Singing Spontaneously

Singing is perhaps the second most important thing I do for children, right behind reading-aloud.  The biggest impact seems to come when singing is spontaneous. Lunchtime was a case in point: “You Are My Sunshine” lunchbox note.


Savannah’s lunchbox often includes a note, full of loving words from Mom and Dad. When I pulled out this note, I just had to sing it. The note was meant for a song. Yes, I sang it to Savannah (and everybody else) in a big voice with my hands on my heart and my arms all over the place.

It meant the world to Savannah.  Singing can do that.

When Colin and his mom skipped into school singing “You are my Sunshine”, the feeling of that song remained with Colin long after his mom left– happiness, or I should say sunshine.  What did I do?  I sang with him, and then we decided to teach the song to the class, together.  Oh, how the children loved that song!  We knew that it was Milly the quilter’s favorite song, so we spontaneously made her a music video.

I find that a song can appear anywhere with children, including the bathroom. Sitting on the waiting bench with children often becomes a place for “Down By The Bay” rhyming, and practicing rhythm with our hands and feet.  Children who are shy love to squeeze together with me on that tiny bench and sing; pretend made-up songs make them laugh and feel comfortable.  The layers of hesitation peel away, and they join in with gusto.  Yes, singing can do that.

Every day, just before chapter reading, I recite Goodnight Moon.  Often I sing those wonderful words, in a spontaneous way.  Sometimes I just make up a tune.  Other times I do a rap with clapping, or a lullaby.  Regardless, singing spontaneously works.

Frankly, singing brings life to words, and to children.  It is the voice of the heart.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
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34 Responses to Singing Spontaneously

  1. magarisa says:

    Absolutely delightful! How wonderful to be able to bring shy kids out of their shell by singing spontaneously. 😊

  2. What a wonderful experience for those children. Not sure my children and certainly not myself ever had the experience of a singing teacher. That could have made school so much more enjoyable. They pay me NOT to sing. 🙂

  3. Norah says:

    This is beautiful, Jennie, and I agree wholeheartedly. I used to do lots of singing in my class. I used a beautiful set of affirmation songs by Anne Infante, starting each day with one. Often when the children were working during the day, they would just break out into one of her songs. One would start and they would all join in. It was wonderful.
    Thank you for sharing the video. It was lovely to see you and the children. I’m sure Milly enjoyed it too.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Norah. I love your story of starting the day singing, and then the children doing it on their own at random times. That’s what makes a difference. Best you you!

  4. M. L. Kappa says:

    Singing and reading, yes! Cost so little, mean so much 💕🌺

  5. Pingback: Singing Spontaneously | O LADO ESCURO DA LUA

  6. what a wonderful video 🙂 I loved every minute of it and the positive effect it had on the child. You are a great teacher!

  7. Lovely post, Jennie, and great video. I think music is part of us all the way down to our heartbeats and singing has a way of touching our cores. How wonderful that you sing with the kids and encourage them to sing loud and strong and together 🙂

    • Jennie says:

      “…all the way down to our heartbeats”. Yes! Your words are perfect. Thank you for that. And, thank you for your kind comments. I am the lucky one.

  8. Thanks Jennie for sharing this delightful post

  9. Fabulous… Loved that video too.. Song and Singing opens up the heart.. And your vibration can be felt.. I can just imagine you singing with all of those gestures to You are my sunshine.. What a Happy classroom you have and oh to be a child with you as such a wonderful teacher. 🙂 ❤

  10. marciadid says:

    My five year old grandson loves to sing. I have a hard time memorizing lyrics but he doesn’t seem to mind. Singing is joyful!

  11. How wonderful, and the video is great, too! I was just recently reading how important singing is for releasing stress, as well as for other health benefits. I decided right then, I have to sing more and will now break out into ‘You Are My Sunshine.’ As always, you’re getting these kids off on the right track in life, Jennie!

  12. Love this post! I have always had singing to be a part of every school day for my students. Sometimes, I am the silliest person in the class…just having fun! Sometimes, I am the most serious…but, we have music to return to after we focus on other learning! It works!

  13. sheldons51 says:

    I love this post. I don’t understand why music isn’t included in the classroom. Songs are a way for kids to have fun, feel better or stop feeling afraid. I still songs like You Are My Sunshine. When I was a child and even now, I still like to sing while I walk or ride my bike. Quietly. I wish there were more teachers like you.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Sheldon! I don’t understand it, either. Music can help children learn (auditory learners). I remember learning how to spell ‘encyclopedia’ because Jimminy Cricket sang it. I remember that the sun is 93 million miles away because the Kellogg’s commercial sang it. I think teachers feel they need to have a good singing voice, but that makes no difference to a child. Or, they feel music can only be taught in a structured lesson. What a shame. Again, many thanks!

  14. Oh Jennie!!!! I love this post. I almost started crying. And you sang it to Milly, that is perfect.

    You know, my mom loved the word sunshine. I got her a mirror once that said “Good morning, Sunshine.” Thanks for reminding me of this.

    Blessings xoxoxo

  15. I’m new to the blogging life and was wondering if you could read my work and offer any criticsim and follow me I’d appreciate it as i am interested in literature and spoken word and lack a bit of confidence Thank you for your time and have a nice day

  16. srbottch says:

    Jenny, as the weather becomes more wintry, Ive been singing winter songs at my crossing post. this morning was Dean Martin’s (the kids are clueless as to who he was), ‘It’s a Marshmallow World I n The Winter’. the younger ones (middle school) get a kick but even the high schoolers enjoy it. One gave me an A+ .. and I cant sing. But know what, they all head off to their respective buildings with a smile. And that makes my day. I know, I know, where’s my story. I’ll get to it.

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