When I watch very young children, I often see them pointing at things–“Look! A butterfly! Look! A puppy!” Their chubby little fingers point to all of the wonderful things around them.
With that thought in mind, I wrote this song called “Hello Spring.” The melody comes from a traditional Scottish song I have always loved called “Ally Bally.” Imagine this song as a greeting to the many things one might see in the spring.
Hello Springlyrics by Kathy Kampa on Jump Jump Everyone
Hello bluebirds. Hello bumblebees.
Hello red tulips. Hello cherry trees.
Hello warm sun. Hello blue skies.
Hello little ants, and orange butterflies!
We filmed this video in Tokyo, Japan at the start of the pandemic.
Special thanks go out to Andre DiMuzio for his beautiful arrangement. Thanks also to Connor McKeown and Christian Vilina for their help with this video.
Teach students the vocabulary using the images here.
2. Use my movements from the video, or create your own.
3. I sing the song one part at a time, and the children echo. Then we all sing together.
4. Your students may have more ideas for what they see in different seasons. Create a list and make your own song.
My second album is filled with many happy songs that have grown in my young learner classroom. 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.
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, and Oxford Discover (published by Oxford University Press). She has been teaching young learners in Tokyo, Japan for 30 years. Kathy is also active as a teacher trainer, inspiring teachers around the world.
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!
How do you get all of your students’ attention? As we move to student-centered learning, your students may be more engaged in small group work. Throughout your lessons, however, you may need to get their attention again. How do you do it?
First of all, with any strategy you use, you must practice it before you actually use it. My students love to do this! It’s easy to see how they continue to improve.
Secondly, the success of each strategy depends on you, your group of students, their age, and their disposition. Figure out what works best. In a couple months, change it up with a new strategy.
1. Get attention with something that creates an interesting sound.
What do you have readily available in your classroom? One of the most interesting sounds I have in my classroom is a slide whistle. If you have a big group of students, it quickly gets their attention. Don’t have a slide whistle? How about a tambourine or a kazoo?
(Clap on every syllable. Students echo your clap.)
I like ba-na-nas. (I like ba-na-nas.)
I like po-ta-toes. (I like po-ta-toes.)
I like to-ma-toes. (I like to-ma-toes.)
3. How about trying some rhyming conversations? These help your students develop phonemic awareness too!
My Grade One students love “Hands on Top.”
Teacher says, Hands on top! (put your hands on top of your head)
Students answer, That means “Stop!” (students do the same)
One, Two, Three, Eyes on Me is another rhyming conversation.
The teacher sings, “One, two, three, eyes on me.” (so-so, mi, so-so, mi)
Hold up fingers as if you’re counting to three. Point to yourself.
The students answer, “One, two, eyes on you!”(so, mi, so-so, mi)
Hold up fingers as if you’re counting to two. Students point to the teacher.
My students then do “Peace and Quiet” by putting two fingers in the air (peace) and one finger to their lips (quiet).
I love to pretend with my students. Ask, “Where are your butterfly wings? What color are your wings today?” Pretend to paint each arm by gently rubbing it and naming a color. i.e This wing is pink, but this one is purple.
Raise and lower your arms out to your sides as if you are flying. Inhale and exhale.
Finally, inhale while raising your arms from your sides to above your head. Touch your hands together above your head, then bring them down in front of you. Exhale when your hands are in front of your mouth. This is an effective way to calm students after a lively activity.
Having some strategies in place will help your classes run smoothly.
How will you celebrate Valentine’s Day with your young learners? Here are two songs that build English language skills along with movement.
For many years my kindergarten students have been celebrating letters at this time of year. Many of my Japanese students struggled to pronounce /v/ from the word “Valentine.” This little song is based on the Japanese song “Tulip” (Lightly Row). It teaches simple social language along with the sound /v/ for Valentine. When the children hear the word “valentine,” they make a heart shape with their fingers, arms, or whole body.
Be My Valentine song by Kathy Kampa
from Kathy Kampa’s Special Days and Holidays CD
I like you. You like me.
Will you be my Valentine?
I like you. You like me.
Be my Valentine.
[v] [v] Valentine!
[v] [v] Valentine!
I like you. You like me.
Be my Valentine.
Here’s a video link to give you some ideas of how to move to the song. Special thanks to my nieces Brooke and Shannon for helping out.
The song “I’m Your Friend,” a new song from my album Jump Jump Everyone, invites students to move in various ways, such as skipping, jumping, walking, even skating! Developing gross motor skills is important for young learners. You can sing this with small or large classes. Here are the lyrics to the song.
Chorus: I’m your friend. You are mine.
Will you be my Valentine?
I’m your friend. You are mine.
Will you be my Valentine?
Walk, walk, walk with me. Walking, walking, 1-2-3,
4-5-6, 7-8-9, Will you be my Valentine?
*repeat with skip, jump, slide, skate, dance
With a small group, it’s easy to have all of the students join hands in a circle.
With a bigger group, students can form partners. Here’s a short video clip of my Magic Time class singing I’m Your Friend.
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.
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
You 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.
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!
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!
Image courtesy of varandah / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
For many teachers around the world, this is the time of year when students perform holiday songs at school. For me, I’m busily preparing my students for a performance, too. What are some things you do to prepare for this event?
Choose a song that students are able to perform. Look at the vocabulary. Check out the grammar structures. Is there enough repetition for young learners? Does the melody stay within a comfortable singing range?
Now let your students listen to a few different songs that fit these requirements. Which one do they like best?
To teach a song, I make sure that my students understand the background and the vocabulary first. I use visual images when possible. Creating a rebus reading with pictures and sight words is an easy way to begin learning a song.
