Sunday, September 21, 2014

Books in the Music Room: Swirl by Swirl and LMNO Peas

It's time for another edition of Perfect Pairings! Yay!

Books are a great way to build creativity and confidence in your students. Books are also great for connecting songs to other content areas, like science and social studies!

Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature by Sidman and Krommes

"Swirl by Swirl" is a piece of artwork! My students LOVE the details of all the different spirals found in nature. This is a perfect pairing with any snail song, including my favorite: "Snail, Snail."

On the 4th or 5th week of Kindergarten, we stand in our circle and connect hands. "Hold on and never let go!"

I take one end of the circle and start walking around the room like a snail would, meandering around the different areas of the music room. While we walk I sing "Snail, Snail" and move my feet to the beat. Almost always, the students join in with my feet. We end up back in the circle and sit down.

The next week (or later, if behavior issues prevent it) we sing the same song again and this time at the end, I spiral us back towards the center. ALWAYS spiral the kids so they are facing outwards, so there is less funny business. Can I get an amen? (Thanks Phil for that tidbit!)

I literally just keep taking steps towards the middle until the "tail" of the snail is in place. Then I stop and ask, "What shape are we in?" Most of the time they answer "a snail!" and I say, "You're right! And a snail makes a spiral shape. Everyone say 'spiral.'"

Then I let go and duck under their hands to the "tail" student, and say, "Let's unwind our spiral." And off we go, back to the circle. Then we sit and read this wonderful book, taking time to savor each picture. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

LMNO Peas by Keith Baker

LMNO Peas is a fantastic alphabet book! I love it when alphabet books go beyond your normal "A is for Apple" and I love it even more when books about "community helpers/jobs" go beyond the norm as well.

And I can't forget to mention that Keith Baker has another "peas" book - of course! I can't wait to check out 1-2-3 peas and Little Green Peas. 

The peas are so sweet and the illustrations are perfect!

These are my favorites:
B - bikers in a race!
C - climbers and campers and he's a circus clown!
G - gardeners, gigglers, givers and takers
K - kayakers
P - parachutists (and a whole page of unique parachutists) 
Y - yogis in a pose
Z - zoologists

Talk about some great vocabulary and creative ideas for who the peas are. And at the end it asks "Who are you?" and we get to do a sweet discussion of "What do you want to be when you grow up?" and sing The Friendly Song.

This is a song I sang when I was a kid, and I adapted the lyrics for my classroom. I'm not sure if someone wrote it, so if you find the original, let me know so I can give credit!

It's a great way to improvise lyrics in Kindergarten - we fill in the "job" with 6-8 kids. At the end we practice saying, "That's ok" and "no big deal!" if we didn't get a turn. And I say, "Should we sing this song again sometime so that others can have a turn?"

What books do you use in your music classroom? I'm always looking for new ideas so please feel free to comment below!

Check out the first edition of Perfect Pairings here!

There's something new in my store! 

Check out my Bounce High slideshow for prepping, presenting and practicing La. :-)

Happy Sunday!


  1. I 'unwind' the snail using an old marching band move...I turn and lead the line back the other way 'through' the spirals...that probably doesn't make sense....but it turns out that we are walking in a circle by the end. Thanks for the blog! I'm going to check out 'Swirl by Swirl' from my local library! I'm also going to share this post with my art teacher! I think he will LOVE the illustrations in that book! Thank you!

    1. Debbie - that makes sense - great idea! I will have to try it that way sometime. Thanks for sharing with the art teacher, too! :-) Happy teaching!

  2. I read Anansi the Spider to my first graders (Kinder doesn't come to music). We used it to introduce the rules of the instruments to my kids. Each character has a different instrument and when their character is read they play their instrument. The kids love it!

    1. Ooh! What a great idea! I will have to try that! :-)