Thursday, 26 May 2016

Suitable Songs for a School Choir (Part 1)

Looking for inspiration for some non-religious songs for your school choir? Try out some of these:

1. Touch the Sky:
This upbeat song from the movie Brave sounds wonderful when performed by a children's choir. 

2. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For:
A song originally sung by U2 but covered by many gospel choirs, this song lends itself well to part singing.

3. Da Doo Ron Ron Ron:
My choir sang the 'Countdown Kids' version of this song, which you can download from iTunes or Amazon (it is featured on the album 'Rock 'N' Roll 101 for Kids, Vol. 1'). It sounds very impressive when sung with a harmony and a guitar. 

Guitar chords (play with a capo on the 2nd fret)
Song lyrics

4. I'm Yours
Released in 2008, some of your children may not be familiar with this song, but it is an easy, catchy song that they seem to enjoy regardless. I changed the pitch of the song when singing it with my class as originally it was a little low. I have included this audio track below - the quality is quite poor but it will give you an idea of where to pitch the song.
Higher pitched version
Guitar chords (the higher pitched version would be played with a capo on the 9th fret)
Song lyrics
Harmony lyrics

5. Lean on Me
The 'Glee' version of this famous song is better suited to young children's voices than the original. It is a little tricky to sing but accompanying it with a guitar offers the chance to slow it down a little and change the key to suit your children's voices.

Original song air 
'Glee' version
Backing track
Guitar chords (Play with capo on 2nd fret for Glee version)
Song Lyrics

6. All Star
Although lacking in harmony, this song (sung by The Countdown Kids and featured on their album 'Pop 4 Kids') is energetic and fun and features in the movie 'Shrek'.

Original song air
Original song backing track
Countdown Kids version
Song lyrics

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Local Studies: 4 Hands-on Geography Lessons

Locality based learning is a huge part of the Geography curriculum. With that in mind, here are some simple lesson ideas and resources that can be connected to the children's local natural and human environment. 

1. Rocks and Fossils:
Discuss the PowerPoint below. If you are teaching in a 5th/6th class you may want to bulk out the information by mentioning the specific categories these rocks fall into: Metamorphic, Sedimentary and Igneous and explaining how they are formed.

Types of rock from SeniorInfants
You can download and edit this PowerPoint from Dropbox here.

After they understand the different types of rock in Ireland (and how they are formed), give each group a set of three rocks (marble, limestone and granite) to draw, name and answer questions on using this worksheet for a 3rd/4th class or this worksheet for a 5th/6th class. As a follow up, the class can be brought out on a nature walk to find specific rock types in the locality. 

2. Transport in the Locality:

In pairs/small groups the children can complete this worksheet. It includes activities where they: name different modes of transport and list ways transport could be improved in their area, survey what transport children in the class use most often, and map out their school's catchment area. 

Note: Since this activity focuses on local transport, it is necessary to edit some of the activities to suit your own school. My school is situated in a rural area so some of the questions about the school's catchment area may need to be altered if the activities are being covered in an urban environment.

3. Mapping The Locality:
Begin the lesson by discussing the purpose of maps. Look at some sample maps online (I like this map) and ask why there are pictures, letters and different colours on the map. Discuss what a key is and how symbols are used to represent some important things in the area. Show them a map like the one of Dublin Harbour and ask what symbols they can spot on it and what they might stand for.
After this, they could complete the Make a Map Key activity on this page, by finding the symbols used in the map of Raheny. They could also play this matching game as a class or on their computers.
As a follow up lesson, have the children draw a map of their journey to school including symbols to represent features of the local environment (roads, water, forestry, bogs, churches, schools, etc.) and a key. Give an example of how this would be done on the board by describing and drawing your own trip to school.

4. Trees of Ireland:
Having discussed the different types of trees that can be found in Ireland using the PowerPoint below, each group can be given some leaves to trace around and name in their copy. 

Trees from SeniorInfants
You can download and edit this PowerPoint from Dropbox here.
In the following lesson, the children can be brought on a nature walk to answer questions on this activity sheet.

