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Showing posts from August, 2013

Twerking with Miley Cyrus

Oh Miley, oh Miley...
What the hell were you thinking? You are a beautiful young woman. Why are you pretending to get rear-ended by some guy as you wear plastic pants, wear pikinini knotted hair (very offensive), and act like a stripper. You put your face up a black woman's butt (also very offensive). And you simulated several sexual positions. What were you thinking?

Miley Cyrus needs a spanking, and not the kind by the man in the striped suit. Her father gave a statement after his daughter's performance last night.

Miley Cyrus' MTV VMA performance fallout intensifies "Of course I'll always be here for Miley. Can't wait to see her when she gets home," Billy Ray, 52, told ET. "She's still my little girl and I'm still her Dad regardless how this circus we call show business plays out. I love her unconditionally and that will never change."
 Miley was trying too hard. She was pathetic. Her father needs to sit her down and talk to her ab…

Bullying in Madegascar

The following is an excerpt from the counting-out book, I've been writing about this month. Reading it is a great opportunity for the class to discuss bullying, prejudice, and institutionalized racism. We will no doubt have another school shooting sometime this year. We will no doubt have another terrorist attack this year. When this happens, such a discussion is healthy and right, but using a Malagasy game collected in 1880 is a safer way to discuss the concepts behind the terror. Just a thought. Here's the excerpt.

Apple Tree for Greeks

A rhyme collected in Counting-Out Rhymes in the 19th century, bears a striking resemblance to the game "Apple Tree" which is explained in Sail Away and 120 Singing Games and Dances. Children pass an apple to the beat and the last one holding the apple is eliminated.  Here it is in Frago Chiotica, a dialect of Greek.

Adé milo sti milia,
Ké heretam ti griya;
Posa hronia thé na ziso
Ena, thio, tria, téséra.
translation to English
Go, apple, to the apple tree, and my compliments to the old woman; How many years shall I live? One, two, three, four

Buckling Shoes: Bosporus, Madagascar

Meg yergoo, yergŭnnas;
Yerec chors, chornas;
Hinc vetz, vernas;
Yoten ooten, ooranas;
Innin dacenin, jam yertas;
Dece-yergoo, hatz geran; 
which may be translated as follows:
One, two, be taller three, four, dry up, Five, six, be lifted, Seven, eight, deny, Nine, ten, go to church, Twelve, go to supper
Isa ny amontana                   One, the amontana (tree)
Roa ny aviavy                  Two, the aviavy (trees)
Telo fangady                    Three, spades
Efa drofia                                 Four, sofia (palms)                 
Dimy emboka                  Five gums
Eni mangamanga                   Six, blues
Fito paraky                  Seven, tobacco
Valo tanantanana          Eight, gourds
Sivy rongony          Nine, hemp
Folo fanolehana           Ten, fanolehana

Penobscot Counting Chant

Ani, kabi, lavis, haklis, antip
This is the means of counting in Penobscot Indian language. The numbers are different. To speak of them you would say, "pesek, nis, nas, yeu, paleneski". This rhyme was collected in the 19th century from a Penobscot woman in Old Town, Maine.

The pronunciation for the counting chant is, "Ah'-nee, kah'-bee, lah'-wis, hahk'-lis, untip."

How to use it in the classroom?

Native American music is almost always performed with a steady drum beat. Ask students how a steady beat is kept in the context of a game.  You'll probably get a list like this.

clappingstompingpatsching body percussionmouth sounds
Tell the students that these are counting numbers. Have children break into groups and make up games for the rhyme with a steady beat. The game can be for partners or for a group, but only for an individual if you are counting their fingers (for a baby.)

Have the groups share the games they make.

This can be done with children a…

Musical Indian Rhyme

Here's an activity for the beginning of your year.  Use it to assess your students' composition skills and to establish practices for group work in the classroom. 

