When I am teaching young children, I try and keep a careful balance between sitting still, moving around, action activities, songs, listening, and doing.
So what do you do when you need some kind of action activity in between quieter, sitting-in-a-circle activities and your mind is a blank?
The topic for my year 1 and 2 class is “Patterns in music” – specifically “Listen and copy” songs and activities. I needed some kind of thing to do that fitted with the topic.
“Everybody, find a space” I called (my mind was blank, but I had bought 60 seconds of think-time while the Teaching Assistants sorted the children).
TEACHING ASSISTANTS? Plural? Yes, really! Because I teach music off-site, in the village hall next to the school, I have two adults with me for this class, in case a child needs to be taken out, and a further adult looks after a special needs child. I can’t begin to tell you how cherished I feel at this school!
Anyway, my think-time was up, I had around 30 children, and three adults watching me with expectant faces.
So, I instructed them NOT TO MOVE, but to WATCH ME. I did a slow count-down-from-5-to-1 crouch down, yelled “Blast-off” and jumped in the air. Once the children had recovered themselves and were standing still again, I told them it was their turn.
What next? Umm. Commanding them to STAND STILL and WATCH, holding one hand like a policeman’s STOP sign, I whirled the other arm round and round three times, saying “Whooosh whoosh whoosh”. Sometimes I wonder about myself, I really do. The children, all together, joyously whirled and whooshed. Not good enough – How many times did I whoosh? Just THREE? How many should they have done? Quite. Let’s see you do it again.
Finally, I waved my hands in the air and said “jabber jabber jabber”. This met with great approval, and was copied more or less exactly.
“For your final challenge, you have to do all three actions, in the right order, the right number of times, all together”. We checked that everyone could remember what they were, and off they went.
After all that, we sang a song and got ready to go back to class. The TAs are quite used to moments of madness in my music lessons. I’m not sure what the supply teacher made of it. I have a horrible feeling that the children will be expecting more whooshing and whirling next week.