TeachingEnglish
Using Songs

Introduction
Children all over the world love listening to songs and most of them love singing too! Using songs to introduce language and revise vocabulary is a great way to help children remember. Having a rhyme, music and actions helps to quickly pick up the vocabulary and retain it.

How to introduce songs

  • The learners should hear it first a couple of times.
    If you are not confident with singing then you will need to find a recorded version. The down side of a recorded version is that you will be less connected to the song and the activity might feel less spontaneous. The upside is that you will have backing music and so the song might be more lively.
  • Once they’re heard the song a couple of times they can start to join in.
    If it is an action song they can watch you do the actions from the very first time and join in with them as soon as they feel ready.
  • Sing and do the actions and emphasize the last words of each line.
    The children can fill in the blanks, with a little help from you if needed.


Action songs

  • Heads, shoulders, knees and toes
    This song is perfect for practising parts of the body. Children love singing it when you gradually take away the words but don’t forget to sing a final, quick version with all the actions and words.
    • Head, shoulders knees and toes, knees and toes
      Head, shoulders knees and toes, knees and toes
      And eyes and ears and mouth and nose
      Head, shoulders knees and toes, knees and toes
  • If you’re happy and know it
    This is a great song that even the youngest learners can follow and join in with. They will very quickly want to do the actions.If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands
    • If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands
      If you’re happy and you know really want to show it
      If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands

      If you’re happy and you know it stamp your feet / touch your nose / wave your arms / stand up / sit down / say ‘We are’…
  • Here we go round the mulberry bush
    You can use a chair as a bush or a child but if you use a child then be sure to let them do all the actions and not just be a bush! The children can suggest other actions to do on a cold and frosty morning.
    • Here we go round the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush.
      Here we go round the mulberry bush on a cold and frosty morning.

      This is way we brush our hair, brush our hair, brush our hair.
      This is the way we brush our hair on a cold and frosty morning.
      This is way we brush our teeth / eat our food / put on our coat / say goodbye …

 

  • The Farmer’s in his den
    The children can stand and turn in a large circle for this song and have one person go into the centre of the circle each time a new character appears in the song. They can choose themselves the next child. Sing three times so that several children can have a turn at being a character.
    • The Farmer’s in his den, the farmer’s in his den, E I addy O, the Farmer’s in his den.
      The farmer wants a wife, the farmer wants a wife, E I addy O, the farmer wants a wife.
      The wife wants a child, the wife wants a child E I addy O, the wife wants a child.
      The child wants a nurse, the child wants a nurse EI addy O, the child wants a nurse.
      The nurse wants a dog, the nurse wants a dog E I addy O, the nurse wants a dog.
      We all pat the dog, we all pat the dog E I addy O, we all pat the dog.


Classic songs that children love to sing

  • There was an old lady who swallowed a fly
    This is quite a long song. If you can use pictures to accompany the song the children will follow better. This is a song that needs to be acted to be brought to life so be ready to act out eating, the animals, and the exclamations.
    • There was an old lady who swallowed a fly.
      I don’t why she swallowed a fly,
      Perhaps she’ll die.

      There was an old lady who swallowed a spider
      That wriggled and wriggled and jiggled inside her.
      She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
      I don’t know why she swallowed the fly,
      Perhaps she’ll die.

      There was an old lady who swallowed a bird.
      How absurd to swallow a bird!
      She swallowed the bird to catch the spider, she swallowed the spider to catch the fly,
      I don’t know why she swallowed the fly,
      Perhaps she’ll die.

      There was an old lady who swallowed :
      a dog – What a hog to swallow a dog! / a cow – I don’t know how she swallowed a cow /a horse – She’s dead of course

 

  • I can sing a rainbow
    Have colour flashcards stuck on the board. Practise the colours first making up a chant. Gradually cover up the colours until the children are chanting the colours with only white paper to look at.
    • Red and yellow and pink and green, purple and orange and blue
      I can sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow too.
      Listen with your ears, see with your eyes and sing everything you see,
      You can sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow, sing along with me.
      Red and yellow and pink and green, purple and orange and blue
      I can sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow too.

 

  • The ABC song
    Have each child hold a flashcard with a letter. They first have to get themselves into the correct order and then hold their card up when they hear their letter in the song.
    • A, B, C, D, E, F, G,
      H, I, J, K,
      L, M, N, O, P,
      Q, R, S,
      T,U, V,
      W, X, Y and Z
      Now you know the A, B, C, you can sing along with me.

 

  • Twinkle, twinkle little star
    The children can make their own stars before singing this song. Give them three strips of pipe cleaners that they have to bend together in the middle to make a six-point star. This is a good way to practise instructions with them. You can hang them onto coat hangers and display like a mobile.
    • Twinkle, twinkle little star
      How I wonder what you are
      Up above the world so high
      Like a diamond in the sky
      Twinkle, twinkle little star
      How I wonder what you are.


TV theme songs
Not only do these songs provide a good cultural input to your lessons, the theme songs are catchy and fairly easy to learn as they really tell a story. You need to have access to the cartoons themselves for the songs and opening credits where the songs are sung. Use the video to elicit vocabulary first without the sound.

  • Postman Pat
  • Fireman Sam
  • Bob the Builder


Christmas songs

Christmas songs can be quite long and difficult to learn but these below are relatively short and repetitive so more accessible to children.

  • Jingle Bells
    Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle all the way,
    Oh what fun it is to ride on a one-horse open sleigh. Hey!
    Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle all the way,
    Oh what fun it is to ride on a one-horse open sleigh.
  • We wish you a Merry Christmas
    We wish you a Merry Christmas,
    We wish you a Merry Christmas,
    We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
    Glad tidings we bring for you and your kin,
    We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Internet links

This British Council site has a collection of songs and activities for the songs online.
http://www.britishcouncil.org/kids-songs.htm

This site has flashcards for heads, shoulders, knees and toes.
http://www.eslkidstuff.com/Worksheets/

Here you can find flashcards for a few songs both in colour and black and white.
http://www.eslkidstuff.com/Song_Sheet_Menu.htm

Here there are some lovely song sheets for songs such as ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star’ and ‘The ants go marching’
http://bogglesworld.com/songs.htm

This site has some more song sheets worth looking at.
http://www.esl-lounge.com/children-songs.shtml

By Jo Bertrand

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Comments

mercedesm's picture
mercedesm

Hello !
Thanks so much for this great activity, i really love teaching through music, it wakes me and my class too. Great, i'll try this.