wildlife garden

'Funga Alafia': a welcome song from Nigeria!

We’ve had another great October at Bangers & Smash, singing songs from Africa and the Caribbean in celebration of Black History Month!

Iya and the Kuumba Kids

Iya and the Kuumba Kids

We’ve started each session with a name song from South Africa, Haya Ma, in which the children say their names and clap four times. It’s been lovely seeing even the youngest babies and toddlers recognise and respond to this simple song.

Moving on, we’ve looked at The Skin You Live In, a beautifully illustrated book which uses sumptuous language and imagery to celebrate skin colour:

  • your coffee and cream skin, your warm cocoa dream skin, your chocolate chip, double dip, sundae supreme skin

  • your marshmallow treat skin, your spun sugar sweet skin, your cherry topped, candy dropped, frosting complete skin

  • your butterscotch gold skin, your lemon tart bold skin, your mountain high, apple pie, cookie dough rolled skin

Children have looked at their own and their friends' skin and Cathy has talked about how people with brown and black skin come from the continent of Africa and live all over the world.

Our main song, Funga Alafia, comes from West Africa. There are many versions of this song but Cathy has chosen one by Iya and the Kuumba Kids with lyrics about Nigeria:

Funga alafia, ashe, ashe
Funga alafia, ashe, ashe

It’s a welcome song from Nigeria
Bringing peace and love to everyone
Grab a welcome if you please
I have nothing up my sleeves!

Children have had fun playing along to Funga Alafia with instruments from Drums for Schools’ fantastic Nursery Rhythm Kit. The kit contains a variety of instruments from around the world, including claves, agogos, shakers, scrapers, chime bars and drums.

Cathy has also asked black staff members to share songs from their childhoods and heritages.

Big thanks to the following:

  • Kemi for Labe Igi Orombo, a Nigerian song in Yoruba about playing under an orange tree

  • Tolu for Bata Mi A Dun Ko Ko Ka, a Nigerian song in Yoruba about the benefits of study, and Aiku, Ajé, Isegun, Ojo ru, Ojo bo, Eti, Abameta, a song about the days of the week

  • Juliet for O Kereke, a Nigerian song in Igbo in which the children sit opposite each other 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 in Igbo about finding a friend

  • Sarah and Trianna for Kye Kye Kule, a West African call and response song

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

  • Israel and Vinette for Go Down Emmanuel Road, a Jamaican song about passing stones around a circle, and Mango Time, a song about eschewing coffee in favour of mango juice

  • Marcia for Brown Girl In The Ring, a Jamaican song about dancing

In addition, both children and staff have enjoyed singing and dancing to two songs about beans, Jumping Beans and Nzama, Nzama (a Malawian song), before getting on down to Blame It On The Boogie by Michael Jackson.

Earth Story – the beginning of life

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

Our next four sessions have been about:

  • the elements: earth, fire, water, air

  • simple life forms

  • fossils, rocks and minerals

  • volcanoes

Children have enjoyed:

  • waving scarves and moving to Feux D’Artifice by Debussy and Vltava by Smetana while thinking about fire and water

  • creating their own bacterium from scrunched-up newspaper and wriggling along the floor to Nautilus by B Bumble & the Stingers

  • singing Let’s Dig, Dig, Dig, a song about finding fossils, rocks and minerals, and My Roots Go Down, a song by Sarah Pirtle, which Cathy has adapted to be about mountains and volcanoes

There are many versions of this last song but here’s Bangers & Smash’s favourite!

Under the Willow INSET and Project Celebration

Cathy also ran a successful INSET session at Under the Willow on Wednesday 24 October 2018.

With a variety of activities designed to explore teachers’ voices and vocal range, the session looked at:

  • building confidence in singing and leading songs

  • finding ways to reinforce songs from music sessions during the rest of the school day

Cathy, staff and children are working towards Under the Willow’s upcoming Earth Story Project Celebration and are looking forward to sharing songs and stories about the earth with parents and carers on Wednesday 28 November 2018.

