Happy New Year from Bangers & Smash and what better way to celebrate than with a magical journey to the Land of Ice and Snow?
Starting off by warming up our fingers and hands, we've sung the finger rhyme, Tommy Thumb, with babies and toddlers, who have enjoyed putting their hands behind their backs and bringing them out to wave first 'Tommy Thumb', then 'Peter Pointer', 'Toby Tall', 'Ruby Ring', 'Baby Small' and 'Fingers All' in the air.
Older children have enjoyed clapping, tapping and stamping their way through This Is The Way We Clap Our Hands to the tune of Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush and more confident children have been able to suggest their own actions such as pointing toes, tapping heads etc.
Once warmed up, children and staff have mimed putting on coats, scarves, boots, gloves and hats ready to begin their journey.
Cathy has set the scene with a series of lycra games, during which we've listened to Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky and Winter by Vivaldi (many thanks to Jesus at Mother Goose – Greendale for this suggestion!) while bouncing various snow-themed items on a cloth, including a giant snowflake and a number of soft toy animals (Arctic hare, polar bear, reindeer, snowy owl etc). All the children have loved this activity which combines listening and appreciation with working together to make sure the bounced items don't fall off. There's also the opportunity to bounce in time with the music and to respond to dynamics (so that, for example, when the music is loud we bounce the items higher/more vigorously and when it is quiet, we bounce them lower/more softly).
Next, we've learned a simple call and response song about reindeer in preparation for travelling by sleigh to the Land of Ice and Snow. In the song, Cathy sings a line and children and staff sing it back to her. Each line has its own action as the reindeer get ready to pull the sleigh. In the final line, everyone picks up a set of bells and sets off in a circle, jingling and riding along to Sleigh Ride by Aretha Franklin.
On arrival, it's time to meet Jack Frost with his icy fingers, spiky hair and long nose. Cathy has created an igloo out of a cloth draped over two chairs and chosen individual children to dress up in a white smock and hide inside with a bell. Other children listen out for the bell while singing Bangers & Smash original, Jack Frost. On the last line, Here I am in my igloo!, Jack Frost jumps out to great applause. It's been fabulous watching the children gain the confidence to have a go at hiding in the igloo and lovely to see them wait the length of the song, quietly ringing their bell to let us know they're still inside.
Our final activity has involved working with tuned percussion (handbells, chime bars etc). We've played along to another Bangers & Smash song, It's Snowing Outside, and practised a simple rhythm over the words, Snow falls plip plop, plip plop, plip plop. Even quite young children have been able to play in time, once they've become familiar with the rhythm. As well as making a pretty, delicate sound, the bells and chime bars are an introduction to the worlds of pitch and timbre. Playing them freely has allowed the children to experiment with contributing to an overall soundscape and to experience the pleasure that comes from improvising in a group.