Tuesday, 13 December 2016


'The song expresses the highest philosophy in language that reason does not understand.' ~ Arthur Schopenhauer
I am very fortunate to have been able to work with my daughter (TNT – The New Teacher), in the same school, for a couple of years.

I am also very proud to report that having seen her and the other dedicated young teachers in action, our children’s education is in very good hands!

TNT shares my firm belief in the endless benefits of song-based learning (how could she not?) and enthuses about the positive impact and results, whenever she has incorporated songs into her own teaching day.

As a teacher myself, it delights me to see my own daughter, not only so enthusiastic about helping children learn, but about helping them to enjoy and be involved in their learning, through song, and arts integration in general. This bodes well for a new generation of teachers and learners!

Evidence abounds, that active participation in music can help children in a number of key curriculum learning areas – literacy and numeracy, social and team skills, problem-solving and memory, just to name a few.

This particular post focuses on the use of song for literacy extension.

The rhythmic nature of songs has particular appeal to children, making them particularly useful resources when it comes to auditory learners. Song lyrics not only tell a story, but they can be rich in vocabulary and imagery, providing a perfect platform for building phonemic awareness and firm foundations for literacy, in the emergent reader.

Singing songs is invaluable for engaging and focusing children's attention while contributing towards their imaginative and emotional development, and helping them to make meaning out of things that happen in our world.

Songs, chants, poems, and raps all improve memory of content facts and details and provide a hook for retrieving information easily later. Here is a video of students singing our curriculum-aligned song, 'Workers in our Community'

©Lyrics: Nuala O'Hanlon, B.Ed; Cert Teaching
Music: Kathryn Radloff, B.A. (Hons) Psych.

  • The use of rhyme builds connections and relationships between words and concepts thereby creating context and meaning. Students hear the cadence of the rhyming word patterns and word segments
  • The use of rhythm turns what is being heard (the beats/syllables), into a kinesthetic sensation – it becomes an experience that is felt all over the body.
  • The use of repetition helps to reinforce concepts and 'stick' them in the memory bank!
Below, are a few very simple tips for achieving learning outcomes for literacy (use our FREE lyric sheet for this exercise!):

  • Play the song through a few times
  • Deconstruct the lyrics, pondering on their possible meaning and message
  • Listen for rhyming couplets/repetition of chorus/different instruments, etc.
  • Identify parts of the song: Intro, Chorus, Verse, Bridge, Outro...
  • Silent reading of lyrics
  • Identify and discuss the key theme of the song – often summarized in chorus
  • Comprehension Sheet, comprising questions based on lyrical content
  • Students read lyrics aloud with expression, to get a feel for the rhythm of the language
  • Compare reading a poem/song to the way one would read other text types, e.g. newspaper or story
  • Discuss the poetic elements of song
  • Students recount some of the key messages in the song
  • Students develop a word bank of key words, to be displayed and added to as a unit of work progresses
  • Research and write dictionary definitions of key words and use in sentences
  • Write a list of the Rhyming Couplets
  • Compose a cloze passage
  • Create own verses to add to the song
  • Discuss the use of punctuation in the song lyrics
  • Research the rules of punctuation and grammar in poetry, noting the way it differs from that  of other text types 
  • Discuss the use of grammar in the song to convey mood, meaning and create effect
  • Research the rules of punctuation and grammar in poetry, noting the way it differs from that of other text types, e.g. the use of capital letters at the beginning of each line.
Image: Photobucket

All of our curriculum-aligned songs extend literacy, and our latest, interactive product range, Curriculum Karaoke™  with its video format is proving very popular with teachers and students. This read, sing & learn along MP4 song & lyrics whiteboard video version of our original songs not only motivates and attracts even the most disengaged students and reluctant readers, it extends literacy, and achieves learning outcomes across other key subject areas.

CASE STUDY: Teacher/Librarian, Cherie, finds song lyrics excellent for engaging her students and extending their Literacy. ‘My students used to ask me why we were singing in Library time, until I explained to them that we’re actually studying poetry.There is a lot to be learned from reading and discussing the lyrics of curriculum-based songs, plus, we get a lot of enjoyment from singing the song together, reinforcing learning content.’ ~ Cherie Wilkinson, T/L

Video 1 ~ Integrating Curriculum Learning (Social Studies/H.S.I.E; Creative & Performing Arts; Literacy): Students learned our curriculum-aligned song as part of their unit of work, 'Workers In Our Community'

Video 2 ~ Integrating Literacy & Art: Students presented their item during a school assembly, singing and dramatizing the song, then reading sentences they'd written for artwork they'd created: 'I would like to be a... because...'.
Until next time, yours in singing to learn,
Nuala (

Nuala O'Hanlon
Teacher; Director,
'A Lesson in Every Lyric'®

A Review: ‘In terms of application to the classroom, and usability by teachers they rate a tick in every box.’ ~ Brendan Hitchens, teacher: Music In Action, A Magazine for Educators

Our curriculum-aligned songs & lesson materials are available as:

'A Lesson in Every Lyric'®

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