As I wrote about in this blog post, teaching Kindergarten is so different than any other grade! They are at times so sweet, at other times so needy…and their attention span is about as short as they are! That being said, I truly enjoy teaching Kindergarten music. Today, I thought I'd blog about my favorite activities to do with Kindergarteners…the activities that I look forward to teaching, and the ones that they ask for lesson after lesson!
#1: Grizzly Bear
I first started teaching this song several years ago, to practice the musical opposites loud and quiet, and oh my goodness, I'm so glad I did! It's one of their all-time favorites, and there is something so magical about waking the bear!
The kids love the song, as it starts very quietly and gets louder and louder, until they shout, “Roar” at the end! For the game, I have students walk in a circle, counter-clockwise, until they repeat the first phrase. Then on “Please be very quiet,” students stay still and put a finger to their lips. For “If you wake him, if you shake him…” students step louder and louder to the beat until they roar at the end! (I have them put their hands up like they are claws when they roar!) One child pretends to be a sleeping bear in the middle as all of the movement is going on, and then on “Roar,” that kid stands up and tries to tag one student. I have one spot that is the safe zone (my white board).
#2: Engine Engine
This is such a great chant, because it can be used to teach loud/quiet (“Let's say it like a baby is sleeping on the train!” “Now like there's a party on the train!”), to teach fast/slow (“Let's say it like a train going uphill!” “Now like a train going downhill!”), to teach steady beat, and for vocal exploration (when students make a train whistle sound.) I often lead students into the room chugging like a train, then have them say “Engine Engine”…so much, in fact, that they often start chugging like a train as soon as they see me! Here is the chant notation:
#3: Freeze dance
What kid DOESN'T like freeze dance? I'd been doing freeze dance for many years, and then I read this blog post by my friend Karla Cherwinski on our collaborative blog Kodaly Corner, and she referenced these free freeze dance signs by Artie Almeida. I LOVE them! They can be used with any freeze dance, and are so good for gross motor movement and critical thinking (when they see the signs with 2 or 3 kids on them, you can see the wheels turning very quickly in their heads as they figure out what to do!) I like to do freeze dance with the “Potpourri” recording from any of Eric Chapelle's CD's, like the one below, as the track includes several different pieces of music with pauses built in (note: this is a referral link):
#4: Mr. Stingy Man
I learned this songtale while I was student teaching, with Paul Rose, in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. I've used it every year since, and I have to say, there is something truly magical about just telling a story. No technology, no pictures, just me and the story and a group of kids listening and singing along! Here is the story, but here is a Facebook Live video with me telling it, so you can hear how it flows!
Once upon a time there was a farmer who lived on a big, big farm. He had lots of animals—cows, pigs, sheep (ask for student suggestions)—and he also had a rooster. The rooster’s job was to wake him up every morning. The rooster loved doing this for the farmer, but there was something else he loved—his silver dollar. He loved this silver dollar so much that he slept with it under his wing every night so that no one would steal it.
Across the street from the farmer, there was a very rich man named Mr. Stingy Man. Mr. Stingy Man lived in a huge house called a mansion with hundreds of rooms. He had so much money, but as much money as he had, he wanted even more. One day he found out about the rooster’s silver dollar, and do you know what he did? He waited until the rooster was sleeping, and then he gently lifted the rooster’s wing and took his silver dollar! Then he went to one of his secret rooms, and inside was a safe. He opened up with the safe with three numbers. (Take student suggestions for the three numbers, and tell them to lock those three numbers inside their heads for later.) Then he put the silver dollar in the safe and locked it up!
The next morning, the rooster woke up and stretched, and then he realized, he was missing his silver dollar! He just knew that Mr. Stingy Man had taken it, because Mr. Stingy Man was the stingiest man in the world. He flew up to Mr. Stingy Man’s bedroom window and started singing:
(Lyrics: Hey Mister Stingy Man, listen to me holler, Cock a doodle doodle do, give me back my dollar!)
Mr. Stingy Man was very upset the rooster woke him up, and told his brother Fred to put the rooster into the well, where there was lots of water! Fred grabbed the rooster and put him into the well. But the rooster was smart and started singing:
(Lyrics: Belly, belly, belly, suck up all the water!)
His belly got bigger and bigger and bigger. Then, he flew out of the well, back up to Mr. Stingy Man’s bedroom window, and started singing (“Hey, Mr. Stingy Man”.)
Mr. Stingy Man was again very upset the rooster woke him up, and told his brother Fred to put the rooster into the furnace, where there was lots of fire! Fred grabbed the rooster and put him into the furnace. But the rooster was smart and started singing:
(Lyrics: Belly, belly, belly, let out all the water!)
Then, he flew out of the well, back up to Mr. Stingy Man’s bedroom window, and started singing (“Hey, Mr. Stingy Man”.)
Mr. Stingy Man was again very upset the rooster woke him up, and told his brother Fred to put the rooster into the beehive, where there were lots of bees! Fred grabbed the rooster and put him into the beehive. But the rooster was smart and started singing:
(Lyrics: Belly, belly, belly, suck up all the bees!)
His belly got bigger and bigger and bigger. Then, he flew out of the beehive, back up to Mr. Stingy Man’s bedroom window, and started singing (“Hey, Mr. Stingy Man”.)
Mr. Stingy Man was so very upset the rooster woke him up, do you know what color his face was? (Take student suggestions.) It was so red it was almost purple! He told his brother Fred to put the rooster on the chair, and he was going to sit on him and squish him! Fred grabbed the rooster and put him into the chair. Do you know what the rooster started singing?
(Lyrics: Belly, belly, belly, let out all the bees!)
Mr. Stingy Man had so many bees stinging him. He had to jump on one foot, jump up and down 5 times, and spin around 3 times, before that last bee left him (change to whatever motions you want—each time can be different.) And then he sat down very gently because he was very sore, and he told his brother Fred to take the rooster to his secret room, and open up the combination. (Have students recount the numbers.) Then, open up the safe and give him his silver dollar. And then he decided, “No, don’t just give him his silver dollar…give him all that money in that safe, because I have a lot of money and I don’t need it all.” So the rooster went to the room, opened up the safe with the numbers (recount the numbers) and opened up the safe. Then he started singing:
(Lyrics: Belly, belly, belly, suck up all the money!)
And he flew back to the farmer and gave him all that money. Now cover up your faces and show me how you think the farmer felt when he got all that money! (Students uncover their faces and show happy, surprised, etc. expressions.) Show me how you think the rooster felt when he realized Mr. Stingy Man took his silver dollar! And show me how you feel right now. The farmer felt very happy too, and they lived happily ever after.
I have not seen this story anywhere else, and I'm not sure where my coordinating teacher learned it, but it is always a HIT. I should say that I did adapt the story a bit, because in the original story I heard, the rooster takes the money without being told he can, so I made the story a little nicer. 🙂
#5: Bunny Game
This might be my very favorite Kindergarten activity! I created this while taking pedagogy lessons with Dr. Timothy Caldwell at Central Michigan University. They beg to play it, and it's a great activity to prepare and practice high/low, as students have to figure out whether you are playing a high or low trill to wiggle their nose or tail. You can get the bunny game directions for free by subscribing to my email list at the end of this post.
The directions should have everything you need to know to play it, but if you would like to see it in action, here is a Facebook Live video, in which I demonstrate what I play during the bunny game! Fill out the form at the bottom of this post to receive the directions!
What are your favorite Kindergarten activities? Feel free to comment below, and happy teaching!