Sometimes books come out of practical experiences. That is what led authors Rebecca E. Hamik and Catherine (Cat) M. Wilson to write their new book, Singin’, Sweatin’, and Storytime: Literature-based Movement and Music for the Young Child.” Their new “kid-tested” book links music, movement and literature in the classroom.
Hamik is a physical education teacher, while Wilson, an MENC member, teaches general music. They teamed up when their school switched to all-day kindergarten. Given 45 minutes for the class, they wanted to fill them with meaningful classroom instruction for their students aged four to six.
“What we developed was a series of joyful lesson plans that not only give children a music foundation, but also teach physical education and other classroom skills,” Wilson says.
Each lesson has a story for the teacher to read to the children, a music activity, and a physical activity. The book also includes adaptations for regular classroom teachers and paraprofessionals and a music CD.
MENC and Rowman & Littlefield Education copublish Singin’, Sweatin’, and Storytime. Visit rowmaneducation.com for ordering information, the table of contents, reviews, and other book details. The book is $95 for the cloth version with an audio CD or $55 for the paperback version with an audio CD. MENC members receive a 25% discount.
In a joint interview, Wilson and Hamik discussed how they developed their book.
Authors Catherine (Cat) M. Wilson (left) and Rebecca E. Hamik
Question: In the chapter, “The Skeleton and Singing a Spiritual,”the pairing of “The Skeleton Inside You” and “Dry Bones” is so much fun. Can you describe how you went about linking the stories with the music?
Wilson: We were developing this health lesson plan near Halloween. The kids were very enthusiastic about learning about bones, and they loved the song “Dry Bones.” The song has historical value as an African American spiritual and it always gets the kids moving. We decided that the combination was fabulous!
Hamik: I want to provide the kids with important health information at an early age. The skeleton is a great way to introduce bones and body parts. I searched on several web sites to find books to go with each lesson.
Question: The music is diverse, from opera to spirituals to geographic locations like Africa. Did you want to provide music and movement from different genres and if so, how did you decide what went together?
Wilson: We wanted the musical genres to be very diverse to give students a wide variety of music to enjoy. We paired the countries with the songs and the games to give students an understanding of the world around them. We tried to choose countries from each continent, and countries from which some of our students immigrated so that they could share a piece of their culture with their classmates.
Question: You discuss literacy and the young child and lay out what children are likely be able to do by the end of kindergarten. It must be wonderful to see children progress as they learn to sing and also to control their body movements.
Wilson: Young children develop rapidly, and it is amazing to see the difference in a very young child from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. Physically, socially, emotionally, and academically, they make tremendous progress. Giving them a musical, physical experience that is very diverse lays a strong foundation for their future musical and physical education. Education is a layering process…Children retain what they learn, too. I often have older kids come up to me and say they loved doing ‘The Three Piggy Opera.’
Hamik: I am amazed at how far our children grow and learn in a year’s time and it stays with them in future years.
Question: You have created a work with 42 different lessons. Do you have a favorite lesson?
Wilson: It would be hard to pick a favorite lesson. My favorite unit is 6, because I love studying world cultures and celebrations.
Hamik: I love the unit 2 health lessons, especially the germs.
Question: Is music or literature or movement more important in some lessons than others? Or is each element pretty equal in each lesson?
Wilson: I feel like all three of these elements reinforce each other. I personally would emphasize the musical study and Becky would probably emphasize the movement. A regular classroom teacher might be more inclined to emphasize the literature component. I think that this will all depend upon the teacher using the book. Unit 4 is skill based, and some lessons in that unit are geared more for movement or more for music. Most of the time we tried to balance the activities.
Hamik: Some lessons don’t have as much movement but the concepts that are taught are important for this age group, so if you forgo movement one day, you pick it up in the next lesson.
Question: Is there anything else you would like readers to know about your book?
Wilson: We want potential readers to know that we had a great time developing this curriculum for our very young students, and they were so enthusiastic to come and see us every day. Our first priority when writing this book was to develop plans for teachers that would involve and inspire very young students in a way that was joyful, creative, active, an appealing to all types of learners whether they were visual, aural, or kinesthetic modality. We strove to make a resource that would get lots of classroom use.
Hamik: Young children come to school with a varying amount of background information. This book gives teachers the opportunity to expand their knowledge base and to provide life long skills. The book is cross-curricular, provides higher order thinking skills. It also gives a good foundation into 3 subject areas and their standards.
—Roz Fehr, November 5, 2009. © MENC: The National Association for Music Education