fine motor skills

'Bata Mi A Dun Ko Ko Ka': singing songs from Africa and the Caribbean

What a fabulous October we've had at Bangers & Smash singing songs from Africa and the Caribbean in celebration of Black History Month!

Photo by {artist}/{collectionName} / Getty Images

We've started our sessions with a song we learned last month: Fingers Like To Wiggle Waggle. This month, we've chosen a different body part to wiggle waggle each week and the children have had fun wiggling their toes, bottoms and noses.

We've also continued singing the Dipidu song, concentrating on the second line in which the children insert their own names in place of 'dipidu'. As part of this activity, Cathy has passed an African shaker around the circle and encouraged the children to shake it and say their names. Older children have been able to shake once for each syllable of their name (for example, Femi would shake twice [Fe-mi] and Annabel three times [Ann-a-bel]) while younger children have practised playing the shaker freestyle while saying their names at the same time. This allows the children to work on their fine motor skills while linking movement to sound and, in the case of the older children, rhythm – a great introduction to the art of multi-tasking!

Cathy has gone on to introduce the theme of Black History Month by asking the children to stroke their skin:

'What does it feel like?'

  • 'My skin feels soft'

  • 'I like to stroke my hand'

What colour is it?'

  • 'My skin is brown like chocolate ice cream'

  • 'My skin is pink and white like strawberry milkshake'

Cathy has talked about how people with brown and black skin come from the continent of Africa and now live all over the world. She has asked the children to tap word rhythms based on the names of vegetables and fruit from Africa and the Caribbean (plantain, cassava, butternut squash / ackee, banana, pomegranate). With the help of Drums for Schools' fantastic Nursery Rhythm Kit (read Cathy's review on the Music Education UK website here), the children have been able to tap, bang, shake and scrape their way through a variety of world music instruments, including hand drums, agogo bells, tiktoks, frog scrapers and more!

Cathy has gone on to ask if black staff members would like to share songs from their childhoods and heritages and, as always, they have come up trumps with a wonderful selection of songs from Africa and the Caribbean.

Special thanks to the following:

  • Vinette for Evenin' Time, a song by Jamaican poet, folklorist, writer and educator, Louise Bennett

  • Israel for Mango Time, a Jamaican folk song about making the best of the mango crop

  • Sharon for two popular Jamaican songs, Banana Boat Song and Jamaican Farewell

  • Tolu and Taiwo for Bata Mi A Dun Ko Ko Ka, a Nigerian song in Yoruba about the benefits of study ('If I study hard, I will wear high heels')

  • Juliet for O Kereke, a Nigerian song in Igbo in which the children sit in a line with their legs outstretched and bounce a rolled-up cloth from one end to the other

  • Jane for Kedu Onye Ga Abu Ojim, a Nigerian song and circle dance in Igbo about finding a friend

  • Nkechi for Onye Ga Agba Agwu, a Nigerian song and circle dance in Igbo about dancing

  • Ann-Marie for A Te Wa, a Sierra Leonean song and circle dance in Creole about dancing

In addition, both children and staff have enjoyed dancing to two more Jamaican songs in the Mento tradition:

  • Peanut Vendor by the Kew Park Mento Band

  • Slide Mongoose by the Blue Glaze Mento Band

And finally, since we're dancing, we hope you enjoy this video of Oliver Mobeli from Central African Republic!

When a dinosaur's feeling hungry!

We've had a great start to the new academic year at Bangers & Smash with songs and musical activities on the theme of dinosaurs!

Image © GIPHY

Image © GIPHY

We've started each session with a song about fingers, which has allowed us to work on our fine motor skills via a series of small movements. In Fingers Like To Wiggle Waggle, we've practised wiggling and waggling our fingers up in the air, down on the ground and out to each side. At the end of the song, we've extended this activity by making our fingers into claws. What animal might we be? Does he have a tail? Big jaws? Sharp teeth? How does he move? What does he sound like?

