Secrets to Teaching Songs in Young Learner English classes

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If you teach young learners, you probably use chants and songs in your class. But how do you teach them to use them most effectively?

Each song we use has different challenges and is magical in its own unique way. Your challenge is to find that unique magic and share it with your students.

Do you know the secrets to teaching songs to young learners? You'll find helpful tips here.

I’m sharing an example from my online Zoom class with English students in Japan to help you see what we did with songs. Today we’ll look at the first song in this video called She Has a Shirt, from Magic Time 2.

Let’s talk about the parts of the lesson that lead up to the first song in this video. Magic Time, Unit 6 lesson takes place in a jungle where everyone has packed their clothing for the trip. In a Magic Time lesson, students first learn the six new vocabulary words (shirt, skirt, cap, dress, jacket, sweater). I like to introduce this vocabulary by making it magical, such as using a suitcase to hide the clothing items or the picture cards. The students are surprised to see them. In the textbook, students search for the vocabulary items in the double-page spread and practice the words in a chant. In the final listening activity, I invite students to predict which number will be said. They say, “I think number one is ________,” and put their eraser on that picture in their book. Then they write the number. This continues until all six numbers have been called. This activity pushes output from an early stage. The kids love it! We play additional games, too.

In the next lesson, students add the grammar paradigm: She/ He has a _________. When I’m in a classroom with the students, I make a rebus sentence using the grammar paradigm and the picture cards.

Now that the students have practiced the vocabulary and grammar, they’re ready to sing the song. Make sure that you listen to the song before you teach it. The first time my students listen to the song, they’re looking at the images in their book. The second time we add movements. You can see the students pointing to their clothing, too. They really love the silly monkey part.

The children really loved this song. It helped them use the vocabulary naturally. What makes this work?

First of all, the language was gently scaffolded. Students had an achievable step. This is called the Zone of Proximal Development.

Next, the language was taught in a variety of ways. On the right, you can see the “Multiple Intelligences Pizza.” This theory was developed by Dr. Howard Gardner and adapted for the classroom by Dr. Thomas Armstrong. Some teachers have used this theory to look at students’ talents. I use it, however, for planning varied ways to teach my lesson. In our lesson, students looked at pictures (individually and in context), followed patterns, explored musical songs and chants, and moved their bodies. They learned alone and played games with their classmates. Learning like this provides repetition that is varied and engaging. When you use MI (Multiple Intelligences) strategies, you create variety in your lessons. 

Remember: Repetition, Repetition, VARIATION.

Last of all, making learning a positive experience is a very important aspect of learning. To nurture students’ imaginations and fun, use hands-on materials, including picture cards, stuffed animals, puppets, instruments, beanbags, scarves, and found items.

Songs build fluency. Games build on the language taught in class. This dice game is so much fun and builds fluency along with reading skills. You can see the children rolling the dice, adding the sight words, then reading the sentence. This activity creates some funny sentences, such as “He has a dress.” (dice pattern in MT 2 Teachers’ book). Alternatively, you can use picture cards. Students turn over one of the character cards, choosing he or she. Then the student adds “has a,” followed by another vocabulary picture card (i.e. shirt).

Just a note that before students go home, I like to play the song again. Create the chance fo students to catch SSIYH, the “song stuck in your head” phenomenon. Good songs are easy for students to repeat. Repetition helps, too. Students will sing independently and happily.

Do you have a secret to teaching songs? Let us know at magictimekids@gmail.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Kathy loves to write music for children. If you’re looking for songs for little ones, check out these two CDs, available on iTunes.

Kathy Kampa is a passionate educator of young learners. She seeks to nurture children’s imaginations and spark creativity through fun and engaging activities. Kathy believes that music and movement should be a part of every young child’s learning.

Kathy and her husband Chuck are co-authors of Magic Time, Everybody Up, Oxford Discover, and Beehive (published by Oxford University Press). They have been teaching young learners in Tokyo, Japan for 30 years. Kathy and Chuck also active as teacher trainers, inspiring teachers around the world. They have currently returned to their home state of Minnesota in the US.

