Wednesday, November 12, 2014

©2014 Brigid Finucane: Merit School of Music, Chicago, IL / 847-213-0713

Participants will learn a wide variety of strategies and musical techniques to extend book use. These approaches can be immediately put to use in the classroom to more fully engage students and encourage student learning. I hope that by sharing these successful and pleasurable musical literacy activities, participants will have the confidence to adapt them to their individual sites and experiment further.

Music/songs share many elements with the books we read in the early childhood classroom. 
Music/songs use symbolic notation, are rhythmic and sequential (there are beginnings, middles, ends) provide vocabulary enrichment, teach tenses and plurals, are rich in poetic language, allow visualization, and encourage good pronunciation. Music is also reductive – it gets to the heart of things very quickly.

When a book is sung, it goes beyond the simple and everyday – it’s elevated into a new and 
special experience. A musical book engages, invites positive communal participation, opens teaching opportunities and provides non-stressful (group) pronunciation practice, especially important for children whose first language in not English. It delights.

-Where is the Green Sheep by Mem Fox, illus. by Judy Haracek. ISBN: 0-15-204907-X. This book about opposites exudes charm, sweetness, and humor. Barb Tilsen’s ( lilting, happy melody is the perfect vehicle for the text, encouraging everyone to sing along.

  • The addition of singing and musical elements provides a deeper listening
    experience, enriches vocabulary, and allows for kinesthetic responses
  • Mindful selection promotes cultural literacy, connects children with poetry, visual
    arts, diverse traditions, rhyming and other reading readiness elements.
  • Books move from static to participatory.
  • Book form teaches sequence and develops reflection.
  • Simple musical concepts are introduced: expressive voice (high, low), tempo,
    qualities of movement (legato, staccato), and dynamics (piano, forte).
  • Community is fostered through singing and responding as a group appropriately at appropriate time.
  • Pleasure, a love of books, and an interest in reading are all promoted.

Choose a book you love. There is no need for the mediocre offering. Fine collections are available in our libraries. A good librarian will have many fine suggestions, as do co-workers, other teachers, list- serves and parents of the children we teach. Bookstores that offer weekly Storytimes highlight current titles of note. Websites, like Isabel Baker’s “The Book Vine for Children” ( have vetted the thousands of new books that are published yearly, while still containing a strong emphasis on classics.page1image24616 page1image24776
Use Expressive voice and comparatives. As Chicago singer-songwriter Susan Salidor ( says, “Early childhood music is all about high and low, fast and slow, loud and soft.” This is worth remembering when approaching a book. Early childhood books make great use of language rich in imagery and rhyming, further amplified by illustrations. Don’t rush. Let the children have time to drink it in.

Presentation and the power of chant. Approach the presentation of early childhood picture books as you would a song or poem. Upon inspection, you will notice standard structures are observed from book to book (pages are multiples of eight due to printing protocols), and syllabication is consistent, allowing for rhythmic reading or chant. Use that to your advantage. Remember: “Beat Always Stays the Same, Rhythm’s What You Sing or Say!”

Be prepared and have a plan. Read the book aloud before bringing it into the classroom. Discover passages where you stumble. Experiment with voicing and pauses to heighten the impact of the story. Determine whether you want this to be a listening experience, or whether student participation will promote the enjoyment and aid focus and comprehension.

TIME FOR A STORY: Transition Songs to Gather Children for Storytime
How many of you use a transition song to invite children to Storytime?
Ideas to Share:

Choose a favorite, familiar song and piggyback, or add, new words to transition children.
1. An easy and singable melody is Mary Wore A Red Dress, an American heritage greeting song used in Merit early childhood music classes. Words might be,“Time for a story, story, story, Time for a story this fine day.”
2. Skip To My Lou: “Stor- stor- story time (x3) Let’s all read/sing a book.”
3. Twinkle: “Now it’s time to read a book. Come to circle, take a look.”
4. These Are My Glasses from Laurie Berkner’s CD, Whaddaya Think of That? The song can be downloaded from iTunes, and may also be chanted. Lyrics and directions below are from Laurie Berkner’s web page, glasses.html ,but can be further extended by using ASL. Use ASL dictionaries to research the signs for “glasses”, “read, read, read” and “look, look, look.”

Lyrics: These Are My Glasses (L. Berkne
These are my glasses-                         make glasses with your finger 
This is my book-                                   hands pressed together
I put on my glasses-                            put on glasses
And open up the book-                       open your hands
Now I read read read-                       make V with 2 fingers, other hand flat
                                                                    squiggle V over flat hand in a line 
And I look look look-                          V fingers move forward
I put down my glasses-                      put "glasses" down
And WHOOP - Close up the book!   clap hands together

1.Many songs have been made into books that can be enjoyed by both children and adults.

