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April 17, 2017

Book Buzz: Sing With Books That Are Songs

By Brian Smith
Grades PreK–K, 1–2

    I don’t have any real musical talent. I did play the alto saxophone in third and fourth grades and realized that I should have picked an instrument that didn’t require so much breathing. I also sang in the chorus at school, until puberty. Even without any discernible musical ability, I’ve noticed a trend in kids’ book over the last couple of years and that has inspired this Book Buzz post. There are several books that are based on songs and even without musical talent, they have my class and me singing more than ever before. (Just for some clarity, the books listed below were songs first and turned into picture books at a later date.)

    There are also several books that became or inspired songs. For these songs, check out Emily Arrow. She does wonderful songs based on kid lit picture books. My class loves her and their favorite Emily Arrow song is “Be a Friend” based on the absolutely amazing book, Be a Friend, by Salina Yoon.

    This Land Is Your Land  

    Song by Woody Guthrie

    Book by Woody Guthrie with illustrations by Kathy Jakobsen

    Topic to Teach — Social Studies: Landforms

    What a great, folksy classic. Just try not singing along as you listen to this tune. Even if you are able to resist (and why would you want to!), your students won’t because kids love this chorus. That is a very simple and time-tested truth. This book is a great introduction to teaching landforms. My class also loves this song, especially this time of year because our Kindergarten Postcard Pen Pals across the country have taught us all about the different parts of our amazing nation.

     

    Just the Two of Us

    Song by Will Smith, Bill Withers, Ralph MacDonald, and William Salter

    Book by Will Smith and illustrations by Kadir Nelson

    Topic to Teach — Math: Subitizing and Doubles

    Will Smith all but wrote the soundtrack to my life growing up, so I had to own this book for my classroom. Sing it with me, “Just the two of us. Building castles in the sky.” The 1981 love song of the same name by Bill Withers, William Slater, and Ralph MacDonald inspires Smith’s version.

    I use this song and then have my students pair off. We then talk about counting by twos. This leads into the idea of odd and even.

    The next activity actually requires more singing.

    •    First I pass out subitizing cards. These little cards have the dots on them, like dice, but the dots are in different arrangements. Each child gets one card. I have two cards with two dots on them, three cards with three dots on them, four cards with four dots and so on.

    •    The kids find the other students with the same number of dots.

    •    When they all get in their groups, I sing the first verse of the following song:

    “The Kids Go Marching” (tune of “The Ants Go Marching”)

    The kids go marching one by one

    To school, to school.

    The kids go marching one by one

    To school, to school.

    The kids go marching one by one

    They stay at school until it’s done

    And they all go marching home.

    •    I sing it again, this time with the class.

    •    Then, each group creates its own verse with a new action.

    •    After everyone has shared their verse and I have written down the actions that they came up with on the board, I have the class sing the song, while acting it out.

     

    Over the Rainbow

    Music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg

    Book by E.Y. Harburg with illustrations by Eric Puybaret

    Topic to Teach — Science: Seasons

    This book is illustrated with the paintings of Eric Puybaret and they are exquisite. To be able to take a song that is as iconic as the movie that it’s connected to and create a book for the ages is a true talent.

    I bring this book out every year with my spring books. Typically, it’s the first book that I read when I want to start talking about color words, rainbows, and spring.

    Insert Over the Rainbow Book picture to right of paragraph above

    Any of your favorite rainbow activities would be great after reading this introduction to the idea of a rainbow. I love introducing my class to Roy G. Biv and then have them pick what color pancake they would like to experience. Of course, if you can conduct this experience around Pancake Day, that would be great timing — and don’t shy away from some colorful pancakes!

    Roy G. Biv stands for the colors of the rainbow: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet.

     

    We are the Dinosaurs

    Song by Laurie Berkner

    Book by Laurie Berkner with illustrations by Ben Clanton

    Topic to Teach — Recess: Indoor/Outdoor Structured Recess

    I love Laurie Berkner. She has been called “the Queen of Children’s Music” by People and she is viewed as a total rock star in our house. When my daughter Ella was smaller, she adored her! Being Laurie Berkner or a cow (she meant cowgirl) were her two career paths. We even took Ella to see Berkner in concert. She made a sign to hold up and while we were there, Ella was right in the kiddie mosh pit that developed. Now that Ella has grown, all the CDs and videos are now in my kindergarten classroom. To no one’s surprise, it is the Berkner songs that my kids ask to hear repeatedly.

    “We are the Dinosaurs” is one of her earlier songs and it’s a classic. The most wonderful thing about this book is that it’s two books in one. This book has the song lyrics, but it also has a second story using word bubbles to tell a story from the dinosaurs’ point of view.

    The easy-peasy activity is to have your children act out what the dinosaurs do. These include marching, eating, and resting. Do this as an indoor recess or an outdoor structured recess; because it’s set to music, the students beg to do it again and again. A fun spin on this would be to get a Berkner CD in your classroom and have a dance party on an indoor recess day.

      

      

    Singing, moving, and tasting are all ways to help your teaching stick with your students and using these books based on great songs will help you throughout your day.

