World Music Day 21 June 2021

Music is a very important part of my everyday life both personally and professionally. I always have a song in my head, whether it is the last song I heard on the radio or one I am currently teaching. Any teachers who have ever taught a text book I have written will know how important music and stories (which in themselves can be musical) are to me when teaching pre-school and primary children.

Boyd Brewer said

“We all know how greatly music affects our feelings and energy levels! Without even thinking about it, we use music to create desired moods, to make us happy, to enjoy movement and dance, to energize, to bring back powerful memories, to help us relax and focus.  Music is a powerful tool for our personal expression within our daily lives – it helps ‘set the scene’ for many important experiences.”

Boyd Brewer, C, (1995). “Integrating Music in the Classroom.”

As J.M. Barrie says about the music in Peter Pan,

Free image from:

In the classroom, music can help the children to ‘fly’ in so many ways.

Music can make classroom management easy in English.

Find a traditional song that you can quickly and easily think up new classroom instructions to. The children know what you want them to do and where you want them to be.

I frequently use the ‘Happy Birthday’ tune to ‘sing’ instructions.

Please, sit on your chair.

Please, sit on your chair.

Everybody. Everybody.

Please, sit on chair.

Please, be quiet! Please, be quiet! Everybody. Everybody. Please, be quiet!

…It’s clean-up time. It’s clean-up time. Everybody. Everybody. It’s clean-up time.

or this idea I got many years ago from a colleague, who in turn learnt it from another teacher but good practice that works needs to be shared.

Everybody’s sitting down

Tune: London Bridge is falling down

Everybody’s sitting down, sitting down, sitting down.

Everybody’s sitting down. One, two, three.

to which I also sing:

Everybody tidy up, tidy up, tidy up.

Everybody tidy up. One, two, three.

and many other verses.

Music and songs for meaning with TPR (Total Physical Response) or actions:

✓ give clarification of meaning. As Murphey (1992) said, “With young children, language divorced from action seems to be mostly forgotten.”

✓ children can listen before they produce

✓ help children channel their natural energy into the learning process.

– American Sign Language for when you cannot think of actions. I use this website a lot for inspiration!

Music for Motivation

✓ Murphey (1992) refers to S-S-I-T-H-P, Song Stuck in the Head Phenomenon. This is when we cannot get a catchy song out of our head.
✓ So if we expose children to a song with the right language, they can leave our class and spend the rest of the day singing our curriculum!
✓ Music, songs and chants motivate children and can make them feel like they know lots of English as it helps them learn chunks of language easily.

Music to help Memory

✓ Many children are studying content in a foreign language (CLIL).
✓ Music and song are great devices to help them remember this new content or any content in English.
✓ Smitherman in Prescott (2005) states that, “With music, the steps are already implanted in your brain. Students can hum while a test is being taken – it’s right there in their heads.”

I am currently using some of my own songs along with some of the great songs from ELT Songs to do my English through dance, drama and movement classes.

As many of you know my motto is based on Alfred Mercier’s quote;

“What we learn with pleasure, we learn forever!”

by me (Hee hee!)

Singing and dancing are fun and children enjoy these classes no matter their age or ability. A ‘win-win’ for teachers and their young learners!


Brewer, C, (1995). “Integrating Music in the Classroom.”
Murphey, T. (1992) Music and song. Oxford University Press
Prescott, J.O., (2005), “Music in the classroom – an instructor’s handy guide for bringing music into your classroom.” on

Leave a comment »

Refugee week 14-20 June

Sorry to have been silent for a while but I felt the need to write today.

You may or may not be aware that this is Refugee Week.

If you work with children that have no experience of what it is like to be a refugee, it is so important that they understand what other children might be experiencing as this will help to develop their empathy for others. Just putting yourself in someone else’s shoes contributes a little to building this empathy. I would also use this story with teenagers.

The day war came by Nicole Davies is a beautiful story that deals with losing life as you know it to war. A tear-jerker at times but a very necessary comment on what others are dealing with in their lives.

Amazon says of the picture book. “Imagine if, on an ordinary day, war came. Imagine it turned your town to rubble. Imagine going on a long and difficult journey – all alone. Imagine finding no welcome at the end of it. Then imagine a child who gives you something small but very, very precious.”

My name is not refugee by Kate Milner is another wonderful book on the topic.

As the book is described on Amazon “A young boy discusses the journey he is about to make with his mother. They will leave their town, she explains, and it will be sad but also a little bit exciting. They will have to say goodbye to friends and loved ones, and that will be difficult. They will have to walk and walk and walk, and although they will see many new and interesting things, it will be difficult at times too. A powerful and moving exploration that draws the young reader into each stage of the journey, inviting the chance to imagine the decisions he or she would make.”

