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December 5, 2012 Marvelous Toy: An Integrated Project for December By Shari Edwards
Grades 1–2, 3–5

    Last week I introduced my class to an old Tom Paxton song called "The Marvelous Toy" made popular by the folk group Peter, Paul and Mary. It isn’t really a holiday song, but because it’s about a gift that is a toy (Isn’t that what’s on all of their minds right now?), I thought it might be just the thing to engage them in some new learning and review of skills. I was correct! Within a few minutes I had them hooked and delving into new vocabulary, making inferences, and using other comprehension strategies. I also wanted them to continue working on their reading fluency, and for that, I rely on rich, interesting, real music.



    image of graphic organizer

    Would you like to try it for yourself? If so, read on!

    Here's what you'll need:

    • “The Marvelous Toy” recording by Peter, Paul and Mary (I downloaded it from iTunes because I can use my iPhone or laptop, or burn a CD)
    • Lyrics for “The Marvelous Toy” (One set per student — though an additional set for them to mark up is useful)
    • Graphic organizer activity sheets including:
      • "The Marvelous Toy" (instructions)
      • "Marvelous Words"
      • "Marvelous Mystery Toy"
      • "The Story of the Marvelous Toy"
      • "My Marvelous Toy"
      • "Opportunities for Further Learning"
    • Construction paper, art supplies
    • Lots of imagination


    Introducing the Song

    Introduce the song and restudents studying lyric sheetsad through the lyrics together.

    Discuss what they notice about the toy and what they think is happening in the song.

    Play the song through twice and let students follow along. My 2nd graders love using the plastic fingers that can be found at party stores to help them track as they sing.







    Many of these activities require the graphic organizer activity sheets listed above.

    Students draw a box around the nouns, circle the verbs, underline the adjecproject activity sheetstives, and draw a wavy line under the onomatopoeia on the lyrics sheet. Students can make lists of the words on the "Marvelous Words" activity sheet.

    Students look for clues as to what the toy looks like, and how it works and moves, and list them on the "Marvelous Mystery Toy" activity sheet. They can then draw a picture of what the toy might have looked like.

    Students retell the story of the toy with the "Story of the Marvelous Toy: Beginning, Middle, and End" activity sheet.

    Students invent their own Marvelous Toy and make a 3-D model of it out of construction paper. With younger students, give them some mini lessons on folding rectangular prisms and cylinders, and cutting paper to make special features for their toy. Ask them to keep in mind how they want the toy to move and sound for the written portion of the project.

    clue sheetStudents describe their toy on the "My Marvelous Toy" activity sheet or on lined paper then write about their toy's movements using onomatopoeia.   

    Display student projects and writing on construction paper.

    Let students practice reading fluency by having them sing along to the song using their lyrics sheet several times during the week.




    There are so many wonderful opportunities for further learning using "The Marvelous Toy." Below are a few that I student projectdiscovered as we worked our way through the project.

    Cause and Effect (Why did the little boy start to cry?)

    Possessive Nouns (_____’s Marvelous Toy)

    Past and Present Tense (In the first and last refrain: “It went . . . ” and “It still goes . . . ”)

    Vocabulary Development ("marvelous," "homeward," "behold," "delight," "glee," etc.)


    Rhyming words

    Inference (What would the toy have to have in order to march and chug?)

    Simple machines that might be a part of this toy


    How do you use music to help your students learn?


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Susan Cheyney