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Seesaw singsong

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By Jolly Music

Get a feel for the pulse in the first of our three-part series from Jolly Music

Jolly Music

Jolly Music is a progressive course that teaches children about music through singing alone. In this new series we will walk you through music and activities that are memorable, easy to sing, and have lots of scope for activities and games. The children’s skills will be built up gradually, using plenty of repetition from week to week.

This month we look at activities based on ‘See-saw’. This four-bar song may only contain two notes, but you can extract a wealth of musical experiences from it (see above right).

Teach the song

Teach the ‘See-saw’ song – using the ‘I sing/you sing’ model: that is, you sing and the children copy you. Explain that when you cross your arms, it is your turn to sing, and when you open them wide it is their turn. This simple technique is surprisingly effective.

Cross your arms and sing the first line – you can use the audio song if you are shy about singing. (Available below). Then give the signal for the children to sing it back to you. Do the same for the second line. Now sing both lines together for the children to sing back to you.

Perform the pulse

A feeling for the pulse (the underlying regular beat of a piece of music or a rhyme), is a fundamental musical skill. Most of the songs and rhymes in Jolly Music have their own pulse actions for the children to perform. Later, the children will learn to improvise their own. As with all the activities in the programme, skills are built up in small increments so that the children are always secure in one step before moving on to the next.

Week 1

Start by asking the children to form a circle with one of the sung instructions used in Jolly Music: Stand up! Come and make a circle (available to play at below). Invite the children to face sideways in the circle and stretch their arms out to the side to make a seesaw. Ask them to sing the song and move their seesaw arms in time with the music.

Now ask the children to turn and face in the opposite direction and sing the song with the actions again. When the children have learned the activity, encourage a few individuals to sing the song with the actions. Solo work allows you to assess individual children, ensuring everyone is learning through musical activity, not just listening. Many children will be eager to perform on their own, but make sure the less confident ones have a go too.

Ask the whole class to repeat the song. The quality of the performance should be better as their listening, concentration levels and general awareness will be sharper.

Week 2

Hum ‘See-saw’ for the children and invite a volunteer to perform it, followed by the whole class. Challenge the children to form a circle and repeat the pulse action activity, followed by some volunteers singing the song with the actions.

Ask the children to face the person next to them, join hands in the seesaw position and perform the song together, starting and stopping the actions when the song starts and stops. Invite pairs of volunteers to sing the song with the actions, then let the class perform it in pairs one last time together.

Week 3

Hum ‘See-saw’ for the children. Ask a volunteer to sit on the singing chair and sing the song (see ‘The singing chair’ above). Invite the children to make a circle and sing the song with a partner as they did last week.

Now explain that when you sing ‘Turn around!’ together (see audio clips, below), the children are to stop holding hands, turn to the person behind them, and make a seesaw with this new partner. Repeat this game several times.

Jolly music

Jolly Music is a step-by-step music programme for primary schoolchildren, including games, activities, puppets and a singing chair. Teachers do not need any specialist music training – the handbook and CDs guide them through lessons. The first teacher handbook, for four-to seven-year-olds, introduces the basics of pulse, rhythm and pitch. Subsequent handbooks will teach the fundamentals of learning to read and write music. Jolly Music is published by Jolly Learning, makers of literacy programme Jolly Phonics. Visit for more details.

Week 4

Remind the children of ‘See-saw’ and ask a volunteer to perform it, followed by the whole class. Play the ‘turn around’ game in a circle several times. Ask each pair to perform the song in turn, sitting down afterwards. Encourage the children to watch each other and decide who sang beautifully and who moved their seesaws in time with the music.

Finally, invite the whole class to sing the song one last time with their partners.

The singing chair

This can be an ordinary chair decorated in some special way. Tell the children that it will help them to sing really well when they sit on it. When you ask for solo volunteers, always invite them to come and sit on the singing chair to perform. This is a great way to give children the confidence to perform on their own.



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