Happy 2017! I hope that you enjoyed your holidays!
The days are just flying! I’ve already finished one week back to school since Christmas break. Even with it only being a partial week, it seemed to last forever. It’s hard for students and teachers alike to get back into a schedule, after sleeping in and staying up each night. Although I thoroughly enjoyed my break and time spent with family, I was really looking forward to getting back into the groove of a normal schedule.
On my first day back I found myself reviewing my lesson plans. With two days left to finish up the cycle week, I didn’t really want to teach the same lesson – Christmas songs and rhythm games. I was looking for a fun way to practice the rhythm of “syncopa” with my students, something that would tie in January and New Year’s. So I got to work, finding myself on my lunch break, writing a short and simple poem/chant.
At that time I just wrote the lyrics and the rhythm.
When I taught it to the kids, as active as they were that first day back, I decided to add instruments, a good incentive for positive behavior. I gave them some choices about what instruments to play for each line. First I had them find the line with all syncopas (line 3), and they decided to add some jingle bells and cabasa for that part. Everyone spoke the chant with instruments only on that line. Then we discussed how the last line had no syncopated rhythm at all. Hand drums and wood blocks were assigned to that part. Again we performed it with instruments on lines 3 and 4 now. Looking at lines 1 and 2 (the ones without instruments), they discovered that they had the exact same rhythm. So we added in maracas and tambourines to play the first 2 lines.
Finally, all the instruments played their assigned rhythm/line as we all spoke the words to the chant. Although slowly at first, it became very easy to pick up the tempo, and the kids loved it! It was a great way to assess their understanding of syncopa – through reading, speaking, and playing it.
If you’re interested in my final product, check it out by clicking here or on the picture below. The teaching process is slightly different than what I used above. I provided suggested instruments, as well the opportunity to make up your own arrangement to accompany the chant.
I hope that you can find some benefit from reading this today. I'd love to hear what kind of songs and activities you are doing with your students this new year. Always feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy New Year!