I love using children's literature in the classroom. Last spring, when browsing the book fair, this book immediately caught my attention. The title, "Leap Back Home to Me," made me think of how we call the pitch "do" home base. A few weeks ago, this book was used in a second grade lesson to introduce melodic improvisation, phrasing, and ending a phrase on "do."
Even though I had been looking forward to using this book in a lesson all summer long, my student teacher was actually the one who got to teach this lesson. The book is very rhythmic and is set up in stanzas of 4 lines. In each stanza, the first 3 lines are different places that the baby frog leaps when playing and exploring away from the momma frog. The 4th line always repeats the phrase "leap back home to me."
When my student teacher first read the book she used a speaking voice until she got to the phrase "leap back home to me." On this phrase, we used a simple melody "mi, mi, re, re, do." The students naturally began patting a steady beat and soon caught on to the form of the stanzas and began singing along with the recurring phrase "leap back home to me".
After finishing the book, the student teacher directed the students' attention to the magnetic hand signs and had the students echo the pattern "mi, mi, re, re, do." She brought the students' attention back to the form of the poem asking how many places the frog leaps away from the momma before leaping back home. She asked them to pat a steady beat and count how many beats are in each sentence. (Answer: 4). Then, she asks them to calculate how many beats we pat before we sing "leap back home to me" (Answer: 12). They practice this pattern of patting 12 beats and then using hand signs to sing "mi, mi, re, re, do" before moving to the barred instruments.
Once at the instruments, she instructs them how to properly remove the F and B bars for C pentatonic. Using the "fake instrument," she has them echo some short melodies with mi, re, and do. Some melodies end on do and some do not. She asks them which phrases sound like they are finished (Answer: the ones that end in do). Then, she has the students echo the pattern "mi, mi, re, re, do" from the phrase "leap back home to me."
When the students can successfully play the melodic pattern, she asks the students to click their mallets for 12 beats and then play the melodic phrase. When students can successfully perform the pattern of 12 clicks and then the melody, she allows them to improvise on the 12 beats picking 12 bars to play before playing the phrase "mi, mi, re, re, do."
Lastly, the students are asked to play along while the teacher reads the book again. At first, the students were playing way too loud. Even though the teacher was using the pendant microphone, it was still impossible to hear the book with 24 kids playing very loudly on their instruments. After asking the students to pretend like they were tiptoeing instead of leaping, they were playing quiet enough to hear the story. The students seemed to enjoy the book and were not afraid to explore the instruments and improvise. By the end of the year, I will introduce rhythmic building blocks and begin to get students comfortable improvising with rhythms using ta and titi.