Music Lesson - Little Bitty Mousie

Today has been one of those great homeschooling days - a day when it has been obvious to me that real homeschooling occurs in any place and often at unscheduled and unplanned times. I'd like to tell you about a wonderful spontaneous lesson we had this afternoon.

Yesterday we went to the library. Most visits my children pick a lot of books off the shelves that look appealing to them (with a little guidance from me). We came home with nearly twenty books yesterday and sat down with a couple today. What a gem we found in "Little Bitty Mousie", a traditional alphabet rhyme done by Jim Aylesworth.

Immediately when you start to read the book you notice there is a natural rhythm to the words... even my fourth grader was taken in by the clever pictures and rhyming verse. (I had thought she would consider it too babyish, but I was happily wrong!) Since both of my children have had music classes before they immediately started to tap the steady beat on their laps - great, I thought! We can do a lot with this book. The book goes through each letter of the alphabet and after three letters it does a little "tip-tip tippy tippy" refrain of sorts. Here is an example from the beginning of the book:

As we read through the book each time we got to the "tip-tip tippy tippy" part I had the children say it with me. After a time through the book they pretty much had it memorized. So, the next step was to get out our instruments. Now, I don't have fancy instruments. I got them at a consignment sale a long time ago, but they work just fine for us!

I know you can buy these at Target as well. They are so cute because the "A" is jingle bells, the "B" is a maraca, and the "C" is a tambourine. I asked Miss B and GMan to play an instrument each time they said the "tip-tip tippy tippy" part. Miss B knew what I meant when I said play the rhythm of the words, but I had to explain to GMan that this just meant make your instrument match your words!

Miss B picked up the drum and played the steady beat during the other parts of the book and then both children played the rhythm during the "tip-tip tippy tippy" parts. It was so much fun... I think we even succeeded in teaching GMan that the steady beat is just like your heart (it never changes and is steady) and that rhythm usually goes with the words (or the melody). This was one of the big things I taught children back when I was in the elementary schools.

I also loved the illustrations in this book - my daughter was pointing out all of the great pictures. This one was her favorite; I think it is because the quarter is so life-like.

We also noted when the story got more exciting (we played loudly) and when the mouse was tiptoeing (we played softly) and at the end when she ran into the mouse we just played crazily! There are so many possibilities with this book. If you just get the book from your library and put some instruments in your children's hands, I bet they can take it from there. Children are innately musical and uninhibited! Have fun with this book -- let me know if you try it!
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