When I started playing blues songs for my first grade students, I never imagined I was introducing a fantastic launching point for thematic, standards-based teaching. We soon formed The Kids Like Blues Band, and since last March we’ve used blues songs as a springboard for teaching academic content standards in reading, writing, listening, speech, social studies, technology, and the visual and performing arts. So far we’ve played at a street fair, for staff and students at the Cal State San Marcos College of Education, and even live onlocal TV news and KPBS TV. We’re a real band, and the students are fully engaged, learning and rocking!
Happy to Sing the Blues
How does this method work? First, I introduce a song and apply the rhythm and cadence of these lyrics to an understanding of the historical background. Songs are carefully selected to have appropriate levels of syllabication, vocabulary, imagery and subject matter that lead into history, myths or folktales. Students learn phonics through pointing and tracking to lyrics on score sheets kept in individual student binders.