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“The Sandcastle Song” by Mary McCammon

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(from School Journal, Part 1 Number 1, 1991)

Learning Contexts:Playing musical instruments; Literacy; Numeracy Learning Contexts:Playing musical instruments; Literacy; Numeracy
YEAR/S: 1-3 DURATION: 4 - 6 sessions
Values highlighted in this unit How will these values be encouraged?
Excellence Listening carefully to instructions. Playing to the best of their ability.
Innovation, inquiry and curiosity Exploring found sounds and deciding what will work well in the context of this song.
Diversity Sharing a variety of experiences children have had at the beach - similarities and differences.
Equity Children from all backgrounds able to share in the understanding and performance of this song.
Community and participation Full participation in all activities. Working together to get the best result.
Care for the environment The use of natural materials as sound-makers – it is important to know the protocol around removal of these items from the beach.
Integrity Respecting and accepting the suggestions of others.
Key Competencies highlighted in this unit How will these competencies be encouraged?
Managing self Listening to instructions, striving for rhythmic accuracy.
Relating to others Sharing stories, supporting each other. Working together.
Participating and contributing Active participation in all activities. Willingness to contribute ideas.
Thinking Using creative processes to invent new patterns and explore new sounds.
Using language, symbols and texts Ability to express ideas with clarity.
Achievement Objectives highlighted in this unit:
  • Understanding Music – Sound Arts in Context (UC)
  • Developing Practical Knowledge in Music - Sound Arts (PK)
  • Communicating and Interpreting in Music - Sound Arts (CI)
  • Developing Ideas in Music - Sound Arts (DI)
Learning Outcomes

In this unit the children will develop the ability to:

  • Describe how a song can tell a story or create an image. (UC, PK)
  • Use a variety of body percussion actions to keep the beat. (PK, CI)
  • Improvise simple rhythmic patterns over a beat. (PK, DI)
  • Explore the use of found sounds from the beach as percussion instruments. (PK, CI)
This catchy song has a very clear, slowish beat that will be easy for the children to feel and respond to using body percussion and untuned percussion instruments. It would also be fun to put some actions or dance movements to the song in time to the beat.View information on protocol for gathering natural resources.
Games and Starters

Sound around

Give children an untuned percussion instrument and sit them in a circle. Children are, in turn, to make one sound only on their instrument-once they have the idea encourage them to go faster. An extension of this is for them to play one sound and the next person can only make their sound when the previous sound has stopped. This way they can distinguish between sustaining and non-sustaining instruments.

Threes and fours

Using music with a strong four beat metre , for example, Radetsky March by Johann Strauss. Make up a body percussion pattern that shows the accent falling on the first beat. For example, knee pat, clap, clap, clap or click fingers, stamp, stamp, stamp. Do the same with a piece of music with a strong three beat metre , for example, Chopin’s Waltz in A minor . Patterns could be click, stamp, stamp or clap, knee pat, knee pat.

Beat and rhythm

Have half the class clap the rhythm of a well-known song or nursery rhyme while the other half clap the beat .

Sing and play

Sing some well-known songs changing the words to provide opportunities for children to experience the instruments and the elements of music. For example, “If you’re happy and you know it, play the drums”, This is the way we loudly play” (Tune: “Here we go Round the Mulberry Bush”).“Listen to the music, 1,2,3…Play it very quickly 1,2,3…Listen to the tambourine 1,2,3” (Tune: “Skip to my Lou”).

Learning experiences
  •  Set the scene by having a discussion about favourite beach and summertime activities and memorable sandcastles the children have made.
  • Read through and discuss the words of the song. Talk to the children about the way a song can create an image, set a scene or tell a story. They may want to paint or draw the image this song creates for them.
  • As they listen to it for the first time, encourage them to play the beat somewhere on their bodies.
  • Let them sing the song, this time playing the beat with untuned percussion instruments. Try using just wooden instruments and shakers so that the song isn’t drowned out with crashing cymbals and tambourines! Alternatively, make half the class the “orchestra” and the other half, the “choir”.
  • Find rhythm patterns or phrases in the song that the children can use as speech, body percussion and then untuned percussion ostinati to accompany the song, for example, “sunny summer day” or “sandcastle”.
  • Encourage the children to improvise other rhythm patterns to accompany the song.
  • Add some body percussion on beats one and three or on beats two and three.
  • Encourage the children to think about beach related found sounds that they could use as percussion instruments such as buckets, driftwood, shells and sand.
  • Read ‘A Summery Saturday Morning’ by Margaret Mahy and follow up with some of the activities suggested.

Repetition, reinforcement and regular involvement in practical playing activities are the keys to supporting children’s development of rhythmic and melodic playing skills.

Describe how a song can tell a story or create an image (UC, PK)

  • Can the children use their imaginations to describe an image that comes into their heads?
  • Do they share other examples they know of songs that tell a story?

Use a variety of body percussion actions to keep the beat (PK, CI)

  • Can they suggest lots of different body percussion actions to create a range of different sounds?
  • Do they keep a steady beat when using body percussion?

Improvise simple rhythmic over a beat (PK, DI)

  • Can the children improvise rhythm over an underlying beat, using body percussion or untuned percussion instruments?

Explore the use of found sounds from the beach as percussion instruments (PK, CI)

  • Do the children come up with original ideas for found sounds that are beach related and could be used to accompany this song?
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