 Marâthî  In the book of counting rhymes which is the theme of this month, it is said, "We learn that the children of Poonah, Western India, employ doggerels in counting-out much as with us. In the Marâthî dialect the rhythm and syllables are quite musical."
Appa, doppa, winwinnu, guppa aina, dor, banda, shor; agnin mankin, kutchera, mor, chukala, makala, tooja, kapala
Atakan, patakan bawan bichawà
Khombadi, khow, dir khaw,
han mat ghodà, tàyam, tûyam,
süt, lük, büt, lük. 
(note that the umlauts should be scoops instead of German sounding vowels. Also the accents over the "a" should be a long sign. I couldn't figure out how to make that sign in this format. Check the book on page 11.)
Do the second rhyme as a class to show the students the process. You could even have the students choose wh…

Fortune Telling

Children of all cultures try to discern their future. I remember a game with an apple. Twist the stem giving each twist a letter of the alphabet. When the stem finally broke, that is your future husband's first initial.  Now poke the stem at the skin of the apple. When the skin breaks, that's his surname.

I find that children love these fortune telling games. They make paper manipulatives with elaborate inscriptions at age 10 through middle school.

Here is a nursery rhyme described as a fortune telling rhyme. Its purpose never occurred to me before reading it in "Counting-out Rhymes."

Appleseed Game #1
Empty the seeds from an apple or a group of cherry pits and line them up. Boys are discerning their future professions, girls their husbands' professions. (It's an old rhyme.) When you run out of seeds, that's your job.

Tinker, tailor soldier, sailor gentleman, apothecary, ploughboy, thief
now the garments you will wear...

silk, satin, muslin, rags
now th…

Silence Game

This is a great game for classroom management.

Billy, Billy Burst, Who speaks first?
Then everybody is silent. The first person to speak, loses!  This game was recorded in Ontario, Canada.

A stony relationship to American Indian games

In Sail Away or Singing Bird (can't remember which) there is a Native American game (so-mi) for gambling. My lower elementary kids love it.  I play with pom poms. Here's how it goes.

American Indian Game
1. Children sitting cross-legged in two lines, partners facing.
2. Each line is a team.
3. One team is the pom pom side, each person gets a pom pom
4. Hands behind back and the pom pom holder shuffled the pom pom between their hands until the song is over and they then hold both fists out to their partner.
5. If the partner guesses where the pom pom is, they get a point.
6. Odd-man out keeps score. Play up to a particular score for half of the class to get a privilege or role in the next game etc.
7. Give pom pom to your partner and repeat until you reach the agreed win score.

Here's the song: (spaces show where you should hold pitch twice as long.  Otherwise, straight beats sung)

s     s    m    s     m             s     m        s  m
hey ya         hey ya            he…

Book Review: The Counting Out Rhymes of Children

I live in one of the oldest towns in America. About 120 or so years ago, our library acquired a monograph whose name heads this posting. I'm so enjoying reading the prose of that bygone era, that I find myself writing in similar style and laughing to myself in the process.

Counting Out Rhymes
It is a collection of "counting out rhymes" from all over the world. The term "counting out" is so antiquated, I needed to read several pages just to figure out what it meant. To illustrate the definition of the term, I offer some modern examples which colored my childhood.

My mother and your mother were hanging up clothes My mother punched your mother smack in the nose What color was the blood? (child chooses a color, let's say, green)
G  R  E  E  N  and you are not it!

Eeny, meany, miney, mo catch a tiger by the toe If he hollers, let him go and my mother says that you are not it!
Now in these days of everybody being a winner and nobody getting "out," y…

A letter to WBUR, Boston Public Radio

I'm so angry, I could just spit!  Our local public radio station, the great WBUR of Boston, just had on a guest from The Boston Globe talking about artistic geniuses and how we hate to love them, blah blah blah. I'm so sick and tired of people thinking that any kind of achievement excuses raping a child. When will we have standards of child protection that actually mean anything!  Urgh. Here's the rant I sent.  Dear Managers of WBUR Boston and Jim Braude and Margery Eagen,
     I have been a loyal listener/member since childhood. This is the first time I have contacted you.       I just turned off my radio to avoid vomiting after listening to your witty banter about Woddy Allen and similar artists who have engaged in sexual acts with children. An arts editor from The Boston Globe joined you in being torn between disgust at these men's "personal sex lives" and their "art that we love."      That you refer to molestation and abuse as part of a…