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!

Summer, Summer, Summertime... time to sit back and unwind!

This July, we've been unwinding with some songs about Summertime at Bangers & Smash!

Starting each session with a nursery rhyme about a little crab, we've hooked our thumbs together and made our middle, ring and little fingers into the crab's legs and our index fingers into his eyes on stalks. The children have enjoyed making the crab play hide and seek as well as discussing what might happen if he nipped them with his claws. They've also been pondering why children have to go to school when crabs get to play in rock pools all day long!

Cathy has brought in a selection of straw hats and the children have taken it in turns to stand at the front and sing The Sun Has Got His Hat On while shaking a set of bells. Over time, some children have developed the confidence to punch the bells in the air at the end of the song with a big 'hey!'

Next, Cathy has asked the children to describe the sound the bells make:

  • jingle
  • ting a ling
  • ding ding

What is making the sound?

  • 'There's a little ball inside and it's hitting the metal'
  • 'I can see the little ball!'
  • 'I can hear the little ball!'

Cathy has then introduced a selection of instruments which are either made of metal or have metal parts and asked the children to listen to and describe the sounds they make:

  • a bicycle horn (beep beep)
  • some cymbals (crash)
  • a handbell (ding a ling)
  • a triangle (ting ting)
  • a tambourine (jingle)

Are the sounds long or short? What happens if you touch the metal part of the instrument? Does the sound change?

In the final week, Cathy has added some everyday objects and asked the children whether we could also make music with them:

  • a set of keys
  • two spoons

Most children have answered no until Cathy has begun to tap the spoons together, whereupon they've found themselves moving their bodies to the rhythm – watch out for impromptu music sessions during mealtimes!

Having laid all the metal instruments and objects on the floor, Cathy has then invited the children to come and choose an instrument by singing a gentle repeating line using the third, fifth and sixth notes of a major scale:

     5      5      3          5      5      3          5      5      3      6   5    5    3
'Come and choose, come and choose, come and choose an instrument.'

This has given the children a great opportunity to learn about turn-taking. Not everyone has ended up with their first choice and they've had to work out the best way to get over this hurdle – perhaps by playing one instrument for a while and then swapping with a friend, perhaps by accepting that the instrument they had their eye on is sadly no longer available!

This has also allowed us to think about the way we handle instruments – how we choose them, how we hold and play them, how we know when to play and when to keep quiet and – last but not least – how we put them away! During our Tidy Up song, the children place their instruments back in Cathy's basket and the child who can do this the most gently gets a special mention at the end.

Finally, we've danced with a partner to DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince's Summertime and joined in with the chorus:

'Summer, Summer, Summertime... time to sit back and unwind!'

What a great way to end the academic year at Bangers and Smash – Cathy and the team wish you all a happy Summer holiday and look forward to seeing you again in September!

Down on the farm with Bangers & Smash!

This June, we’ve been down on the farm with Bangers & Smash!

We’ve started each session with a nursery rhyme about four animals: a kitten, a dog, a hen and a duck. The children have enjoyed mimicking the sound each animal makes as Cathy lines four soft toys up in a row before the song starts. As the children have become familiar with the words, they’ve been able to sing and make the animal sounds (miaow, woof, cluck, quack) in the correct place. Some of the older children have had fun playing a game where they swap the sounds around so that, for example, when Cathy points to the dog, they make the sound of a hen etc.

We’ve followed this with the well-known finger rhyme, Five Little Ducks. Once the children have become familiar with the actions, we’ve developed the song by introducing a Mummy duck, a Daddy duck and five baby ducks (again, using soft toys) and experimenting with the high, middle and low parts of our voices by trying out ‘quacks’ in different duck voices.

Next, we’ve looked at a book, Noisy Farm. The children have been able to associate the sounds made by pressing a series of buttons with (i) the pictures on the buttons and (ii) the photographs in the book. Each week, the children have taken it in turns to choose a button. Some have gone for the nearest one (we’ve heard a lot of mooing as the cow button is the most accessible at the bottom!) while others have spent time considering which animal they would like to hear. Cathy has encouraged the children to join in with each animal sound and, by listening carefully, we’ve been able to make the sounds of a noisy farmyard.

We’ve followed this with two songs about horses, Horsey Horsey and Giddy Up, I'm A Cowboy – the first slow, the second fast. In both, one child has led the others round in a circle while 'riding' a toy horse. As well as singing the songs, we’ve made the sound of the horse neighing and of his hooves as he trots and canters round the room. We've also learned how to throw a lasso which has come in handy during our next piece of music, Hoe Down from Rodeo by Aaron Copland. During a lively rendition by the New York Philharmonic, the children have galloped, reared up and even attempted some jumps!

Finally, everyone has chosen an instrument from Cathy's percussion basket to play during Old Macdonald Had A Farm. Cathy has placed all the toy animals in a row and the children have decided which animal to sing about when. From babies to pre-schoolers to staff, everyone has enjoyed performing this timeless classic – a definite hit!

Minibeasts and more with Bangers & Smash!

What a fabulous May it's been at Bangers & Smash with plenty of sunshine bringing the minibeasts out in force!

We've started our sessions with a song we learned last month: Fingers All. This was one of the first songs Cathy and Sarah wrote together and it's wonderful to think we're still using it 30 years on! With lyrics about everything from cats and centipedes to toothbrushes and helicopters, the song encourages the children to work on their fine and gross motor skills by making small and large movements with their fingers, hands and arms as they sing.

We've gone on to learn two songs about spiders: Incey Wincey Spider and There's A Spider On The Floor. Cathy has walked a toy tarantula up the children's bodies and onto their heads and they have enjoyed squealing and giggling at the feel of the spider's legs in their hair!

Next, we've chosen individual children to lie in the middle or at the front, wrapped in colourful woven scarves from South America. Our song, A Caterpillar Crawled To The Top Of A Tree, sees the children first sleeping, then hatching into butterflies and and finally spreading their wings and flying.

We've followed this by throwing brightly coloured silk scarves into the air and catching them. The children have had fun choosing two scarves each as butterfly wings. Cathy has commented on each child's choice e.g. 'Izzy is a green and purple butterfly', 'Jamie is a yellow and orange butterfly' etc. We've then paraded round in a circle fluttering like butterflies to Bangers & Smash original, Flutter By.

Each session has finished with The Ladybugs' Picnic, a catchy song in which the children count up to 12 in sets of three:

'1 2 3... 4 5 6... 7 8 9... 10 11 12
The ladybugs came to the ladybugs' picnic'

Cathy has used the song to introduce two sounds – tapping and tooting. The children have tapped using claves during the verses and tooted using empty cardboard tubes during the middle 'solo' section. After much repetition, the children have been able to remember when to play sticks and when to play 'trumpets'. It's been amazing watching them gain vocal confidence through whispering, shouting, speaking and singing into their tubes and great to see them pick up a simple AABA (verse/verse/solo section/verse) arrangement.