Early Childhood Music and Movement Association

ECMMA: Early Childhood Music and Movement Association

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Movement Matters

After many years of making music with children, Eve Kodiak, M.M., became interested in the brain/body processes that underlie the learning process. As an Educational Kinesiologist, she now works with people of all ages, using music and developmental movement to create positive change. Eve can be found in her office at The Lydian Center for Innovative Medicine in Cambridge, MA, or at home in New Hampshire, writing and recording. Her CD/book sets include Rappin' on the Reflexes and Feelin' Free, which combine developmental movements with songs, raps, and narrations with music. Eve also performs and records as an improvising classical pianist. More information and articles on music and developmental movement may be found at www.evekodiak.com.


The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily promote official policy of ECMMA.

Reasons for Rhyme: Music and Literacy 4

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Twinkle, Twinkle, Little STAR

How I wonder what you ARE . . .

Have you ever thought about the miracle that is rhyme? In all the babble of the universe, two sounds lock together like the north and south poles of two magnets. Theybelong together! They make sense! We hear it!

With rhyme, we organize sounds in the mind and in the ear that make meaning on many different levels. Rhyme is fun to play with. Rhyme helps us to remember. Rhyme is one of the touchstones of phonological awareness, a huge hunk of granite in the foundation of literacy.

When we rhyme, we experience words and syllables as units that can be used with interchangeable phonetic parts. This auditory concept is absolutely imperative for understanding the concept of phonemes. And without phonemic awareness, translating sounds to visual signs is well-nigh impossible. When we rhyme, we are teaching a foundational literacy skill.

When we sing and chant with children, we rhyme, all the time! Combining rhyme with rhythm, and a metric pattern, makes rhyme even more “sensible.” Music teaches rhyme, and rhyme teaches reason.

There are many aspects of rhyme, and when we are working with young children, we can explore them all! The simplest kind of rhyme is nonsense rhyming – no words needed.

Twinkle, Twinkle Nonsense Rhyme Game 1

All Sing: Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

How I wonder what you are!

Call: STAR, BAR, CAR       Echo: STAR, BAR, CAR

Call: STAR, DAR, FAR       Echo: STAR, DAR, FAR

Call: STAR, LAR, ZAR       Echo: STAR, LAR, ZAR

All Sing: Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

How I wonder what you are!

Up above the world so high

Like a diamond in the sky

Call: SKY, BY, DIE         Echo: SKY, BY, DIE

Call: SKY, RYE, ZIE      Echo: SKY, RYE, ZIE

All Sing: Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

How I wonder what you are!  Etc.

In this nonsense rhyme game, there will be some syllables that are words, and some that aren’t. It doesn’t matter; we are working on phonemic awareness skills, not vocabulary.

Note: The game could also be played with “real” words, combining rhyme and vocabulary. But in the beginning, we are going for sound only. We are working with Broca’s area of the brain, which is where phoneme awareness lies. We don’t want to engage Wernicke’s area more than we have to – that area has to do with words as meanings. When you practice your scales on the piano, you do it hands separately so that each hand can work independently. Right now, we are working on phonemic awareness independently of meaning. This makes for less guesswork later – without meaning, we are totally reliant upon sounds. We are building that vocabulary of pure sound that will be essential for decoding letters.

Performance.The call and echo section for the Twinkle rhyme can be sung on the interval of a minor third: sol, mi, sol. The Up above the world so high rhyme can be done on a descending fourth, sol, re, sol.  These lines can also be spoken, but I prefer the singing – at least, to start. Singing involves more of the brain than speaking does, so there is more potential for the activity to “stick.” There are times when you specifically want to work with speech, and transitioning between song and speech. In this case, speaking the rhyming words in rhythm works well.

Call can begin with the teacher and be echoed the class. Once the children have the idea of the game, the “call” can go around the circle - or back and forth dialogue in a one-on-one situation. Each child gets to invent the nonsense rhymes, and has the pleasure of hearing the class, or teacher, sing his creation back to him. There are some real perks here! The children learn that rhyming is important, rhyming is power, rhyming is relationship.

Twinkle, Twinkle Nonsense Rhyme Game 2

Call: Twinkle, twinkle, little dar   Response: Twinkle, twinkle, little dar

(continue the call and response format)

How I wonder what you par.

Up above the world so pie

Like a diamond in the nye

Twinkle, twinkle little gar

How I wonder what you car.

Performance. Again, the teacher can begin by calling. Eventually, the “call” can go around the circle, and different children can sing a line and put in their own nonsense rhyme at the end of it.

When you do this, you are working with onset - the first consonant sound(s) – and rime – the rest of the syllable, beginning with the vowel sound. For star, the rime is –ar, for high it is-igh (or-ie or-y or however you wish to spell it in your mind).

A Caution. Rimes can be tricky, because funny words can be unwittingly (or not so unwittingly) created. This game may be played with any song, but beware - songs like The Farmer in the Dell or Five Little Ducks can be nonsense rhymed into some words that may create titters. You can try to avoid these rimes, but they are part of our vocabulary - so be prepared. I find it’s best to laugh, ride over it or do something else that’s interesting, and move on. Discussion usually makes it a lot more likely to happen again. You want the children to feel that it hardly happened it all; that way, they are more likely to let it go.

Next post, our exploration continues!

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