First we spend time learning the song. We learn the basic version of the song (If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands), get it into our voices and immediately talk about how we show that we’re happy. I love to do this: “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands. If you’re happy and you know it touch your nose. If you’re… put your elbow on the grounds. If you’re… open your mouth. If you’re… pop your lips” and we go through lots of options. Then we put it into the song and clap twice at the appropriate time. We talk about the lyrics “then your face will surely show it” so that they understand what that means. I try to never take for granted that my ELL kids just get it. I always try and break down words and sentences to explain.
Then we sing. We sing with me at the piano (one of the first times) and them singing with me. Then we sing “if you’re happy… jump up and down.” And how many times do you jump? Two! Then “if you’re happy… stomp your feet” and then when they stomp I crash a bunch of keys on the bottom of the keyboard to sound like two big low crashes. Oh, they eat that up. We do about 4-5 variations that day and end with the clapping version again. Day over!
The second day I pull out this great book by Jan Ormerod and Lindsey Gardiner. We sing through our clapped version first and then we get out the book. I sing the title and they squeal and try and sing along and I say, “but my friends, this is a different version and you’re going to have to listen. Maybe at the end we can sing again but for right now, just listen…”
The books takes you through the first bit of the original song, “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands, if you’re happy and you know it…” but soon a little dog interrupts our main character and says, “but I don’t have hands. Instead I’ll wag my tail.” And then an elephant interrupts and says, “since I don’t have a very impressive tail I’ll wag my ears instead.” It’s a fun way for kids to see how animals are the same or different but also shows them how many people can show how they feel in many ways. It also gives them a chance to try out lots of different actions and body parts instead of just clapping. This is a great segue for improvisation.
I don’t read the book verbatim. My kindergarteners can’t read the book at this point anyway, so they are none the wiser. I like the book, but I change the lyrics so that it follows a more predictable pattern, mimicking the song with just a few word tweaks. I’ve found that this helps my students understand the song better and keep up with the book more easily. When they get really good later in the year, I might reread the book exactly as written, but for right now I read it my way.
Fun book, great pictures, easy to use and change and implement. Go check it out!
Check out the book on Amazon.com:
If You’re Happy and You Know It
by Jan Ormerod and Lindsey Gardiner