Thursday, October 25, 2018

Skin and Bones - Spiraling Through the Years

Skin and Bones has to be one of my students all-time favorite songs. It is so full of possibilities for drama, movement, instrument play, recorders, etc.  It is also a very spooky song but does not mention "Halloween".  This is the perfect song to use all those spooky sound effects on - the gongs, spring drums, vibraslaps, wind tubes, etc.
This music is from Beths Notes- such a wonderful site.

Drue Bullington is a widely respected Orff clinician and teacher.  I have had him as a clinician at workshops several times and he is wonderful. The instrument brand, Studio 49, sponsors an amazing blog called "Teaching with Orff".  Great lessons there, from creative and talented teachers who use the Orff Approach.  Whether or not you use the Orff Approach, you can still use these lessons. Recently I received in my email box a HUGE lesson post on how to use Skin and Bones from first grade through the upper grades each year. I love songs like this - ones that you can use each year but add concepts and skills that spiral in complexity, touching upon concepts previously learned and adding new, age-appropriate skills that further develop students musicality. 
The lessons are complete with wonderful graphics and pictures to clearly demonstrate the "how" and the process of how to teach the song at each age and grade level.
The first part of the free lesson is here.   Once you have printed that off, you can go on to the second part here. 
Amy Abbott also has a wonderful activity using solfege to prepare low la here. 
If you dare, try to have your oldest kids watch this version of Skin and Bones - warning, the ending is SCARY!!

When my students perform this, with instruments, some students as "trees" with black scarves over their heads, etc., (we go all out for this one with lots of crazy props!), we ask the classroom teacher to come to pick students up a few minutes before the end of the class.  Once they come in, I already have one student hiding in a closet behind the door. We turn the lights off, dress the teacher up like the old lady - scarf on head, cane, apron, the whole nine yards, and the teacher wanders around the room while singing, then as we get closer to the end of the song, "She went to the closet to get a broom.." I direct the teacher towards the door, then at the end of the song, "Boo", the student jumps out of the closet and scares the teacher!  The class, of course, goes crazy, and the teacher is either truly scared or, as my teachers have been through this before, they act scared and the kids really love it.  Last year I had a fourth grade teacher who had forgotten as she was on medical leave the previous year, and she got so scared she literally fell on her bottom, which was hilarious as she was laughing so hard and the kids were dying.  I don't know if she ever got that group back on track the rest of the school day! 
I also have lyric slides available, send me an email at  for the full pdf of the lyric slides.  They look like this:


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