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  • Writer's pictureJenny Ferris

Story Time

Here are two picture story books that I have been enjoying using in my teaching lately.


"Mortimer" by Robert Munsch tells the story of a young boy who simply doesn't want to go to bed. All the various members of his family take turns marching him up stairs to bed, but he simply refuses to sleep and runs down stairs again.

I love exploring the natural melodic contours built into the book by accompanying each "clomp clomp clomp" up and down the stairs with some notes from my chime bar stair case.

(I use this great set from Optimum Percussion along with my matching set of rainbow coloured chime bars)

When my preps are learning about high and low sounds, they love having the chance to come up and play the sounds of Mortimer ascending or descending the stair case.

Tanka Tanka Skunk

"Tanka Tanka Skunk" by Steve Webb is a rhythmic chanting book that introduces our two friends - an elephant named Tanka and a skunk named, you guessed it.... Skunk!

The book goes on to make rhythmic chants out of their names and also introduces a whole host of animal friends who love making music together!

It's great for students who are beginning to learn about taa & ti-ti as a form of rhythm practice and the kids really like getting involved with the performance of the book once they've heard it a few times (I'm a big believer in the first time through a book being a performance experience where the students are simply listening - as well as practising audience etiquette!)

Once the chants are familiar, students can join in on the repetitive refrain of "skunka tanka skunka tanka, tanka tanka skunk!" using their voices or a variety of body percussion for an extra challenge (for example, put all the skunkas on your knees and all the tankas on your shoulders)

I like to further this experience as well by adding some instrumental echoes. Half the class gets tambours and half the class gets claves. The tambours play all the tankas and the claves play all the skunks. Always make sure the students switch roles so they get to experience both sides of the activity!

Both these books are widely available through a variety of online sources. Why not try them out with your students soon?

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