Tekoa, designing a love bird puppet.

I’ve written about it before, but at Abundant Life, we sing all the time.   We sing to mark special events, we sing to transition between activities, we sing when something special happens, we sing as we dress for the outside, we sing around the table at meal and snack time, we sing when we need help, and we sing just because we feel like singing.  Singing does many things for our bodies and spirits: transforming our speech into melody with rhythm and accent, drawing us into a place of thoughtfulness about what we say and do, and connecting us with our inner creative muse.  Singing in tempo swells our innate understanding of rhythm and patterns – foundational numeracy skills.  Crafting spontaneous songs builds storytelling and rhyming skills which are at the heart of literacy.

Lately, we have also taken up the fine art of choral poetry recitation, better known as finger plays.  Finger plays accomplish some of the same things as singing – the repetitive verses contain the elements of mathematical and reading readiness: patterns, predictability, rhyming, and rhythm.  While on a field trip to the library last year, the storyteller did the famous “Two Little Blackbirds” finger play with us, but it was close to Valentine’s Day, so instead of “Blackbirds”, she replaced the lyric with “Lovebirds.”  We liked the change, and kept it.  We have recently rediscovered this finger play, and have created a whole collection of verses to add.

Here is the first verse:

Two little love birds sitting on a hill
One named Jack and one named Jill (both thumbs bounce out from behind your back where they were hidden)
Fly away Jack (one thumb “flies” away back behind your back)
Fly away Jill (the other thumb “flies” away behind your back)
Come back Jack (the first thumb comes back)
Come back Jill (the second thumb comes back)
*Mhwa!*  (both thumbs kiss…after all, these are love birds!)

Now, we have sung this rhyme hundreds of times, but recently, we have started to mix it up a bit.  The crew has loved it, and it has become one of our go-to songs.  Here are some of our new verses.

Two little love birds watching the snow
One named fast (sing this really fast…make your thumb sprint out from behind your back)
And the other named _____ (sing this very slow…make your thumb fly slowly)

I’ll pause here to describe a bit about my methods around these rhymes.  Making predictions based on contextual understandings is a skill children begin to nurture in their early years.  The ability to fit words into the context and make predictions based on textual clues are skills that are very helpful to young children learning to read.  Think about this: you know that the word to fill this blank is “slow”.  You know that because it rhymes with “snow”, because it is the opposite of “fast”, and because of my verbal and non-verbal clues.  Amazing how much background you have that helps you participate!  Back to the song…

Two little love birds sitting so proud
One named soft and the other named loud!

With each verse, keep in mind that the verbal and non-verbal clues are important for children.  Changing the tone/volume of your voice, altering your facial expressions, and representing the birds with the way your thumbs move are all ways to help children figure out the name of the mystery birds.  Again, back to the song…

Two little love birds building a fort
One named tall and the other named short!

Two little love birds watching the snow
One named high and the other named low!

Two little love birds dancing tippy, tappy
One named grumpy and the other named happy!  (This is a favorite lately.  I think I do a pretty comical grumpy!)

Two little love birds sitting in the cold
One named young and the other named old!

I’d love to hear any new verses you have to share with us that we might incorporate into our song.  If you’d like to add a verse, put it in the comments below and I’ll let you know how it was received!  Happy singing!