November is the month of all things turkey, Thanksgiving and gratitude. I love this time because I get to focus on the theme of gratitude which I feel underlies this holiday and is even more important to reflect upon.
Here are some books that I have found useful with my students in the month of November.
Run, Turkey, Run! By Diane Mayr
What I love about this book is the repetitive saying “Run, Turkey, Run” which opens the door for a song or chant to replace this simple saying. There are various versions, although you can also compose your own song/chant. Here is a link to a sample lesson with this book which uses the song below.
I have used another version of this song, though I don’t have music off hand and accompanied myself with ukulele. If you do not have Orff instruments, simply have your students grab rhythm sticks and keep a steady beat while they chant/sing!
Over the River and Through the Wood by Linda Ashman
While there is a famous song by the same name, this book describes the journey of a family eager to get to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Each time that their mode of transportation does not arrive, a horse drawn carriage comes to save the family and bring them closer and closer to their destination. Everytime that the horse comes up to the family, you hear the sound “Neigh”. Students can participate and say “Neigh” each time that the horse arrives, or you can make up a quick saying for them to say when the horse arrives.
Here is something that I thought of:
You can use this chant to then go over ta and ti-ti rhythms as well as getting the students to play along on rhythm sticks or small hand drums.
You can then introduce the song and create a lesson around visiting family during Thanksgiving with this book and the song.
Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson
I like to use this lesson to talk to the students about gratitude and what they are thankful for. Then, I teach them a chant that I created for this book. I will post a short snippet of it here.
For the rest of the chant and the lesson please click here. Have students keep a steady beat while they are learning this. When reading, have the students say the chant after each time that you say “And the bear says thanks”.
Then, I show them the beat chart from the lesson above and ask what was the same and what was different? Have them go through the chant clapping and tapping the rhythm. Ask what is different and what has changed and then explain the differences between the two. Explain the differences between the two. Hand out the worksheets to students in grades 1 and 2 and have them match the words with the rhythm.
I love this book for so many reasons. It is a book about gratitude, giving, recycling, and has a wonderful song to go with it! I have used this book on numerous occasions and always come back to this wonderful lesson.
I start off this lesson by talking to the students about what gratitude means and how we can practice that. I explain that one of the ways that gratitude can be practiced is through being thankful for and taking care of your stuff. As we go through the book, I love to ask the students what Joseph made next from the clothing/item he currently has. Then, we sing the song at the end.
As an added extension, I have also composed a chant that students can say everytime that you read the phrase “It got old and worn”. This chant can be used to teach about quarter rests as well as reviewing ta and ti-ti rhythm syllables. For the chant and the extension lesson click here.
Here’s to a productive and gratitude-filled November :)
With all of the books and activities that are available out there, I thought I would write about two that I have recently used with my students. The reason that I love these two books is because they help young children learn to play small, handheld percussion instruments without having to follow a particular rhythm while imitating real life noises.
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything
I discovered this book only recently (although I know it is a classic-where have I been!) but I love the musical possibilities that it offers! This book has a repetitive set of patterns that occurs throughout the story as the little old lady meets and is followed by a pair of shoes, a pair of pants, a shirt, a pair of gloves, a hat and big pumpkin head. The sounds that these objects make lend themselves to being played on hand held percussion instruments.
From the first time that we meet the big shoes, I use drums to illustrate the “clomp, clomp” sound that the shoes make. After this, I use a guiro to show the “wiggle, wiggle” and a maraca or egg shaker to have the shirt shake. Then the students and I do the clapping, nodding and booing on their own.
Another great title that lends itself well to this same kind of instrument exploration is this title. What I like to do is assign different instruments however, since the sounds are not the same ones that we have come across in the previous book. I like to use the cabasa for the crunching sound, the guiro for the creaking sound, and a small drum for tapping. I break the class up into three groups, and have them play along with me while I read. Then, I have everyone switch instruments so make sure everyone gets a chance to play.
I hope this adds some more fun lessons into your Halloween themed lesson plans!
I have always considered October the most quintessential fall month. It is just beginning to feel cold and crisp, you have gotten used to the schedule and routine of your classes and have hopefully built relationships with your students.
Now that you have gotten the hang of routines and schedules, Halloween is right around the corner. Here is a list of seasonal books (many that are from a book series) that you can use with your students during this time.
12 Days of Halloween by Jenna Lettice
I cannot stress how much I like this series of books! From the familiar melody to how the author uses it to adapt to any holiday or situation, this is sure to be something your children will enjoy. This book goes through every Halloween item, and costume that you are likely to find while helping the students count on their fingers the items that they are coming across throughout the book.
The Ghosts Go Marching by Maria Modugno
This book is wonderful because the author takes the famous melody of Ants Go Marching and changes the lyrics to fit a Halloween theme. You can have the students keep a steady beat while singing through the song the first time as well as singing “Hurrah” and shouting ““Trick or Treat!” at the end of each phrase. Here is the music for the song. You can find recordings of it on Youtube.
The second time that you sing the song, have the students march while singing through the verses. Continue to have the students sing “Hurrah” and shout “Trick or Treat!”. This book is best to introduce after you have already sung the original song “Ants Go Marching In”, because then students will have familiarity with the melody already. Add rhythm sticks to keep the beat.
Spooky, Spooky, Little Bat by Rosa Von Feder
I really like this book because of the finger puppet built into the book! The words rhyme, which allows students to keep a steady beat while the book is being read. The illustrations are beautiful and the rhyme scheme helps keep this book moving for my smallest students while following the bat’s journey. I usually follow this book up with a movement activity or song about bats on Youtube.
The Scarecrow by Beth Ferry
I came across this book at a university bookstore and the illustrations caught my eye right away. Upon reading it, this beautiful story made me buy this for my classroom. The scarecrow saves and nurtures a baby crow and the two become fast friends as the crow family begins to expand. The rhyming language of this story in addition to watching the baby crow becoming an adult crow and having children, makes this a wonderful coming of age tale for students.
I composed a short lesson and lullaby for the students to sing to the crow. For a link to that, please click here. Meanwhile, here is a preview of the lullaby.
Hope this helps you with planning your October lessons!