If you’re looking for activities for young learners, check out my Facebook LIVE workshop. I teach children from age 2 – 12 in Tokyo, and these activities have all been LOVED in my classrooms. The activities support English language development as well as developmental body movement. Today’s FB LIVE (February 21, 2019) included the following: It Is Raining (focus on body parts), Little Worms (vocal expression, yoga movement, building group unity), Come and Sit In Front of Me (transitional), Tiny Egg (Butterfly Life Cycle, creative movement, connection to Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar), Flitter Flutter Butterfly (pronunciation practice, rhyming sounds, movement), Here’s a Leaf (seed-leaf-bud-flower), Folding Scarves (transitional), Scarves Please (Transitional), We Love Hina Matsuri (song/canon for Japanese Girls’ Day), We Did It. You can find all of the lyrics inside the CDs.
Happy New Year! We have celebrated O-shogatsu (New Year’s) with toshikoshi soba and o-sechi ryori, traditional New Year’s foods. Starting on Monday, I’ll be back in the classroom with my students. This song was written with our son Christian when he was in elementary school. Christian and Chuck are singing it at home for you:.
How should we move with this song? When students first listen to the song, they might like to jump, march, or twirl around.
When I first teach the words to this song, students keep a “steady beat” by patting their legs. To make it a little more challenging, they can create a pattern by patting their legs once, then clapping their hands. Think “pat-clap-pat-clap” or “down-up-down-up.” Do this for the first three lines.
We like to do something special on the last line:
— On Happy New Year! my students like to shake their hands above their heads. Some students like to turn around quickly!
— On Hip hip hooray! students roll their hands, then jump once in place.
For an even bigger challenge, students can do the pat-clap pattern with a partner by patting their own legs, and then clapping both hands with a partner.
Our biggest challenge? Students stand in a circle facing their partner. First they pat their own legs, then clap with their partner. Then they turn to the person on the other side (called a “corner” in folk dance), repeating the pat-clap. They repeat the pattern with their partner, then corner until the Hip hip hooray. Check out the video to see what my students did!
Happy New Year 2018! We hope that you keep a song in your heart and a smile on your face. May 2018 be filled with lots of joy!
Happy New Year is one of 15 great songs for kids on Kathy Kampa’s Special Days and Holidays. The CD includes a handy attached booklet with lyrics, and is available for teachers in Japan at ETJ Book Service.
For teachers residing outside of Japan, the songs are available for download through iTunes. To hear the studio version of this song, go to iTunes, and click on Track #3.
CDs are available for sale through the Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul, MN, Mad Robin Music & Dance in Seattle, WA, St. John’s University Book Store, Collegeville, MN, and The Fishing Pond, St. Cloud, MN.
Stay tuned for our second New Year’s song, It’s The Year of the Dog!
Students love to make letter shapes with their bodies.
Learning the names of the days of the week in English can be tricky. For many of us, we teach our English class on the same day each week. This song “What Day Is It?” is a fun way to practice the days of the week.
First of all, write a letter on the board or show a picture card. Model making that letter with your fingers, arms, or whole body. Make the letter so that students are able to read it. You might imagine how that letter would look when you write it on your whiteboard. Students will be able to “read” your letter. Invite students to make letters with you. They might even make letters with the entire class! Try making letters in many different ways.
We started at the beginning of the alphabet. Students made A, a, and B, b (see B below). In Magic Time (Oxford University Press) students have fun making letter shapes to learn the letter name and its sound.
Now write the names of the days of the week. Run your finger under the word as you say it (Sunday). Point out the first letter. Encourage students to make that letter with their bodies in several ways. Remind students that days of the week begin with capital letters. As you can see, sometimes the letters appear flipped around to us. The important idea is that students are making the letter shapes.
I love to catch my students making their amazing letters by taking photos. Remember CCBA (Catch Children Being Amazing!)
Pass out the “days of the week” cards, one to each student. Students line up in order around the circle starting with Sunday. Students make the initial letter shape as they sing each day of the week. When they sing “Tra la la la la” add a group movement, such as pat your knees, clap your own hands, clap your “neighbor’s” hands.
Girls’ Day is celebrated on March 3rd in Japan. It’s called “Hina Matsuri”. Beautiful dolls called “Hinaningyo” are displayed on red stairs.
Here is a photo of the beautiful dolls from our kindergarten at Seisen International School. Starting at the top, you can see the emperor and empress dressed in traditional clothing of the Heian period. On the lower steps, you can see the attendants and musicians. Miniature furniture is also displayed.
These dolls are displayed at my school for Hina Matsuri/ Girls’ Day.
At this time of year, we can find displays of these beautiful dolls in many public places. This set was on display at a local onsen.
Since we’ve been living in Japan for over 25 years, I wanted to write a song in English to help my students talk about the celebration. It’s written to the tune “Kaeru no Uta.” The melody goes up and down, just like the stairs for the dolls. My students really love it!
I’d like to gift you with this free professional recording of “We Love Hina Matsuri” for Girls’ Day on March 3rd! Scroll to the end of the post below.
Here are some notes to dance along with it.
We Love Hina Matsuri
Words by Kathleen Kampa, Music: Kaeru no Uta
We love Hina Matsuri
Students cross hands over heart. Lean side to side (R/L/R/L)
Pretty dolls for us to see
Girls: Bend knees side to side four times. Boys: Pretend to look at the dolls
Girls’ Day! Girls’ Day!
Girls: Curtsy to right, then to left. Boys: Bow two times.
Hina Matsuri is Girls’ Day.
Stand tall clap clap clap
Students sing this song all together twice.
Then, divide students into two groups.