“Little White Duck, ” “A, You’re Adorable,” and “My Favorite Things” are other fine examples. Consider turning the pages of the book while playing a recording.

-What a Wonderful World by George David Weiss & Bob Thiele. Ashley Bryan, illus .0-689- 80087-8. Glorious illustrations, positive images of world, different cultures, etc. The story goes that this song was written specifically for Louis Armstrong in the late 1960’s to quell civil unrest, since he was a beloved civil and cultural ambassador. Many versions are available. No sheet music.

2.There are a number of deservedly popular books that reference a well know melody and add or “piggyback” their words onto it. These books wouldn’t work as well, or at all, if they
didn’t have a very specific song and melody as their foundation. Examples: “The Seals on the Bus” by Lenny Hort & G. B. Karas, and “Cows in the Kitchen” by A. Anderson (Skip to My Lou).

A. I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! by Karen Beaumont. David Catrow, illus. ISBN: 0-15-202488-3. Tune: “It Aint’ Gonna Rain No More.” Exceptional illustrations (even though the little boy is creepy.) A great book for colors, patterns, rhyming, body parts....and slightly subversive fun! NOTE: Syllabication is not completely accurate. Be sure to practice before presenting.

B. The Aunts Go Marching. Maurie J. Manning. ISBN: 1-59078-026-4. Tune: “The Ants Go Marching.” “Dressed in raincoats and carrying umbrellas, a platoon of aunts march through the rainy city streets led by a little girl with a drum in this cumulative rhyme.” (from cover). Clever illustrations of numeric expansion highlight this funny take on the classic childhood song.
NOTE: The reference is an “in” joke that might amuse the grownups reading the book more than the children.
: Have children act out. Everyone march in place. Math connection/ doubling, counting in 2’s etc.

For books that don’t have their own melody, use a shared, or “piggyback” melody. Many
rhyming books for young audiences share a similar syllabic count. Try piggybacking books to common melodies including London Bridge, Frere Jacques, Skip To My Lou, Twinkle, etc.
-I Went Walking by Sue Williams. Julie Vivas, illus. ISBN: 0-15-205626-2. Listeners echo each line. Charming and gently humorous, especially good for younger children. Great for reflection (What animals do you remember seeing?). Tune: Are You Sleeping/Frere Jacques or Twinkle.

-Up, Down and Around by Katherine Ayres. Nadine Bernard Westcott, illus. ISBN: 978-0- 7636-2378-4 (hardcover edition). A delightful, rollicking rhyming book about planting a vegetable garden and discovering which plants grow up, down or vine around. Humorous illustrations. Tune: Skip to My Lou, London Bridge.

Make list of familiar childhood songs, pick a book, see what works, & make magic happen! Determine whether you want it to be a listening or an echoing or participation experience.
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Play the singing game before or after presenting book
-Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush by Sophie Fatus. ISBN: 978-1-84686-035-5.
Four children from different cultures -Europe (substitute Chicago), Mali, India, & China - show how they get ready for school through bright & breezy illustrations (which could have been bigger – since they are lost on a larger group). Sheet music & CD sung by Fred Penner.
NOTE: After each verse, I point to each child and say “ Chicago, Africa, India & China.” Literacy extension (per Dr. Jean workshop April 2011, Whitewater, WI):
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Here we go round – draw circles iron the clothes – horizontal lines mend the clothes – draw X
wash the clothes – vertical lines scrub the floor – draw capital V’s
bake our bread – draw spirals (think “G” or cursive “J”) 
smile and sing – draw small connected waves or scallops horizontally, then vertically (half-circles).
Partner activity: Invite children to draw letters on a partner’s back.
Why Chosen: Multicultural content, inclusiveness. Classic children’s singing game that can be adapted for many purposes: Days of week, Reinforce fine motor skills, and Targeting letter formation.

Farmer in the Dell by Ilse Plume. ISBN-10: 1567923909. A lovely version set in Pennsylvania Dutch Country.

A. Worms Wiggle (based upon lines from the poem ‘Jump or Jiggle’ by Evelyn Beyer)
David Pelham & Michael Foreman. Pop-up. This book delights one and all. The children quote the whole poems by themselves out of sheer pleasure. Copyright 1988, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. There is no ISBN # apparent.
Why Chosen: Pop-up, rhyming, movement (verbs) rather that sounds of represented animals.

