Ten Little Hearts

It’s almost time for Valentine’s Day, so I have a few love-ly songs on tap just for this occasion. The first one is part of my monthly “Counting Time” series, which features the same basic song, with a different seasonal item to count. This month, we are counting hearts, of course!

Counting time, it’s counting time,
So let’s all sing this simple rhyme.
Ten little hearts in a row,
Now let’s count them nice and slow!

1, 2, 3, 4, 5,
6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
Again.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5,
6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

How many hearts?
Ten little hearts.
All lined up in a row.

If you’re an educator or parent, you already know that children love repetition and familiarity. Even though I sing this song every week (introducing new items each month), my students never get tired of pointing to each item while counting aloud with me. And for those who are just learning to count, or are working on the use of their pointer finger, it is great reinforcement.

It’s a dreary day here in central Illinois, but I’ll take a thunderstorm over negative temperatures any day! Only a few more weeks until lovely, lovely spring, and you better believe I’ll have a whole slew of songs to go right along with it. But until then, have a wonderful day and see you tomorrow.

Is Your Mama a Llama?

Does this book look familiar? It sure does to most of the little ones I know. Is Your Mama a Llama? is a favorite both at home and in the classroom, and it has become one of my go-to stories.

It’s easier than you’d think to set a story like this to music. As long as the words rhyme and there is a definitive rhythm to the verses, you can create a melody line that repeats over and over.

I’ve done this with over thirty books, and I’m always looking for more. Sung stories are a great way to entertain students while at the same time working on a slew of skills, including attention to task, following directions, answering “wh” and yes/no questions, identifying objects and colors, and reading.

Friday Fave: Jingle Sticks

See this yellow beauty right here? I have fifteen more where that came from, and it has quickly become my most popular instrument among the students of the Hope Institute. They are a relatively new acquisition; I received them just in time for the Christmas season to be over…they would have been the perfect accompaniment to “Jingle Bells”, “Jingle Bell Rock” and other seasonal favorites. But hey, I’ll take what I can get!

These jingle sticks are a total steal, ringing in (pun intended) at just $3.15 over at West Music. I plan to order several more for my private practice, since I donated the ones I already owned to the Hope collection. What I like best about them is that they are easy to play, only requiring one hand, and they just sound so cheerful. Pair them with a fast-paced song, and in no time you’ll have a roomful of happy kids.

So that is it for this week’s installment of Friday Faves. I have some lofty goals for the weekend, including lots of recording, songwriting, cleaning and packing (my husband and I are moving in a little over a month). I hope your weekend is simply wonderful!

When the Saints Go Marching In

When I’m not composing original songs, you can bet I’m writing new lyrics for existing songs that are familiar and well-liked. I’m shared many of these songs in the past, and today I have a new one for you. Last month as I was brainstorming songs that might work as accompaniment to a drumming activity, the old standard “When the Saints Go Marching In” popped into my head.

Most everyone knows it, and if they don’t, it’s easy enough to learn. The melody and words are repetitive, and better yet, the song invites new verses. So that is exactly what I did…here is the song as I sing while my students bang away on the drums:

Oh when the saints go marching in,
Oh when the saints go marching in,
How I want to be in that number,
When the saints go marching in.

Oh when we play upon our drums,
Oh when we play upon our drums,
How I want to be in that number,
When we play upon our drums.

Oh when we hear the instruments,
Oh when we hear the instruments,
How I want to be in that number,
When we hear the instruments.

Oh when we keep that steady beat,
Oh when we keep that steady beat,
How I want to be in that number,
When we keep that steady beat,

Oh when the saints go marching in,
Oh when the saints go marching in,
How I want to be in that number,
When the saints go marching in.

You can change the words to this song to fit almost any activity, instrument-based or otherwise. I’m thinking of retooling it as a movement/following directions ditty sometime in the near future. The possibilities are endless!

Month Song Makeovers

Good evening! I just received this email from Kim, a loyal reader and supporter of Listen & Learn. She has some great ideas for the January and February month songs, and I just had to pass them along to you:

“You know what a fan I am of your month songs, so I thought I’d share some new verses with you. I structure my autism groups around themes, so I’m using the month songs to reinforce the themes I use. With that in mind, I’ve added some new versions and reworded some of yours to coincide with my weekly themes. I hope you don’t mind my taking liberty with your creativity.

For January (I know this is a little late to be of any use this year):

January bring a brand new year
Our new president will start
Soon will be inauguration day
And Obama will be in charge

(It was really fun to listen to them try and pronounce Obama).

January brings a brand new year
It’s now 2009
We’ll do our best, be nice to friends
And everything will be just fine.

For February:

February 24th is Fat Tuesday
Down in New Orleans they’ll sing and play
Beads and masks for all to see
A Mardi Gras party for you and me

February’s a time to see
What Black Americans did for our country
Who helped our land become so great
Just one more reason to celebrate.”

Thanks so much, Kim, for these wonderful additions! I will definitely be incorporating the new February verses into my lessons this month. And if anyone else has made over a Listen & Learn tune, I’d love to hear about it.

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