I’m so pleased when someone from outside AZ happens upon our website and emails me with comments or suggestions. A student at San Diego State University, Carmen, tutors a small group of middle-school students. The group must have stumbled across the “Educational Resources” page on our site, and one of the students, Kaley R., wanted to tell me about a link she thought should be included there. As her tutor said in the email I received, “I wanted to teach her that she can make an impact by speaking out. So, I guess this is my attempt to show her that she can make things happen if she puts her mind to it. The website she would like to suggest is Car Songs for Kids.”
I have a hard time NOT complying with such earnest suggestions, and the site she recommended will soon be added to that page, but I will put it in a new category, “Teaching through Songs and Rhymes,” which is a far better description of the links on the site. They are mostly intended for use with young kids — I’d say babies through 6-year-olds. Some have audio so you can hear the songs, some are just printed lyrics with suggested tunes, some are rhymes with finger-plays. There is a wide variety of topics including science, handwashing, classic nursery rhymes, pool safety, oral hygiene, and food safety (i.e., what not to put in your mouth — this is why I said it’s for really young kids)!
I’m getting old, and am also a bit old-fashioned, so I’m rather startled when I allude to an old nursery rhyme while teaching and the student has no idea what I’m talking about. Kids these days (that three-word phrase alone proves that I’m getting old) have so much stimuli around them that were completely unheard of when I was a kid, but they continue to LOVE little songs and rhymes, as proven by the viral song “Baby Shark.” There’s a reason that cultures all over the world have silly little rhymes, finger-play and songs. They offer children practice with language (words) with the added enhancement of rhythm, melody, repetition, and sometimes coordinated body movement.
I had Katie Q, my 18-year-old assistant, click on all the links on the strangely mistitled “Car Songs for Kids” website and describe them. Here are some of her favorites:
Homemade Instrument Songs. Information about the benefits of music, instructions on making homemade instruments, audio of tunes to play along to.
Classic Nursery Rhymes. An alphabetical list of 100+ nursery rhymes with links to audio, lyrics — you can scroll down for video.
British Council List of Children’s Songs. Short videos of silly songs meant to help kids learning English, but fun for others, too. My favorite: “Don’t Put Your Trousers on Your Head (Fred).”
Songs to Get Kids Through Errands. A narrative about the value of singing while you work, and a long list of links to ole-timey work songs of varying quality, but fun. Highlight: Emmy Lou Harris, Gillian Welch and Alison Krauss singing their song “Go to Sleep You Little Baby” from the movie “O Brother Where Art Thou” — not sure how that qualifies as a work song, but I’ll take it!
Another, more academic, suggestion: For students in kindergarten and first grade (maybe second?), one of my tutors, Cheryl P., recommends “HeidiSongs,” which you can find on YouTube. Cheryl is amazing with the K-1 crowd, and uses many ideas learned from HeidiSongs in teaching letters, sounds, and spelling of sight words. I have been working with a couple of kindergarteners myself, and decided I’d take a look, and re-learned a lesson learned many times before: what works for one teacher doesn’t necessarily work for another. I simply have a different style from Cheryl’s in that I don’t have the fun and stimulating approach that works so beautifully for her. I don’t really have a “kindergarten voice,” but I am so entertained by helping these lovely little kids learn that they seem to enjoy the sessions as much as I do.
So, Kaley R., thank you for getting in touch through your tutor, Carmen! And other readers of this blog, we welcome your ideas for more educational sites and future blogs.