Bee, Bee, Bumblebee is one of those classic chants that works well in lower elementary to solidify the concept of quarter and barred eighth notes. The accompanying game is fun, easy to play, and a cinch for incorporating puppets.
My general sequence for teaching almost anything was game/movement, super short presentation, then practice (with manipulatives, independent singing, playing, etc.) The purpose of the game or movement is three-fold; it gets them interested in the concept, it gives them a much-needed energy release, and they begin to absorb the concept through repetition. The super short presentation has two benefits; it gives them a short rest from the movement and gives the teacher a chance to present/name the concept (e.g. This is a quarter note). The practice part is self-explanatory, especially to music educators!
Here’s the general sequence for playing the game:
- Students sit in a circle
- Teacher speaks the chant with bee puppet in hand while tapping students’ heads to the beat
- The student who is tapped on the word “out”, leaves the circle
- The game is continued until only one student (it) is left
- The rest of the students rejoin the original circle and “it” will now take over bee duties
- During the second round of play, teacher drops out of chanting and the class takes over
- Students will often start chanting or singing as a class long before you ask them to, so let them! Save your voice and take that opportunity to assess their skills.
- Games don’t always need to be competitive! My favorite type of game is collaborative, and I’m sure some of your students prefer this as well. Instead of a student getting out, have that person take over bee duties. This makes the game more collaborative and ensures that every student gets a chance to use the bee puppet
SOUNDS ON A BEAT
Once students can independently speak the chant with a steady beat, consider adding in a writing element. For this, I often used manipulatives. Any small object will do; poker chips, mini erasers, pennies, puffballs, dice, magnets, etc. Once you’ve passed out the manipulatives, have students write out one line of the chant. Then, have students continue to notate, line by line, until they’ve notated the whole chant. The example below shows poker chips being used to write out the first line from the chant, “Bee, bee, bumblebee”.
It’s always fun to add in little challenges to show students how much they can do. It’s also a sneaky way to keep the chant from getting boring. Here are a few ideas:
- Have students speak only the eighth notes, while speaking the quarter notes only in their “mind’s ear”
- Have them compose a four-beat chant using different words, which they will then have to notate using their manipulatives
- Have students come up with different animals the bee might sting, such as a dog or lamb
- Split the class into two groups; one group will clap only the eighth notes, the other group will stomp only the quarter notes
- Split the class into two groups; one group will play only the eighth notes using rhythms sticks, the other group will play only quarter notes using hand drums
Puppets are EXPENSIVE. If you’re anything like my old school, you get $50 every year as your “budget”. If you’re in this boat, here’s what you can do:
- Go to your local hardware store and ask for as many paint sticks as they’re willing to give you
- Search Pixabay, Unsplash, WikiMedia Commons, or other royalty-free collection for an image
- Cut out and laminate the image
- Attach it to the paint stick with tape or hot glue
- Bam! You have a puppet that kids can use