Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Sing a Song of the Sea

As the end of the school year is in sight, why not take your students on a few "vacations"!  Musical ones, of course! 
First up is the beach.  This shot is from Maine, my home state. Our beaches are more rocky than sandy, but incredibly scenic with lobster boats, rocks, lighthouses and sea roses (pink flowers at bottom left of pic).
Some of the children we teach may never have experienced a beach before; mix some salt in water and give them a smell or have them dip their fingers in to taste the salt water.  Bring in a variety of sea shells but you will definitely need some ridged ones today; these are called cockles.  Yes, like the song "Cockles and Mussels".  They look like this:
Here are a few song suggestions for your trip:

The Waves

This is a lovely song by Lynn Kleiner from "Songs of the Sea" book.  My kids love to sing this with a stretchy band; up, down, in, out.  On "out" we pull back as faaaaar as we can!  Beautiful song, you will get the idea here, although with preschoolers using scarves.


This is an idea developed by my friend Laurie and I. Buy a bunch of colored Dollar Tree paper plates! Cheap and colorful! Ask your art teacher to have the kiddos cut these into spirals or do this yourself.  Hold the middle part and let the rest of the spiral fall. Use Carnival of the Animals "Aquarium" music. Tell the students you are going to take a trip today under the ocean; share pictures of octopus, coral, whales, jellyfish, etc. Tell them today they are going to be a jellyfish; ask them how jellyfish move; can they move their hand like a jellys? Legs like jellys, head like jellys, bodies like jellys?
Stand, hold the paper jellyfish (aka spirals) and move to the music; no jellys touching each other because they'll sting each other and die (you, the shark, will tap on their shoulders and they'll sit). Parts of the music have lots of descending passages, demonstrate to the class how to move your jellyfish from high to low. 
Usually I have half the class as part of the ocean (under big blue scarves) or seaweed (green scarves or other green props) or coral (orange/pink scarves).  These students stay grounded on the ocean floor and can't move about.  We play about half the piece of music and then switch jobs and begin again. 

Scuba Diver


 Mermaid's Song

I recently came across a beautiful quote and wrote a song around it.  Wish I knew who to contribute the words to.  I don't often write in modes but really wanted something mysterious and dorian was it! 

Long Legged Sailor

This is from my book, "Hands to Hands, Too". 

Going Over the Sea

Younger children will love this one!  It's an oldie but a goodie.  Song starts at :40.

Hole in the Bottom of the Sea:

 4.20 UPDATE with links!!
Here is list of other ocean themed songs and a short list of concepts and skills to work on with each:

At the Bottom of the Sea (Amidons) 6/8, movement, names of children
Baby Beluga (Raffi) picture book, movement, phrasing, expressive qualities
Baby Shark (Camp song)  movement, repetitive melody
Blow the Man Down 3/4, dotted half note, low C for recorder
The Boatman Dance MRD (ending), sixteenths
Cape Cod Girls (AKA Heave Away or We Are Bound for Australia patterns in 4/4, pantomime
Charlie Over the Ocean echo, chase game
The Coast of High Barbary call and response, movement, 6/8 fast tempo, British
Cockles and Mussels 3/4, in key of G easy for recorders to play, Irish
Come All Ye Young Sailormen AKA Blow Ye Winds Westerly, 3/4, dotted quarters
Drunken Sailor (change lyrics to “wobbly pirate” or “silly pirate”) minor, eighths, quarters
Going Over the Sea 6/8, repetitive phrasing, rhyming, sequencing #'s, Canadian 
Highland Laddie (Sea Shanty)  
Humuhumunukunukuapupa'a (Music K8) Hawaiian fish, phrasing 
I Saw a Ship a Sailing 6/8
Ickle Ockle Blue Bottle eighth, quarter, SLM
I’se the Bye 6/8, Newfoundland, clapping game in Hands to Hands, Too
Isle Au Haut (Maine island song) lullaby
 La Vibora de la Mar Mexico
Land of the Silver Birch Native American, eighth, quarter, eighth pattern
The Mermaid dotted half note
My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean 3/4 time, dotted quarter, phrasing, Scottish
Octopus AKA Slippery Fish (Charlotte Diamond),cumulative, movement
Old Ark's a Moverin' eighth quarter eighth, spiritual, BAG song/MRD
Once there Was a Pirate (The Silly Pirate Song by JackHartman) cumulative, movement, pantomime
Our Gallant Ship MRD ending, eighth sixteenths
Peg Leg the Pirate ti ta ti, passing and guessing game, solo
Phantom Ship by Patricia Lou Harris (Galliump CD)
Sail Away Ladies Sixteenth, eighths
Sailor on the Sea, MRD, recorders can play BAG, game
A Sailor Went to Sea Sea Sea eighths, sequencing, clapping game
Sea Shell Half notes, Do-Sol, Mi Re Do

Talk Like a Pirate Day (Music K8)
There's a Big Ship Sailing on the Alley-Alley O 6/8, Irish
Three Jolly Fishermen MRD ending
Turn the Glasses Over Double circle game, extended pentatonic; low C/high C

Vamos a la mar SMD, quarters, eighths, rest, Guatemala
 Wishy Washy 6/8, dance, cumulative movement

What are your favorites??





  1. I absolutely LOVE the lesson idea with "Aquarium"! Just imagining those jellyfish and seaweed floating around the classroom makes me happy :)

  2. What a great list of music activities for songs of the sea! My students have been enjoying rocking the boat to My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean, and hand clapping to the Long Legged Sailor. Thanks for a great list!

    1. Thank you for your comment. I am happy to hear your students are enjoying some of these! :)

  3. Love all these terrific ideas in one place. Thank you Aimee! One question/comment: Land of the Silver Birch is a Canadian Folk Song from what I know of its history, dating from the 1920s, not American.

    1. Hi Caroline and thanks for your comment. The link for Land of the Silver Birch is Beths Music Notes, and yes, although listed as Native American, it is typically attributed as Canadian. Beth is usually very careful about song etymology and i wonder of she intended Native American as Native North American.


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