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!

Everything grows...

This April, we've been learning about things that grow at Bangers & Smash.

music in the wildlife garden.jpg

We've started each session by wiggling our fingers up in the air and down on the ground before moving them onto our toes, knees, tummies, necks, faces and heads. What does this feel like?

  • 'It's tickly'

  • 'Like spiders!'

Our song, Fingers All, has allowed us to work on our dexterity and spatial awareness by stretching and clenching our fingers and hands. Next month, we'll extend this activity by introducing verses with specific finger shapes and movements – a cat stroking its whiskers, a centipede crawling on the mat – allowing us to practise our fine motor skills in a fun and creative way.

We've extended this finger play to think about the idea of roots growing down into the ground. What has roots? The children have had all sorts of ideas: a tree, a flower, grass. Inspired by the video below, we've sung My Roots Go Down with lots of wonderful actions. Both children and teachers have loved this simple, engaging song – many thanks to Professor Pamela Burnard from the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, for pointing Cathy in its direction!

We've followed this by listening and singing along to Everything Grows by Raffi – again, with lots of actions. As the the children have become familiar with the song, they've been able to list all the things in it that grow: babies and animals, fingers and toes, a blade of grass, a red, red rose and – last but not least – mummies and daddies!

Finally, the instrumental part of our sessions has featured two traditional songs, Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary and In And Out The Dusty Bluebells.

  • In the former, we've put two 'sounds' in the middle of our circle: a set of bells and a shaker made from goats' hooves (which look and sound a bit like shells). These represent Mary's 'silver bells and cockle shells' and children have taken it in turns to choose one then the other to shake, before walking round the circle tapping the girls ('pretty maids') or boys ('pretty boys') on the head.

  • In the latter, younger children have sat in a circle playing bells while Cathy weaves 'in and out the dusty bluebells' leading one child by the hand. Older children have learned the well-known game which accompanies this song whereby one child weaves in and out during the first part of the song before tapping the shoulder of the child they end up behind and singing:

Tippy, tippy tap toe on my shoulder
Tippy, tippy tap toe on my shoulder
Tippy, tippy tap toe on my shoulder
You will be my partner

In other news, we had another successful Music in the Wildlife Garden event as guests of the Mother Goose Wildlife Garden on Saturday 29 April.


Cathy was joined by Bangers & Smash co-founder, Sarah Allen, for an afternoon of singing and instrument-making with families and members of the local community.

The sun shone as we sang songs around the garden and made shakers out of plastic containers filled with rice and claves out of bamboo. The children really enjoyed playing their instruments along to songs old and new, including Bangers & Smash originals, Owl Babies, Tadpole and Flutter By.