B. May There Always Be Sunshine, adapted by Jim Gill. Susie Signorino-Richards, illus.
ISBN 0-9679-038-6-6.
Gills collection of children’s ideas on back page is fun read to students. Sheet music included.
Extensions: Encourage children to make up their own responses, and even make a class book of drawings from each child. Listen to CD: Charlotte Diamond- 4 Carat Diamond, where the song is sung in multiple languages.
Why chosen: Gratitude, opportunity for solo singing, embraces individual ideas, sign language and book-making extensions.

II. CREATING AN ECHO FROM EXCERPTED LINE(S) OF TEXT TO REOCCUR AT SPECIFIC POINTS NOTE: LOOK FOR books already have a built-in chorus, like: Click Clack Moo by Dorreen Cronin, Shark in the Park! by Nick Sharratt,, Aaaarrgghh! Spider! by Lydia Monks, and Fall Is Not Easy by Marty Kelley.

-Right Outside My Window by Mary Ann Hoberman. Nicholas Wilton, illus.
ISBN: 1-59034-194-5. “
While looking outside the window, a child sees something new each day and through the seasons.” The perfect springboard for scientific observation wedded with the wonder of the natural world and seasonal changes. My melody is loosely based on La Vibora
de la Mar. The text may also be adapted to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
Why chosen: Awareness, nature, seasons, beauty of text and Illustrations.page4image28880 page4image29040 page4image29200 page4image29360 page4image29520page4image30640
III(1). ADDING UNRELATED ELEMENTS TO FURTHER THE STORY “Alright!” or “Oh no!” are spoken after each sequence events in high or low voice.
NOTE: Solo, duet, trio opportunity, or divide into boys and girls after first reading.
I read this book over several sessions, and ask for reflection on what happened thus far.

A. Fortunately by Remy Charlip. ISBN 0689716605.
“Fortunately, Ned was invited to a surprise party. Unfortunately, the party was a thousand miles away. Fortunately, a friend loaned Ned an airplane. Unfortunately, the motor exploded. Fortunately, there was a parachute in the airplane. Unfortunately, there was a hole in the parachute. What else could go wrong as Ned tries to get to the party? Readers will cheer as Ned's luck turns from good to bad to good again, while clever illustrations tell the story of his wacky adventure and narrow escapes.”
Why Chosen: High- low vocal exploration, expressive voice, surprise, improbability, imagination, reflection (sequence), consequences.

B. Fortunately, Unfortunately by Michael Foreman. ISBN-10: 1849392242.

Intersperse repeated chorus of known song, related in subject matter, to chanted text.

A. On the Farm by David Elliott. Holly Meade, illus. ISBN: 978-07636-3322-6.
Exquisite woodcuts are perfectly paired with elegantly reductive poems about animals – domestic and wild – that can be found on the farm. Thrilling and engaging to both child and adult. Partner songs: Grandpa’s Farm, Old McDonald, When Dogs Get Up in the Morning.
Why chosen: Beauty of text and illustrations, inclusion of more than the run-of-the-mill
farm animals, nature, evocative language.

B. Nuts to You! by Lois Ehlert. ISBN-10: 0152050647.
Partner song: Hop Old Squirrel.

On the second reading, pause to let children fill in rhyme..
**Beat always stays the same! Rhythm’s what you sing or say!**
-Oh, A-Hunting We Will Go by John Langstaff. Nancy W. Parker, illus. ISBN: 0-689-50007-6. Matter of fact illustrations are a perfect foil for the improbable situations in this rhyming book.
A winner. Sheet music included
Extension: Kinesthetic connection: Teach simple circle dance, pausing to let children suggest a rhyme or answer the one you’ve given
Why chosen: Classic children’s song, rhyming, movement option, open-ended suggestions.

On the second reading, make silly changes/ substitutions - e.g. instead of “old mother owl,” say 
“old mother gorilla.” When the children protest, you might say, “Gorillas are brown! Gorillas live in trees!” The children will call out and correct you, in mock outrage – and be on notice that the books is going to be funny.

-Over in the Meadow by Louise Voce, illus. 1-56402-428-8. My favorite version of the dozens in existence. No sheet music.
Why Chosen: Numbers, animals, rhyming, humor, and changed endings.
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A. Sung: Hush Little Baby. American Heritage. Marla Frazee, illus. ISBN: 0-15-201429-2.
Rhyming, sequence, humorous illustrations. In this version of the beloved lullaby the baby just
won’t stop crying!
Why Chosen: Experiencing musical tools, Piano and Forte & Staccato and Legato, and discovering how these tools change language and music.

