Saturday, October 26, 2013

Four White Horses (Grades 4-6, Music and Language Arts)

Students learn Four White Horses by rote using actions, learn the corresponding hand-clapping game, develop stories about the song, and develop new ways to play the game.

A recording of Four White Horses (, writing materials, space for movement


First Session: Learn the song by rote
  • Listen to Four White Horses and clap on "hey" (or "ay")
  • Listen again and clap on "hey"
  • Listen again and add actions on "up" (raise hands high above the head)
  • Repeat and add actions on "rainy day" (fingers wiggle and fall)
  • Develop actions for "shadow play" and repeat
  • Continue repeating, adding actions for other parts of the song (come on, four white horses, on a river, ripe banana)
  • Repeat the entire song with actions; invite all participants to sing along (Let them just listen if they want to up until this point when everyone is invited to sing along. However, if they choose to sing along prior, that's okay.)
  • Repeat the entire song again without the vocal model; see if the students can carry the song on their own. Usually they can at this point. 
Second Session: Explore the meaning of the song
  • Repeat the song with actions
  • Brain-storm ideas for the song's meaning
  • Write a short story based on the song
  • (Participants could also research the origins and possible meanings for the song.)
  • Share stories with others in small groups 
Third Session: Learn the game and make up new ways to play the game
  • Repeat the song with actions
  • Invite participants to stand in a circle close enough to reach each other
  • Practice a four-count pattern (hands forward, clap hands, hands to sides clapping neighbor's hands, clap hands again)
  • Sing the song with the repeated four-count pattern; the first four beats match the syllables, "four white hor-ses", etc.
  • Choose three participants (making four in all) and demonstrate the game; begin with one partnership always clapping above the others, then alternate above and below if possible
  • Invite groups to make up new ways to play the game
  • If the class does not divided evenly into groups of four, invite odd groups (3 or 5 participants) to develop a way to play the game
  • Have the groups share their creative ways to play the game if they would like; the other groups can also try the new ways to play the game

Language Arts


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