    Find me, dad2ella, on Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram.

    I can’t wait to see you next time.

    I don’t have any real musical talent. I did play the alto saxophone in third and fourth grades and realized that I should have picked an instrument that didn’t require so much breathing. I also sang in the chorus at school, until puberty. Even without any discernible musical ability, I’ve noticed a trend in kids’ book over the last couple of years and that has inspired this Book Buzz post. There are several books that are based on songs and even without musical talent, they have my class and me singing more than ever before. (Just for some clarity, the books listed below were songs first and turned into picture books at a later date.)

    There are also several books that became or inspired songs. For these songs, check out Emily Arrow. She does wonderful songs based on kid lit picture books. My class loves her and their favorite Emily Arrow song is “Be a Friend” based on the absolutely amazing book, Be a Friend, by Salina Yoon.

    This Land Is Your Land  

    Song by Woody Guthrie

    Book by Woody Guthrie with illustrations by Kathy Jakobsen

    Topic to Teach — Social Studies: Landforms

    What a great, folksy classic. Just try not singing along as you listen to this tune. Even if you are able to resist (and why would you want to!), your students won’t because kids love this chorus. That is a very simple and time-tested truth. This book is a great introduction to teaching landforms. My class also loves this song, especially this time of year because our Kindergarten Postcard Pen Pals across the country have taught us all about the different parts of our amazing nation.

     

    Just the Two of Us

    Song by Will Smith, Bill Withers, Ralph MacDonald, and William Salter

    Book by Will Smith and illustrations by Kadir Nelson

    Topic to Teach — Math: Subitizing and Doubles

    Will Smith all but wrote the soundtrack to my life growing up, so I had to own this book for my classroom. Sing it with me, “Just the two of us. Building castles in the sky.” The 1981 love song of the same name by Bill Withers, William Slater, and Ralph MacDonald inspires Smith’s version.

    I use this song and then have my students pair off. We then talk about counting by twos. This leads into the idea of odd and even.

    The next activity actually requires more singing.

    •    First I pass out subitizing cards. These little cards have the dots on them, like dice, but the dots are in different arrangements. Each child gets one card. I have two cards with two dots on them, three cards with three dots on them, four cards with four dots and so on.

    •    The kids find the other students with the same number of dots.

    •    When they all get in their groups, I sing the first verse of the following song:

    “The Kids Go Marching” (tune of “The Ants Go Marching”)

    The kids go marching one by one

    To school, to school.

    The kids go marching one by one

    To school, to school.

    The kids go marching one by one

    They stay at school until it’s done

    And they all go marching home.

    •    I sing it again, this time with the class.

    •    Then, each group creates its own verse with a new action.

    •    After everyone has shared their verse and I have written down the actions that they came up with on the board, I have the class sing the song, while acting it out.

     

    Over the Rainbow

    Music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg

    Book by E.Y. Harburg with illustrations by Eric Puybaret

    Topic to Teach — Science: Seasons

    This book is illustrated with the paintings of Eric Puybaret and they are exquisite. To be able to take a song that is as iconic as the movie that it’s connected to and create a book for the ages is a true talent.

    I bring this book out every year with my spring books. Typically, it’s the first book that I read when I want to start talking about color words, rainbows, and spring.

    Insert Over the Rainbow Book picture to right of paragraph above

    Any of your favorite rainbow activities would be great after reading this introduction to the idea of a rainbow. I love introducing my class to Roy G. Biv and then have them pick what color pancake they would like to experience. Of course, if you can conduct this experience around Pancake Day, that would be great timing — and don’t shy away from some colorful pancakes!

    Roy G. Biv stands for the colors of the rainbow: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet.

     

    We are the Dinosaurs

    Song by Laurie Berkner

    Book by Laurie Berkner with illustrations by Ben Clanton

    Topic to Teach — Recess: Indoor/Outdoor Structured Recess

    I love Laurie Berkner. She has been called “the Queen of Children’s Music” by People and she is viewed as a total rock star in our house. When my daughter Ella was smaller, she adored her! Being Laurie Berkner or a cow (she meant cowgirl) were her two career paths. We even took Ella to see Berkner in concert. She made a sign to hold up and while we were there, Ella was right in the kiddie mosh pit that developed. Now that Ella has grown, all the CDs and videos are now in my kindergarten classroom. To no one’s surprise, it is the Berkner songs that my kids ask to hear repeatedly.

    “We are the Dinosaurs” is one of her earlier songs and it’s a classic. The most wonderful thing about this book is that it’s two books in one. This book has the song lyrics, but it also has a second story using word bubbles to tell a story from the dinosaurs’ point of view.

    The easy-peasy activity is to have your children act out what the dinosaurs do. These include marching, eating, and resting. Do this as an indoor recess or an outdoor structured recess; because it’s set to music, the students beg to do it again and again. A fun spin on this would be to get a Berkner CD in your classroom and have a dance party on an indoor recess day.

      

      

    Singing, moving, and tasting are all ways to help your teaching stick with your students and using these books based on great songs will help you throughout your day.

    Find me, dad2ella, on Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram.

    I can’t wait to see you next time.

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