I’ve been burning through a lot of great songs by the good people at Super Simple Learning (SSL) lately but I couldn’t wait to write about Open Shut Them, a song that has generated a huge buzz among my students. Found on Super Simple Songs 3, this variation of the classic song (which I was admittedly ignorant of) is amazing for introducing children to the concept of opposites. This is a super upbeat song that will get your gets energized for class. It was such a success for me that it paid for the cost of the CD all by itself.
It’s really easy to teach, too. Start off by pre-teaching the vocabulary: big & small, please & no, thank you, fast & slow, loud & quiet, and to finish it off peek-a-boo. The free flash cards available on the song page are perfect for the task, along with some really expressive gestures, of course.
There is also ample opportunity for mini activities to practice the vocabulary before or after singing the song. For example, with big & small, ask the kids to find something big in the classroom and then count down slowly from five to zero. The children will end up racing around the class looking for the biggest thing they can find. Then you can try the same with small.
For please & no thank you, I use the picture cards from SSL’s song Do You Like Broccoli? to ask the children what they’d like to eat. Any food cards (or realia) will do but I like to use those cards in particular because there are images of both food the children will probably like, and others they almost certainly will not. You just have to take them out one by one and ask them if they want any ice cream, to which they will probably say “yes, please”, and then ask them if they want any broccoli ice cream, to which they will in all probability reply, “no, thank you!”
For loud and quiet get the kids clapping their hands, or stomping their feet (or both) and then yell out loud for a bit of thunder making, followed by quiet. With peek-a-boo just practice with the child beside you and then get them to scramble around the class for a new partner while you count down from five. Then when they have their new partner they do peek-a-boo again.
The song page also has lots of tips for teaching the song which should prove invaluable to teachers. Take a look of the video of Devon Thagard (the creator of Super Simple Learning) leading a group of children through the song and pay attention to the actions, because they work perfectly.
Now, you just have to play the song. The opening lines “open shut them” were surprisingly familiar to my students, even if they hadn’t heard this exact version of the song. But even for the ones who had never heard it before, the lyrics and actions were simple enough to just follow along with me. The rest of the song is easy-peasy for the kids and thus makes for a great warm-up.
Later you can show the song’s charming music video that got a lot of smiles from my preschoolers.
Once you’ve mastered the song, you might also give the classroom version a try too. The song has been redone mostly without the lyrics, allowing you to insert any pair of opposites you like: up & down; hot & cold; good & bad; yummy & yucky; or whatever you’d like to practice.
And if you like to read stories in class, like I do, check out Blue Sea by Robert Kalan (illustrated by Donald Crews) which I had I happened to bring along with me to class this week. It was a nice way to end the class since it deals with the subject of big and small.
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