Taking elephants as our main theme, we’ve looked at:
a dancing elephant in the book, Lenny Leopard’s Jungle Dance
a soft toy elephant
a picture of a family of Indian elephants
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.
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 Solar System
the Big Bang
As well as teaching two songs by Canadian children’s songwriter, Raffi – Big 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!