I went to Calais this half term. I wasn’t entirely sure if the songs and games I had planned would be of any use so I was prepared to work in the warehouse rather then teach if need be. I had been told that the children were not ready for formal lessons and that concentration was a problem. They were entirely ready for singing however. I worked my way through the Voice Foundations 65 songs from around the world. “Hello, how are you”, “Chest, chest, knee, toe” “Hickety Tickety” “Clap your Hands” “Little Sally Saucer”were all firm favourites. The regular class teacher was so keen to learn the songs as she saw the kids concentrate and sing out for longer periods of time than usual. The kids loved the ribbons I had brought along and we used those with the the monster stomp warm up – “With an up and a down” We sat down and listened to Carnival of the animals on the little mini rig speaker I had brought along and the kids blew bubbles and swayed their ribbons in time. The kazoos were a huge hit. We created our our version of the Star Wars theme tune.
We sang our way through a huge number of African call and response songs. “Funje Alafia” being the most popular as the kids loved the actions the best.
When we sat down again to do some drawings of the music my iPhone randomly played the Sing Up song, “Good to be me”. The children jiggled around to it so I decided to teach it with a few actions. I can honestly say that hearing the kids sing this has been the highlight of my teaching career.
Not only did the songs and clapping games provide some pleasure for the children but their eagerness to learn meant that they were practising their English.
I then worked with the teacher on number and English language exercises that could be sung. It was astonishing that by singing it they seemed able to concentrate for longer.
Of course it is important that we sort out decent shelter, food and safe routes out of the jungle as our top priority – see Care for Calais for details on how to help.
But that said, these children deserve to have access to music education and it would be pitifully easy to arrange. I am planning to collect:
- a couple of mini-rig speakers
- Voices Foundations “65 songs” books for teachers
- Ribbon sticks
- basket of percussion instruments for small hands
- couple of MP3 players loaded with sing up songs and music
Music Ed Expo is coming up soon. Any exhibitors, teachers, music organisation willing to make a donation? We could easily create a few crates with resources and teaching materials for the teachers who are volunteering.
Email me at Mertonwelcomesrefugees@gmail.com if you can help.