I was lucky enough to have one last chance to visit Edgemont Elementary before the end of the semester! It has been so much fun integrating the arts into this first grade classroom. Most of my curriculum focused on Science, but for this lesson I chose to integrate Music and English/Language Arts using the singing game “Sally Go ‘Round the Sun.”
This lesson began by teaching song “Sally Go Round the Sun.” The kids picked it up really fast! I think some of them knew the song already. Even so, it was impressive how quickly they picked it up.
“Sally Go Round the Sun” is a great singing game because it develops the whole child. In Music Education, we strive to help children grow and develop as a whole person, not JUST where performance of music is concerned! “Sally Go Round the Sun” helps children develop physical coordination and social skills in addition to music and language skills. Learning how to interact appropriately with others in public/social settings is once of the most vital components of early childhood education, and music is just as much a part of that component as any other.
Students were selected at random to play the roles of Sally, the Sun, the Moon, and the Chimney Pot (nobody knows what a chimney pot is, but we don’t let that stop us!). Since there are more children than there are parts to play, one of the first things this singing games teaches is the importance of waiting your turn! At the same time, however, there is more than just one person involved at a time, so cooperation and participation are important to this game as well. There is one boy in my class who has been very reluctant to participate all semester. Throughout every stage of the Engineering Design Process lessons, he was reluctant to participate or sometimes outright refused. But on this day, a miracle happened! This student was not only willing, but eager to participate in his role as the Moon. He liked it so much, and it was so great to see him participating and interacting with the others, that I let him stay in that role for most of the lesson instead of switching him with other people. Was it worth it? Absolutely!
The next part of the singing game is for the student playing Sally to go around the Sun, Moon, and Chimney Pot and then get back to his or her spot in the circle right on the word “Boom!”. The challenge is to not be late and not be early; this requires an accurate understanding of the timing of the music and the ability to coordinate one’s body with that timing. This is another great aspect of this game!
After a few students had gone around, I posed this question to the students: what other ways can Sally move? Sally’s gone around the sun, moon, and chimney pot… what about over them? What about though? And so on. We brainstormed a bunch of different words- around, over, through, under, next to, and so on- and the students each took a turn as Sally acting out one of these new words.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: I cannot stress enough how important it is to establish procedures before beginning an activity like this! Before an y of the students took their turn as Sally, we went through these simple but important rules:
1. Don’t touch other students without their okay
2. Respect personal space!
3. Be safe! No horseplay or dangerous ways for Sally to move.
Only one these rules were understood and agreed upon did we continue with the game. And it was a great game! Everyone had fun experiencing the different ways to move in relation to the Sun, Moon, and Chimney Pot.
As soon as the game ended, all the children returned to their seats to discuss what they had learned. This was when I introduced the word “preposition”– AFTER they had already EXPERIENCED it for themselves! Talking about the abstract concept of a preposition as a part of English grammar doesn’t make much sense to first graders. But pretending you have to fly over the moon in a singing game- that’s something they can experience, understand, and enjoy too! Having this concrete example to inform their notion of the abstract idea of prepositions made it MUCH easier for the first graders to grasp.
This was a super fun lesson and a great way to end my time here at Edgemont Elementary! I have learned a lot from teaching and singing with these kids, and I hope they have learned from me as well. What a great experience this has been!