneak preview, visit www.musicplayonline.com and go the first 4 songs of Musicplay 3. We’ve removed those songs and replaced them with songs and lessons on Chinese New Years! (Our programmers are working on a “New” Songs section)