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  • Writer's pictureJenny Ferris

An Apple A Day

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, or so goes the old adage. But did you know that an apple a day can also improve your students' musicianship?

Red apple

Apple, Apple

In the early days of prep music (first year of primary school) you need to ascertain your students' prior learning and work out what skills & knowledge they already possess so that you can establish a program from there that is pitched at the right level for them. Depending on the type of musical education they received in kindergarten (or whether they in fact attended kindergarten), you can find yourself with quite a mixed bag of abilities.

One of the key concepts you need to get across to your students in order to build all their subsequent pitch learning on is the idea of high and low sounds. I like to start with this Apple, Apple game as a great visual learning tool to establish high and low contrasts at an octave apart.

You place a magnetised tree on the board (you could also draw one but magnets are so much cooler!) and show your students a heap of little magnetised apples, telling them you need their help to place each apple either up high in the apple tree, or down low on the ground.

At the end of the song, depending on whether you've sung high do or low do, students will show you where they think the apple lives. It's a great formative assessment tool to suss out their aural capabilities and also helps your visual learners to get a better sense of high and low.

You can of course add variations, like singing so and having the apple somewhere in the middle ("it's in the middle of falling to the ground!") or a super high or super low note (stolen by a bird or buried underground respectively).

You can get an apple tree magnet kit as part of my apple pack on Teachers Pay Teachers, or purchase ready-made ones on Etsy.

Apple Tree

This is a song which I'm sure will be familiar to many of you, it is a staple of the Kodaly repertoire, as it is great practice for la and also contains one solitary do at the end of the song, making it a great Prep or Present song.

Apple tree sheet music

I like to play an elimination-style game when teaching this song, passing an apple puppet around the circle and having which ever student lands on the word "out" sit down.

Check out this video for a step-by-step guide on sewing up a fabric apple of your own

On The Farmer's Apple Tree

Oh, how I absolutely adore this game! This has been one that sticks with the kids and one that they'll request in games sessions over and over. Plus, it's a staple of my tika-tika unit and it's also great for low so & low la!

The basic set up sees a circle of students surrounding a couple of students with special jobs. One is the apple tree - they have to stand in their best tree pose (which often yields some comical results) holding some apples - I used to make do with egg shakers until I thought to make these puppets! The apple tree stays put in the middle of the circle.

The next is the basket - they stand on the outside of the circle, preferrably as close to the edge of the room as can be. Their job is to hold the apples plucked from the tree.

Finally, there is a farmer. The farmer's job is to pluck the apples (one at a time!) from the tree and run them to the basket where they place (not throw) the apples inside. They have until the end of the song (which is not much time) to try and get all the apples into the basket.

Now, just to complicate things a little, the ring of students around the tree acts a little like a fence as they will perform an alternating clapping ostinato. One one beat they clap their own hands, but every second beat they will reach their hands out to the sides and clap their neighbours hands, thus closing the gate! This makes it even harder for the farmer who has to either duck under or wait until the next beat to move through. Kids absolutely love the challenge of beating the clock and trying to get all the apples into the basket in time.

Two apples

All these songs (plus some sewing patterns, magnet print-a-kits, a lesson plan and worksheets are available as part of my Apple pack on Teachers Pay Teachers. You can check it out here

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