Spring is finally here and it is so nice to see the trees in bloom and to experience the warmer weather. This week in my PreK/K music classes, we performed one of their favorite songs/activities: John the Rabbit. This familiar and traditional children’s song (one of many versions can be found here: http://www.mamalisa.com/?t=es&p=3765&c=23) has the students responding “Oh yes!” after every phrase. This song has numerous musical concepts that can be incorporated into the lesson from the same pitch response, to the repetitive rhythm pattern of the response, to singing the song in a minor key, to performing the rhythm pattern on classroom instruments, and more. It also has wonderful cross-curricular concepts that can be incorporated into the lesson such as the seasons (spring or fall), animals (rabbit), movement (jumping or hopping), reading sight words (“yes” is a popular sight word on kindergarten sight word lists), and more.
Here is an example of a lesson that I have taught to early elementary students using this song:
- Sing the song, “John the Rabbit,” while the children tap the steady beat on their laps.
- Ask the children, “What words repeated throughout the song?” (“Oh yes!”)
- Sing the song again and have the children clap the rhythm of the words, “Oh yes!” every time it occurs in the song.
- Echo-sing the pitches for “Oh yes!”
- Sing the words, “Oh yes!”
- Sing the song again and have the children sing the “Oh yes!” every time it occurs in the song.
- Sing the song again and have the children jump every time the words, “Oh yes!” occur in the song.
- Pass out classroom instruments. I do this in several ways:
- Call each student one at a time to select a classroom instrument from the woods, drums, shakers, or metals families.
- Pass out instruments while I sing an instrument song.
- Have the instruments set up in a circle, I sing a song, and the children form a line that circles around the instruments where they stop and sit when I stop singing the song.
- Sing the song again and have the children perform the “Oh yes!” rhythm on their classroom instruments.
- Rotate the instruments and play the song a few more times.
- Show the notation and the words and have the children experience performing with the notation and reading the sight words.
- Continue to the next PreK/K activity.
This activity will take around 5 minutes. If I have children with short attention spans or the children are having an off day, then I will shorten the activity and move on to the next activity.
This is just one of many musical spring activities we perform in our music classes. Happy Spring!
Amy M. Burns is an elementary music educator, clinician, author, and musician. She currently works at Far Hills Country Day School in Far Hills, NJ teaching PreK through Grade 3 general music, grade 5 instrumental music, and grades 4-8 instrumental band. She is the author of Technology Integration in the Elementary Music Classroom, Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with a SMART Board, and Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with One or more iPads! She is also an author for Online Learning Exchange™ Interactive Music powered by Silver Burdett. She has given numerous presentations on integrating technology into the elementary music classroom as well as being a keynote speaker for music technology conferences in Texas, Indiana, St. Maarten, and Australia. She is the recipient of the 2005 TI:ME Teacher of the Year Award, the 2016 NJ Master Music Teacher Award, the 2016 NJ Governor’s Leader in Arts Education Award, and the 2017 Non-Public School Teacher of the Year Award. You can find out more about Amy at her website: amymburns.com