It is obvious that not all songs are suitable for teaching in the primary classroom. Teachers, therefore, have to carefully select the song(s) that is/are applicable to their specific teaching context.
With a view to using songs to promote critical thinking, creativity and cultural awareness, what do you think are the criteria for selecting an appropriate song for use in the primary classroom?
Criteria for selecting an appropriate song for use in the classroom:
1) Degree of difficulty in language (e.g. vocabulary)
2) Length of the song
4) Content/subject matter
5) Cultural relevance
There are at least two versions of the nursery rhyme "I'm a Little Teapot". In one version the third line reads
"when I get all steamed up, hear me shout" while another version reads" when the water's boiling hear me shout"
1. Which one will you choose to use? Why?
2. In what circumstances will you choose the other version? Why?
Version 2 is easier in terms of language as it involves a simpler verb "boil" and the present continuous tense. It may be more suitable for pupils in Key Stage 1.
Version 1 involves the more difficult expression "steam up" in its passive form. Pupils have to understand not only its literal meaning - "with steam rising up", but also its deeper meaning - "to make angry or excited" or "to arouse". Therefore, whether teachers choose Version 1 or 2 depends largely on the levels of pupils and the objectives of the lesson.
1. Choose two nursery rhymes or songs (from the resource file in Section 3.13.1) which are suitable for your pupils. Explain why they are suitable.
2. Choose two nursery rhymes or songs which are NOT suitable for your pupils. Explain why they are unsuitable.
Try to share your ideas with other teachers in your school.
Strategies for using nursery rhymes and songs in the primary classroom
Introduce the song
There are a lot of different approaches to teaching nursery rhymes to children in the classroom. The most common way is to sing a rhyme to the children while showing them big pictures and repeating the lyrics until the children can sing along with you. Of course if you do not have the courage to sing in front of your class or you think you do not sing as well as the singer(s) on the CD, you can always play the song to the class.
Try to include actions while singing the song
If it mentions a body part, touch it, shake it or wiggle it; and if there is an action mentioned, mimic it. If some motions seem awkward for you, come up with your own. What is important is to amuse and delight your pupils, and you know best what works for both of you.
2) Point to the picture when the object/person/animal is mentioned
This helps the pupils associate the picture and the sound with the words, and thus expand their vocabulary.