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 a free lesson plan template and rhythm visuals. You can use the lesson plan template as a guide or rough draft for your own lesson plan.
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. Thanks to Dancing Crayon Designs for the awesome clipart!
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.