Sunday, November 11, 2012

Turkey Turkey Gobbler: a favorite "re" song

Here is another one of my favorite Thanksgiving themed songs. 
It's perfect for my 2nd graders right now as we're preparing "re." 
This is a wonderful "re" song because the "res" are in a prominent place, 
(the 3rd beat,)  in the 1st and 3rd measures. The rhythm includes tas, ti-tis, and toos (half notes) in a simple to decipher form. This allows students to focus on the melody and not get hung up on a challenging rhythm. I am a proponent of many uses for one song but we are zoning in on hearing/singing/feeling that pitch between "mi" and "do" with this song.

Naturally, the song is enhanced by a great, active game and this one is a favorite of my students.

Before introducing the game, we hear and practice imitating the turkey gobble.
(Share real turkey sounds with your class by going here.)

By having a couple of minutes of "Turkey Gobble Choir Rehearsal" this is a good opportunity for students to practice watching a conductor for cut-offs, growing louder and growing softer, (and all with our head-voice gobbles! Hurray for more vocal exploration!) Once we've "got our gobble on," it's time for the game.

Standing circle, one farmer is chosen, one turkey is chosen.
The farmer is blindfolded. I have a turkey hat for the turkey to wear, (thank you again, Target dollar bin!)

Sing the song as class, then the farmer tries to find and tag the turkey by calling "Turkey!"
Turkey must respond with "Gobble! Gobble!" (high-pitched, head voice gobble.)

If farmer gets to close to the standing circle (the "fence") students simply call
out "fence" to prevent the farmer from running into them.

If the action goes on too long, I show a silent 10 second count down with my fingers. Both the farmer and the turkey choose new players. 

Happy late autumn!

P.S. Amy Abbott recently posted this song with a different game and reading activities. You can see her post here. (Great ideas from Amy!)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Thanksgiving Day

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is just around the corner? 
Here is a Thanksgiving song I love to use in my classroom with 1st and 2nd graders.

Thanksgiving Day is a song I saw in the OAKE Western Division newsletter a number of years ago. It was submitted by Verla Boyd and Kathleen Bassett. (I've also seen a few variants of this song around the internet.)
We sing this with autoharp accompaniment. In the 1st grade classes students pair up and one student presses buttons for chord changes while the other strums the steady beat, (the autoharp sits on the floor and the strummer strums away from their body.) I bring this song back in 2nd grade for fun with one student per instrument, strumming and pressing buttons for chord changes.

This year I'm adding singing solos by having two students acting out the Turkey and Pumpkin roles.

You could easily add bordon accompaniment on Orff instruments if you want to avoid autoharps. 

I know that autoharps have fallen out of favor in most music classrooms and I understand why: many teachers inherit a few clunky, dusty autoharps that haven't been tuned since the 80s. However, autoharps can be a great addition to the music class allowing students to practice the steady beat and easily play full chord accompaniments. (It's exciting to hear the 3rd in the chord for a change!) 
It's worth remembering: for a song with 2 chord accompaniment you only have to tune the notes in those chords. That certainly saves time when you're faced with 6 out-of-tune autoharps!

If you are interested in a better autoharp, you must see Evo Bluestein's line of autoharps, especially the Sparrowharp. Evo came and presented a few sessions for the OAKE Western Division mini-conference in 2008 and he is a wonderful musician, teacher, and champion for traditional american folk music. His Evoharps have a beautiful sound and appearance and are so much easier to hold and play then the awkward Oscar Schmidt black and reddish autoharps in my room. I don't own a Evoharp yet, my school music budget is not that healthy and I'd rather buy it for myself and not have it belong to the school. Maybe I need to ask Santa!