If you’re interested in more of Kathy’s work, check out her YouTube channel at Kathy Kampa. Kathy has collected numerous activities to link with her here on Pinterest.

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Discover the parts of a flower with this magical poem

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When I was living in Japan, springtime was filled with one beautiful flower after another. We could find flowering trees (especially plum and cherry blossoms), purple and blue hydrangeas, wisteria, tulips, rapeseed, azaleas, and lots of roses.

Now we’re living in Minnesota. It’s been too cold for anything to start blooming yet. Once it warms up, however, we can find gardens filled with colorful flowers–zinnias, daylilies, purple coneflowers, hollyhocks, daisies, bee balms, and more. This year we’re going to plant a pollinator garden to help the bee and butterfly population.

The kindergarten children at my former school learned about living things. They planted seeds and watched them grow. Look at a real plant with your students. Look at the stem, the leaves, the buds, and the flowers. Do all plants have the same types of leaves? Buds? Flowers? What do they look like? If you don’t have a real plant, you can often find a silk one at a bargain store. I like to show students a watering can, too. This graphic showing how to plant from a Garden of Goodies (Pinterest) may be helpful.

Looking at how seeds changed into a flower

My students loved this poem called Here’s a Leaf! They would ask to do it over and over again. Yours will, too! You’ll see the magic when you try it. I use small, lightweight hemmed scarves like these. Search for “hemmed scarves” or “juggling scarves.” Check the reviews. I like mine! These scarves expand beautifully for this poem. Young children can practice naming the color, too.

Screen Shot 2020-03-19 at 16.55.57

In my video, we take you to Munsinger-Clemens Gardens, one of my favorite places in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Special thanks to my son, Christian Vilina for his awesome video work.

To begin, scrunch up the scarf in your hands, so that it can’t be seen. Here’s the video to show you how you might do it.

Here’s a Leaf (also known as The Flower Poemadapted by Kathy Kampa

Available on iTunes (Jump Jump Everyone)

Children listen and answer.

Here’s a Leaf video

Do you have a scarf? (Yes!) 

Let’s scrunch up our scarves. (tsch, tsch, tsch, tsch . . . . .)

(Bunch up the scarf in your hands so that it’s not visible.)

Is your scarf very tiny? (Yes, it is!)

Are you ready? (I’m ready!)

Let’s pretend.

Let’s plant a seed in the dirt.

(Bend down and tap the ground, pretending to plant a seed in the dirt.)

Water it!

(Pretend to water the seeds by tipping your hands.)

Watch it grow and grow and grow.

(Stand up slowly.)

Now show me your thumbs. Here we go.

Here’s a leaf, and here’s a leaf.

(Pretend that your thumbs are leaves. Wiggle one thumb, then the other.)

Count them. 1-2.

(When you count 1-2, move your thumbs up and to the side.)

Here’s a bud.

(Open your hands slightly to reveal the scrunched up scarf.)

Here’s a flower,

(Open your hands a little more.)

blooming just for you.

(Open your hands and let the scarf ‘bloom’ like a flower.)

Hooray!

(Toss the scarf into the air!)

Let’s grab our scarves and do it again!

For more kid-tested music and movement activities, check out my music on iTunes.

Jump Jump Everyone
Kathy has produced two music CDs for very young learners, Kathy Kampa’s Special Days and Holidays and Jump Jump Everyone, which build English language skills through movement while nurturing creativity and imagination! Grown and loved by real kids!

Kathy Kampa is a teacher, author, and teacher-trainer who specializes in working with young learners. As a PYP (Primary Years Program) teacher, she uses a globally-minded and inquiry-based approach to teaching through which students develop 21st century skills. She also supports the development of English language skills by creating songs, chants, and TPR/movement activities targeted to young learners’ needs.

Kathy and her husband Charles Vilina are also co-authors of Magic Time, Everybody Up, , Oxford Discover (ELTon winner), Beehive (2022), all published by Oxford University Press.

Thanks again to my son Christian Vilina for his vision in creating this video.

Images: “Easter Lily” by Recherché Furnishings is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Hop Along Easter Bunny

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Easter is just around the corner! Holidays give us an opportunity to teach students about culture.

