Variations and Recombinations – Part 4

Music Lesson Plan for nursery school

cover image: Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Ways to play with themes
and variations for different age groups,
from babies to preschoolers

This is the 3rd of a series of 4 posts, each covering different age groups, starting from babies all the way up to preschoolers. Each post builds onto the previous one.

As always, each group of children you have will respond differently so use these activities as a guide and modify them for your and your specific group’s needs.

And of course, prepare your session to fit in with health and safety regulations. Download my Pied Piper lesson plan for a list of recommendations of making a session Covid-19 safe

40– 60 month olds and older

Songs used previously

  1. Down by the station
  2. See the little bunnies sleeping 
  3. Twinkle Twinkle little star
  4. ABC song
  5. Ba ba Black sheep
  6. Make up words to fit the song. It doesn’t have to make perfect sense as long as the words match the main melody and rhythm

Same activities can apply but upgrade them to fit this age group’s abilities and needs. 

And here are some new ones with this space song!

Zoom, zoom, zoom, we’re going to the moon

Sing the song Zoom, zoom, zooom, we’re going to the moon, altogether.

Game: Which Line of the Song Am I Playing?
(Zoom, zoom, zoom, or We’re going to the moon).

See if the children can identify which lyric you are playing while you tap the rhythm on a percussive instrument or clap it. Ask them to put their arms up if it’s the first line or spin around if it’s the second one. Try the same on different instruments.
At the end of this game, ask a child to play one of line of the song and everyone else will guess. 

Agree on the children’s favourite line
play it as many ways as you can think of inviting the children to suggest ways as well. Loud, quiet, fast, slow, on different instruments, singing it with one syllable, sing it with eyes closed, play it while hopping, etc… Think about changing movement as well as changing sound each time as well. 

Play the wrong melody

Play the agreed phrase (or if feeling brave play the other one) but this time you will play a wrong note or a wrong rhythm, or a sound that is out of the ordinary (you may be singing the phrase singing only la-la-la and replace one ‘la’ with ‘ta’ or something…). Tell them what they should do when they hear the “wrong” sound – i.e.: put their hands up

Sing the song but change the vowel for every word that has the ‘oo’ sound. The children can do it right away.

Polyrhythm (sort of)

Repeat one of the lines and stress a different word / syllable of the sentence in every repetition. You can clap that word and the first word of the sentence every time (polyrhythmic sequence will emerge). Invite the children to join in with clapping or singing.

Use blocks to represent each word

One word will have 3 blocks that are exactly the same (the word ‘zoom’).
After you have laid the blocks on the floor and sang the song a few times by pointing on each block for every word, you can ask the children to rearrange the blocks. Each child can have a go making a different pattern. You can just enjoy making different colourful patterns or…

In case the children remember what word is assigned to every block, try saying aloud the new formed sentences. It doesn’t matter at this point if the sentence doens’t make sense at this point.

If not, they (and you) will definitely remember which block was for the word ‘zoom’. By keeping a steady beat, point to each block and when you reach the ‘zoom’ block say the word out loud and be quiet/ say ‘sh’/ clap for the other blocks.

Bonus activity!!!
(and for older children, like 5 – 7 years old, but you can always
try it with younger ones just manage your expectations)

Use pictures to represent a sound

Moving beyond the Zoom song and creating something entirely new

A picture could be a geometrical shapes, or shapes of objects / flowers / animals / fruit / trees / clothes / …. Assign a distinctive sound for each picture. Make it short and memorable. Could be claps or knee taps, tummy taps…

Arrange the pictures in a simple order and then play the music you have made. Carry on varying a picture at a time or varying loudness, pulse, harmony (in case you do have an instrument available), the direction of the sound, layering sounds together (this may be difficult it’s an option if you feel like it or have older children)

Activities for theme and variation sessions are endless but invaluable. The activities that I have listed here are tailored around improvisation. Either building up the vocabulary to start improvising – musically and verbally – or improvising. Movement is an integral part of music, well this is my belief, that is why it is so prominent in almost all activities. Feel free to improvise yourself and variate activities however you think will fit better in your sessions. These songs and activities are only a guide, you can choose your own songs and mix and match activities. 

Copyright © 2021, Rania Chrysostomou, lesson plan for nursery schools music  

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