Issue 126: There was an old woman who…

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe,She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do.So she gave them some broth without any bread,And whipped them all soundly and sent them to bed. 



Of course, these days, “whipping them all soundly” is no longer considered to be an acceptable or effective method of behaviour management, and I am in NO WAY advocating a return to such barbarism!

And a bit less of the “Old Woman”, if you please!


But there are days when I feel exactly like the woman who lived in a shoe, and I know from conversations in staffrooms up and down the county that I am not alone!

Teaching music to large classes presents quite a challenges, especially if you find yourself teaching in a classroom setting  with limited space. I frequently have a class of around 35 young KS1 children in a classroom where there is not enough space on the carpet, and not enough table and chair space for all of them.

This is when you kiss goodbye to any idea of individual or small group work, reduce “music and movement” to a minimum, and find ways to deliver a full curriculum in a whole class setting.

I’ll be sharing some of the activities I fall back on in these situations.

Here’s one to start with:

Get everyone to stand up, make sure that they can all see you.

Put on some music with a strong beat in 4s – not too fast, not to slow. I use “Stay Home” from my Shrek CD.

Have the children copy the actions you make to the music. Keep it really simple; start by clapping in time to the music, then maybe touch your nose in time to the music, make your hands into fists and tap them together… if you are all cramped together, choose actions that don’t use up too much space. 

If you know how to do a hand jive then you are all set!


Later on, in future lessons, you can let some of the children lead.

As with all energetic and lively activities, stop well before the children have had enough and start to get wild and silly. Then they will be keen to do it again next time, and they will also learn that they have to control themselves and manage their own behaviour if they want to have fun. 

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