In this post you’ll find:

  • the teaching steps and videos for teaching Hop Along Easter Bunny, as a fingerplay and as a whole-body activity
  • an Easter egg guessing activity created by Setsuko Toyama. In this activity, students practice colors, shapes, and numbers.

How will you teach your students about Easter? Look at the picture below. What do you see? What does it tell you about Easter? (rabbits, colored eggs, spring flowers, chocolates) 

Photo by George Dolgikh @ Giftpundits.com on Pexels.com

For this song, the students need to imagine how the Easter Bunny moves. What can the Easter Bunny do? The Easter Bunny hops along. He tiptoes and hides colorful Easter eggs. Finally, he runs away. Perhaps your students will have some additional ideas of their own. You can use your fingers, or create an Easter Bunny puppet like this. 
Here’s one idea from my Pinterest page, but there are numerous ideas here.

When I teach young learners, I use many different ways to introduce, practice, and review new language.  Use props. Then do this song in three different ways–first as a fingerplay, then moving around a circle, and finally, moving around the classroom.  I’ve made a simple video for you to help you learn it as a fingerplay.

  1. Fingerplay: If possible, sit on the floor with the students.  Stretch your legs out in front of you.  Make an Easter Bunny by raising two fingers.  Bounce your fingers up and down your legs as if you’re hopping.

Hop along Easter Bunny, hop along.

Hop along Easter Bunny, hop along.

Hop along Easter Bunny, Hop along Easter Bunny,

Hop along Easter Bunny, hop along.

Young children love surprises. Each time I sing one line, I quickly bring my fingers back to where I started. On the longer line, continue hopping. My students find it funny when I bring my fingers over my head and along my arm.

On the second verse, pretend to tiptoe using your fingers.

Tiptoe Easter Bunny, tiptoe.

Tiptoe Easter Bunny, tiptoe.

Tiptoe Easter Bunny, Tiptoe Easter Bunny,

Tiptoe Easter Bunny, tiptoe.

On the third verse, pretend to pick up an egg and hide it beside you, behind you, or under your legs.

Hide the eggs Easter Bunny, hide the eggs.

Hide the eggs Easter Bunny, hide the eggs.

Hide the eggs Easter Bunny, Hide the eggs Easter Bunny,

Hide the eggs Easter Bunny, hide the eggs.

On the last verse, pretend to run away.

Run away Easter Bunny, run away.

Run away Easter Bunny, run away.

Run away Easter Bunny, Run away Easter Bunny,

Run away Easter Bunny, run away.

These Easter Bunny ears are a fun way to celebrate! Here's Brooke having fun in Tokyo.2. Around the circle movement: Stand up and magically turn all of your students into Easter Bunnies. Say, Put on your ears, your whiskers, your tails, and your great big feet!

If you have bunny ears like Brooke, put them on!

Make a circle with your students.  Sing this transitional song from Jump Jump Everyone to get ready.

Transitional Song: Let’s make a circle big and round (4X)

https://magictimekids.com/2013/09/23/transitional-songs-part-one/

Moving around the circle together in the same direction.  Do you remember the four movements?

1. hop like a bunny (They might use their hands to make bunny ears or a bunny tail.)

2. tiptoe quietly

3. pretend to hide eggs

4. run

3. Around the Classroom: Students can move more freely around the classroom. The Easter Bunnies dance the song by moving around the children.

Here’s a simple video of my students in my classroom moving in a circle to this music.

Special Days and Holidays For the studio version of this song, go to iTunes and click on Track #6 of Kathy Kampa’s Special Days and Holidays.

4. Follow-up Activity: In this activity created by Setsuko Toyama, students use critical thinking skills to figure out which egg has been chosen. Students need to know colors, shapes, and numbers. They also need to know words like “polka dots” and “stripes.”

Easter Eggs

Secretly choose one egg. Give one clue at a time, such as It’s pink.  Students can guess, Is it number three?  Add another clue.  It has blue polka dots.  Students guess again. Is it number one?  

After modeling this activity for the class, have students work in small groups or with partners. Make a copy for each student. Have fun celebrating Easter!

