Posted in 3rd Grade, 4th and 5th Grade, Chorus, Multicultural Activities

Paint the Town December!


The West School Chorus performed a special holiday musical last night: Paint the Town December!  The show was a great success, with 97 chorus students participating in the performance.  Santa even took time out of his busy schedule to make an appearance, can you believe it??!

The kids of Graysville do a community service project each year and paint all the shop windows on main street, to brighten their town up for the holidays.  Along the way, they met Mr. Ladin at the Dreidel Cradle, Ms. Abraham at the World Import Store, Mr. Scrooge at the Bank, and Senora Frida at the Inn.  By the end of the show, the dreary town of Graysville, USA went from looking like this….


to THIS!


Thank goodness for those Graysville kids and their holiday spirit!


And everyone was all smiles after the show…

Posted in 4th and 5th Grade, Fourth Grade, Multicultural Activities, Singing

African American Spirituals and “Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd”

Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd

In fourth grade, we have been learning about a type of song called a “spiritual.”  The term “spirituals” refers to songs that were created by enslaved African people in the United States.   Our primary focus was on learning the song “Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd.  We learned to sing the song, watched a wonderful Reading Rainbow movie, and performed a skit of the story as a class.

follow the drinking gourd

Wade in the Water

Another spiritual we learned to sing was “Wade in the Water.”  It is one of the fourth graders’ favorite songs to sing every year!  Wade in the Water features a “call and response” figure, where a soloist sings, and then the chorus “responds” with a phrase.

“Wade in the Water” tells of a method of escape- by treading through rivers and streams.  Slaves chose this route whenever possible, because the water would erase their scent, throwing off the dogs used to track and capture them.  “Israelites” and “Moses” refer to men and women who would show them the way to freedom.  The song promises also that God will trouble the water: stir it up, giving it a power that would shield them from slave catchers.

Here are some audio clips of classes singing the song.

Wade in the Water: Sung by Mrs. Morrison’s Class (Soloists: Brady, Sophia, Julia, and Melissa)


Wade in the Water: Sung by Mrs. Morrison’s Class (Soloists:


Wade in the Water: Sung by Ms. Keeley’s Class (Soloists: Hannah, Connor, Kyle, Celia, and Mary)


Wade in the Water: Sung by Ms. Grattan’s Class (Soloists: Megan, Eryn, Kayla, Abby S., Sam, Cam, and Ryan)


Tue Tue

To accompany the unit, students also learned the African children’s song “Tue Tue,” a song from Ghana, which is sung in the Ashanti language.  Here are the lyrics:

Tue tue, barima tue tue
Tue tue, barima tue tue

Abofra ba ama dawa dawa
 Tue tue
Abofra ba ama dawa dawa 
Tue tue

Barima tue tue
Barima tue tue
Barima tue tue

Of course everyone wanted to know the translation of the lyrics, but it is very tricky to find!   After a bit of internet research, it seems that the song is an apology song: an apology to an elderly man for accidentally tripping him and causing him to fall flat on his face.  Not a very exciting translation in the end!  😛  Despite the translation, it’s a very fun song to sing, and there is a clapping game that goes with it.  Pictures to come soon!


Posted in 1st and 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th and 5th Grade, Dance Activities, Fourth Grade, Movement Activities, Multicultural Activities

All-School Dance Unit

This week, Ms. Friedmann’s music classes and Mr. Powers’ gym classes have been teaming up in the gym for a dance unit!  Some of the dances we have been learning include La Raspa (Mexican Hat Dance) from Mexico, Jibidi Ibida from France, Troika from Russia, Seven Jumps from Denmark, the Hokey Pokey, the Cha Cha Slide, the Cupid Shuffle, the Bunny Hop, the Alley Cat, the Twist, and the Chicken Dance.

dancing 13

dancing 9

dancing 10

5th grade students dance the Troika


3rd grade students dance La Raspa, or The Mexican Hat Dance

chicken dance

2nd grade students dancing The Chicken Dance!

mirroring 2 mirroring mirroring 3

1st grade students doing a mirroring exercise.