Monday, 3 June 2013



‘When ancient opinions and rules of life are taken away, the loss cannot possibly be estimated. From that moment, we have no compass to govern us, nor can we know distinctly to what port to steer.’
~ Edmund Burke (1729-1797)

Rules are the mark of any civilized society.

Children are not born knowing rules, they learn these by degrees - rules of the home, the family car, public transport, public places, sports grounds, places of worship, and so on.

School communities are no exception. School and classroom rules exist to ensure harmony for all, serving as a reminder that, among other things, teachers have a right to teach and students have a right to learn - in a happy, safe, and secure environment.

When it comes to protecting the rights of the members belonging to these learning communities, the rules and responsibilities, as well as the consequences for not adhering to these, need to be clearly stated, understood and respected.


Children learn in many different ways – I’m a huge fan of helping them to learn through song - if it can be learned, it can be sung, and vice versa.

Music is not only highly effective for motivating and engaging young learners, but, because it activates different parts of the brain, it is also invaluable for aiding recall - ensuring that lyrical content will have more chance of being remembered.

With that in mind, I wrote some basic classroom rules and behaviours, in lyrical form, which, together with colleague, Kathryn Radloff's, catchy melody, helps students to learn, remember, and take responsibility for classroom rules and behaviours – through the enjoyable medium of song.

I, myself, use ‘OUR CLASS RULES – OK!’ in schools, to establish and reinforce classroom practices, and my daughter, TNT (The New Teacher) reports using the song throughout the school day, as a handy point of reference.

TNT tells me that she has only to mention a line from the song, and students are reminded of correct/safe classroom behaviour and practices (e.g. chair legs on floor; hands up in the air; point scissors to the ground…).

Sometimes, a quizzical look in their direction is all it takes, for students to remember the rule – enabling them to take personal responsibility for their own safety and that of others within the classroom.


Below, you will find sample song lyrics and a few tips and suggestions for using this, or any other song about classroom rules: 


We have rules and responsibilities,
To keep us safe and happy
And we take these very seriously,
We care for everybody!

Put –
Hands up in the air,
If we have something to share,
Knowing it’s the right way;
Try to be polite,
Try to never fuss or fight
And then we’ll have a good day.
©Lyrics, Nuala O’Hanlon / Music, Kathryn Radloff

SONG SAMPLE (Track 3):


  • Discuss why rules are important (if we don’t follow rules, there are consequences, for ourselves and othersDiscuss the need to feel safe and happy – what can WE do to ensure this happens/we all have the right to… but we also have a personal responsibility
  • Good choices /not so good – consequences of both and the need for accountability
  • Brainstorm ways in which we can show we care and respect
  • Students listen to song and list rules mentioned
  • Unpack/discuss lyrics, line by line, e.g:
  • Why do we have rules and responsibilities?
  • What does ‘rule’/ ‘responsibility’ mean?

VERSE 2: Lines 1 & 2: 
  • Why do you think it is important to raise hands if we want to speak?

  • Identify and record rules mentioned in song
  • Brainstorm other class rules to add to list and continue to add as term progresses
  • Display rules around the room and refer to them often (use these for performance – see below)
  • Create a chart of class RULES / RESPONSIBILITIES / display these in classroom
  • Each student chooses a rule to be used to caption illustration (ref. ART, below)
  • Research rules for various communities/institutions and compare similarities/differences, e.g. home; school; sport clubs; public transport, etc.
  • Discuss the reasons for these various rules

  • Create a class graph, recording different groups to which the students belong (students write out rules of these groups, giving reasons these are important)

  • Students illustrate/paint their chosen rule (see above)
  • Create cartoons with speech bubbles, illustrating consequences of breaking rules, e.g. student falling off chair, after leaning too far back…

  • Display students’ artwork (see above) around stage, and dramatize the song, pointing to the words: *RULES *RESPONSIBILITIES, during each chorus

FYI: ‘OUR CLASS RULES – OK!’  is available as a digital mp3 download (Track 3):

Yours in Singing to Learn,
Nuala  ♫

P.S. Please feel free to share ways in which you have used song to help children learn.
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N.B. Lyrics and Suggestions for use: 
©Nuala O’Hanlon & Kathryn Radloff
KEYSTONE CREATIONS ~ Educational Songs:

Wednesday, 20 February 2013


‘A healthy outside starts from the inside.’ ~ Robert Urich

Image Source: ~ VIA

The ancient Roman poet, Virgil, was 'right on the money' when he stated that ‘the greatest wealth is health’. 

It is a very sad fact of modern day life that a preventable disease such as childhood obesity is not only on the increase, but that it is increasing at such an alarming rate.

There are many reasons for this, but our main concern as educators, is to do what we can to address this, by equipping children with information, skills and experiences  to enable them to develop healthy habits and lifestyle choices.

Thinking back through the centuries to when I was a child, exercise was a natural part of our daily lives, and the foods on offer were very close to their original state. 

Speaking for my own family, we did not have a car until we came to Australia, so we walked everywhere, including quite a distance to and from the nearest bus stops. 