Kathy

About me:

Kathy Kampa is a passionate educator of young learners. She seeks to nurture children’s imaginations and spark creativity through fun and engaging activities. Kathy believes that music and movement should be a part of every young child’s learning.

Kathy is the co-author of Magic Time, Everybody Up, Oxford Discover, and Beehive (published by Oxford University Press). She has been teaching young learners in Tokyo, Japan for over 30 years. Kathy is also active as a teacher trainer, inspiring teachers around the world. She has currently returned to her home state of Minnesota in the US.

If you’re interested in more of Kathy’s work, check out her YouTube channel at Kathy Kampa.

You can find more engaging songs on Jump Jump Everyone.

Jump Jump Everyone, my second album, is filled with many happy songs that have grown in my young learner classroom. The songs encourage children to move. Many songs link to classroom content. Children can dance like falling leaves, bloom like a spring flower, move through the butterfly life cycle . . . . you’ll find LOTS of fun and magic in this album.

Let’s Add a Little Music and Movement

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. 

If you like my music, it’s available on iTunes or https://www.etjbookservice.com/…/kathy-kampas-cds-4/

Materials for "Tiny Egg" chant
These are the materials used for the Tiny Egg chant (available on iTunes)

Kathy Kampa's Special Days and Holidays
 .     .  Children’s songs for special events for pre-school, kindergarten, and elementary students

Jump Jump Everyone
Jump! Turn into butterflies. Plant magical flowers!

Run, Run, Run!

happy kids , jumping
I teach very young learners. I love the energy that these students bring to my class!  The question is how to harness that energy productively.  This chant from Magic Time One 2nd edition (OUP) is perfect for very young learners.

In the lessons prior to this, students learned about various pets, such as cat, dog, rabbit, bird, turtle, and frog.  (Actually the artwork shows additional pets that the children find in the pictures). The four verbs in this lesson are jump, run, hop, fly.

First of all, students practice each of the four verbs–jump, run, hop, fly–standing in one place.  It’s also important for young learners to learn “Stop!”  It’s fun to make it a game by saying these verbs several times (Jump! Jump! Jump!), and then “Stop!”  You can do this with music by starting and stopping the music.  When my students, they love to make interesting poses, too.

Secondly, put these four words into the chant pattern.  I like to do this as a fingerplay sitting with the students.

For jump, place two fingers in your palm, then pretend to “jump.”

For run, make your fingers move quickly in your palm.

For hop, place one finger in your palm, then pretend to “hop.”

For fly, move your fingers in the air.

You can place the four picture cards in the order of the song like this.  Put the three verbs in one row, and run in another.

Jump           Hop                Fly

              Run

You can see in the video that my students matched the animals to the picture cards.

Run, Run, Run! from Magic Time One 2e Unit 10

Jump! Jump! Run, run, run!

Jump! Jump! Run, run, run!

Jump! Jump! Run, run, run!

Jump! Jump! Stop!

Change jump to hop.  Then change to fly.

Here’s a video of some of my very young learners performing this chant.

Students extend this language by putting it into the phrase, It can _______.  Students are then able to talk about all of the pets they’ve learned about.

Have fun!!!

Caterpillars, Butterflies, and CLIL

Image courtesy of japanachai at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of japanachai at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Have you heard of the acronym CLIL? It stands for Content and Language Integrated Learning.  CLIL lessons link classroom content with vocabulary and grammar paradigms. We can bring the world of nature into our English lessons!

Here’s a great CLIL science lesson you can teach your young learners today! It introduces students to a butterfly’s life cycle. Like all powerful lessons that provide “many ways to learn,” this lesson teaches English through words, pictures, chants, movement, logic, and more!

 Through this activity, students will:

 -know the names of the butterfly life cycle

create movements for each part, with fingers, with whole body

perform a chant

recognize a life cycle (you may refer to “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle)

Please refer to the illustration below as we go through the steps of the lesson.

1.  First, present the new language:

egg              caterpillar            chrysalis               butterfly

Butterfly life cycle drawings. pngYou may introduce the language using the picture card illustrations (right), or find your own pictures in books or on the Internet.  It’s fun for students to find these images in the story of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”

2.  Next, create finger shapes for each word.  The “finger play movements” below the illustrations will show you how, or use your imagination to create your own ideas.

