Sunday, January 24, 2010

"My Little Sister Ate One Hare" by Bill Grossman ISBN 0-517-88576-X

I use a lot of children's literature in my music classes, and am regularly spotted in the kids section of our local Half Priced Book store, or Bookman's perusing the shelves for books that can be used not only to teach musical concepts, but books that grab the attention and interest of my students. This book is definitely one of them. It has a mild gross out factor that will appeal to your boys, and has humorous illustrations with details that can easily be missed if you fly through the pages. My students, as a matter of fact, are the ones who began to point out things in the book's illustrations that I, as the adult, had completely missed. Ah, to have the mind of a child again. I decided to use this book for my 3rd graders because of the aforementioned gross out factor my 3rd grade boys would love, and because the activities I envisioned would be difficult for younger children, but it could be used in other grades if you so choose. You will find all of the visuals for the following activities by going to my meyersmusic website which has a link on the right hand side of this page. Ostinati and illustrations for the visuals I came up with and drew myself. My drawings of shrews aren't stellar, but honestly, how often do you have call to draw a shrew during your lifetime?! I'm going to walk you through the sequence of activities I used for this book, as well as give you suggestions on extensions that could be added, or other approaches that could be used.

The first time I introduced this book to my class, we first started with a short book walk-through in which we looked at some of the pictures, discussed what the class noticed of interest, and made predictions about what would happen at the end of the story (I didn't show the last page). Then, we read the book with the class joining in on the repetitive words, "We thought she'd throw up then and there, but she didn't." The reaction you get when we reach the last page is always entertaining.

Another lesson I pulled out the book again and told the class we would be adding instrument parts to the story. I asked them if they could predict what we would do with the instruments. Correctly, they guessed that there would be a different instrument for each creature the sister ate, and that at the end of the book when she really did throw up, all of the instruments would play at one time. It was then that I showed them the visuals with the words of the ostinati I had created for each creature and we chanted them as a class. We then split the class to cover each creature's part and chose instruments, then practiced each ostinato both saying the words and only playing the instruments with no words. Last, we did a final performance of the book with each instrument part playing only when their creature first appears in the story (I gave a "one, two, ready, play" cue each time, and each ostinati was repeated 4 times), and then all ostinati playing at the end of the book together. In one class I had to remind students to play their correct ostinati at the end of the book and not just random noises.

The next class I again put the visuals with the words for the ostinati on the board, but beside them I placed the visuals with the music notation for each ostinati, but I had scrambled the order so the rhythms didn't line up with the correct words. The class said each ostinati and then placed the rhythmic notation for each ostinati beside it. Last, we read each ostinati followed by the rhythm solfa for each to check our answers. My 3rd graders at this time had just learned syncopah, which is why I chose the "Bats in the belfry" ostinato.

Because my purpose in creating this activity was to review specific rhythms (ta, titi, rest, tikatika, syncopah) I decided in this lesson to create the ostinati myself. Another option would be to divide the class into groups and allow them to come up with their own ostinati for each creature, and perhaps to add creative movement for their chosen creature as well.

I hope your students enjoy this book as much as mine did! Have a great week. :-)

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