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It’s a long story, but I have somehow landed the job of ‘song time leader‘ at mums and tots (and I only visited the baby group for first time 7 sessions ago!). It’s only a 10 minute slot each week but it’s just another thing to add onto the ‘to do’ list.
Then, I came across the idea of Song Sacks. They take all the planning out of song time (win for me!) and they can be used in a group setting or as a fun activity for you and your little one to do at home (win for me again!).
How The Song Sack Works
The idea is that you fill a sack (mine was a 30x45cm drawstring bag) with toys that each relate to a nursery rhyme. The children delve into the bag and pull out a toy and everyone sings the relevant song. (It is possible to just do it with pictures rather than toys, as described here, but I think children respond much better to something tactile.)
To put my song sack together, I just looked through my daughter’s nursery rhyme book and wrote down a possible toy for each one. I’ve added my list at the bottom of this post so feel free to use that.
Then I printed it out and hit the charity shops to see what they had! I managed to get 14 items for less than £10 so it really doesn’t cost a lot, and my 18mth old and 5yr old both love playing with it (as do the children at mums and tots).
Items To Go Into Your Song Sack
Here is my list of possible toys for your song sack (please add more if you think of any):
- BOAT: Row, row, row your boat
- FISH: 1-2-3-4-5 Once I caught a fish alive
- WATERING CAN or SHELL: Mary, Mary quite contrary
- RUBBER DUCK: 5 little ducks went swimming one day
- TEDDY BEAR: Round and round the garden
- SPIDER: Incy wincy spider
- TRACTOR: Old MacDonald had a farm
- RABBIT: See the little bunnies sleeping
- BUS: The wheels on the bus
- SHEEP: Baa baa black sheep
- CLOCK or MOUSE: Hickory dickory dock
- HORSE: Horsey, horsey don’t you stop
- DOG: How much is that doggy in the window
- HUMAN FIGURE: Head, shoulders, knees and toes
- TEAPOT: I’m a little teapot
- FRYING PAN: Five fat sausages sizzling in the pan
- GLOVE: Tommy Thumb, where are you?
- MONKEY: Five little monkeys jumping on the bed
- FACE CLOTH: This is the way we wash our face (Mulberry bush)
- SOLDIER: The grand old duke of York
- INSTRUMENT: I am the music man
- FROG: Five little speckled frogs
- BUN: Five current buns in a baker’s shop
- STRING: Wind a bobbin up
- TEETHING RING: Ring ‘O’ Roses
How to use the song sack
Choose about 15 items to go into the song sack and try to start with nursery rhymes that the children already know.
Sit the children in a circle. Then ask for a volunteer to come and choose a toy from the bag. Let them stick their hand into the bag (without looking!) and pull something out. Then they need to hold it up for the rest of the group to see.
Now sing the relevant song all together.
I recommend arriving with the same 15 items for a few sessions, so that the children learn how it works. Once they’re confident with the process, you can start to swap new items in to keep the song session fresh. I would only add 2 or 3 new toys at a time, though, so that the children aren’t overwhelmed. They’ll also have their favourites that they’ll miss if they don’t appear! Ours were The Wheels on the Bus and Sleeping Bunnies. The children wanted these every week!
The song sack is a great way to get everyone involved in the song time – even small babies can grab onto a toy to “choose” the next song. This helps to give the children a feeling of control and independence. And, because the same songs are being repeated at each session, the children learn them and start to join in very quickly.
This is a snap of the items I currently have in my Song Sack:
Themed Song Sacks
Another idea is to make a themed song sack. There are two ways to do this – either make a whole sack for one song, or choose a theme and choose lots of songs that relate to that theme.
To create a song sack around a single song, it needs to be a song that has a lot of verses that can be sung in any order. Then at each verse, you choose an item out of the song sack to tell everyone what verse to sing next. For example, to make an Old MacDonald Song Sack, fill your bag with farm animals and ask the children to pick one out for each verse.
Here are a few other ideas:
- Old MacDonald Had A Farm
- London Bridge Is Falling Down
- The Wheels on the Bus
- This is the Way I Brush my Teeth (here we go round the mulberry bush)
Song sacks can easily fit into the themes that you are doing in nursery. Simply look at your theme and choose lots of songs that relate to it. Then find objects for each song.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Insect Nursery Rhymes
- There’s a worm at the bottom of the garden
- Incy Wincy Spider
- Ladybird, ladybird fly away home
- Little Miss Muffet
- The ants came marching one by one, hurrah
Transport Nursery Rhymes
- The Wheels on the Bus
- The big ships sails on the alley, alley, oh
- We’re driving in our car (the farmer’s in his den)
- The runaway train
- Row, row, row your boat
Animal Nursery Rhymes
- Old MacDonald Had A Farm
- Baa Baa Black Sheep
- Nelly the elephant
- Sleeping Bunnies
- Hickory, Dickory, Dock
Food Nursery Rhymes
- Hot Cross Buns
- The Muffin Man
- Jelly on a plate
- 5 currant buns in a baker’s shop
For a Christmas-themed song session, check out my post on Christmas Songs For Preschoolers.
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