Next, I add simple movements to help students remember the words. Young learners are especially successful with this approach. If you are new to using movement with your students, you may need to show them some movements first.
*To build creativity, ask students for their ideas for movement. For example, in the song “It’s Christmas Time,” students have words for senses, such as hear, see, smell. I show them a picture, and ask all of my students to share an idea of how they might show these words. Then we look at the nouns, such as jingle bells, Christmas tree, and gingerbread. Can we make a pose or movement? I might say, “A few people, like Kenji and Yuta, are moving like this. Let’s try it.” Students are so proud when we choose their movement.
I often have a “slow” practice by saying the words and doing the movements. Students stand on “double dots”– a place where they will stand and sing. I use two of the same colored dots or colored tape. I write down where each child will stand.
Then we speed things up with the music and the movements. I stand in front of my students and lead them in singing and moving. Model enthusiasm!
Finally, we take turns. Half of the students perform while the other half becomes the audience — their mommies and daddies. The audience practices clapping. The singers practice bowing at the end. (Bend over: I see my shoes. Stand up: I see my mom and dad.)
Throughout this time, you must be thinking about simple costumes that will make your song come alive. Asking students to come dressed in one solid color makes it easy to add things like a small picture hung on a ribbon around their necks, or a string of sparkly garland on their heads. If your students are getting dressed in costumes at school, make sure that everything is labeled with each child’s name.
Now have a dress rehearsal. Here’s where I bring out a bunch of stuffed animals and put them on chairs. Practice introductions. Take a video and show the students. Make sure that the costumes work.
Prepare a simple program. Our students often prepare their own art for the cover.
Check to make sure everything is ready — music, chairs, instruments, programs, microphone, etc.
Now it’s show time! Make sure that each child goes to the restroom beforehand. Give parents time to take photos and keep students calm. Enjoy the moment!
I love Halloween! It’s a time of year when students can use their imaginations and pretend to be many different characters. The photo above shows me with some of my students.
How can your students use their imaginations and expand their creativity?
1. USE VISUALS Build Halloween vocabulary by showing pictures, puppets, or other visuals.
These Halloween characters made from recycled toilet paper rolls are a simple way to get started. This first activity is by Artsy Momma. The second one is by Connect English School. Click on the first picture to find more Halloween activities on our Pinterest page.
Inspired by the outline of students’ hands
2. ADD MOVEMENT IN DIFFERENT WAYS Movement is an important way for children to learn. How do you feel about movement in your classroom? It’s important to teach students the commands “Move!” and “Stop!” Games like Simon Says help students learn this important skill, too.
Your students can create movements like Halloween characters. Hold up a picture card and have students make a “pose” in one place.
Now students can move around a circle. Say, for example, “Abracadabra! Move like a witch!” Students can move like a witch around the circle. This might look like galloping or flying on a broomstick. You might have students move for ten counts. Count to ten. “1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10” and say “Stop!” Praise students who have stopped moving. Then repeat with other characters.
Here are some suggestions for movement:
Witch: Students pretend to fly on broomsticks by holding their hands in front of their bodies and galloping.
Ghost: Students move their arms smoothly up and down, while walking in curvy pathways around the room.
Bat: Students pull their elbows in to create small wings. They move quickly around the room. My students also like to pretend they’re sleeping bats by folding their arms in and creating an upside-down pose.
Owl: Students stand in one place with their arms down. They turn their heads from side to side.
Black Cat: Students pretend to have whiskers, paws, and a tail. They sneak around with tiptoeing movements. I remind them to be “kind cats.”
3. ADD PROPS Students can also use their imaginations with costumes or props. With a scarf, a student can turn into a prince or princess, ride a witch’s broomstick, or become a spooky ghost. Pieces of fabric can be used over and over again and made into various costumes.
4. ADD MUSIC My Halloween song “I’m A Witch” prompts students to imagine becoming different Halloween characters.
Before we move to the song, we sit down together to listen to it. I sing my transitional song before we start, Come and Sit In Front of Me. I’m happy to provide this FREE professional version for you!
Here are the lyrics to Come and Sit in Front of Me:
Come and sit in front of me,
In front of me, in front of me,
Come and sit in front of me,
In front of me.
Now you’re ready to listen to I’m a Witch.
Here’s a simple version of the song. (A more professional version is available below.)
Spoken: Let’s be witches and fly on our broomsticks.
Hee! Hee! Hee! I’m a witch!
Hee! Hee! Hee! I’m a witch!
Hee! Hee! Hee! I’m a witch!
Spoken: Let’s be ghosts and float gently through the air.
Boo! Boo! I’m a ghost! (3X) Happy Halloween!
Spoken: Let’s be bats and fly through the night sky.
Eeek! Eeek! I’m a bat! (3X) Happy Halloween!
Spoken: Let’s be owls and turn our heads from side to side.
Whoo! Whooo! I’m an owl! (3X) Happy Halloween!
Spoken: Let’s be black cats. Put on your whiskers and sneak around.
Meow! Meow! I’m a black cat! (3X) Happy Halloween!
Show students images of each of the characters in the song as it plays. Using visuals is important — especially for students learning English. This is an important first step in learning the vocabulary in the song.
Whenever students are moving in your classroom, check to make sure that everything is safe. Push chair legs in, and move things out of the way.
Now students make a circle and move around it. Hold up pictures of each character if they need more practice. Now play the music! Remind students to stop after each character, and listen for the new cues.
If your classroom isn’t conducive to a lot of movement, have each student choose one character for movement. You can have students draw this picture, or pass out small picture cards.
I hope that your students have as much fun as mine do with this song!
Check out the professional version of “I’m a Witch” available on iTunes and CDBaby. Just click on the title below:
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.