The first group starts singing We love Hina Matsuri, and continues to sing to the end of the song.
When the first group gets to the second line, Pretty dolls . . . the second group begins singing We love Hina Matsuri.
Continue in the same way.This is called a canon.
We end by singing the song all together again.
Now you can even divide into four groups! Each group begins at a new line.
After you’ve finished singing, try some origami.
Our students enjoy making origami dolls. We usually make two dolls representing the emperor and the empress.
For more ideas, check out this site. www.origami-club.com/hina/ When you click the left oval (おりかた), you can see how to make it the origami. When you click the right oval (あにめ), you can easily understand how to fold. Thanks to Yoko Matsui for sharing this site filled with lots of great ideas.
For something simpler, try these coloring activities.
These songs “grow” in my classroom. We Love Hinamatsuri is one of 15 great songs for kids on Kathy Kampa’s Special Days and Holidays.
There arealso23 great songs for kids on Kathy Kampa’s Jump Jump Everyone. This album is filled with movement songs, classroom management/transitional songs, and CLIL/content songs. They’ve grown in my young learner classroom.
These two CDs each include a handy attached booklet with lyrics, and are available for teachers in Japan at ETJ Book Service.
For teachers residing outside of Japan, the songs are available for download through iTunes.
Children’s songs for special events for pre-school, kindergarten, and elementary students
Lots of great movement songs, transitional songs, and CLIL/content songs!
Happy New Year! All around the globe the new year is celebrated in different ways. Here in Japan people celebrate o-shogatsu, the new year, with many special traditions. One of the important traditions seen all over the country is the celebration of the new animal for the year. This year it is the year of the sheep. Perhaps you’re familiar with the Chinese calendar of twelve different animals.
At our first class this week, we’ll begin by wishing everyone a Happy New Year 2015, the year of the sheep. I wrote a simple song to teach the year and how to spell the word “sheep.” We had fun creating a recording for you at home with our son Christian.
It’s The Year
lyrics by Kathleen Kampa Vilina, melody (For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow/ BINGO)
sung by Christian Vilina
Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes, sir, yes, sir.
Three bags full.
It’s the year of the sheep.
It’s the year of the sheep.
It’s the year of the sheep.
s-h-e-e-p, s-h-e-e-p, s-h-e-e-p,
It’s the year of the sheep.
1. Show students the picture of a sheep.
Image courtesy of TCJ2020 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
When they sing the word “sheep” they can make a pose like a sheep or point to the picture. If you have lively students, they might enjoy skipping or galloping during this part of the song instead.
2. On the words, “It’s 2015,” students stop moving and make the numbers 2015 with their fingers. Very young students can stop and wave their arms in the air as if saying “Hooray!”
3. Write the letters for the word “sheep” on the board. Clap the rhythm below to accompany the letters. (slow, slow, quick quick, slow)
To make it more challenging, students can pat, stamp, or snap the rhythm. My students like to clap the first time they spell “sheep,” then they pat their legs, and finally they stamp their feet. If you have instruments in your classroom, you can play this part.
4. The song ends with “It’s the year of the sheep!” Students make the sheep pose, or point to the picture.
You can also celebrate the New Year with our song, “Happy New Year!” I wrote it with our son Christian, and it is always a hit with our students. You can find it on Kathy Kampa’s Special Days and Holidays. The lyrics are easy for students to follow.
Students like to pat their legs, then clap their hands to the beat.
On the last Happy New Year, they turn around and wave their hands.
It’s October and we’re busy singing and dancing to Halloween songs. My students love getting up and moving to a song! At this time of year, we’re marching like monsters, skipping like skeletons, waltzing like witches, and jumping like jack-o-lanterns. If you want to find more Halloween songs, you can find teaching notes for songs like “Marching Monsters” on earlier blogs on this site.
On this blog, however, I want to share a handout and flash cards made by my good friend Setsuko Toyama. Setsuko is a well-known teacher trainer and author in Japan. On her worksheet, students match the same initial sound of the words, an important skill in developing phonemic awareness. They also have fun playing with alliteration, words that begin with the same sound. Many American nursery rhymes feature alliteration.
I like having my students do craft projects from time to time. While they’re busy creating their artwork, I play music to fit the holiday. Kathy Kampa’s Special Days and Holidays CD has several Halloween songs that children can easily sing along to for your Halloween parties.
Check out my Pinterest page for lots of Halloween craft activities.
Skeleton Dance is definitely one of my students’ favorite songs! It teaches various body parts and directional movements. You can start your school day with it, use it during break time, dance it on a rainy day, move during a health unit, or dance it on Halloween. I have taught Skeleton Dance to students in kindergarten through upper elementary, and everyone enjoys it. I’ve also shared this song with teachers in America, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia.
You can watch some of my students here in Japan doing the Skeleton Dance, and read the lyrics below:
Here’s how you do the Skeleton Dance:
In this song, students will move four different body parts: shoulders, elbows, knees, and feet.
First, students move their shoulders to the beat.
1. Move your shoulders . . .
A. Skeleton, skeleton, skeleton dance, Move your shoulders, do the skeleton dance. Skeleton, skeleton, skeleton dance, Move your shoulders, do the skeleton dance.
Next, students move their whole bodies to the front, to the back, and to the side. I usually start by moving only my arms, but my students love to jump in each direction.
B. To the front, to the back, to the side, side, side, To the front, to the back, to the side, side, side,
Next, students move their shoulders up, down, and around. Each time they repeat the song, they will move a different body part in these directions.
C. Put your shoulders up. Put your shoulders down. Move them up and down and all around. Put your shoulders up. Put your shoulders down. Move them up and down and all around.
Finally, students move their shoulders in their own way.