Songs That Teach (and Get Stuck in Our Heads)
January 21, 2011
And. Or. But. These are conjunctions, and now I have a song stuck in my head. Do you know the song I’m referring to? First aired in 1973 on a program called Schoolhouse Rock, the lyrics started out: "Conjunction Junction, what's your function? Hooking up words and phrases and clauses…" Now, does that ring a bell? The song featured a cartoon train engineer, and the catchy tune and lyrics had children not only singing along, but learning too! Other concepts were introduced in this manner - including math, money, politics, history, and science.
I recently discovered a series of books written by Michael Dahl that incorporates a musical tune that most children know and changes the lyrics in order to teach about historical events, people, and places. For example, Pass the Buck is about the faces and places on American money. The words can be sung to the tune of "This Old Man." The book incorporates factual bits throughout the book in addition to the primary "lyrics." At the back of the book, you can find the sheet music, and each stanza is written out in case someone wants to break out the musical instruments and provide accompaniment. You’ll also find some trivia, a glossary, information on resources to learn more about the topic, and an index.
MCPL has this six-book series in our catalog. Published in 2004 by Picture Window Books, the series includes books about Paul Revere and William Dawes, Molly Pitcher, George Washington crossing the Delaware River, the Boston Tea Party, and Betsy Ross.
Okay, so sing along with me: "This old man, he’s on one. He was the first elected one. He fought freezing cold and the Brits at Valley Forge. Guess his name! That’s right! It’s George!"