3.  Say the chant using the finger movements.

 Tiny Egg Chant  (Butterfly Life Cycle Chant)

by Kathleen Kampa © 2013

Tiny egg, tiny egg  X  X  XX  X  (ch – ch- ch ch – ch)

Tiny egg, tiny egg  X  X  XX  X  (ch – ch- ch ch – ch)

Tiny egg, tiny egg  X  X  XX  X  (ch – ch- ch ch – ch)

1-2-3-4   LOOK!

Caterpillar, caterpillar X  X  XX  X  (ch – ch- ch ch – ch)

Caterpillar, caterpillar X  X  XX  X  (ch – ch- ch ch – ch)

Caterpillar, caterpillar X  X  XX  X  (ch – ch- ch ch – ch)

1-2-3-4  Look!

Chrysalis, chrysalis X  X  XX  X  (ch – ch- ch ch – ch)   (Repeat 3 times)

1-2-3-4  Look!

Butterfly, butterfly X X XX X  (ch – ch- ch ch – ch)   (Repeat 3 times)

Wait . . . .   Good-bye!

____________________________________________

Here is a simple recording of the chant that you can use:

The professional recording can be found on Jump Jump Everyone.

4.  Finally, you can expand the activity by having students move to the chant using their whole bodies. Students can bend down to make tiny egg shapes, then wiggle about on their tummies as caterpillars. They can balance in a on one foot in a chrysalis shape. While students are balancing quietly, give each student one or two colorful scarves for butterfly wings.  Your students might enjoy moving around the room like butterflies.  I often play “Aviary” by Camille Saint-Saëns, or the Japanese song “Cho Cho.”

_______________________________________________________________

Through the power of CLIL, students have now experienced the life cycle of a butterfly in a meaningful and memorable way. The vocabulary they have learned has real meaning, and they will happily repeat the activity many times in future lessons.

Let us know how this activity works in your classroom, and if you discovered any new ways to teach it!

Happy Teaching!

Kathy and Chuck

Do the Skeleton Dance!

Skeleton Dance

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.

D. Shoulders dance . .ch ch ch ch ch ch ch ch
Shoulders dance . .ch ch ch ch ch ch ch ch

This dance is repeated with the following body parts.
Before I play the music, my students and I figure out how we’ll move up, down, and around using each of these body parts.

2. Move your elbows . . .
3. Move your knees . . .
4. Move your feet . . .

You can download this song from iTunes (Track #15) or CD Baby.

I hope that your students enjoy this as much as mine do.

Grasshoppers, Butterflies, and Spiders

While our summer was filled with many opportunities to enjoy the nature of Minnesota, it was also a busy time of successfully completing my MA degree. Now we have time to share many more ideas with you!

On our second day back at school, my Grade One students found a giant grasshopper outside of our classroom. It was as big as a praying mantis. We took it into our classroom. What an exciting way to begin our new school year!

Giant grasshopper
Giant grasshopper

Children are fascinated with living creatures–especially insects and other mini-beasts. While some children may be a bit timid about holding certain insects, most seem to enjoy them.

Here are a couple of activities that you can easily do in your classroom.

1.  Simple, Invented Songs

It’s easy to nurture creativity in young learners through music.  Try “playing” with words.

Here’s a simple pattern to create a song or chant.

I Love Bugs!

I like ladybugs. (longer word, 2-3 syllables)

I like ants. (shorter word, 1-2 syllables)

I like bumblebees. (longer word, 2-3 syllables)

I love bugs!

 

Students choose three insects for their song, usually one shorter word, and two longer words.

When young children sing, they often use so and mi in their invented songs.  You can use so and mi for this song, too.

My students think it’s funny to sing the negative form of this. I don’t like ______.  I hate bugs!

 

Another activity to help students play with words is to repeat the first consonant of a word, such as /b/ /b/ /b/ /b/ Bees!  Bees!

