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Kindergarten music. It is so much fun. And so terrifying.
As I allude to in this post about teaching rhythm, I felt a bit apprehensive my first year about teaching 4 and 5 year olds EVERYTHING about music. I mean, these students come in and don’t know anything. We have very few students who attend pre K, so the first week of Kindergarten goes like this:
“Look down underneath you. That is a dot. It is shaped like a circle. It is a red dot. What color dot do you sit on? Raise your hand if you sit on a red dot.”
Seriously. I have to reseat kids anytime we stand up and sit down because they will have already migrated.
Where do you even start with music?
Steady beat and singing voice.
That is the answer. If you are not sure what to do with your Kindergarten kids at the beginning of the year, do those two things.
This lesson is the one I am using for the first week of school. I did a very similar lesson last year, but I am tweaking a few things for this year so that it will run smoother and be more effective. (It was too much sitting last year, so I am hoping that the actions will help students pay attention!)
I adapted this lesson from this one that I found from Pinterest, but I cannot for the life of me find it to tag for you! If I remember correctly, they used cups to represent each of the voices: singing, whispering, shouting, and talking. I did this with puppets and stuffed animals to represent each voice (for example, I had a lion for yelling– and this one is adorable and affordable). This worked well, but I think it was just too much for the very first day.
This year, I am adding in a tiny bit of steady beat work, and focusing on just singing v. talking voice. The next week we will talk through whisper and yelling voices, but for the very first day back, two will be plenty.
Also, this ended up turning into like two or three lessons, because we had to take out time to talk about things like where you sit and how to raise your hand, etc. So feel free to spread it out or pick and choose what you do. Make it work for you! (And tell us in the comments how you did it!)
Also read: Phrases for Classroom Management
Singing Voice v. Talking Voice
I can identify and use my talking and singing voices.
- Stuffed animal or puppet to represent talking voice (I suggest a dog like this one or cat like this one or something that is not overly loud or quiet)
- A stuffed animal or puppet of a bird (I have an owl which is PERFECT)
- Book “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly”
And although I don’t need them for this lesson, I just found these finger puppets while I was looking for the other ones to link for you and I want them so bad! My birthday is in October, if anyone wants to get them for me.
- Greet the children when they walk into the classroom.
- If this is the first week of school, go over seating charts, classroom procedures, etc.
- Warm up: Have students listen to a song and tap the steady beat that you show. You tap your arms, legs, march in place, etc and students follow you. On the first week, I do not even tell kindergarten what this is, I just say “Try to match me!” I’ll introduce it later, but that is not my MAIN focus today. For my first grade I will say to show me the steady beat.
- Next, pull out your talking voice puppet or animal. Introduce the kids to it (I like to give mine composer names like Bizet or Mozart).
- After that, tell the students, “My friend here loves to talk. He talks all of the time. When he talks, he uses his talking voice. Can you say talking voice? Our talking voices are not very loud, but they are also not very quiet.”
- Practice using your talking voices by saying kids’ names around the room. I use the chant “Name, name, say your name”. I’m not sure who came up with it but it goes like this: students tap the beat (when I saw it done they did pat, clap, pat, clap, but I am just going to pat our legs). Everyone says “Name, name, say your name”, and then one person says “My name is Ms. Davis.” The whole class repeats “Her name is Ms. Davis.”
Also read: Tips for the New Music Teacher from My First Year of Teaching
- Once we finish that, pull out the owl stuffed animal. Ask if anyone knows what an owl says. Somebody will figured it out and make a “hoo” sound. Have everybody try the hoo-ing sound.
- Then ask: Did that feel the same or different than your talking voice? Owls use their singing voice.
- Have students echo-sing some hoo’s with you like the owl does.
- Then have everyone practice their singing voice. I do this by having students sing “My name is Ms. Davis” and having everyone repeat “Her name is Ms. Davis” on sol and mi. (I learned that in my college general music methods class.) Allow students to hold the owl while they do this so that they can sing to it.
- While students sing, jot down whether they used their singing voice or not and you have an assessment grade!
- Next, read “There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly”. Emphasize that this is your talking voice. If you don’t have the book (and your library doesn’t either), you can watch this video where they read it to you. Stop throughout and let them do motions that go along with the song, like these:
Fly: Put thumb and first finger together and move around like a fly
Spider: Move hands like in itsy bitsy spider
Cat: Move fingers through imaginary whiskers
Dog: Hold hands in front of you like a dog
Cow: Make a circle in front of you like you have a big belly
Horse: Move hands like using reins on a horse
I don’t know why she swallowed a fly: Hold hands out for question
Perhaps she’ll die: Wave finger in front of you
Also read: Ways to Destress After a Crazy Day of Teaching
- Ask students if you were using you singing voice or talking voice.
- Tell them that now you are going to sing the song, and see if they can do the actions still.
- Sing the song while turning pages in the book. If you don’t know it, look it up here.
- Have students try to sing along with you. You are not looking for mastery if it is beginning of the year, just trying to get them to do anything in their head voice.
- Have students answer the following questions for closing:
- What two voices did we talk about today?
- Which voice does my owl use?
- Can you make an owl sound?
- Do you think your singing voice feels different than your talking voice? How?
And that’s it! It is nothing revolutionary, just pieces that I have picked up from different places meshed together.
Also read: Calming Down Activities for Music Class
How do you teach about singing voice? What do you teach the first week of school in Kindergarten? Let us know in the comments!