Cathy has then introduced a green soft toy dinosaur called 'Dippy' and the children have had fun taking it in turns to give him a cuddle and sing a good day song to him. Dipidu is an African song (some sources say it's from Ghana, others Uganda) which starts in 3/4 time and moves into 4/4 time. Cathy has concentrated on the first line of the song ('Good day, good day to you, good day, oh dipidu') in the first two sessions and introduced the second line (in which the children insert their own names in place of 'dipidu') in the last two sessions. This has the advantage of firmly embedding the first two lines of the song (in 3/4 time) so that they become familiar. Cathy will then go on to introduce the second part of the song (in 4/4 time) over the rest of the term.

At this point, the session has split with Cathy teaching different songs and activities to the babies/toddlers and preschoolers:

  • Babies and toddlers have taken it in turns to play a homemade dinosaur shaker. We've taken Dippy for a walk on a black cloth with stars and moons on it and bounced him up and down while singing a simple counting song, One Little, Two Little, Three Little Dinosaurs, as well as two more dinosaur songs, Colour Me, I'm A Dinosaur and What Shall We Do With A Grumpy Dinosaur? We've finished each session by holding the cloth above the children's heads while singing, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.

  • Preschoolers have learned a song about a hungry dinosaur, When A Dinosaur's Feeling Hungry. Each week, the dinosaur has gone to a different place looking for food: first, the forest – where he finds leaves and twigs; second, the garden – where he finds flowers and soil; and third, the kitchen – where he finds peas and mouldy cheese! Some children have been able to go out into their nursery's garden and look for 'food' for the dinosaur to eat; others have taken it in turns to take Dippy to different parts of the room, which we have designated forest, garden, kitchen etc. In all cases, Cathy has asked the children to decide which food Dippy likes to eat ('mmm!') and which he doesn't like ('eurgh!').

Cathy has finished each session by inviting everyone to dance to Everybody Walk The Dinosaur by Was Not Was. The children have enjoyed joining in with specific moves ('Open the door, get on the floor, everybody walk the dinosaur') and phrases ('Boom, boom, acka lacka lacka boom') as well as stomping around in a circle, roaring like T Rexes!

People who help us

This March, we've been thinking about people who help us at Bangers & Smash.

Image   ©  Emergency Times

Image © Emergency Times

This popular theme allows us to develop our knowledge and understanding of the world through singing, moving, playing and listening to songs about people and communities.

We've started each session with an action song, Tall Shops, which has helped us develop our gross motor skills with lots of stretching, swinging and bending. We've followed this with another action song – this time developing our fine motor skills by joining in with hand and finger actions to Raffi's Corner Grocery Store. It's been lovely watching the children get to know these songs so well that they request them at the start of each session and join in with all the actions and words.

Thinking about people who help us in shops, we've acted out the work of a supermarket checkout assistant, scanning the shopping (beep, beep) as it comes along the conveyor belt (zhuuuuzh), packing it in bags (rustle, rustle) and pressing the buttons on the till (beep, beep, beep!).

We've popped next door to the cobbler's to get our shoes mended and to the baker's to buy muffins and buns:

  • In the cobbler's, we've used single claves to tap our shoes while singing Cobbler, Cobbler, Mend My Shoe.

  • In the baker's, we've used two claves to tap a pulse as we sing and march to The Muffin Man.

  • We've also acted out Five Currant Buns In The Baker's Shop as five children (currant buns) line up beside the baker while others take it in turns to buy a bun and take it away. The children are able to visualise the act of subtraction as the line of buns gradually reduces from five to one; they also pay the baker a penny a bun, allowing them to role-play using money.

All the above activities, including tapping a pulse, link to the Mathematics area of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum.

Thinking about people who help us in an emergency, we've enjoyed making the sounds of ambulance, fire engine and police sirens in Call, Call The Ambulance by Bangers & Smash co-founder, Cathy Clethero. With older children, we've been able to take this concept further by splitting into groups and choosing one sound per group. Children have taken it in turns to act as conductor, signalling to each group when to start, when to stop and when to make their sounds all together.

Finally, thinking about people who help us at nursery, we've used percussion to perform the song, I Am The Music Teacher. Children have again split into groups (bells, shakers, claves) and taken it in turns to play their instruments, coming together at the end to 'play in the band':

I am the music teacher, I come from far away and I can play
What can you play? I play in the band!
All together-gether now, together now, together now
All together-gether now, all together now!