Sunday, April 10, 2016

Three Fun Games and Activities to Encourage Vocal Awareness

I'm sharing some ideas and thoughts about encouraging vocal awareness in children. These activities are probably best done by Preschool to Primary grade children-but some could be easily adapted for older students who are new to singing. Hopefully, I'll give you some new ways to encourage vocal play to help children find their singing voices.

Encourage shy students to explore their HIGH and LOW voices.
Develop HIGH and LOW vocal skills.
PROPS: Puppets, flash cards or pictures.
A simple game you can play using some "Animal" flashcards is "I'm pretending to be ..."
If you don't have flash cards or puppets-then brain storm with students some of their favorite zoo or farm animals. Be sure to choose some that will encourage HIGH and some LOW voices. Write them on the board or a piece of paper. Have all the students sit in a circle. Stand in the middle of the circle and say, "I'm pretending to be. . . a "lion!" Then imitate a lion crawling and growling. Have everyone imitate your actions. Then spin and count to 3-choose the next player.  Some rules I like to use are: 1-stay in your personal space, 2-only use each animal one time. That's why it's helpful to put the names on the board-you can cross them off as you go.
I used paper plates I purchased from a local retailer and just added a popsicle stick to the back:
                                 Hefty Zoo Pals Rainforest Plates - 1 Pack of 20 Plates, 7.4in
This game is especially great at the beginning of the year when everyone is new and mostly shy in Kindergarten. This game can help those shy students feel comfortable sharing in class. If someone doesn't want to take a turn-I help them. I might ask them what animal and then let the class help them the first time.
Begin by letting students create their own sounds. Let them explore their voices using HIGH and LOW sounds.
Demonstrate as needed using your HIGH and LOW voice.
HIGH: Tell students the animals are “babies” and make high sounds.
LOW: Use the lower voice for the “mommy” and “daddy”.
A variation is to hand out puppets of different animals or the flash cards. Ask students to put them on the floor until it's their turn. Work around the circle sharing animal sounds.

This activity can also be paired with "Carnival of the Animals" music. Students can act out the different animals to the music and then share how the animal might sound. You can do this as a whole group.
As you play the game you can ask students if the animal sang high or low, or, I will have them "show" me what they hear by holding their hand up high or low.
Older students may enjoy “creating” or “composing” short melodic phrases using sol-la-mi variations on animal sounds.

Students will sing alone.
Students will demonstrate HIGH and LOW.
PROPS: Bean Bag or "passing" object.

Once you have established some activities in your classroom, have all the students stand in the circle. Take turns having students "echo" sing to the class. Call the "echo-er" the "Cool-Cat" and call everyone else a "copy-cat". The "Cool-cat" get's to choose the next "Cool-cat". 

Students will use their voices to imitate the "path" of the prop. 
Students will experience creating HIGH and LOW sounds that are determined by the "Director".
Students will follow the "Director".
PROPS: Scarf, baton or "wand".
Have the director stand in front of the class. It might be better to have students stand in rows so that everyone can see the "Director". Have the director use a "wand" or a "scarf" to show a path. Ask the class to show the path using their voices.
Begin with open vowels ee, ay, ah, oh, oo.  Start with small intervals (sol-mi) and five tone scale, or Pentatonic scale vocalizes.
Then you can  add “m” or “n” before the vowel sounds.
How about using what you've got in your room?
I've used colored Popsicle sticks . . .
 Pot sticks with a Styrofoam bunny attached . . . .
and a shaker . . . 

I've had a lot of fun using these activities in my classroom. I've created thematic Vocal Explorations for my students to use through out the year and it really makes a difference in their singing capabilities. They know what it "feels" like to sing high and pretty, and to sing strong and low. If you're interested, I have different ones available in my store. This one is the latest: 

What are your favorite vocal awareness activities?

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