Issue 121: Year 1 and 2 back on track

I have been having difficulties with a rather large year 1 and 2 class. There are a lot of reasons for this – several children have “issues”, one is “statemented” with their own TA to watch over them, several are very, very young, several are very, very, shall we say “mature”? “Too cool for skool” already? Add to that the class is scheduled for late in the day, late in the week, and you can begin to see the problems.

The first lesson of term was pretty hard going, with the children “phasing” in and out of staying with the activity. There was a fair bit of “twirling around” instead of “super-sitting”, and chatting, and losing attention.

to see the elephants...The second lesson was – you choose from the words “busy”, “active”, “full of sound” “noisy” “chaotic”. Any, all of them, would fit. We are doing “timbre” as the topic, and I brought in a large selection of instruments for everyone to explore. We all had a good time, and everyone played everything, but on the whole I needed to rethink.

I came to the conclusion that the children were really not in a place for anything too demanding, requiring lengthy listening to discussion or explanations, sharing, taking turns, waiting – at least, not yet.

So, last week, I went right back to basics. We did an action song, first sitting, then standing. You can hear it, and see it, being signed here; “Come Dance With Me” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqEW8SW-3GQ (I have access through the singup.org magazines and CDs that I carefully saved – this is from issue 4).

Then another song “The Song of the Fish”, sung and signed here:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ec2rpOPrLHA (from the same singup magazine).

We did some moving-to-music; “Fossils” from Carnival of the Animals”, running on the spot every time we heard the opening theme.

To calm down, we sat down and “listened” to a story; “Nellie the Elephant” from my CD set “Hello Children Everywhere”.

It worked like a charm. The children were mostly engaged all the way through, there were no behaviour issues and a good time was had by all. I covered the “timbre” element in the “Fossils” activity, and the lesson included singing, moving and listening.

This week, a repeated the winning formula, adding body percussion sounds to the “Song of the Fish”, changing the “moving” music, and choosing “The Ugly Duckling” as the story (“hands up if you heard the man whistling at the end of the song” -that covered timbre).

I might, just might, bring in instruments for the “Song of the Fish” next week. Maybe. Or perhaps the week after!

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