by Teresa Jennings
As all music educators know, one of the best and easiest ways to learn facts, figures, names, or any specific finite data is with music. Such is the case with "Continents." It includes a recurring verse that names the continents in alphabetical order as well as a refrain and a bridge to tie it all together. Use it just for your revue, or share it with the classroom teacher to make it a cross curricular activity.
You will note that we have chosen to name seven continents. It should be mentioned that this is based on what most schools in the United States are probably teaching. Other places around the world have different ideas about how many continents there are and also about what to call them. (If you're interested in the differences, a simple online search will readily inform you.) One thing we did find often enough locally to merit inclusion is the alternate name of the continent Australia, and that is, Oceania. If you prefer to use it only, or to only use Australia for that matter, feel free to change our words and rhythms. If you wish to use it as is and want to make it a point of discussion, once again a search on the Internet will give you plenty of fodder, and/or just ask the classroom teacher to help out.
One of the things that will make this song appeal to your students is the use of rapping. The names of the continents are spoken to a rhythm that is written out, which means your performers need to read and learn the rhythms as well as the names of the continents. That means it's a good musical exercise as well, even though there are only seven names – eight counting Oceania. They do repeat to be sure the lesson is ingrained.
The sung parts of the song are simple, repetitious, and unison, so the song should be accessible for most grades.
If you wish to use a slide show or projected presentation during your revue, this song would be a natural. You could show each continent as it is being spoken, possibly culminating in entire hemispheres or the whole world at the end. If this is not in your budget, a map of the world (a big one) that the audience can see will also work nicely. Have a few students standing by to point at the continents in question as they are named.
Another nice thing about this song is that it is not specific to this revue. So you can mix and match it with other programs, collections, or revues as you like. (This also applies to the next two songs.)
Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.