Okay, so I admit it. I’m almost a germaphobe! I became that way when my daughter was out of school for 3 months with whooping cough and at the same time my teenage son got mono.
I also know that music is a powerful teaching tool. As often is the case, my songwriting partner and I took this real-life experience and turned it into a song, Germ Attack. The song teaches children to cover their mouths with their arm or sleeve when they cough or sneeze. It’s great for children with special needs as well as the typical child.
Teaching ideas: When introducing the song into the classroom, tell the children: “Batman is a friend of mine. In fact, we had dinner the other night and Batman had a cold. He shared with me his secret of covering his mouth by pulling his cape across his mouth.” Next show the children how to cough into their elbow. Everyone practices this “super hero” technique before the song is played.
- When singing the chorus, add a little “practical movement” as well as your own groovy sixties’ choreography.
- When singing "Germ Attack," and "I must fight back," instead of singing the echo, everyone covers their mouths and coughs 3 times.
Art center: Encourage the children to draw posters to “Stop the Germ Attack."
Language Arts Center: Encourage the children to create their own comic strip based on the lyrics of the song.
Science: While on the playground, let the children cover their hands with flour. Watch how the flour spreads from surface to surface like germs do after someone coughs into his/her own hand.
I still remember almost everything I learned in my eighth grade Spanish class, and I’m pretty sure that is because my teacher used music to reinforce his lessons. He had a song for the alphabet, colors, numbers, and many other concepts, which we listened to often and could sing along to by the end of the semester.
I was reminded of that Spanish class when we received an email from a reader in México, asking for more information about using music to teach English. Just as there are so many music resources available to teachers of other languages (Spanish, French, German, and Chinese), the same is true for Teaching English to Non-Native Speakers.
Here are just a few of the English concepts that can be taught through music:
A common approach to incorporating music into the foreign language curriculum is to first present the concept or words, and then use the appropriate songs to reinforce the lesson. Play those songs often in class, and make copies on CDs for the students if possible. The more exposure to the music, the better, as the concept and words will be committed to memory through repetition.
You’ll also find that many Concept Songs for Young Children are often useful for teaching English vocabulary.
Songs for Teaching the English Language and Early Childhood Concept Songs
If you have any questions we can address on the Songs For Teaching Blog, please feel free to email them to "rachel at songsforteaching dot COM".
One of my favorite movies of all time, "The Wizard of Oz", inspired the song I’m sharing today. It’s about a scarecrow who just can’t scare the crows away, just like the character in the movie. This song is perfect for fall, and it also addresses an important educational area: learning body parts.
The lyrics of "Scarecrow Song" mention several different body parts, including the head, feet, elbows, knees, nose, and ears. Here are just a few ways to use the song as a teaching tool for this particular subject.
- Using either a real or illustrated scarecrow, have your students place paper crows on each body part as it is sung.
- Have students touch or point to each body part at the appropriate time as the song is sung or played.
- As you (the teacher or leader) are singing the song, point to each body part. Do not sing the body parts, though; let the students fill in the blanks.
- Change the order of verses in the song so that students do not simply memorize the order of the body parts as they are mentioned. Keep them on their toes!
Listen to "Scarecrow Song" in the audio player, below.
See my Listen & Learn: Fall collection
and SongsForTeaching’s Songs for Teaching the Parts of the Body.
What’s big and orange and grows on the ground?
Why, pumpkins, of course! It’s that time of year when they start popping up everywhere, including classrooms. Many schools hold pumpkin-decorating contests, which I always loved as a child. Our students love decorating pumpkins, both actual and on paper.
Pumpkins have many uses during the fall season, many of which can be incorporated into classroom activities. The song I wrote, "Pumpkin, Pumpkin", features several of them:
- Pumpkin picking
- Carving Jack-O’-Lanterns
- Making pumpkin pie
- Roasting pumpkin seeds
I use this song both as a precursor to those activities, and just for fun while students are drawing or decorating pumpkins. What are your favorite pumpkin songs?
Listen to "Pumpkin, Pumpkin" in the audio player, below.
See my Listen & Learn: Fall collection
and SongsForTeaching’s Songs About the Seasons and Halloween Songs.