Rhythm and Rhyme
Poems are great pre-reading and early reading tools. Children can be engaged in the sounds of the words that build important reading skills:
- Phonemic awareness (understanding that words are made up of sounds), and
- Phonological awareness (ability to hear and work with the spoken language).
They also build confidence because poetry and songs are easy to memorize, and matching the words on the page with the words they are saying helps children increase their reading vocabulary.
To help students learn pre-reading skills through poetry and songs using Building Blocks for a Healthy Future and the Sing-Along CD or online music.
- Building Blocks for a Healthy Future Sing-Along CD or online music.
- Data projector and computer and speakers; or, CD player and large sheets of chart paper; or, CD player and overhead projector.
- Construction paper and printouts of chosen songs for each student.
- Paper brads and hole punch.
Use the Building Blocks for a Healthy Future Sing-Along CD or online music to find one or two songs for your students to sing and dance to. All of the songs have rhythm and rhyme that lead to easy reading and/or memorizing and dancing, as well as lyrics that are fun to act out.
Download the music onto a CD, or use the computer and speakers to play the songs directly from the website. If you have a data projector, you can project the page of lyrics onto a screen. Otherwise, print out the lyrics and put them onto an overhead or write them onto large sheets of chart paper.
- Play a selected song for the class, and point out the lyrics either on the data projector, overhead, or on large chart paper. Encourage children to begin singing along immediately, especially during the repeated chorus. Repeat this activity often to help children memorize the songs.
- Distribute the construction paper and printouts of the song(s) to each student. Have them use the construction paper to create covers for their songbooks. Help them use the hole punch and brads to put together booklets of lyrics for each song. You may also want to add some extra pages so that students can illustrate their songs.
- Work with the class to create dances or pantomimes that go with the lyrics. Some of the songs suggest several roles, for example "Healthy Snacks". Others suggest whole group dances, for example "Smile at Your Neighbor” or "Moving in a Circle."
- Set aside time for practicing the songs and dances. Then, invite other classes or parents to come and watch the performance.
You can make this performance as complex or simple as you’d like; divide the class into small groups and perform many different songs. Or, you can perform only one or two songs as a whole class.
At the performance, have the lyrics of the songs up on the wall so that the audience can join in the chorus with the performers.
Optional for Older Students
Have older students put on a traveling show, going in small groups to classes of younger students to perform their songs. Or, have individual students use their song booklets to "read" and sing to younger students.