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This month is Hispanic Heritage month! I love Hispanic Heritage month, because I love teaching lessons from different cultures, and I also love a good theme. I find themes to be the easiest way to make lessons really flow together. This year, I am sharing one of my favorite lessons: Al Citron.
Al Citron is a Mexican folk song that has a passing game along with it. It is perfect to teach dotted quarter-eighth note because those are ALL over the song.
Also, the words are nonsense, so if you totally mess them up, it really doesn’t matter.
I use this lesson with my 4th grade and 5th grade students, but you can use it where’ve it fits into your sequence!
This post includes the opportunity to get FREE Spanish fruit rhythm composition cards. If you would like to get those, plus visuals, printable worksheets, and printable lesson plans, then you can check out the product in my TPT shop. As always, you can do the lesson without the product, but it enhances it and makes a huge difference!
Looking for more Hispanic music ideas? Check out this post for a roundup of my favorites!
- I always start with a movement based warm up. For this lesson, we learned the A section to a dance to La Raspa (AKA the Mexican Hat Dance). After the dance, I showed them on the map where Mexico was. Then….
- Tell the students that we are going to learn a Mexican song and game. The words are in Spanish, but most of them don’t mean anything, so it’s ok it they are not perfect.
- Teach students the words to the song (Side note: I find that teaching other languages is easiest when you split up the words one day and the melody another day.)
- Teach students the melody by rote and have them keep the steady beat on their bodies. (These visuals are from the PowerPoint in my product. It comes in regular and stick notation!)
- After teaching the song, prep the game by having students take their right hand and keep the beat by tapping their left leg and then their right leg (this is prepping the passing motion).
- Once students have gotten that down, change it so that the last part of Al Citron (triki triki tron) goes left-right-left.
- Give students items they will pass during the game. Traditionally, I believe that it is supposed to be rocks, but I use cans, because that is what I use for the cup game, so I already have them ready to go.
- Have them practice the motion in their seats first, then get into a circle. This is helpful, because even with big kids, going from mirroring to being in a circle and seeing people doing what is seemingly the opposite is a struggle.
- Before playing the game, practice just the very beginning (Al citron) to make sure that all of the students are going the correct way (I usually do counter clockwise for everything).
- Once everyone is going the right way, play the game! Students pass the cans to the right while singing the song. At the end, on the words triki triki tron, you switch the pattern to right-left-right. If anyone messes that up, then they are out!
Dotted Quarter-Eighth Note
- Once students have sung Al Citron so many times they could sing it in their sleep, we look at the dotted quarter-eighth note rhythm. I start by putting the notation up on the board and asking students what rhythms they know. We will review quarter notes and eighth notes.
- Next, I point at the dotted quarter note and ask what they think it is. After allowing a few to try to figure it out, someone will usually say “It looks like a quarter note and a dot.” And I say, “You are exactly right! It’s a quarter note with a dot. And we call it a dotted quarter note. Think you can remember that?” And they look at me like I’m crazy.
- I briefly explain that quarter note gets one beat and the dot gives it half, and we do the math on the board, but really I want them to think of the dotted quarter-eighth combo as having two beats all together, so I don’t stress that too too much.
- Next, I let the students practice this new rhythm a few different ways. We are working on the pianos, so I have been giving students dotted quarter eighth note rhythms to play on the pianos during centers.
- We have also been playing Kaboom, because it is wonderful, and my level 3 rhythms include dotted quarter notes.
- Finally, Mexican fruit compositions! In my Al Citron lesson pack, there are composition cards where students can create rhythms with different fruit names! (Because a citron is a citrus fruit, kind of like a lemon). These composition cards are available FOR FREE in my FREE Resource Library. (Not a member yet? Sign up here! You get access to the growing free resource library PLUS practical tips + tricks in your email every Sunday morning!) There are different options for these– You can make the rhythms and play them on instruments. Make the rhythms and write them down. Or you can make the rhythms and then add melody to it (You can do B-A-G if you are working on recorder– I also have level 3 rhythms BAG flashcards too!)
So there you have it– a whole lessons (or a few day’s worth of lessons) on the singing game Al Citron. Have you ever use this in your classroom? How did you use it?
Interested in the whole resource? You can get it here!