Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Jazz Appreciation Month Program, 4/11/12

My library system partners with the Smithsonian every year to provide jazz-themed programs during Jazz Appreciation Month. Last year, I just did a jazz-themed story time during one of my regular story time slots. This year, I wanted to challenge myself to do something for older kids, and something where kids might actually learn a little something about jazz.

Thankfully, my fiance is a jazz expert, and I was able to ask him for help. He suggested borrowing some ideas from Apple, Banana, Carrot, a program designed to teach kids to be creative with music before they even know how to read music or play an instrument. I didn't adhere to the method very closely; however, I borrowed some of its basic ideas and built a program around them.

Here is the outline of what we did:

Opening Song (with musical instruments): Hello, how are you?
We did the same hello song we always do, but instead of "Clapping my hands" I sang, "I'm playing music, you do it  too." The kids got the biggest kick out of singing an old favorite in a new way. Instruments we played included rhythm sticks, shaker eggs, and triangles.

Book: This Jazz Man by Karen Ehrhardt, illustrated by R.G. Roth (2006)
I really wanted to read a book that would be fun as well as educational. What I came up with was this great picture book which can be sung to the tune of This Old Man, but which also provides biographical information about some great jazz artists. Before sharing the book, I read it twice and noted the names, nicknames, and birthplaces of each "jazz man" so I could introduce them to the kids without flipping to the back matter every single time I turned a page. I attached my notes to the back of the book, and encouraged the kids to join me in saying "Satchmo" and "Bojangles" and trying to imitate some of the scat syllables. And of course, I sang the book, too, which makes all  the difference. 

Book: A Tisket, A Tasket by Ella Fitzgerald, illustrated by Ora Eitan (2003)
I did my best to sing the parts of this I felt comfortable singing, and then I read the rest. Last year, I used the recording, and I think I would have done better to use it today as well, but it still worked out okay. 

Book: Bring on that Beat by Rachel Isadora (2002)
I'm a big fan of Rachel Isadora, and was really glad she had a jazz-related title. It was just short and succinct enough to be the perfect third book in this story time. 

Song with Musical Instruments: "I Love Jazz" by Louis Armstrong
This song was on the long side, and the kids did not get excited about playing their instruments. I tried to make it exciting by giving them directions - "Play your instrument above your head!" etc. - but they mostly stared blankly. 

Powerpoint Presentation: Click here to download.

The Apple, Banana, Carrot Method uses objects, animals and animal sounds to substitute for notes. In measures of four beats each, the selected objects can be mixed and matched, along with "shhh" (rests), to create different phrases.

The first "song" I created looked like this:

I set the animations in the PowerPoint slide to "pulse" each object at one-second intervals. Each time one of the objects lit up, we clapped and said its name.

After we did this one a couple of times, we tried more complicated ones:

The kids absolutely did not understand what was happening, but they got into the clapping, and even got good enough that we could stop saying shhh and actually pause for the rests.

Craft: Composing Worksheet
My fiance happened to have the Apple, Banana, Carrot materials left over from his past life as an elementary music teacher, so he made copies of a simple activity for me. Basically, the worksheet mirrored the tables in my slides - four boxes per line - and it gave the kids animal faces to plug into the boxes. The kids cut and pasted their animals of choice, and then grabbed a musical instrument to try playing it. Some very musically inclined kids got really into it - others just liked gluing. I even had some babies and toddlers who just liked being in on the action and trying out the sounds of different instruments.

The biggest lesson learned today was that all ages programming works best when there is something in it for every age. I often get frustrated when my programs for older children are "crashed" by the little ones, but today truly felt like a success, and I think that was partly because there was such a wide range of ages.  I'd like to experiment with more programs like this, where the activities work on a number of different levels for all different types of kids.

Additional jazz titles which have been on display in my library so far this month include:

Off-Site Pre-K Class Visit, 4/11/12 (National Library Week)

I'm doing a handful of school visits this week, related to the Library Week theme. This was my usual monthly class visit for this group, but I stuck to the library theme so I wouldn't have to completely reinvent the wheel for my other groups later in the week. As always, they were wonderful listeners, and the songs and rhymes, though adapted at the last minute, worked very well. (0I really think I do my best work at the last minute.)

Opening Song: Hello, how are you?

Song: If You'd Like to Read a Book 

Book: I Took My Frog to the Library by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Blanche Sims (1990)
I decided to read this book even though it has a glaringly outdated reference to a card catalog. With older kids, I might have explained the card catalog, but for these three-year-olds, I just skipped it.  And since that was the page about the hen, I skipped all other references to the hen throughout the rest of the story as well. It worked just fine.

Song: I'm Going Down to the Library
This song is on King County Library System's hugely helpful wiki, but I tweaked it a little bit so that we not only had a song to sing, but also a way to recall parts of the story. (The original is by Tom Chapin.) I sang the first part exactly the same, but where the KCLS librarian sings, "Gonna say hi to the story lady," we just repeated "I'm going down to the library." Then for each subsequent verse, we used the name of animal from the story. (Except the hen, obviously.)

Book: Otto the Book Bear by Katie Cleminson (2011)
This sweet story just arrived at my library a couple of weeks ago, and I knew instantly that I'd be using it for class visits like this one. It associates libraries with feelings of warmth, coziness, and friendship, and suggests that characters feel better when kids read their stories. It also inspired me to write an action rhyme, which the kids really liked.

Action Rhyme: Book Bear, Book Bear
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear just wasn't good enough for me. So I wrote this one:

Book Bear, Book Bear
Clap, Clap, Clap

Book Bear, Book Bear
Tap, Tap, Tap

Book Bear, Book Bear
Snap, Snap, Snap

Book Bear, Book Bear
Flap, Flap, Flap

Book Bear, Book Bear
Up and Down

Book Bear, Book Bear
Turn Around

Book Bear, Book Bear
Sit right down

Book Bear, Book Bear
Don't make a sound 

For up and down, we lifted our arms above our heads and then touched our toes.  For don't make a sound, we put a finger to our lips. Simple stuff, but a welcome change from my usual action rhymes.

Book: D.W.'s Library Card by Marc Brown (2001)
This was a longer book than I'd normally read to this group, but I wanted to give it a try. They all knew Arthur right off the bat, and they seemed to like hearing about him, even if they didn't really understand the story.

Song: These Are My Glasses by the Laurie Berkner Band
I sang this a cappella, since that's how I roll these days.  I have avoided this song up until now because honestly, I think it's kind of lame, but I saw some videos on YouTube where pre-K kids really seemed to love it, so I gave it a shot. And it was a good idea - the kids enjoyed it, and it reinforced the excitement I was trying to build related to reading. 

Goodbye Song: We Wave Goodbye Like This
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