bangers and smash

Fruit, nuts and British Woodland with Bangers & Smash!

This January and February, we’ve been thinking about fruit and nuts at Bangers & Smash!


We’ve started our sessions with a new welcome song, Learn To Say Hello, during which the children have taken it in turns to clap their hands as Cathy calls out their names around the circle.

Next, the children have chosen their favourite fruits and nuts – including apple, pear, orange, lemon, walnut, cashew and pistachio – and we’ve practised clapping these as call and response word rhythms. Cathy has extended this activity to include different pitches, which has allowed us to explore sounds which are halfway between spoken and sung – a bit like a market trader calling their wares!

We’ve then learned two nursery rhymes:

  • Oranges And Lemons

  • I Had A Little Nut Tree

In the first, we’ve used handbells and chime bars to mimic the sound of church bells; in the second, we’ve passed a toy tree in a pot around the circle and the children have described what it feels like:

  • ‘The leaves are spiky’

  • ‘It’s prickly’

Moving on, we’ve listened and sung along to two songs by Canadian children’s songwriter, Raffi:

  • Apples And Bananas

  • Bananaphone

In the first, the children have experimented with different vowel sounds while in the second, Cathy has pretended that different people (Mummy, Daddy etc) are ringing on a toy phone shaped like a banana. Individual children have enjoyed ‘answering’ the phone, resulting in much hilarity.

Next, we’ve learned a short poem, The Fruit And Nut Train, and used it as an opportunity to play longer word rhythms using claves. The children have enjoyed holding their claves above their heads at the end of the poem and shouting ‘Nuts!’

In February, we’ve concentrated on fruits and nuts from the Caribbean – including mango, banana, papaya, peanut and coconut. Again, we’ve clapped these as call and response word rhythms/market calls.

This has led on to another popular song, Mama Paquita, by Steve Grocott. Cathy has brought in a sombrero and some brightly coloured scarves and the children have enjoyed trying on the sombrero, waving the scarves (particularly at the end while shouting ‘Olé!’) and marching in time to the pulse.

We’ve finished our sessions with two songs from Jamaica, both performed by local Mento bands:

  • Oh Banana

  • Peanut Vendor

It’s been lovely to see the children choosing partners (with no prompting from Cathy) and dancing in pairs. We’ve also joined hands as one big group and danced round in a circle.

British Woodland

Meanwhile, at Under the Willow, we’ve started our new 12-week project, British Woodland.

Our first sessions have been about:

  • a welcome to the woods

  • trees

  • animals on the ground

  • animals in the sky

  • animals underground

  • bugs and insects


As well as teaching another Raffi song, Going On A Picnic, Cathy has introduced a variety of musical activities, including:

  • making the sound of leaves with shakers while dancing to Calico by Bangers & Smash Co-Founder, Sarah Allen’s band, Flook

  • singing songs about trees, including The Parts of Trees (to the tune of Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes) and If You’re Ever In The Forest (to the tune of Did You Ever See A Lassie?)

  • moving like woodland animals to Spring from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, When The Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbing Along and I Wish I Was A Mole In The Ground

  • singing and acting out Bangers & Smash originals, Owl Babies and Flutter By, with puppets and scarves

  • inviting individual children to play and sing an ascending and descending phrase on glockenspiel and adding in words about different woodland animals and their behaviours

Children and staff are looking forward to performing some of the above for parents and carers at Under the Willow’s British Woodland Project Celebration on Wednesday 10 April 2019.

Celebrating Christmas and Earth Story with Bangers & Smash!

We’ve had an busy end to the Autumn term at Bangers & Smash with rehearsals, performances and an outdoor community singalong!

The Ugly Bug Ball © Walt Disney Productions

The Ugly Bug Ball © Walt Disney Productions

Christmas Shows

Preparations for Christmas began in November with Crystal Nurseries rehearsing Cathy’s version of The Ugly Bug Ball (featuring a host of songs about minibeasts) and Mother Goose – Greendale practising their Christmas Show.

