Friday, October 10, 2014

Skip to My Lou (Place Value)

When using a tune to help students remember a concept, it is more effective to use a tune they already know (a folk tune), albeit with new lyrics. The familiar tune is a brain-pattern that has already been established and can be used to carry new information. That’s not to say that they can’t learn a new song; it just takes a lot more time to build that new pattern in the brain. 

I picked up the following song at a workshop in Arizona. I can't remember who the clinician was, but he was an elementary music specialist giving elementary music integration ideas. 

Play, “Name that Tune”: Sing the tune on a neutral syllable (la, ba, dee, etc.) and invite the students to raise their hands if they know the name of the tune. Ask them to please not shout it out. When the tune is over, call on someone. When they give a title, don’t say “yes” or “no.” Rather, say “let’s test it and see.” Sing the tune as before and then ask the students if they thought it fit. If not, then take additional guesses and repeat the song. 

Invite the students to sing the song (Lou, lou, skip to my lou—or one of the verses, Flies in the buttermilk, shoo fly shoo...)

Invite the students to listen to the new lyrics. Point at the board showing a three-digit number. For example, 743. Sing: Three is in the ones place. Four is in the tens place. Seven is in the hundreds place. Seven hundred forty-three.

Sing the song for additional numbers. Invite students to sing along. Invite individual students to come up and point (especially fun with a cool pointer like a drumstick, baton, or mallet).

Additional variations: Keep the beat with various body percussion. Let students come up with their own ways to keep the beat. Let individual students lead the rest of the class in keeping the beat. Tap or clap the rhythm. Do the rhythm with other body percussion. Including some marching in place or something to get them up out of their seats just a bit.

To solidify the fact that hundreds are the largest, repeat the song (with or without beat or rhythm accompaniment) singing softly on the ones, medium on the tens, and loud on the 100s.

Once they seem to know what’s going on, stop singing with them to see if they can carry the tune without the teacher. 

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