Monday, February 5, 2018

Up and Down with Children's Lit

I am part of a wonderful group of music teachers who blog.  Together we are blogging all of February to bring you the best ideas for teaching melody ! Check us out on facebook - MusicEd Blogs Community.
Today's post is on teaching melody, specifically using children's literature to teach up and down.

Children's literature is full of wonder, excitement, and joy.  These delightful books are like magical gems that can transport a class through a concept or skill in a memorable way.  Here are my favorites to use while teaching up and down.

1.  Up, Up, Down - Robert Munsch

This is the story of a rather naughty girl, Anna, who likes to climb up up up up.. fall...... down.  She climbs everything, and finally makes it to... THE TREE!  ]I prep this by playing a lot of slide whistle games where students listen to me play various ascending and descending notes and move (first bodies, then voices later) accordingly.
While reading, encourage students to do the same while saying the six "ups" and then perform "fall" with a vocal glissando.  Of course we have to do an exaggerated fall, also!  Each time Anna lands on a different body part and we sing, "Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow" with S M L S M.  The students catch on quickly and this is a very engaging story! 
The next class, we perform the story again, only this time using glockenspiels.  I can't remember who shared this idea and would thank them profusely for introducing the tree idea - cut out a tree top, tape it to the end of the glockenspiel box and hold this end in the air- voila- tree!

Each time Anna climbs up, we play an ascending note, then glissando down on the word "fall". 

 I also use this idea with the song "Let Us Chase the Squirrels" and you can find that blog post here. It is another song to use for reinforcing melodic direction instrumentally.
As a follow up, another Robert Munsch book, Mortimer!  This is a PERFECT song for up and down - and lots of other happy clanging and rattle bing banging! Here is a blog post about this one as well as some other ideas for high/low/up/down.  

2.  Up, Down, and Around by Katherine Ayers

Teacher plays slide whistle, students move up and down, vary playing slowly, quickly, legato, staccato, etc.  Then ask them to move one arm ONLY, then elbow only (very funny), hand only, thumb only.  It's an interesting thing to observe! 
Teach song; every time students sing "up" they will move higher, "down", lower, and they can choose HOW to move "'round and round". 
In the book each vegetable grows up, down, or around and around.  Students play glissandi on "Up and down and show around and around with movement - usually rolling their mallets around or turning around.  Sing the song each time after the words "around and around" and the final "let's have lunch" occur.

3.  Up, Up, Up! by Susan Reed

This delightful book is a song, another Barefoot Books gem!! I love the ascending DMS melody on the first three words of the chorus; Up, Up, Up!
Here is a video:
Hope you have found some new things to try with your kiddos!  Hop on over to facebook to MusicEd Blog Community to check out the other posts all month long!


  1. Oh my goodness, I absolutely love the idea of attaching a visual to 1 end of the instrument to show which way is "up"! Thanks for another genius post full of awesome ideas :)

    1. Thanks, Elizabeth! You are such a wonderful cheerleader! :)


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