Come December, parents and carers enjoyed performances in all four settings. Shows were packed to the rafters and it was wonderful to see the children (and, in some cases, staff!) dressed up in their costumes, singing their hearts out.

Check out some of the Ugly Bugs at Smart Kids Christmas Show!

Natasha makes a great ladybug!

Earth Story

Meanwhile, at Under the Willow, we brought our 10-week project, Earth Story, to a close with our final music sessions and Earth Story Project Celebration.

Our last two sessions were about:

  • Dinosaurs and prehistoric animals

  • Early man

Children enjoyed:

  • choosing a toy dinosaur and singing 10 Big Dinosaurs and Where’s The Dinosaur?

  • stomping around the room and roaring to The Prehistoric Animal Brigade

  • dancing to Walk the Dinosaur by Was Not Was

  • singing and dancing to a Nigerian welcome song, Funga Alafia


Inspired by Older Than The Stars, a beautifully illustrated picture book about the origins of the universe, our Earth Story Project Celebration brought together songs and activities from the previous 10 sessions in a performance for parents and carers on 28 November 2018.

Winter Tree Festival

We finished the term with three sessions on lights and lanterns as part of Under the Willow’s Winter Tree Festival.

In the first two sessions, we looked at how light plays a part in three seasonal festivals, Hanukkah, Diwali and Christmas, while in the last session, we sang a selection of Christmas songs, including:

  • Here We Go Round The Christmas Tree

  • Let It Snow

  • When Santa Got Stuck Up The Chimney

  • Jingle Bells

Carols in the Wildlife Garden

Our final Bangers & Smash session of 2018 brought co-founders, Cathy and Sarah, together for an afternoon of singing and Christmas wreath-making in the Mother Goose Nursery Wildlife Garden.

Despite freezing temperatures and rain, the event saw families and members of the local community join in with carols and Christmas songs while tucking into mulled wine and mince pies courtesy of wildlife gardener and host, Di Wallace.

Thanks to everyone at Mother Goose for inviting us to perform and a very Happy New Year from Bangers & Smash!

Riding on an elephant with Bangers & Smash!

It’s been an exciting September at Bangers & Smash with a series of music sessions inspired by Cathy’s Summer trip to Asia!

The children have enjoyed looking at this family of Indian elephants and guessing which is the daddy, which is the mummy and which the baby elephant!

The children have enjoyed looking at this family of Indian elephants and guessing which is the daddy, which is the mummy and which the baby elephant!

Taking elephants as our main theme, we’ve looked at:

Cathy has asked the children:

  • What does an elephant look like?

  • What does it sound like?

We’ve listened to a recording of elephants in the jungle and copied the sounds they make. Cathy has passed round a bicycle horn and we’ve talked about how the sound that comes out of an elephant’s trunk is similar to the sound that comes out of a trumpet.

We’ve followed this by listening to a recording of a short poem, An Elephant Goes Like This And That, and repeating the poem with actions.

Our main song has been Bangers & Smash original, Riding On An Elephant, in which the children intersperse short sung phrases with percussion breaks.

In the first session, Cathy has prepared the children by asking them to tap their knees, stamp their feet and bang on the floor in the gaps while in subsequent sessions, the children have played on junk drums made out of recycled plastic and cardboard containers.

Each session has included the opportunity to rehearse and then perform the song with children learning when to play and when to stop through Cathy’s use of simple hand signals.

Following on from this, Cathy has shown the children an Indonesian statuette of the Hindu elephant god, Ganesh, and invited individual children to the front to try on a T-shirt with a picture of Ganesh.

We’ve passed round a gangsa (a type of metallophone used mainly in Balinese and Javanese Gamelan music) and children have taken it in turns to play.

A gangsa

A gangsa

Returning to Lenny Leopard’s Jungle Dance, Cathy has asked the children to look at a picture of a snake:

  • What part of the elephant does the snake look like?

  • How does it move?