The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Rauf

My son and I read this book at the start of the pandemic in 2020 and we loved it.

Watch Onjali talking on Youtube about the inspiration for the book.

Check out the following website for some great activities to do with children and young people.

Some great suggestions of stories for all ages.

I leave you with a Read aloud of The Day War Came

Leave a comment »

Malala Yousafzai – Gender Equality SDG5

To quote Malala, “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world!”

I have just bought Malala´s lovely story for children, Malala’s Magic Pencil. I can’t wait to read it to the children in school. Have a listen to the story read on Youtube.

It is actually quite easy to tell the children about Malala in English, even groups whose English is limited. I make everything present tense.

This is Malala Yousafzai.

She loves school.

It is 2007 in Swat in Pakistan.

The government says girls cannot go to school.

Malala has a blog.

She says it is not fair that girls cannot go to school.

In 2012, a man shoots Malala because he thinks the government it right. She survives.

She is only 15 years old.

Malala gets the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.

Malala is now famous all over the world.

Leave a comment »

Earth Day – April 22

I am really passionate about raising primary pupils’ awareness of how they can improve the Earth, after all, it is their future! Earth Day, on 22nd April, is the perfect date to work directly on a number of the Sustainable Development Goals. Goals 13, 14 and 15 are the most obvious but many others like goals 6, 7, 11 & 12 are also ones we may want to concentrate on with our primary-age pupils.

It is important to look at what pupils can do themselves to help the Earth as, although the children are willing and ready to save the earth, it may seem like a daunting prospect to them.

Children can be encouraged to:

Reduce consumption –

Turn off lights to cut down on the electricity the use.

Turn off the water when they are brushing their teeth to save water.

When possible, to walk or ride their bike to limit going by car!

Reuse things –

Take your their own reusable bags (bags for life) to the supermarket.

Use both sides of a piece of paper.

Use a reusable water bottle.


Help their parents to recycle.

Divide up rubbish to put in the correct bins.

Take rubbish to the recycling.

Here is a link to a video I made for pupils and their parents to celebrate Earth Day during the general lockdown in 2020.

The story and song are from Learn with us 3 (Oxford University Press).

Leave a comment »

Ten-year-old trying to fight climate change

Leave a comment »

Happy International Women’s Day

Monday 8th March is International Women’s Day. Dress in purple if you want to show your support for gender equality.

Love this video! Even the youngest of these children can see how unfair it is that the boy is rewarded more for the same job! If only the decision makers and CEOs in industry start leading by example.

As teachers, we need to be aware of the images with use in class with our students. Children can have stereo-typining ingrained! We can change that!

Check out this fabulous experiment done by a teacher trying to challenge any assumptions her pupils might have on whether professions are gender specific!



Leave a comment »

Fairytale Day 26 February

Who doesn’t love a good fairy tale? It could be a traditional tale or a real-life tale.

With children, we can go with traditional tales like Little Red Riding hood. Here in Learn with us 1, I gave the fairytale a twist so we are working on food:

Or the traditional tale of the tortoise and the hare which I tell here as Mr Rabbit and Mr. Turtle from Learn with us 1.

There are plenty of real-life fairy tales like the one of Owen and Mzee, which the children love:

Enjoy Fairytale Day!

Leave a comment »

Today is unofficial Cat Holiday

Although International Cat Day isn’t until 8 August, 22 February has been adopted by Internet users from a festival which orginated in Japan.

Just read this article about cats being the unsung heroes of the pandemic! We have got three and they certainly keep us occupied and amused, so I can understand why cat owners have voted that they felt less alone during the pandemic!

Can’t you see we are trying to work!

I have to say that for the children in my English classes and my Zumbini babies and toddlers, Pete the cat is still their favourite:

Check out Pete the cat’s website for more stories, songs and materials:

Leave a comment »

World Day for Social Justice

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is railway-1758208_1920.jpg

20 February is the World Day for Social Justice and the idea behind this day is to encourage people to think more about social justice and how there is still a wide gap between the rich and the poor.

This day actually highlights key concerns in the Sustainable Development Goals like poverty, exclusion, and unemployment.

The children in our classes may feel overwhelmed by this and that there is not much they can do as an individual or indeed as a child but if they are connected to the Internet, they can always remember to click on the Greater Good link to combat world hunger. It’s free and the site’s sponsors fund food and support for the hungry.

If the children are worried about animals, they could also click on:

Whilst they are there they can also contribute to the environment by clicking on:

If they click on:

the site’s sponsors fund food for hungry people and animals, health care, education and other important causes.

Leave a comment »


Just looking for materials to work on Sustainable Development Goals and came across these lovely poems by Topher Kearby on empathy and kindness.

Leave a comment »