2. Stories

I love using stories with my students–especially predictable ones.  A predictable story uses repetition, similar to the way a song might have a chorus.  It might have repeated words, phrases, sentences, and other patterns.  New characters, new events, and other surprises keep the children guessing about what’s going to happen next.

Story: The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle

This story shows how a spider gradually spins a web. In my edition of this book, students can also feel the change in the web as it gets bigger.  You can read the book to your students in a traditional manner, but you can use the pictures in the book like flash cards to help you tell the story.

A.  Pre-read by looking at the pictures of the animals in the book.  You can chant this pattern, or sing it to the melody of “The Farmer in the Dell.”

The horse says “Neigh!”
The horse says “Neigh!”
Let’s play together. “Neigh! Neigh! Neigh!”

Many animals visit the spider, but the spider continues to spin the web.
Repeat with the other animals from the story (cow, sheep, goat, pig, dog, duck, rooster).

The cow says “Moo!”
The cow says “Moo!”
Let’s play together. “Moo! Moo! Moo!”

The phrase for the rooster is longer than the rest.

“Cock-a-doodle-doo!”  “Cock-a-doodle-doo!”  Let’s play together. “Cock-a-doodle-doo!”

B. Now add the following chant pattern.

(But the spider said . . . )
Sorry. I’m busy. I’m spinning a web.
Busy, busy, busy. I’m spinning a web.

Add gestures to help children remember the language. Change your voice to express the sounds of the animals.

C.  Now I “read” the story by showing the children the pictures of the animals and singing the animal songs. I show students the web in the book.  With a small class, students can feel the texture of the web on the page. On subsequent readings, you can draw the web on a whiteboard as the story progresses by drawing a couple of lines at a time.  If your students can sit in a circle, you can even create a yarn web by passing a ball of yarn from one student to one across on the other side.

D.  At the very end, an owl comes and the spider is sleeping.

Whisper . . . .

The spider was busy, but she’s sleeping now.
Sh! Sh! Be quiet!  She’s sleeping now.

*Another fun predictable story with insects and animals is Lily and the Moon by Mari Nakamura and Patricia Daly Oe.

3.  Find It!

You can look for insects outside with your students.  You can also find them in books! In Magic Time One, Unit One, Annie and Ted are outside playing.  In addition to finding the target vocabulary, students can look for animals and insects on these pages too.  They can find a dragonfly, grasshopper, rabbit, turtle, frog, squirrel, bird, butterfly, and caterpillar.  We love to add little surprises for the students to discover.

Enjoy this season of insects and mini-beasts!  Happy teaching!

 

 

Build Creativity with Dancing Fingers!

illlustration by Shuli Ko
illlustration by Shuli Ko

 

Can you nurture creativity while building English language skills? Yes, you can!

An important part of creative thinking is to generate many possible solutions. This is easy to do with young learners. Here is a simple activity and chant that you can use to help develop creative and imaginative thinking with your young learners.

Introducing Vocabulary

1. Show students (or draw) a picture of a circle. Say, What is this? Can you make this shape with your fingers?

2. Point out the various ways that your students are making circles. For example:

Yuri is making a tiny circle using her thumb and pointer finger. Can you do that?

Daniel is using all of his fingers to make a circle. Let’s try that, too! We can make circles in many ways.

3. Say, Can you make your circle bigger?  Can you make a circle with a friend?

4. Repeat the three steps above using other shapes. I usually show shapes in the following order because some are a little easier to make than others.

circle

triangle

heart

rectangle (two long sides, and two short sides)

square (four equal sides)

star (five points)

Remember, it’s important to take time making these shapes with your students before putting them into the chant.

Teaching the Chant

Here’s the first verse of the chant.

My Fingers Dance by Kathleen Kampa Vilina ©2003

My fingers, fingers, fingers, fingers, fingers dance!

My fingers, fingers, fingers, fingers, fingers dance!

Make a circle. Take a picture. Click!

Make a circle. Take a picture. Click!

Now, let me break it down so that you know the movement for each part.

1. My fingers, fingers, fingers, fingers, fingers dance!

My fingers, fingers, fingers, fingers, fingers dance!

(For this part, students have fun wiggling or “dancing” their fingers.)

