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Reading and Writing with Song
Songs for Teaching®

Teachers can use almost any song to build skills in the language arts! The following sequence works well with our students:

     1. I may occasionally start by playing the music first, especially when
      — The text of the lyrics will be very challenging for the students. In this case, playing the song first provides a context for learning, and helps children make connections with the written words.
      — The students are unruly, bored, or in need of a change of pace. Music can help children "settle down" or "perk up," and prepare for learning.

     2. We generally start by reading the song's title and lyrics. As we proceed we
     — Identify and discuss new words and expressions. Children are provided with word recognition tools (such as phonics) as needed.
     — Discuss the content of the song. Our goal is to always read for meaning.

     3. We may re-read the lyrics as we would poetry, thereby improving reading fluency and promoting deeper levels of comprehension.

     4. It's finally time to rock! We stand up, clap and move to the music, and sing along as the CD is played.

    Our page on Using Music to Teach Reading Skills lists songs that we find particularly helpful for teaching children to read.

Using Music to Stimulate Creative Writing

    Songs make wonderful writing prompts! You may want to start by reading a picture-song storybook like Baa Baa Black Sheep to younger students, or Turkey in the Straw with older students. (You may print as many copies of these books as you like for educational use with your students. More printable song-story books may be purchased.)

    Talk about the book with your students. You can direct students' attention to the song's meaning, and the manner in which the composition was crafted. The pictures provide an engaging way to build comprehension. When appropriate, you may want to discuss patterns of rhythm or rhyme, and how they can affect the audience's response.

    Encourage your students to write their own verses to the song. They may enjoy creating their own pictures and making their own picture-song storybooks.

    Children of all ages also love to write their own raps. You might want to have your students chant some of the selections from our page on Cheers, Chants, Raps, and Poetry. You'll find your students eager to create their own verses. You can write them together as a class, using the overhead projector, or divide students into small writing groups. Chances are, your students will beg you to let them do this again!

    "Anyone who has ever done this with young children knows that they can soon "read" every page in a book of their own creation. Best of all, creation becomes a habit....and so does the reading!"
    "I believe such experiences teach an even more important lesson. Each person's thoughts and ideas are worthy of our attention -- and only get better with exercise. The joy of life is in thinking, creating, and doing."
                                                                    -- Jim Gill

See also:
    Sonja Dunn on Encouraging Students to Write Their Own Chants




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