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Teaching Songs and Chants in the Classroom (by Marsha Goren)

I am an American who has been teaching English in Israel for 32 years. I have found my work very challenging and rewarding as most children in Israel really strive to know English. I recently retired from the formal school system and am still working in an afternoon school program called “America English School.”

Normally, according to the ministry of education, regular classes start to acquire English as a second language in the fourth grade. However, many schools in Israel allow teachers to begin English in the second and third grade. Teachers usually teach the oral skills through games, drama, songs and visual aids. The written skills are usually taught at a later stage after the reading stages.

Children are normally very creative and especially talented in their oral skills. I began to take advantage of these skills by using songs and drama. These are two excellent ways to encourage all children but especially gifted ones. They especially enjoyed learning English through songs and they acquired many skills such as vocabulary and grammatical structures. More importantly they learned about different cultures through the music and their English has improved tremendously.

Everyone is aware of how important it is to know English. The whole world uses English as an international language. Children should be given the opportunities to stay on their own preferred paths to excellence. Since English is a very prestigious subject within the Israeli curriculum, it is vital to expose these children to a variety of opportunities for success.

Last year I decided to teach my fourth graders many of the curriculum subjects through different songs and chants. I saw the enthusiasm as many kids would remark that they would like to stay longer when the bell rang. I found the learners imitating the language and even the accent. The atmosphere was always relaxed and so much fun. This convinced me even more that the method was well worth the hard work and I decided that a large part of my lessons would be for teaching reading through songs and music.

YouTube is a phenomenal resource for finding great ways of teaching, and of course songs. I came across the GiggleBellies YouTube channel which offers wonderful songs on youtube and started teaching the songs.

I immediately realized how useful the songs could be for my ESL teaching and for others around the world. I contacted the creators and told them I had begun writing worksheets and although their DVD was basically for toddlers and small children I was sure it would be a hit. I began writing worksheets (17) and the GigggleBellies collaborated with me. There are different exercises and skills on each one according to the songs.  I donated this unit which is now being used by thousands of children, educators and their parents around the world. I am including it here for all of the educators around the world to implement in their classes. These worksheets and songs will help improve listening and oral skills with your students and even for young learners. It will also stimulate creativity and assist in writing and reading skills. And more importantly children will acquire new vocabulary in an enjoyable way. It is a known fact that when children enjoy the learning process, their achievements also improve. Free worksheet unit can be downloaded here on the Gigglebellies website:

Last but not least, we sent the GiggleBellies a short movie of my fourth grade class singing. I invite you to watch it on YouTube here.

With over 108,000 views, we are honored and happy to share this movie with the cooperation of the GiggleBellies whom I have never met personally, only through the power of the Internet, enjoy!

Marsha GorenI have been teaching English for 32 years now. The children have always been my inspiration and so I’ve tried to inspire them. My students call me Marsha (as in Israel, first names are used).  It wasn’t until the web took the world by surprise, though, that teaching became an exciting challenge, an unbelievable experience where collaborative learning comes alive in classrooms around the world, and my students have become learners and leaders; partners and participants through their Global Dreamers.

9 Comments

  1. Barbara says:

    Thank you for sharing this, Marsha! I’d never heard of the GiggleBellies before your post. I’ve spent some time looking at their YouTube channel and looking through your worksheets, and like what I see! This will be a great resource for teachers, I think.

    I love your enthusiasm :)

    1. Marsha Goren says:

      Barbara,
      I am so honored to be a part of this site, I love my work and finding the GiggleBellies was just a huge pleasure for me and my students. I believe in the GiggleBelllies because they truly care about education and were so honored to participate with me globally. Kerry and Pauline were delighted that I had created worksheets to coincide with their DVD. I too believe this is a fantastic resource for teachers. Many people have downloaded the worksheets at the GiggleBellies freebees. They also include beautiful coloring pages of the characters and posters which educators can use in their classrooms on bulletin boards and such.
      I have also written a unit of worksheets for the 2nd DVD and when the GiggleBellies get it up and ready I will definitely share again.
      Thank you for your kindness and will share my other projects in the future. ♥

      1. Barbara says:

        Actually, I feel like I got a 3fer (3 for the price of 1) since I’d never heard of the GiggleBellies. So, I got to meet a lovely teacher (you) and through you, Kerry and Pauline (who have connections to my adopted state, Texas). A winner all the way around!

        I look forward to seeing future projects :)

  2. Marsha Goren says:

    It is an honor and a privilege to work with someone like you, I am honored. I do not know if you know the GlobalSchoolnet org but I was in California in 2006, I won the international award for global collaboration and took part in in the ISTE workshops, awesome experience. I am going to write up songs through peace soon. We celebrate Passover tonight and I have 16 people for a huge dinner so I am busy today. The GiggleBellies and I are working on a second unit of worksheets and when they are up will also send you those.
    Delighted to know you. :-)

  3. Vladislav Georgiev says:

    Indeed songs and music are good tools for a language acquisition. I agree with you that youtube is a great resource. I use the songs as listening comprehension exercises. Sometimes I take out parts of the lyrics and ask the students to fill in the gaps. Thanks for sharing your teaching ideas with us!

    1. Marsha Goren says:

      It is truly a pleasure to find this comment on Barbara’s blog. Songs are a phenomenal way to teach kids and they just love it. I truly believe my kids improved reading skills with the GiggleBellies as they just loved the colorful characters and the music made the atmosphere so enjoyable.
      Nice to meet you and thank you for your comment.

  4. Namita Verma says:

    Really you are a very resourceful person dear Marsha,your efforts are commendable.You made English learning a real fun through interesting activities.You are an inspiration for many English teachers across the world and they can learn a lot from you.Thanks for this wonderful sharing.
    Regards
    Namita Verma

    1. Marsha Goren says:

      Namita,
      So happy to see educators from our group on Barbara’s blog, she is an excellent educator and I am honored to be on her blog. Namita we have done some wonderful projects through Globaldreamers. (http://www.globaldreamers.org) especially our work with peace and the Holocaust. Thank you dear colleagues.

  5. […] her previous post, Teaching Songs and Chants in the Classroom, Marsha Goren shared a set of worksheets she had created to accompany the songs on the first […]