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I have a lesson idea to present to you, but first, let’s talk about squirrels.

They are everywhere this time of year, running all over the place and cramming things into their mouths. They aren’t limited to picking up a single acorn. I can personally attest to watching a squirrel run across our parking lot with an apple dangling from his mouth. I guess he wanted a little variety with his usual diet of nuts. Don’t we all? Anyway, squirrels are in abundance and their daily habits this time of year go a long way in reminding me that it’s fall. If you live in a climate like mine (with four distinct seasons), then your students have probably enjoyed the occasional squirrel antics.

This is precisely why I think Hop Old Squirrel is a great song to trot out at this time of year. It’s repetitive, easy to learn, and even easier to teach. Today’s lesson idea comes with the lesson plan template and visuals shown in the images below. You can use the lesson plan template as a guide or rough draft for your own lesson plan. The empty box at the bottom of the template allows you to write out your own activity ideas or any other information you want to include.

Here are some activities you can use while introducing and teaching this song:

1. Sing the song, then ask the students what they heard the squirrel doing (hopping). Have students discuss other actions they’ve seen from squirrels. Write down their answers. Then, sing the song again, this time replacing the word “hop” with the action words. Tell the students that each time they hear a new word, they must perform the action. For example, if you sing “clap old squirrel”, they have to clap.

2. Once students have internalized the song and can sing it back to you accurately, identify the short and long sounds in the “hop old squirrel” rhythm pattern. The images below show a few ways you could display the rhythm pattern. Click on the image to download a copy.

3. Challenge students to think of another animal that has the same long sound as the squirrel. Offer up a few examples, such as rabbit and bird, to provide contrast and guide them to the correct rhythm. Write down the names of the animals they suggest. Then, separate the students according to the animal they choose.

Option a) If you have a tablet, ask them to sing the song using the name of the animal they chose, while you create an audio or video recording. Create a QR code from the recordings to display on a bulletin board outside your classroom for parents and other guests to view.

Option b) Give each student a piece of paper, pencil, and crayons. Have them fold the paper in half and draw a picture of the animal they chose on the right side of the paper. Then, ask them what objects would go with the animal they chose. For example, bird = worms or bear = bees. Ask them to draw a picture showing the short sounds of the rhythm pattern on the left side of their paper. Many students struggle with right versus left, so be sure to project an image that will help remind them of the difference as they draw. Use the finished papers as evidence of learning and/or display them on a bulletin board.

Click on each of the images below to download a free copy from Dropbox.

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clipart via Dancing Crayon Designs


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I hope this lesson idea is helpful to you in the following months as the days continue to get shorter and you drink more caramel apple ciders than is necessary for one human being (maybe that’s just me). I would love to put out more lesson ideas just like this in the coming months. So, if you liked today’s post, please leave a comment letting me know that this post was helpful to you. I would love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading,