Eight Silly Monkeys

I’m feeling generous today, which is why I’m sharing all the details of my students’ favorite book, Eight Silly Monkeys. I picked this book up at Barnes & Noble three years ago, and it has held up through all this time in the hands of my students, who can be less than delicate :) Thankfully, the book has a hard front and back cover and the pages are made of sturdy cardboard, making it the perfect classroom resource.

The bright colors, 3-D monkeys, familiar words and tune make this a very popular book not only with my students, but with me, too. Why? Because there are so many objectives that can be addressed, including counting, tactile input, basic reading skills, and even movement. My kids love imitating the different motor skills the monkeys display in this book, like jumping, dancing, spinning, and sliding.I hope you and your students have the chance to enjoy this book as much as we do here at the Hope Institute. And speaking of Hope, today is our 2nd Annual All-School Singalong! I’m used to being a solo act, but today several of my coworkers – a drummer, guitar player, and bassist – will join me to present some of the “greatest hits” of the year. I’m off to practice with the band right now…have a great day!

Safety Comes First

I love hearing from my readers, especially when they have a success story to share involving a song I’ve shared on the blog. A close second to that is readers who give me ideas for new songs and activities, because sometimes I need a little grease to get the wheels turning!

Well as I mentioned yesterday, music therapist Amy from L.A. did just that earlier in the week. She asked if I knew of any good street and traffic safety songs, as she was addressing this topic with one of her students diagnosed with autism. I told her I didn’t, but that I would love to try my hand at writing one. She specified that the language should be pretty basic, and then gave me a few key elements to include. Here is what resulted:

Left, right, left.
Left, right left.
Look both ways before you cross the street!
Left, right, left.
Left, right, left.
Use your eyes before you use your feet.

You gotta be safe,
And you gotta be smart,
When there are cars around,
So do your part.
Always think
Before you act,
Because safety comes first,
And that’s a fact.

Do not run.
Do not run.
Walk very slowly in the parking lot!
Do not run.
Do not run.
Slow is good but going fast is not.

CHORUS

Stay away.
Stay away.
From the street unless it’s time to cross.
Stay away.
Stay away.
Because the street is very dangerous.

CHORUS

Watch the lights.
Watch the lights.
Red means stop, and green means go.
Watch the lights.
Watch the lights.
They will tell you what you need to know.

CHORUS

I like that the lyrics to this song can be easily modified or added to, since the verses are so simple. There are many other concepts it could cover, such as walk/don’t walk signals, crossing guards, etc. Hopefully Amy can use this tune, or a version of it, to better teach these concepts to her student!

I’m So Glad it’s Springtime

Good Wednesday morning! This post is going to be short and sweet, because I can’t wait to get to work on the new song I’m writing about traffic safety (a wonderful suggestion from music therapist Amy in California). I woke up today with this simple song about spring – with a familiar tune – running through my head and thought I’d share:

My eyes can see it’s springtime
It’s springtime, it’s springtime
My eyes can see it’s springtime
The grass is so green.

My ears can hear it’s springtime
It’s springtime, it’s springtime
My ears can hear it’s springtime
The birds sweetly sing.

My nose can smell it’s springtime
It’s springtime, it’s springtime
My nose can smell it’s springtime
The flowers perfume

My arms can feel it’s springtime
It’s springtime, it’s springtime
My arms can feel it’s springtime
The sunshine so warm.

The green grass, the birds sing,
The flowers, the sunshine.

Oh I can tell it’s springtime
It’s springtime, it’s springtime
Oh I can tell it’s springtime
And I am so glad.

My eyes, ears, and arms could definitely tell that it is springtime this morning, but not because of the flowers, birds singing, and warm sunshine…more like the storm clouds, thunder crashing, and rain falling!

Counting Time: Flowers

It’s that time again – counting time! I’m so glad to be counting flowers rather than umbrellas, like I did so often last month. One of my favorite things about spring is watching all the beautiful colors pop up in my neighborhood. My neighbors have the most gorgeous red tulips in their front yard, and every time I see them it makes me want to plant my own garden! Soon enough, I’ll get around to that…but for now, I guess I’ll have to settle for counting flowers rather than growing them.

Counting time, it’s counting time,
So let’s all sing this simple rhyme.
Ten little flowers 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 flowers?
Ten little flowers.
All lined up in a row.

Now that I have flowers on the brain, I have the urge to write a new song about all my favorites. From tulips to hydrangeas to roses, there’s an endless list of sweet-smelling blooms to sing about. Do you have any favorite flower tunes?

Jingle Jane & Silly Sally

Last week as I was preparing for a music therapy session, a thought came to mind: Jingle Joe needed a female counterpart. So right then and there, I created Jingle Jane, and she’s been a part of the tambourine gang ever since. Here’s the new verse:

Jingle Jane was strolling down the lane,
I saw her just the other day.
Her hair was pink, she said, “See whatcha think,
About the way I play my tambourine.”

She showed me how to jingle, jingle!
Tap the tambourine in the air.
Jingle, jingle!
Jinglin’ with Jane, play without a care.

Literally hours after I’d composed that verse, I received an email from a reader named Mollie. This is what she had to say:

Hi Rachel,

My 5 year old and I were listening to some of your stuff while I was prepping for the new month and she helped me write a verse about a girl and a maraca since it’s “Mexico Month” (according to her!) Thought we would share it with you! Feel free to tweak it and share your thoughts…but just wanted to share. Thanks again…keep up the good work!

Mollie

Mollie must have been reading my mind, because here is the verse she and her daughter came up with:

Silly Sally is a gal I know,
I saw her just the other day.
She likes Chewbacca, and she plays the maracas,
And she taught me how to play.

She showed me how to shake, shake!
Shake the maraca way with all your might.
Shake, shake,
Shake with Sally she’s dy-no-mite!

She showed me how to shake it high, shake it low.
Shake it fast, Shake it slow.
Shake with all your might,
Shake with Silly Sally she’s dy-no-mite!

What a fun way to incorporate other instruments into the song. And I love that she collaborated with her daughter, who is obviously a budding songwriter herself :) If you ever have an idea for new verses or lyrics to a song you find at Listen & Learn, please don’t hesitate to send it my way!

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