Songs, Instruments, and Dance! Program Update from Literacy Through the Arts

Teaching Artist Robin Cannon Colwell, or Captain Robin, gives us all a longer update on what Literacy Through the Arts is doing in Kindergarten.  The AFA staff is a little upset that we aren’t in this class – it sounds like a lot of fun!

The fall semester of Literacy Through the Arts for Kindergarten is divided up into three units – SONGS, INSTRUMENTS, and DANCE!

LTA Bulletin Board

The Literacy Through the Arts bulletin board at Hamilton Heights!

We begin the year supporting the classroom teachers by singing SONGS using letters they are learning each week.  Using songs like Apples and Bananas, Bumble Bee, N is for Noodle, P-P-P-Pumpkins, and Ukelele Lady, students identify the letters within the song they are singing, and engage in creating art with that letter.

One of my favorite lessons is Letter I.  First, we read the book Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni, a story of a little inchworm that measures birds one by one.  The class then sings the song Wiggle Worm while forming the letter I with their body and wiggling around the space as they dance to the music.  Lastly, the students are each given a piece of construction paper and various green materials to re-create art from the book.  This lesson is great and the teachers love showcasing the art in the hallways.

The second unit involves INSTRUMENTS. We begin by reading a book about instruments of the orchestra, and demonstrating how to create an ensemble.  The class makes their own “orchestra” using their voices and sounds from the alphabet.  Each week I bring in an instrument, or a picture of an instrument.  The class learns what letter the instrument starts with, and we listen to the sound it makes.  I play instrumental sounds and the students move like a tuba, piano, french horn, flute, trumpet, drum, and violin.  During a journal time, students are asked to color a picture of the instrument and write out it’s name. One lesson plan involves moving to the Peter and the Wolf soundtrack, which the kids love!

Our last unit is a favorite: DANCE!  Students learn simple steps for Mambo, Hip Hop, Ballet, and Waltz, along with the letter for each.   Over the course of four weeks, they make their very own jingle bell shaker using recycled toilet paper rolls, paint, large jingle bells, pipe cleaners, and stickers.  This project is a hit!  At the end of the semester, students perform the different styles of dance to coinciding versions of Jingle Bells, while playing their instruments – so much fun!

As a Teaching Artist, it has been exciting to watch this program evolve and grow, expanding last year to another school. We strive to meet the needs of the school’s current curriculum, as well as the Common Core standards. I am constantly looking for new and creative ways to engage the students through music and movement, and enhance learning in the classroom!  Watching some students who have a difficult time participating at the beginning of the year actually stand up to sing, dance, and play an instrument with their class at the end of the semester makes my own heart sing!  :)

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” – Plutarch

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