Friday, 27 July 2012


I'm thrilled to report that my daughter, TNT (The New Teacher) is LOVING teaching!

She's very fortunate to be experiencing work in various classes and schools, before heading off overseas to do some volunteer work for 3 months. For now, we're really enjoying sharing teaching ideas, resources, and the inevitable classroom stories and observations.

TNT shares my firm belief in the endless benefits of song-based learning (how could she not?) and enthuses about the positive impact and results, whenever she has incorporated songs into her own teaching day.

As a teacher myself, it delights me to see my own daughter, not only so enthusiastic about helping children to learn, but about helping them to ENJOY and be INVOLVED in their learning, through song, and arts integration in general. This bodes well for a new generation of teachers and learners! 

Image: KEYSTONE CREATIONS ~ Educational Songs

 Evidence abounds, that active participation in music can help children in a number of key curriculum learning areas – literacy and numeracy, social and team skills, problem solving and memory, just to name a few.

This particular post will be focusing on the use of song for literacy extension.

‘Through literacy you can begin to see the universe. Through music you can reach anybody. Between the two, there is you, unstoppable.’ ~ Grace Slick

The rhythmic nature of songs has particular appeal to children, making them particularly useful resources, when it comes to auditory learners.

Image: Facebook ~ Life's a Dance

Song lyrics not only tell a story, they can be can be rich in vocabulary and imagery, providing a perfect platform for building phenomic awareness and firm foundations for literacy, in the emerging reader.

Singing songs is invaluable for engaging and focuses children's attention, while contributing towards their imaginative and emotional development, and helping them to make meaning out of things that happen in our world.

Songs, chants, poems, and raps all improve memory of content facts and details and provide a hook for retrieving information easily later.

  • The use of rhyme builds connections and relationships between words and concepts thereby creating context and meaning. Students hear the cadence of the rhyming word patterns and word segments
  • The use of rhythm turns what is being heard (the beats/syllables), into a kinesthetic sensation – it becomes an experience that is felt all over the body.
  • The use of repetition helps to reinforce concepts and “stick” them in the memory bank!

Below, are a few very simple tips for achieving learning outcomes for literacy: 


  •        Play the song through a few times

  •        Deconstruct the lyrics, pondering on their possible meaning and message

  •        Listen for rhyming couplets/repetition of chorus/different instruments, etc.
  •        Identify parts of the song: Intro, Chorus, Verse, Bridge

Image: Life Quotes and Sayings

  • Silent reading of lyrics

  • Identify and discuss the key theme of the song – often summarized in Chorus
  • Comprehension Sheet
, comprising questions based on lyrical content

  • Students read lyrics aloud with expression, to get a feel for the rhythm of the language

  • Compare reading a poem/song to the way one would read other text types, e.g. Newspaper or story

  • Discuss the poetic elements of song

  • Students recount some of the key messages in the song

  • Students develop a word bank of key words, to be displayed and added to as a unit of work progresses
  • Research and write dictionary definitions of key words and use in sentences
  • Write a list of the Rhyming Couplet
  • Compose a cloze passage
  • Create own verses to add to the song

Image: Facebook ~ Guitars in the Classroom


  • Students discuss the use of punctuation in the song lyrics
  • Research the rules of punctuation and grammar in poetry, noting the way it differs from that    of 
other text types 

  • Discuss the use of grammar in the song to convey mood/meaning and create effect
  • Research the rules of punctuation and grammar in poetry, noting the way it differs from that of other text types.  For e.g. the use of capital letters at the beginning of each line.

Image: Photobucket

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 CASE STUDY: Teacher/Librarian, Cherie, finds song lyrics excellent for engaging her students and extending their Literacy. ‘My students used to ask me why we were singing in Library time, until I explained to them that we’re actually studying poetry.
There is a lot to be learned from reading and discussing the lyrics of curriculum-based songs, plus, we get a lot of enjoyment from singing the song together, reinforcing learning content.’

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In my next post, I will be demonstrating the ease with which song can be utilized, to integrate learning across other key areas of the curriculum.
Yours in Singing to Learn,
Nuala  ♫ 

Blog learning content: ©Nuala O’Hanlon & Kathryn Radloff
KEYSTONE CREATIONS ~ Educational Songs
'A Lesson In Every Lyric' ®

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