Monday, September 20, 2010

"Everybody Sit In Some Broken Glass"

A couple days ago, I posted about some of our beginning of the year circle time songs. Several people asked me about the song I use to signal it's time to take our places on our blue rug for circle time, and specifically asked about more of the additional verses we've made up over the years.

I didn't include most of them on the first go-around for a reason -- that reason being that I'm not sure I should admit we sing these verses in preschool. I doubt they're right for everyone, but Woodland Park's institutional memory (carried forward into each new school year by the returning students) is such that I have no choice but to keep singing them now that the genii is out of the bottle.

To recap from Saturday: when it's time for the children to assemble on our blue rug I start with this song, which I learned from my daughter Josephine’s kindergarten teacher:

Not on the ceiling
Not on the door
Everybody find a seat on the floor.

And since it sometimes takes awhile for everyone to assemble, over the years, we’ve added some of my own verses to keep from having to sing those same 3 lines over and over:

Not on your feet
Not on your knees
Everybody sit on your bottoms please.

Not on your back
Not on your tummy
Everybody sit right on your bummy.

Not on your head
Not in a bed
Everybody sit on your bottom instead.

Keep your hands to yourself
Sit in your own self-space
I expect everyone to stay in one place.

Raise your hand
If you’ve something to say
You don’t get to talk any other way.

There are even more verses, and they change over time, but each one was created in an ever-escalating effort to focus an unruly group of kids. It's a moving target because, let’s face it, unless constantly refreshed the novel silliness of not sitting on the door wears off rather quickly, and is soon not nearly as entertaining as Henry’s efforts to turn a summersault or Sophia’s hot whisper in your ear. Each time I introduced a new verse, I bought myself a couple of days of attention focused where I want it at circle time – on me – but it never lasted and I was forced into creating newer and newer verses until one day I hit on this one:

Not on your fingers
Not on your toes
Everybody sit on a thorny rose.

When I realized what I’d sung, I spontaneously stood up slightly, hands on my bottom, and said, “Ow!” And the kids laughed. The next day, several of them requested, “The thorny rose,” so I did it again, and this time a bunch of them imitated me. By the third day, most of the children were raising their little bottoms in unison, saying, “Ow!” and even the ones who didn’t physically participate were focused on Teacher Tom.

I was onto something. Instead of striving to entertain them with my clever rhymes, I’d accidentally stumbled upon a way to involve the children in their own group focusing exercise. The whole point of circle time is to get the entire group engaged in activities together, and that’s exactly what this does.

We’ve now added dozens of “Ow!” verses and they never fail to pull a rowdy, fragmented group of preschoolers together.

Not on a reef
Not on some beef
Everybody sit on a shark’s teeth.


Not on a snail
Not in the jail
Everybody sit on a rusty nail.


Not on a mass
Not on the grass
Everybody sit in some broken glass.


Not on a wire
Not on a tire
Everybody sit right in a campfire.


Not on a harp
Not on a tarp
Everybody sit on something sharp.


Not on your wife
Not on your life
Everybody sit on a super sharp knife.


The list goes on, but you get the idea.

Last year, we discovered a new wrinkle:

Not on a dud
Not with a thud
Everybody sit in a puddle of mud.


Not in something chewy
Not in something flu-ey
Everybody sit in something gooey.


Not on a saint
Not with a faint
Everybody sit right in some paint.


Not in something Micky
Not in something lick-y
Everybody sit in something sticky.


Already this year, we've hit on a new category:

Not on some lice
Not in the rice
Everybody sit right in the ice.

The best part, I think, is that kids have started raising their hands to suggest their own versions of things to make us say "Ow!" "Ew!" or "Burr!" sometimes even coming up with their own rhymes.

It sometimes takes as long as 5 minutes of this nonsense to get the group focused, but once they're all on the same page, it's amazing what we're able to do together. We might even be up to the challenge of making the "hardest letter of all."

(Portions of this post previously posted 8/18/09)

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Scott said...

What a fun way to involve the kids and get them focused and ready for the group. Bravo!

(I, too, have learned that silliness is a great attention getter)

Dawn said...

Hi There ! i love your blog - i check it all the time but i have not commented before. Just wanted to say that i too use this song it is FANTASTIC for gathering the children and has worked for years in my at home daycare here in Alberta Canada... Some children come to me as babies 12 months old and stay until they are 5 going to Kindergarten - so we constantly make up new versus. our favorite versus is
Not in a hurry
not in a fluffy
Everyone on sit on something Furry !
ahhh !
Not on a mat
Not on the cat
everyone sit and give 3 claps..
this song is soooo great !
Great song !
Cheers !
Autumn mama

Dawn said...

i meant to say "not in a flurry"

Ms. Erin's HeartRoom said...

Teacher Tom, I have similar alphabet body photos!

I love it...

Not on a shoe,
Not in the loo
everyone sit on a rusty screw!


Now you've got US participating too!

Deborah said...

Hahaha - that is funny and so are the comments! I think we need to facebook for more verses!