Monday, September 9, 2013

Kitty Cat Lessons for Kinder

My kinders and I are having a fun time with kitty cat songs.  I have a cute little grey stuffed cat named Juba that the students love to sing a play with.  There is a little song called "Juba", but I'll have to add that later as the music is at school - whoops.

 We are big into "I can" statements this year, so:
1. I can use my singing voice when I sing with the class.
2. I can use my singing voice when I sing alone.
3. I can listen for quiet and loud sounds in a song.
4. I can listen for a fast steady beat and a slow steady beat in a song.
5. I can play the xylophone correctly on the steady beat.
6. I can play the jingle bells correctly on the steady beat.
7. I can use music to tell a story.
8. I can move and play in the music room safely.
Obviously, the kinders can't read all of these (you should see my first graders - they love to read them and "check them off" in their brains as we do them) but I still use this language with them.  I don't bombard them all at once with these statements, but rather refer to them as we need them through out the lessons.

To being the lesson, I teach the song, "Soft Kitty" by rote.  Yes, we are talking the same, "Soft Kitty" song that Sheldon sings in the TV series the Big Bang Theory (of which I am a huge fan).  We pantomime motions that correspond to the words and the students love it (my 1st graders still ask to sing this all the time).  Later in the year, we can decode the rhythm since it uses the ta, ta rest, and titi (see, it is still educational!).  The version I use is a little different from the one below (I have a quarter note and then a rest instead of the half note and I end this song with do-re-do instead of do-do-do).  We discuss the dynamic level of this song (quiet - piano).  The students sing this beautifully with nice tone - I love it:
Click on this to learn more about the song

Cute little picture to help explain the song
Then, we learn the story for "Old Grey Cat".  I show the students this visual as we listen to the song.  In the last verse, the tempo speeds up and the music gets louder (forte).  We discuss this change and why it fits with the song.  We also discuss using music to tell stories (which is great because I often incorporate books, short stories, poems, or story-songs into our lessons).

 Afterward, the students sing with the recording.  We do the following movements, all while singing.  I assign one student to be the "cat":
Verse 1: The cat pretends to be asleep, curled up on the floor.  The other students are the "mice" and they point at the cat as if noticing "oh, he's asleep, we can come out now"
Verse 2: Mice pretend to creep around (hands up by chest like, small tiptoe steps).
Verse 3: Mice pretend to eat cheese with hands.
Verse 4: Mice pretend to sleep, lie on back.
Verse 5: The cat wakes up and pretends to sneak around (on two legs, not four).
Verse 6: The mice wake up and safely run (it is really controlled jogging - we never run if we are inside) while the cat pretends to chase them.  On the words "in the house" the mice must freeze and put their hands in a point above their heads (like a house roof) before the cat can tag them.
There is really no point to this game.  If the cat tags someone, we pretend to "chomp" them, then they promptly return to the next repetition of the game.  The kiddos don't mind - they love it.  I switch out the cat every round.

To extend this, I assign a few students to soprano xylophones set up in G pentatonic.  The students can keep the beat with both hands playing together on any notes they choose.  During the last verse, the students enjoy playing with the quicker tempo.
Then, the students sing the song "Juba" as we create a circle.  Once in the circle, I sing the song "Poor Little Kitty Cat" while playing a soft chord bordun on an alto metallophone.  My wonderful mentor, Carrianne, showed me this song when I was student-teaching with her.  I've loved it ever since, but unfortunately I don't have the information for where to find the song, although I'm pretty sure it is in an Orff Level 1 book.  The students sing and match the steady beat of my bordun with their hands.  Then, I assign a student to hold "Juba" the cat and walk around the circle, lightly "bouncing" (not really touching) the stuffed cat above the student's heads on the beat (their bounce matches my playing).  Whoever the cat lands on at the end of the song must respond to a sung question, "Kitty cat, where are you?"  - "Here I am, here I am."  This is a great time for me to praise students who are using a correct singing voice and encourage those who aren't.  This also reinforces the steady beat.  Often, I'll add students to an unpitched metal (I actually like jingle bells here, eek) on the steady beat.

We also re-visit these songs later in the year when we learn "Naughty Kitty Cat" which you can download for free here.

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