Written by Polly Ives
I was delighted to be asked to create a resource as part of NYMAZ’s Early Years Music Makers. When I started to pull my ideas together, we were still all rather isolated and restricted from working, learning and playing together, so being part of a collection of other early years music leaders was rather special.
With the Outdoors theme, I chose a song called ‘Come With Me and Play’. I was taught this melody by a forest school practitioner who I collaborated with last summer for a week of Woodland Concerts for 0-5 year olds and their grown-ups. Our main influences for the week were nature, the world, weather and the seasons which are ideal for little people’s every-day experiences in the woods, parks and gardens. We created our own natural musical accompaniment using sticks we had found and tree stumps for the drum pulse, we stamped in the leaves, we had bubbles and umbrellas. We used our voices and bodies to explore sounds and movements, to make it an all round natural and sensory shared experience. So this song is perfect for exploring the great outdoors!
The song was originally written and performed by Macamu – if you’ve not come across them before, I highly recommend their music! Having worked in Early Years music for 20 years, I’d never heard this song before, but I think it is fantastic for engaging a range of ages from very little babies right up to KS1 (or higher!) and I’m really delighted to share it with more people through my own version and video for Music Makers. It’s a beautiful and simple melody about embracing and enjoying all weather types. It has 4 different weather verses and it can be sung as a round.
I enjoyed the challenge of thinking about the way that I present songs to children and to articulate what and why I do it to others. I often like to include a physical and vocal warm up to a song, like I do in this resource. I encourage the children to say the words, whisper the words, shout the words and act out the words. They can clap the rhythms and then tap the rhythms on some claves or something similar. Of course, actions also help the children learn words and physically represent the meaning of the song. And graphics (a flashcard or an image on the whiteboard) while also help the children (and you!) remember the lyrics. In this film, I have also presented this song as a round, a wonderful way of extending the song musically. This may be too tricky for some younger children but it’s great if you’re engaging parents, confident staff colleagues or if you’re working with an older age range. If any of you play the ukulele/ guitar and keyboard, you could play along with just one simple chord throughout to give it a harmony or if you have a drum (e.g. a djembe) you could give it a more funky ostinato beat!
I changed the order of the verses from the original so that you can explore the numbers and patterns to incorporate maths into your learning. You will see the words ‘Pitter Patter’ have 4 syllables in the first verse, then 3 (La La La), then 2 (Crunch Crunch), then 1 (oooooh). This provides your young people with a strong basic knowledge and understanding of music rhythm.
I’ve also done this song with all the children lying on their backs in the grass looking up at the sky with bubbles, umbrellas, lycra wafting wind over them! Whatever way you can bring the story of the song to life and to embrace the great outdoors.
It’s wonderful to be part of an Early Years music community through NYMAZ with leaders, teachers and carers who are so passionate about engaging their young children in quality music activity. I’ve really enjoyed watching the other films in the Music Makers resource and using the song ideas myself in my music workshops.
Covid has encouraged many arts organisations to be innovative and creative in the way we reach new people and NYMAZ has embraced this with welcoming arms. I hope this wonderful resource will inspire new ways of working, ignite extra passion for being creative as well as adding to your quality song-bank for working with wonderful little people!
If you would like to access Music Makers activity cards, which contains the song that Polly has contributed, you can find more information here.