Carols in the Wildlife Garden

Cathy (guitar/voice) and Sarah (flute/accordion) are delighted to have been invited to sing and play Christmas songs in the Mother Goose Nursery Wildlife Garden from 12-4pm on Saturday 15 December 2018.

As well as mulled drinks and mince pies, there’ll be wreath-making and, of course, the chance to sing your hearts out with Bangers & Smash.

Carols in the Wildlife Garden is a FREE family event so please bring your little ones along and join in the fun!

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!

Hey, Stop Shaking Your Tail!

We've kept things nice and simple at Bangers & Smash this March with a series of sessions on the theme of pets!


Cathy has brought in a bag full of soft toys and introduced a new pet each week:

  • a dog
  • a cat
  • a mouse
  • a rabbit

Children and staff have enjoyed singing hello to the pets and talking about their own pets at home.

We've learned songs and nursery rhymes about dogs, cats, mice and rabbits, including:

  • How Much Is That Doggy In The Window?
  • Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat, Where Have You Been?
  • Hickory Dickory Dock
  • Little Peter Rabbit Had A Fly Upon His Nose

We've also sung and danced to two new tracks:

  • What's New, Pussycat? by Tom Jones: The children have picked up the lyrics really quickly and have enjoyed spreading their arms wide and singing What's New, Pussycat? Woah, woah wo-o-o-oh at the tops of their voices!
  • Hey, Stop Shaking Your Tail! by Bangers & Smash: Cathy has used puppets to mime a dog and a cat shaking their tails, paws and ears. The children have loved shaking their own tails, paws and ears and running away as the dog tries to lick their faces!

In the final week, we've celebrated Easter with a series of songs and activities based on rabbits, chickens and eggs:

  • We've gathered around a cloth with silver stars and moons on it and sung Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
  • We've bounced our toy rabbit on the cloth while singing two new songs, The Easter Bunny's Feet go Hop, Hop, Hop and What Shall We Do With An Easter Bunny?
  • We've sung Chick, Chick, Chicken and taken it in turns to play some egg shakers and cluck like chickens


Don't miss Bangers & Smash's singing and instrument-making session at the Mother Goose Wildlife Garden in Denmark Hill!

Cathy and Sarah will join wildlife gardener, Di Wallace, from 1-5pm on Saturday 28 April for this FREE session for families and members of the local community, part-sponsored by Southwark Council.

We'll be showcasing new songs about wildlife and gardening as well as making drums and claves from recycled and natural materials so do come along and bring your littl'uns!

For more information, please click here.

Happy New Year from Bangers & Smash!

What a busy month December has been at Bangers & Smash with Christmas Shows at four of our regular nurseries!

While we sang traditional Christmas songs and carols to accompany our Nativity at Mother Goose – Greendale, we opted for something more modern at Crystal Nurseries with an original show written by Bangers & Smash co-founder, Cathy Clethero.

Winter Wonderland saw the children make snowmen and snowgirls, dance with the rockin' robins and meet Santa and his reindeer on Christmas morning before going back indoors for some turkey and Christmas pudding.

Meanwhile, children and staff at Le Nid enjoyed dressing up in Santa hats to sing festive songs such as When Santa Got Stuck Up the Chimney and Santa Claus is Coming to Town as well as dancing to Rockin' Robin by The Jacksons and All I Want for Christmas is You by Mariah Carey.

Cathy was also invited to lead the singing at Mother Goose Nursery Wildlife Garden's annual Carols in the Wildlife Garden event on Saturday 17 December. While families and members of the local community enjoyed mulled wine, mince pies and wreath-making, Cathy played a selection of Christmas songs – from classic carols such as The Holly & the Ivy and Deck the Halls to more modern tunes like Let It Snow, Santa Baby and Jingle Bell Rock. To see what a good time was had by all, check out the pictures below!

Singing and wreath-making at the same time!

Singing and wreath-making at the same time!

How do you keep those fingers warm, Cathy?!

How do you keep those fingers warm, Cathy?!

This gentlemen joined in with a beautiful tenor!

This gentlemen joined in with a beautiful tenor!

Cathy and the Bangers & Smash team would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year!