B. Chanted: Listen to the Rain by Bill Martin & John Archambault. James Endicott, illus. ISBN: 0805006826. Striking illustrations accompany the rhythmic and onomatopoetic language describing language describing the many sounds and moods of rain. < >.

Using a piece of recorded music as a background soundtrack to a book’s text can add a

captivating element, and has the added benefit of slowing down the reading of the book, giving the listeners even more time to drink in the word and illustrations.
Margaret Hooton introduced me to the perfect pairing of Come to the Meadow by Anna - Grossnickle Hines ( ISBN: 0-89919 277-0) to the Soundtrack of Pachelbel’s Canon in D.
A bittersweet story about a child who wants to share the wonders of a springtime meadow with her too busy family, made all the more lovely and heartwarming by the addition of music.

-BOOK SELECTION is of utmost importance. Content, clarity of concepts, sequence of events, richness (and developmental appropriateness) of language, and intention should be considered when making a choice. Make sure artwork delights and moves you as much as the text. Consider what additional elements are conveyed by the illustrations to extend the viewer’s experience.

-PATTERNS HAVE POWER. Choose books with repetitive phrases that can be turned into a melodic ‘hook’ to assist children to jump in quickly participate and stay engaged.

-RHYMING FOR READING READINESS . Rhyming is hard to escape from in many early childhood books that are candidates for musical books. Rhyming is a part of reading readiness, helps with language acquisition, and vocabulary expansion.
Search out offbeat, unusual rhymes that surprise and tickle.

- POETIC FORM. Be aware of poetic form when choosing a book to sing. Make sure that the number of syllables are the same from page to page. Develop a critical ear.

-“IT’S A GIFT TO BE SIMPLE. Choose or create a melody that is simple enough for the children to sing successfully AND for you to remember.



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(Key for “Now It’s Your Turn” Activity on Page 4)

-A Summery Saturday Morning by Margaret Mahy. Selina Young, Illus. ISBN:0-670-87943-6.
Warm Book for a Cold Night., Tune: London Bridge 

-Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Eric Carle Tune: Are You Sleeping / Twinkle

-Bunnies On the Go by Rick Walton. Paige Miglio, illus. ISBN: 0-06-029185-0.
Shows modes of transportation from bikes and trains to balloons and ferries. Tune: Lightly Row

-Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb by Al Perkins. Eric Gurney, illus. Tune: Skip to My Lou

-It’s Not Fair! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Tom Lichtenheld,illus. ISBN: 978-0-06-115257-3
Hilarious rhyming book that starts off local (‘...Why’d I get the smaller half? Why’d he get the bigger laugh?) but eventually asks bigger / global questions, e.g. ”How come she gets all the rings? (Saturn) Why do birds get all the wings?”
A rueful look at the human condition, that asserts, “It’s not fair!” Note: Syllabication challenges. Tune: London Bridge

-Me I Am by Jack Prlutsky. Christine Davenier, illus. ISBN:13-978-0-374-34902.
Tune: I’m a Little Teapot, Baby Bumblebee, Eensy Weensy Spider

-Oh, No! by Candace Fleming, Eric Rohmann, illus. ISBN: 978-0-375-84271-9.
Tune: Frog Went A-Courting
-One Red Rooster by Kathleen S. Carroll. Suzette Barbier, illus. ISBN: 0-395-60195-9. 
Farm animals colors, & counting are combined splendidly in this cumulative book. Dramatic play. Tune: London Bridge, Skip to My Lou

-See You Later by Holly Karapetkova. Download through computer’s “wayback” function, May 2005. Tune: Down by the Bay

-Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox. Helen Oxenbury, illus. ISBN: 978-0-15- 206057-2. Tune: Hush Little Baby, It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More

Other songs: Lady w/the Alligator Purse, Muffin Man, Itsy Bitsy Spider, I’ve Been Working on the Railroad

Notation Shorthand
1– 2– 3 -4– 5– 6– 7- 8 l=1beat / ll=dividedbeat/Z=rest(1beat) Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do 
!=2beats/!. =3beats/!=4beats

Frere Jacques: 4 beats patterns separated by (measure) line: / llll/lllZ/ll llll/lllZ//
1        2     3      1                  3      4     5                     5-6           5-4       3     1             1    (low)5    1
Are you slee-ping (x2) Broth-er John (x2) Morn-ing bells are ring-ing (x2) Bim Bam Bom x(2)

Brigid Finucane 
White Cloud Drive, Skokie, IL 60076

847-213-0713 3911 

Merit School of Music, Chicago, IL - – Collaborative blog. 18th of every month.
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