What Do You Do?

by David & Anne Ellsworth

In school, knowing your options in tricky situations is an ongoing challenge for kids. In this funky Latin tune, youngsters are given a simple challenge, losing a crayon or a pencil, and then choices to fix the challenge. The lyric words, "crayon" and "pencil" are replaceable with some other item that could be misplaced, too, like paper, a ruler, or a glue stick. The song teaches a lesson in choosing and/or responsibility with supplies and belongings.

In-class suggestion - Have an in-class discussion or play a game with your class. Call it "What do you do?" and introduce real situations a child in your school might face. You pose the question to your class and lead the discussion, asking for raised hands with answers to solve the dilemma. You could also invite students to write a situation on a piece of paper and then drop it in a bowl or some such. This way, the students identity is unknown, yet the question gets asked of the group and everyone helps uncover a possible solution.

What do you do when you don't know where to sit? What do you do when you don't understand a direction? Or if you need to go to the restroom? Or if your tummy hurts? What do you do if you fall on the playground and skin your knee? The scenarios are nearly countless, and it would be a good opportunity to discuss things proactively. This would serve to empower the children to make good choices in the future.

Gasp exercise - This is a warm-up suggestion from Anne that can be used for any song that has a starting pitch (or a high pitch at the start of a phrase) that's high in a singer's range:

Invite your students to open their mouths like they're going to sing an "Ah." Show them what you mean. Then instruct them to take a quick, short breath in, through their mouths. As they take their breath, they can smile and/or raise their eyebrows. I often say something to get kids to respond, thus using this exercise. After a while, I don't even tell them it's an exercise, I just announce something and they know how to respond. It gets to be a fun game, too!

After they "gasp," immediately have them sing the phrase with the starting high pitch – while their faces are still in that surprised, happy expression. It should help them with a more strongly sounded and in-tune pitch.

Phrases I have used to get my youngest singers to do this exercise include:

  • There's a dinosaur in the hall!
  • The cafeteria is serving candy for lunch!
  • It's snowing!
  • Double recess this afternoon!
  • I have a face on my finger! (Hold up your finger with a drawn face on your finger pad.)
  • Field trip next week! (Of course, there should actually be a field trip next week.) You get the idea. :-)

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.