Lesson: My House
Every week, I share a music lesson I've done with the kids at playschool. Parents can do these lessons at home as a fun musical activity, and preschool/playschool teachers can use them for their music rings.
Today's lesson fits with the theme: My House. The kids are also incidentally learning about shapes, colours, numbers and sorting related to houses, as well as some of their address details.
Sing the Rocking the Playroom Welcome Song.
Rhythm Instrument: Castanets
Show the children the castanet and demonstrate how to play it. It sounds like an animal walking along, don't you think? It sounds like a horse going clip clop!
Click out a simple regular rhythm, going, "clip, clop, clip, clop". Do it quite slowly, almost with a little pause in between each click. (We're going to be singing the tune of "Country Roads", so use that as a guide to tempo). Get the children to copy the rhythm, clapping their hands horizontally, like a castanet. Keep chanting, "clip, clop, clip, clop". To add in some counting, you could change to "1, 2, 3, 4".
Once they can do that, try and introduce a slight variation to the rhythm, "clip, clop, clip-clip, clop". Or with counting, "1, 2, 3 and 4".
Pass one castanet around the ring and let each child have a turn playing it. If they want to, they can do the clip-clop rhythm.
Then give each child their own castanet. While the castanets are being handed out, I'm going to start playing the simple clip-clop rhythm and tell the children to start copying me as soon as they get their castanets. I'm hoping this will help to keep the pace up and then need for too many instructions (shouted over a class full of castanet clicks!) down.
Once they are mastering the simple rhythm, try the variation.
Then say, "Wow, it sounds like a group of horses clip-clopping along. Let's pretend our horses have taken us on a long trip and now they are taking us back home, to our houses." Then start singing (to the tune of John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads"):
Take me home, my fine horse
To my house, my home of course
South Africa, Johannesburg [use the name of your country/city/town/suburb - whatever fits best!]
Take me home, my trusty horse!
Sing the song a few times, clicking along with the castanets - it doesn't matter whether you use the simple rhythm or the variation. (I'm thinking that any rhythm might be a bit optimistic, but let's see!)
How did it go? Surprisingly well. There were definitely times when I could hear a relatively uniform rhythm happening on the kids' castanets! It was a good idea to just start playing the castanets as they were handed out. This is instead of telling them not to play the castanet when they get it - this never works, the instruments are just too fun to play! By clicking in a structured rhythm, the kids could at least play their instrument, but there was some order to it!
The castanets were also not too loud - so a nice option for bigger classes!
Discovery: Shapes of Musical Instruments
Show the children that different musical instruments have different shapes, for example:
- The castanets are circles
- A tambourine is a circle, and the metal discs (called zils) are also circles
- A triangle is called a triangle and is a triangular shape!
- A xylophone has keys that are rectangles
- I have little shakers that are triangle, square and circle shapes
Pass the different instruments around for the children to try them out. Encourage sharing and taking turns.
How did it go? The children were very good at sharing and taking turns. After a burst of enthusiasm when they all swarmed me to see the instruments in my bag, they took their places back in the circle, watched me, and then later took turns and swopped instruments beautifully. A lovely lifeskill to integrate with music.
Singing: If you're happy and you know it, make a shape
Sit and sing "If you're happy and you know it" with the following verses:
- Clap your hands [this just gets the children singing the familiar words]
- Nod your head
- Make a circle [draw a circle in the air with your index finger]
- Make a rectangle [draw a rectangle in the air with your index finger]
- Make a triangle [draw a circle in the air with your index finger]
- Make a square [draw a circle in the air with your index finger]
How did it go? This also went very well, considering the children had concentrated for a long time already. If they watched me doing the actions, they could manage "drawing" their own shapes quite well.
I also tried to play an instrument that was the shape we were singing about - this just required a lot of coordination (!) so next time, I'll get one of the teaching assistants to help!
And a tip that I picked up from the teacher is to give the kids a "clue" about the shape by referring to a concrete object of that shape e.g. a rectangle is like the door, a circle is like this tambourine, etc. You could pause at the end of the first line of each verse to get these "lessons" in - just in a sentence or two - and then keep singing the song without pauses.
Looking for more fun musical activities to do with your kids?
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