These are fabulous songs that can be done from young classes at Day Care centres right up to upper primary. They help in the learning of numbers, colours, body parts, animal names, actions and Monogatari (like fairy tales) can be incorporated into them. You can listen to all of the songs using the above playlist. These are all fun, up-beat versions of the songs.
Songs are a great way to begin a lesson. After the Japanese routines and greetings that you do at the start of the class, if you then transition into songs, you can get straight into speaking and singing a lot of Japanese very early in the lesson.
The order that I usually teach the songs is:
1. Greeting Song (Ohayou, Ohayou, Konnichi wa, konnichi wa, sayounara, sayounara, ja mata or mata raishuu). We sing this one without any backup music, though there are various versions around.
2. Kaeru no uta, the Frog Song. I teach the actions even the first time and have them repeating after me for a number of weeks before we go right through the song all together. This can be done as a round in 2 or 3 groups. Volunteer teachers and Japanese students are fabulous at times like this.
3. Kobutanukitsuneko (Shiritori Song or literally translated; Piglet, raccoon, fox and cat) . Very easy song, lively music and it gradually gets faster as it progresses. Prep to Yr 4 or so think this song is hilarious and really enjoy it. The actions are explained in the song, there is also an explanation of the actions here.
4. Guu Choki Paa is fun, and they learn how to make shapes and animals with scissors, paper and rock. The version here is boppy and fun, just a bit too long for my liking between verses.This time can be used for prepping the class for the next actions. It is quite quick to learn and they sing beautifully.
Many versions are on YouTube to get a feel for it.
Students can make up their own animal shapes using Guu Choki Paa as the base. As this is easy, nearly all students will participate as they ‘feel they can do it’.
6. Kira Kira ; Twinkle Twinkle is excellent as they know the tune. It is also quite calming and will settle students if needed. I do the actions from a Japanese Sign Language Book.
When each word/phrase has an action, students are very focussed and try to keep up while singing (also no time to be doing the wrong thing…..)
7. Musunde hiraite – ‘Open and close’ is easy to learn and sing and quick too. Actions are just as the song explains.
8. ‘Genkotsuyama no Tanukisan’ is quite easy for students to learn. I have taught it to Prep classes. In saying that, my Year 6 and 7 students still love it. This version has 3 chances to play Jan-Ken-Pon, it is a perfect length and sounds great. You can teach the students to do a reaction, depending on the outcome of their Jan-Ken-Pon. See the more detailed description in Fun Songs.
9. Ito-maki maki song is also lots of fun, easy to learn and students love it. There are many variations; here is just one of them.
10. Tontontonton Hige-jiisan is easy as well as educational and culture rich. 2 of the characters are Kobu-jiisan, the man from a famous monogatari (fairytale) called Kobutori-jiisan. I have made a kamishibai of this book, also an eBook of it for the projector. After we read the story together, we learn the song, giving it more meaning. The other famous character is Tengu, a mythical creature with a long nose. There are many activities associated with Tengu-san also.
Some of the actions to the songs I have had illustrated. Many are on YouTube which makes it so much easier to visualise how the actions tie in with the words.
Enjoy singing with your classes or your kids at home. The students remember the songs long after they have left school. When my students meet Japanese people outside of school, out of anything they could say or do, they tend to sing to them. This is the thing that they seem to want to showcase the most.
Enjoy ! たのしんでください！