We made our own entertainment, which meant we played outside a lot, and foods were closer to their original state, making choices much simpler and healthier, when it came to what we put in our mouths.
Image Source: ~ via

‘Fast food’ meant just that - something that would quickly satisfy our hunger: fruit, vegetables, home made bread, etc. If we complained of hunger between meals, we were given sticks of celery, carrots or a piece of fruit.

‘Sometimes foods’ (treats), in our house, were reserved for special times, such as family holidays, birthday parties, Easter, Christmas - and once a month on paydays, when Dad would arrive home from school with ‘crisps’ and confection for all.

I can still taste those almond toffees and coconut-covered mushroom cup sweets - Mmm!

Of course, being children, we still did what children do - my siblings and I were very fond of sneaking sugar cubes from the silver sugar bowl on the dresser, when Mum wasn’t looking!

We’d keep those blissful morsels in our mouths for as long as possible, savouring the syrupy sweetness, as they slowly dissolved on our grateful tongues, before trickling down our happy throats.

And we are still getting great mileage out of an incident that occurred on my 5th birthday...

I’d awoken that morning, covered in measles spots, leaving Mum with no alternative but to cancel my birthday party (suffice to say, I'm still looking for the right support group, but that's another story :-)!

My fun-loving, best friend (let’s call her ‘X’), saved the day by turning up to help us eat the party food, her mother explaining that she was more than happy for her daughter to catch the measles sooner rather than later, to get them out of the way!

We were playing Hide ‘n’ Seek, and no one could find ‘X’ anywhere!  She was eventually discovered, hiding, crouched in a corner, stuffing her face with chocolate crackles as though there were no tomorrow!

It wasn’t long before her mother had to take her home, green around the gills and suffering, not from the early stages of measles, but from chocolate crackle overload!

Image: wiltedporcelain.tumblr

There is no denying it - we all love our ‘sometimes foods', and there is certainly a time and place to enjoy them - it's all about balance.  

It is our role to educate children about finding this balance, and to make sure that their  environments support healthy habits and choices.

Many schools are already addressing this issue, with the introduction of healthier food canteens, and programs to promote physical exercise and healthy food consumption - ‘fruit breaks’, ‘brain breaks’ and  activity sessions built into the day, to enable students to engage in some kind of physical movement activity.
Image Source: Facebook/Bedemmpled Brain

My colleague, Kathryn Radloff and I, addressed this issue by writing a song, ‘HEALTHY KIDS’, to provide primary schools with an enjoyable, practical resource for helping students learn basic health facts, and understand the link between healthy lifestyle choices and general wellbeing.
The song, with its catchy, melody and content-laden lyrics, discusses everything from the five food groups to the need for daily exercise, providing the perfect vehicle for kick starting a discussion about healthy living.
Below, you will find sample song lyrics, as well as some simple suggestions for using this or any other song about health. 
Image: KEYSTONE CREATIONS ~ Educational Songs
Artwork: Hayden Williams

©Nuala O’Hanlon, lyrics/Kathryn Radloff, music
Happy, happy, healthy kids!
Happy, happy, healthy! (X2)

We’re happy, happy, healthy kids,
It’s how we’d like to stay.
We eat nutritious, healthy food
At every meal each day.
We know that there are five food
So, now we can’t go wrong;
’Cause we know what we must do
To grow up healthy, fit and strong.

Vitamins, minerals, good fats,
Proteins, carbohydrates,
Help keep bodies healthy, so –
Put good food on your plates.
Bodies are like fine machines, let’s
Eat the things we’re meant to.
Fruit is beaut, go use your loaf AND
Choose what you chomp into!
Do do do do, da da da.
Do do do do do.
©Nuala O’Hanlon, lyrics/Kathryn Radloff, music
Before playing or singing song, unpack/discuss lyrics, line by line, e.g.
- How many food groups are there?
     - What does the word ‘nutritious’ mean?

·      Lines 1 & 2: Define the terms: ‘vitamins’, minerals, etc.
·      Line 7: - What do ‘fruit is beaut’, and ‘use your loaf’ mean?        What do we call this play on words? 
·      Line 8: - Brainstorm ‘healthy choices’ for daily meals/snacks
        - What does it mean, to ‘chomp’ into something?

·      Create a class/individual ‘HEALTHY KIDS’ acrostic poem
·      Brainstorm, create and record health slogans, e.g. ‘RICE IS NICE’
·      Students work in groups to write own verses for song, and perform for class
·      Students create a recipe and write a procedural text for making a healthy sandwich
·      Student groups create shopping lists of ‘Health Foods’/Sometimes Foods’
·      Collect favourite family recipes and publish a class recipe book (sell these through the school, to raise funds for a charity)
·      Students paste pictures from magazines into correct trolley
·      Students create a painting of a person – using only fruits and vegetables
·      Students paint health slogans on paper plates and attach to rulers
·      Use the above props for an assembly performance of song
·      Get physical - Older students choreograph movements to accompany the song, and teach to other students, at assembly

 FYI: 'HEALTH KIDS' is available as a digital mp3 download: 

Yours in Singing to Learn,

Nuala  ♫


 # SCHOOLS & HEALTHY KIDS by HEALTHY KIDS - eat well get active:


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N.B. Lyrics and Suggestions for use: 
©Nuala O’Hanlon & Kathryn Radloff
KEYSTONE CREATIONS ~ Educational Songs