Here’s a lesson plan called “Over the Sea” for you to try. It’s all about watery places lagoons, salty seas and stormy oceans. It’s inhabited by sailors, fish, sharks, dolphins and ocean-travellers pining for their loved ones. The people travel in dinghies, rowboats and sailing ships in calm or wild weather and they have adventures so there’s lots of opportunities for movement to the music.
BODY PERCUSSION. For a warm-up we sing A Sailor Went to Sea, Sea, Sea with lots of verses and different actions to remember.
FINGER PLAY. This time it’s the delightful old Dutch song All the Fish and we add an exciting shark verse with a different mood.
MEMORY SONG. Next is a song for training memory by singing in a language other than English. This time it’s the language of the Torres Strait Islands off the north-east coast of Australia. The song Taba Naba Norem. Our version is very laid-back and is great for seated slow-rowing which gives a gentle spinal stretch. We use a backing track to sing it live but you could also listen to the version by Islander-heritage Christine Anu and the Wiggles.
RHYTHM INSTRUMENTS. For learning to play untuned percussion, our song is My Bonnie. It’s in 3/4 time which is unusual as most kids songs are in 4/4. We simply play along to the beat with using different instruments for each time we invent a new verse. We substitute grannie, poppa, yaya, auntie and cousin etc for “Bonnie” depending on who is in the child’s extended family. We might even substitute “over the border” for “over the ocean” – it’s adaptable.
MELODY AND HARMONY INSTRUMENTS. If you haven’t tried doing pentatonic songs with your children, Charlie Over the Water is a good one to start with because it’s slow and has an easy rhythm. We use a wall chart with the notes names which is great for a child who is gaining confidence with reading. Those who can’t read can play any note on their prepared instrument (with the notes CDEGA), they all sound harmonious when played together. That’s the beauty of working in a pentatonic scale.
DRAMA AND MOVEMENT. Here’s the opportunity to really stretch out those limbs and try all the different whole body movements suggested by the verses in Alley Alley Oo. You can be the large ship with either a pointy bow or pointy sails. You can whirl around like the wind, shake your fist at the story clouds and sink like the ship, resting when you reach the sea-bed.
GAMES AND DANCES. For a more social experience of the wild and windy weather, join hands and dance to The Gallant Ship. It’s an exciting sea shanty excepted from a much longer song “The Mermaid”.
STORY SONG. After all that movement children are tired and need to rest with a story. Our story song, Dolphin Smiles was written by me about the Port River dolphin colony near my home. It started life as a long straight song but it was too wordy for this young age so I shortened it into this rap version. Kids get excited when they hear the strong rhythms, Here’s a little sample. Dolphin Smiles Vocal Preview
This lesson takes a good 45 minutes if you include everything. Of course you can split it up and do a few songs a day over the week but make sure you do them all at least twice in a fortnight so the learning can deepen. We hope you enjoy the lesson. You can find all the music backing tracks, vocal tracks, lyrics, written activity suggestions and wall charts over at our music curriculum website, Musical Child.