If you are interested in more lessons ideas for senior classes check out my posts on the following topics: MyselfItalySpaceFood and the Aztec Empire.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Teaching about Special Needs and Inclusion

Recently, every teacher in our school was asked to teach an SPHE lesson based on 'Inclusion' in order to highlight to our pupils the importance of including all children (in particular those with Special Needs) in their play. As this was a slightly sensitive topic to cover with a class (especially a senior class), I headed online to search for resources and ideas on how to approach the topic. Unfortunately I found it difficult to find anything usable! Eventually after a lot of searching, I was inspired by some of the activities discussed here to create the following PowerPoint on 'Disabilities and Inclusion' (it took 2 sessions to complete the topic).

You can download the PowerPoint from Slideshare (it's free to become a member) or from Dropbox.

You can download the Celebrity Profile activity sheet here.

You can find the banner I used to display the children's celebrity profiles on Twinkl here.

Don't forget to leave a comment below if you have any other ideas for teaching this topic to a class!

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Tin Whistle Series: 'Fun' Tunes on the Tin Whistle

It can be difficult to engage some children when teaching the tin whistle, especially in older classes. While I teach a lot of the traditional tin whistle tunes to my children, I like to include the odd familiar non-traditional song to motivate them to play.
Below, I have listed some of the more 'fun' tunes I have taught in the past. Some tunes are easier, while some are more difficult, so hopefully there is something in here for every class!

(Note: Click on the 'air' links to hear the tune and the 'notes' links to view and download the notes)

1. We Will Rock You:

This is a very simple tune which even beginners can master and perform to accompany singing. When I taught my class this tune, it was for a school performance. Half the class played the tin whistle, while the other half of the class sang and clapped. I chose a few students to play the drums also. All in all, it made for an impressive and professional looking performance, which took very little time to prepare.

'We Will Rock You' air

'We Will Rock You' notes

'We Will Rock You' notes and children's version feature in The Right Note 5th and 6th Class Teacher's Manual

2. Star Wars Theme:

If you are teaching a class of beginners, this is an easy, short piece by John Williams that they are bound to know the air of:

'Star Wars' air

'Star Wars' notes

3. Olé Olé Olé Olé:

Another very basic tune for beginners is Olé, Olé, Olé, Olé. This would be a nice one to teach them before the Euros!

'Olé Olé' air

'Olé, Olé, Olé, Olé' notes

4. I'm a Believer:

This song is always a popular one with all age groups. Originally sung by the Monkees, they will probably recognise it from the movie 'Shrek'. It is quite simple to learn as it features quite a lot of repetition.

'I'm a Believer' air

'I'm a Believer' notes

5. Ring of Fire

I'm a big Johnny Cash fan so I had to include a song of his in here somewhere! This version of 'Ring of Fire' is suitable for an 'intermediate' player. Note that smaller letters signify high notes and capital letters represent low notes.

'Ring of Fire' air

'Ring of Fire' notes

6. Ireland's Call:

Quite a manageable tune for the intermediate student, 'Ireland's Call' is a great choice if you have any rugby fans in your class. 

'Ireland's Call' notes

'Ireland's Call' air

7. Touch the Sky:

Touch the Sky is a lively song from the Disney movie 'Brave'. I taught this song to my choir and had 5 or 6 children accompany them on the tin whistle using the notes below.

'Touch the Sky' air

'Touch the Sky' notes

8. Songs from Dami's Blog:

Finally, Dami's Blog features a huge bank of 'pop' songs covered on the tin whistle. Not only can you find the notes for songs like 'Let it Go', 'Hello' and 'Firestone', but you can also listen to them being played as well. Some of these are quite challenging, but an advanced class would definitely enjoy learning them!

If you missed the first three posts in this tin whistle series, you can find them linked below:
Teaching Tin Whistle Tunes for a School Mass
Teaching Tin Whistle to Beginners
Christmas Tunes

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Irish History Simplified (5th and 6th)

Over the past few weeks leading up to Easter we have been learning a lot about Irish political history in my classroom. Usually 5th class in my school focus mainly on events in the 16th, 17th and 18th century, however, being the year that's in it, we also touched on 1916 this year.
Irish history is always a popular topic in a senior class although sometimes confusing! Therefore, for the purpose of revision, I have created these posters featuring key information about each era we discussed. I hope you find them useful in your classroom!

As usual, you can download the posters/PowerPoint from Slideshare here by logging in as a member (it's free!). Alternatively, you can download the file from Dropbox here

P.S. If you are interested in a full timeline of topics covered in history in a senior class, you can download one from Slideshare here

Happy Easter!