Saturday, May 15, 2010

Making Our Songs Their Own

Over time, every song we sing at Woodland Park either evolves or dies. A couple weeks ago we introduced two new songs to our circle time repetoire: Little Boxes and the full version of Turquoise House and already the children have wrapped their little tonsils and tongues around those anthems to individuality and are in the process of making them their own.

I've been doing Little Boxes as a "prop song," using these old diaper wipe boxes. Every time I start the song . . .
Little boxes on the hillside
Little boxes made of ticky tacky
Little boxes on the hillside
Little boxes, all the same.
. . . the children object, "They're not all the same!" and "They're different colors!" It's become an indispensable part of the song. I wait for the hubbub to die down, then continue, "That's right!"
There's a green one, and a pink one,
And a blue one, and a yellow one.
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.
This time they object even louder, "They're not just the same!" I repeat, "That's right!" and sing the verse again. I then ask, "They're all different colors, but how are they the same?" Each child seems to have his favorite similarity as they shout out, "They're all made out of ticky tacky!" "They're all the same shape!" "They all have round parts on top!" "They're all the same size!" "They're all houses!" "They all have people inside them!" This list of similarities is starting to become standardized, but on Thursday, a voice added a new one, "They're all the same weight!" I can't wait to find out what new similarities they come up with during these last two weeks of school.

When the people come out of their houses, they again interrupt to point out that the people, unlike their houses, are just the same because they're also the same color. Earlier this week I think it was Jack who suggested that if we did the song with just green boxes, then they would really be just the same. So, on Thursday, that's how we sang the song, with four green boxes, and the children shouted out, "They are all just the same!" We've agreed we will do all pink ones on Monday, then all blue and all yellow.

And just as they're making Little Boxes into their own song, they're doing the same with Turquoise House. Max's mom Callie told me that he took such an interest in the song that he went home and watched the video over and over until he had it memorized, and I know he's not the only one who has been watching and listening with a parent. There have even been a few comments from the kids about how I sing it "wrong," due to a few "edits" I had to make to keep it preschool friendly.

Even so, they're still leaving me to serve as the lead singer until we get to the chorus, but they love doing their Ooo, ooo, ooos. In the beginning, I pointed at them as a sort of reminder that it was their turn to sing, and this has evolved into 40 little fingers pointing right back at me, Ooo, ooo, ooo! On Thursday, they were a bit unruly, so I launched into the chorus to draw their attention, and it worked, but Isak objected, "What about the Ooo, ooo, ooos?" We can't leave out the Ooo, ooo, ooos.

But something truly amazing has happened with the chorus. They roar when it comes around, lifting their voices in a kind of mighty, tuneless, shout-singing that just about knocks me off my stool. Ella in particular, wrinkles up her nose, squints her eyes and belts it out with her full lung capacity.
I wanna live in a turquoise house!
With a turquoise garden and a turquoise yard!
Drive around town in a turquoise car!
Find a turquoise girl, with a turquoise heart!
I'm not the only one who has noticed this. The parents in the room have started spending the entire chorus laughing, joyfully I think, and maybe a little from shock, at how earnestly and powerfully their kids are singing. It's like they really get the importance of being true to yourself, even defiantly so if necessary.

They are making these songs their own. I'm one proud teacher.

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1 comment:

Play for Life said...

I'm like your little friend Ella I can't stop singing it ... and apparently I too am belting it out, just ask my 17 year old daughter!! If only I hadn't been tempted to watch the video. Oh well I'm just gonna go with it Tom ... I wanna live in a hmmm mmm mm ...... de da de da dum, dum daa de da day. .........
Donna :) :)