We’ve listened to two tracks from an album of traditional Thai music:

  • In the first – a recording of a Thai flute or khlui – we’ve put our arms in front of our faces and moved them like elephants’ trunks

  • In the second – a recording of a Thai ensemble or piphat – we’ve moved round the room on our hands and knees, waving our arms like trunks, spraying each other with (pretend) water and trumpeting like elephants

In addition, Cathy has brought in Indonesian sarungs and udengs (a type of headcloth worn by men) and invited individual children to dress up as elephant riders.

We’ve finished each session by marching to music, including:

  • The Liberty Bell

  • Colonel Hathi’s March (from The Jungle Book)

Earth Story – the origins of the Earth

At new Bangers & Smash nursery, Under the Willow, we’ve started our 10-week project, Earth Story, during which we are learning about the origins of the Earth and its inhabitants.

Our first three sessions have been about:

  • the Earth

  • the Solar System

  • the Big Bang

As well as teaching two songs by Canadian children’s songwriter, RaffiBig Beautiful Planet and One Light, One Sun – Cathy has introduced a variety of musical activities, including:

  • rolling a globe to different children while singing a name song

  • marching round the sun waving yellow scarves and playing bells

  • tapping the names of the planets with claves

  • playing a Big Bang on a djembe

  • dancing to Walking On Sunshine by Katrina & the Waves

Both children and staff have enjoyed vocalising, physicalising, dramatising and creating musical responses to this exciting theme!

Keeping the pulse with Bangers & Smash!

This April, we've been learning about keeping the pulse at Bangers & Smash!


We've started off by tapping our hearts and saying 'boom, boom, boom'. What's this? A heart beat. A heart is like a big pump that pushes blood around our bodies. It pumps steadily, making a beat or pulse. Can we make a pulse on our knees? Our heads? Our tummies? Where else might we make a pulse?

Over the sessions, we've developed this idea to ask what happens to our hearts when we run? When we sleep? This has allowed us to investigate the idea of speed and Cathy has invited individual children to the front to play pulses of different speeds so everyone can join in.

Continuing March's pet theme, we've sung Hickory Dickory Dock with our pet mouse, building on last month's work by (i) adding in more verses and actions; (ii) inviting children to the front to lead; (iii) tapping the pulse on our knees and on claves. By singing and tapping 'tick tock, tick tock, tick tock' at the end of each verse, children have been able to make the connection between a pulse and a ticking clock and this has led into a new song, Tick Tock Clock, in which children play tick tocks of different speeds on claves.

Other pet songs we've sung while creating a pulse include:

  • I Want To Be A Little Mouse
  • Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat
  • One Mouse / Cat / Rabbit On A Trampoline

In the first two songs, we've explored 12/8 time, which gives a lilting feel, while in the last song, we've bounced our pets on a cloth in 4/4 time, which gives a straight or marching feel.

Moving on from this, we've marched in 4/4 time to The Grand Old Duke Of York – physicalising the pulse and feeling it throughout our bodies from the ground up – and danced to Hoots, Man! by Lord Rockingham's XI. Cathy has introduced a Scottish mouse and the children have enjoyed joining in with key phrases, 'Och aye!' and 'Hoots, Man, there's a moose loose aboot this hoose!'

Music in the Wildlife Garden


On Saturday 28 April, Cathy and Sarah were delighted to welcome families and members of the local community to Bangers & Smash's Music in the Wildlife Garden event at the Mother Goose Wildlife Garden.


Although it was a cold and windy day, over 80 people turned up to make drums and claves from recycled and natural materials and to sing songs about wildlife.


Cathy premiered two new songs – Wildflowers In The Grass and Dig Your Spade In – and parents and children enjoyed playing along to these as well as Bangers & Smash originals, Owl Babies, Tadpole, Flutter By and Hey, Stop Shaking Your Tail! on junk percussion.


Gardener, Di Wallace, was on hand with info about the wildlife garden and its inhabitants and, when it got too cold, visitors were able to warm up with tea, coffee and homemade biscuits in the shed.


All in all, it was a fabulous event and we look forward to more of the same next year!