This was a very sweet session, as the nursery had gone to a real effort to provide an exciting Halloween environment for the kids- the rooms were decorated with pumpkin lanterns which the children had made and other Halloween decorations, and the staff had all dressed up, some quite impressively (think false nails and false pink eyelashes!) Most of the children had dressed up too, and there were some spectacular costumes including lots of princesses, wondergirl, Super Mario, a cowgirl and some pumpkins. The children were obviously excited by special occasion and this showed through in our lessons, but rather than being destructive excitement, it reminded me of the power of fun in learning – children are much more likely to remember something if it was associated with something they enjoyed doing, rather than something boring.
We started both sessions off with the hello song, as we will do in every session, and continued with the ‘Hickety Tickety’ name song, which some remembered, but some had not been there the previous week. What I found enormously rewarding was that one child in each group managed to sing the tune back correctly with their name, on their own, whereas the previous week none had had the confidence to, with most others simply saying their name shyly. I hope as we progress through the term that more and more children will have the confidence to try singing on their own-something which is difficult and scary for even most adults.
The rest of the sessions consisted of mostly new material including 5 little pumpkins (rhyme), ten little bats (sung to the tune of 10 green bottles with the children running round the room until they were tapped and one by one sat down), Pumpkin Pumpkin, Halloween’s Coming, Jelly on a Plate, and one song which we taught them last week- Chop, Chop, Choppety Chop, but this time making ‘Halloween Soup’ with spiders, rats and slime! What doing the new material with the kids highlighted was the need for proper preparation and the ability to know the words by heart in order to teach them– in some cases, we had only agreed to include the song just before the session and so most of us didn’t know the words (the exception to this was Fiona, who fortunately displayed exceptional memory skills!) Children can tell instantly when you’re not prepared and it’s quite embarrassing struggling for words in front of a class of fifteen five year olds… Also, there was a lack of communication between the nursery staff and us as to what the children had been taught, as during one session the children kept asking to sings they had been taught but which we didn’t know, which we got around by asking them to sing the song to us which worked well. The final thing we could have done better was keeping an eye on the time: we ended up with one very long session and one very short one, as we didn’t know that the kids had a Halloween party meal arranged for the half hour before our session ended.
However, I felt overall that the session was a very positive one and a powerful learning experience for both us and the kids. One positive thing that I took away from the session was a comment from the head teacher just as we were about to leave – she said that some of the kids had been singing the ‘aye, aye’ part of the hello song to each other after they had left our session. This left me feeling very privileged to be part of teaching these children in what was probably one of their very first experiences of music and singing.