One of the things that I realized was that many kids haven't sung the great preschool "classics." Many kids don't know about Bingo the dog or Old McDonald and his awesome farm. For that matter, many of my kids don't know what a farm looks like or how it operates. They don't know the difference between a goat and a sheep or between a donkey and a horse. I grew up on a farm and so when I was little, songs about animals made total sense to me. For kids who don't have the exposure to real animals, these songs are pretty foreign. I realized pretty quickly that I needed some resources to show my kiddos what animals look, sound, and move like. I needed something to help build out my students' schema and help them understand about the world outside of their little circle of understanding!
I've been thinking a lot about ways to expose my kids to "the classics" (early learning, preschool type songs) and enhance their schema as we try and teach basic music education concepts. Last year I got so onto the idea that I decided to have my Kindergarten and 1st graders perform an entire concert of animal songs that I called "Going to the Farm." We had been singing the animal songs all year long anyway, so why not bring our favorites together and just made it into a show? In an effort to find more resources for all of us to use when teaching these great animal songs, I've tried to compile just a few ideas below to help you get started or at least get thinking about how you can include more avenues for learning with your little learners.
Classic Kids Songs about Animals
Animal Songs Super List/Tons of Videos - BusSongs.com
Animal Songs for Young Children - SongsforTeaching.com
Beths Music Notes - List of Animal Songs with Teaching Aids
Fingerplays and "Piggyback" songs for teaching about animals - PreschoolEducation.com
Super Animal Song List - Kiddles.com
Real ANimal vs Cartoon Animal
A few weeks ago I taught my Kindergarten friends the song "One Elephant Went Out to Play" (Click HERE for resources for this song). After we finished the song and sat down I talked with kiddos about elephant sounds and how they "trumpet." We talked about their trunk and how slowly elephants move. We tried the song again, but this time with plodding feet and "arm trunks" (basically just putting their arm out in front of them like an elephant trunk). I asked them to move their big elephant feet to the steady beat. It was cute and lots of fun. But I still felt like many of them didn't get it. They couldn't really picture an elephant.
Teaching songs with REal Animal Sounds
So, I've made it a point to really try and teach true animal sounds to kiddos when I introduce songs that involve animal sounds. For example, whenever I teach Old McDonald I teach the traditional "animal sounds" like Sheep=Baaah or Cow=moo. But I try and help expand the kids understanding of animal sounds too. Often I'll start by telling them that in other countries people say that animals make different sounds. In English-speaking countries we often say that roosters go "Cock-a-doodle-doo!" but if you asked a Spanish-speaker the sound they would probably say "Ki-kiri-ki!" I teach kids that people in each country listen to animals and come up with the closest sound they can think of that sounds like the original animal. They think that's pretty funny.
Then I make sure I pull up a sound file of what the animal ACTUALLY sounds like. When you hear a real sheep you realize that "Baah" is definitely not the true sound the animal makes. "Mooo" is a close guess to what the cow sounds like, but it's not quite right. I ask kids to make the closest possible copy of what the animal actually sounds like. Then they start to realize how the word they learned might be a representation of the actual sound but it's not a true copy.
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