These Easter Bunny ears are a fun way to celebrate! Here’s Brooke having fun in Tokyo.
Easter is just around the corner! Holidays give us an opportunity to teach students about culture. Our students will learn this song this week, and do the follow-up activity created by Setsuko Toyama. Perhaps your students would like to learn these activities too!
To teach my students about Easter, I usually bring some plastic Easter eggs, a basket, and a picture of the Easter Bunny. During a recent trip to Vietnam, I bought a rabbit puppet to use for this song. If you don’t have a puppet, you can use your fingers to create a bunny.
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!
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.
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 for Hina Matsuri.
I wanted to share my love of Girls’ Day with my students here in Japan by writing a song to simply describe 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!
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.
Valentine’s Day is on February 14th, just a short time away! To celebrate the occasion, I wrote a song that my young learners love to sing and move to. It’s entitled “Be My Valentine.” This song helps children learn the shape and sound of the letter “V.”
Children also explore how to make the shape of a heart with their hands, their arms, or with a partner.
The easiest way to demonstrate how to use this song is to view a video I created with my two nieces, Brooke and Shannon.
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.
Our Christmas tree here in Japan with ornaments from around the world
Christmas is a magical time of year! My students and I sing about Santa Claus, reindeer, Christmas trees, jingle bells, and gingerbread cookies. We sing songs about the birth of Jesus, too. Students dress in festive costumes. I love this time of year with my students! Even though our two sons are adults, we still gather together at Christmas and enjoy many of the traditions they knew as children. Our Christmas Eve celebrations include a festive dinner, opening gifts by the Christmas tree, and singing Christmas carols. When the evening draws to a close, we still put out a plate of homemade cookies and a glass of milk for Santa Claus. A note is written for Santa, and the next morning a reply from Santa is waiting for us!
Cookies and milk left for Santa
I wrote this simple song to the melody of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star to remember this special moment in our lives. Here’s a complimentary music track for you from my CD entitled Kathy Kampa’s Special Days and Holidays.
Santa’s Cookies and MilkWords by Kathleen Kampa and Charles Vilina Spoken: Dear Santa, Welcome to my house.I’ve been very good this year.Have some cookies. (gesture with one hand to the side)Have some milk. (gesture with the other hand)Christmas cookies and a glass of milk. (Twist hands like twinkling Christmas stars. You can make it fancier by moving your hands in big circles from above your head to your sides.)Eat the cookies. 1-2-3 (gesture eating cookies, then fingers 1-2-3)Drink the milk. It’s from me. (gesture drinking milk, then point to self)Have some cookies. (gesture with one hand to the side)Have some milk. (gesture with the other hand)Christmas cookies and a glass of milk. (Twist hands like twinkling Christmas stars. You can make it fancier by moving your hands in big circles from above your head to your sides.) Spoken: Thanks Santa! Have a good night! Good-bye! For more tips on performances, see our last blog post. https://magictimekids.com/2014/12/05/making-the-most-of-student-performances/
A cute way to give Christmas cookies!
Check out this cute idea for a cookie holder, too. Invite students to decorate the plate before folding it up. Be sure to show students a model of the folded one so that they know where they can draw. Turn the plate upside down on a clean surface to add drawings. Cut on the lines, too, before drawing. Remember that the drawings will be on the bottom of the plate. Decorate with red ribbon and a little bell for Christmas. Wishing you all the best for Christmas and throughout the year from our family to yours. May the magic of Christmas remain in your hearts.
Chuck, Christian, Kathy, and John on Christmas Eve 2013
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!
Thanksgiving Day will be observed in the US in just two weeks! Celebrate with your young learners by doing the Turkey Dance! I’m reposting this blog from last year for those who might have missed it. Enjoy dancing with your kids to the Turkey Dance! Gobble, Gobble!!!
Image courtesy of Tom Curtis / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Autumn is a beautiful season. It’s also the time of the harvest, when farmers gather the food they’ve grown. In many countries, there are harvest festivals or special “Thanksgiving” days during which people give thanks for what they have. In the United States, many people celebrate with their families, and often enjoy a dinner together that includes roast turkey.
This song is a wonderful way to celebrate Thanksgiving Day in your home or school. It’s called The Turkey Dance, and as you can imagine, it gives children a chance to dance like . . . . turkeys!!
Here are the lyrics, which go to the tune of “Turkey in the Straw.”
The Turkey Dance
Words by Kathleen Kampa and Charles Vilina, music adapted from Turkey in the Straw