(Echoes… echoes… echoes… echoes….)
This week, within our Winter theme, we practiced TWO chants that we call “Echo Songs.”
The first, “Dressing For a Cold Day” was quite long:
“The day is cloudy, and the wind is bold.” (echo)
“Dress up warmly, you mustn’t get cold.” (echo)
This song continues through five more couplets.
Most of the kids did not participate in echoing the lines back.
Most of them did not copy the hand motions.
As soon as I stopped tapping the rhythm on my knees, they stopped too. An observer might have interpreted this song as unsuccessful.
But… they hung on my every word!
They were listening to the rhythm of the chant. They were absorbing the content of the story told in the song. They were noticing how my movements illustrated each couplet. Watching them closely, I could see subtle head-nodding to the beat. Mouths were open, and lips were moving, almost imperceptibly. Some made vocalizations that were little more than sighs on each word.
They were FOCUSED. And they were performing, mentally!
Active listening is an important musical skill — as is internalizing the rhythm, decoding the pattern, and anticipating the next beat. I suppose the closest non-musical comparison I can make to illustrate the concept is learning to read silently. Even though a reader isn’t speaking aloud, the story is narrated in her head, and the content is understood.
As their brains mature, the kids will be able to unconsciously maintain tapping a beat on their knees while they listen. And then, will be able to add in some of the words. And finally, will be able to interrupt their knee-tapping to insert a hand motion, and be able to return to the rhythm.
When I got to the last line,
“… and then take a nap!”
they all flopped down onto the carpet with me, exhausted.
And giggled when I snored.
Ideas for Caregivers:
This echo song is a huge hit with the kids!
They’ll be very impressed that you know it:
A chubby little snowman [grab your big “snowbelly”]
Had a carrot for a nose. [point to your nose]
Along came a bunny, [make bunny ears on your head]
And what do you suppose? [shrug with hands out]
That hungry little bunny [bunny ears again!]
Was looking for his lunch, [shade eyes and scan the room]
And he ATE that snowman’s nose! [munching motions]
Nibble, nibble, CRUNCH!!! [nibble, and “all-gone!”]
- Start off by chanting each line, and letting them mimic you.
“A chubby little snowman…”
- When they’ve got the hang of it, read the lines in pairs, and see if they can echo both together!
“A chubby little snowman had a carrot for a nose.”
- Want an advanced challenge? Ask them to recite the entire chant WITH you, and drop the echoes entirely! This will take many repetitions, but is short enough for most 4-year-olds to memorize. Meow, meow!