 2. Make a circle.

(Students make the shape with their fingers.)

3. Take a picture. Click!

(Students look through the shape at a classmate, and pretend to take a photo.)

(Repeat steps 2 and 3.)

(Students then substitute the other shapes in this chant.)

You can use any shape picture cards to teach the vocabulary. I used the picture cards from Magic Time 1, Unit Two, for my video. Feel free to add your own shape ideas, such as diamonds, ovals, etc.

Here’s a video I’ve prepared to show you how the chant is done. Just click here.  You can also find a studio version of this chant on iTunes by clicking here.

This chant is also on my new album Jump Jump Everyone, available on iTunes.  Physical CDs are also available.

Cover screen shot

Happy teaching, everyone!

Kathy

 

 

 

Transitional Songs, Part Two

Dot

(Note: This is our second blog post on transitional songs. Our first blog post, entitled “Transitional Songs Part One,” was posted on September 23, 2013. Please scroll down this page to our earlier blog posts to find it, or simply click here. Thanks!)

In any children’s class, many activities are needed to keep students happy and motivated throughout the lesson. Transitional songs are a perfect way to signal to children that one activity is ending and another is beginning. A good transitional song also has other benefits:

  1. It supports the natural rhythm and intonation of the phrase or sentence you are using.
  2. The melody is quickly learned and recognized by students, so they move into action as soon as they hear it.
  3. In most cases, children can be encouraged to sing along, building group cohesion as well as productive language skills.
  4. Transitional songs soon become part of a classroom routine, giving students a sense of structure and making them feel secure during the lesson.

Today, for Part Two, we present a variety of transitional songs that help to make activities smooth and enjoyable for students.

1. Open Your Books

This song is a great way to motivate students to open their student books to the correct page.

Open Your Books  (copyright © 2012 by Kathleen Kampa and Charles Vilina)

Open your books. Please open your books. (gesture)

(Spoken) Turn to page _________.

(Write this page number on the board, or show the number with your fingers. Hold the book open to show the page to students, then check to be sure all students are ready.) 

Open your books.

 2. Let’s Make a Line

This transitional song quickly motivates children to form a line in the classroom, either for an activity or when they are preparing to leave the classroom.

Let’s Make a Line  (copyright © 2012 by Kathleen Kampa and Charles Vilina)

(melody:  Skip To My Lou)

Let’s make a line long and straight,

Let’s make a line long and straight,

Let’s make a line long and straight,

Let’s make a line long and straight.

 3. Find a Friend

This is a great chant to use when students need to find a partner. Demonstrate this chant with one student first. Decide how students will show that they are partners. They can stand back-to-back, touch palms, sit facing each other knee-to-knee, etc.

Practice finding partners before you actually do your activity.

Find a Friend  (copyright © 2012 by Kathleen Kampa and Charles Vilina)

Find a friend, find a friend,

before I can count to ten.

1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9—— 10!    Hooray!

 4. Goodbye Children

This is a fun way to say goodbye to your students at the end of the lesson!

Goodbye (copyright © 2012 by Kathleen Kampa and Charles Vilina)

(melody: Good Night Ladies)

Good-bye children!  Good-bye children!

Good-bye children!  It’s time for you to go.

Clap your hands and walk along, walk along, walk along,

Clap your hands and walk along, I’ll see you very soon.

Good-bye children!  Good-bye children!

Good-bye children!  It’s time for you to go.

5. We Did It!

We Did It! (copyright © 2012 by Kathleen Kampa and Charles Vilina)

We did it!  We did it!  We did it today!

We did it!  We did it!  Hip hip hooray!

We did it!  We did it!  We did it today!

We did it!  We did it!  Hip hip hooray!

 (Note: The following transitional songs can be found on our blog post entitled “Transitional Songs, Part One.” Please scroll down to our earlier blog posts to find these songs and the recordings for them, or simply click here.)
Let’s Make a Circle
Come and Sit In Front of Me
Cards Please

(All songs and chants in this blog are copyright © 2012 by Kathleen Kampa)

Happy teaching, everyone!!

Kathy and Chuck