LL: Sing Along

birds singing by johnny_automatic - birds on a branch singing together using sheet music  from "A Primer" by Catherine Turner Bryce and Frank E SpauldingAnyone else choose a program in time for a publication deadline (say 4-6 months in advance) and by the time the program actually rolls around you're not excited for it?

Yeah. That was totally the Sing Along program I had scheduled for this morning. We're spending some time highlighting each of the five early literacy practices and this month's is SING, so it seemed like a fun way to create a program tie-in and stretch myself beyond a dance party.

And then I lost the key for the magical closet with all my musical instruments, ribbons, scarves, parachute, etc. Since this closet is in the original part of the library, from 1927, the key was a skeleton key. So not one you can just head over to the local hardware store to replace. When I inquired of our maintenance man how we could get another I learned that the locksmith "found" the key we had had. So after spending several days looking everywhere I could think of, and 45 minutes of trying to MacGyver my way into my own closet, I was feeling rather defeated about the probable success of a sing-along program for 2-5 year olds composed of only singing.

I thought about scrapping the whole thing, but I decided that would be too easy. So instead, I improvised like a good musician/librarian (and MacGyver. Without explosives.)

Here's what we did:

1. 5 Practices Song with ASL
2. ABC song. In regular and robot voices.
3. Down by the Bay (call and response) from the Learning Groove
4. Song Cube-- we rolled Itsy Bitsy Spider (and sang with the mommy and baby spider verses)
5. Song Cube-- we rolled Wheels on the Bus (I let the kids tell me which verses we were going to do)
6. You are Clapping from the Learning Groove
7. Shaker making! So I knew I wanted to have some other ways incoporate music making and movement to break up the flow and encourage kids who may not wish to sing to participate. So from my craft stash I grabbed: small paper cups, beans & small pasta noodles, and duct tape. Kids filled up one of their cups as much as they wanted with whatever they wanted, and then we taped the second cup on the top. Instant shaker things that were very easy to make.
8. I Can Shake My Shaker Egg from the Learning Groove
9. The Crazy Shakedown by Razzamatazz for Kids
10. Song Cube-- We rolled If You're Happy and You Know It (we clapped, stomped, shook our shakers, and said "whoo hoo!")
11. Song Cube-- We rolled Mary Had a Little Lamb (we sang and then talked about what fleece was, and then sang it again with fleece as red as an apple, purple as a bunch of grapes, as colorful as a rainbow)
12. Since I didn't have scarves or ribbons, I grabbed some crepe paper we had and cut ~1.5 ft. lengths. We listened to Roll With the Waves by the Learning Groove and played with the streamers.
13. I read the Seals on the Bus by Lenny Hort.
14. Song Cube-- Row Row Row Your Boat (normal, then a little faster, faster still, through the rapids, calm again but I sing "gently down the waterfall! AHHHHHHHH! as the last part of the song)
15. I grabbed matching pairs of some of the different styles of wooden floor blocks we have for "rhythm sticks." We practiced tapping them together in different ways. Then I played Clap Your Hands by They Might Be Giants. We just used the blocks for all three verses, tapping slow and then fast.
15. Song Cube-- Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star in regular and underwater voices.
16. Book Baby.

In the end, most of the kids stayed engaged for the entire 45 minutes. I was definitely expecting to loose them earlier, especially without the aid of my magical closet.

It was a good lesson for me that well chosen material, a genuine, authentic enjoyment of participating in the activities, and some spontaneous creativity can go a long way. I realized I rely more heavily on props and instruments to compensate for the pizzazz? I assume I am lacking as a presenter. I trend toward the reserved, quiet end of the spectrum, enviously eyeing librarians who have 75 different character voices, confident puppet abilities that even adults enjoy, and facial expressions you can see across the room. But even with a scratchy, tired voice, homemade "instruments" and props, I really, really love to sing, dance, and hang out with kids. In the end, I think that was worth more than if I had emptied my entire magical closet.

(Speaking of, anyone have tips for picking the lock?) :)



  1. Love it! Nice improvising! Did you make your own song cube? I've been meaning to make one of those.


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