If You’re Happy and You Know It!
“If You’re Happy and You Know It” is a classic children’s folk song and is so wonderful for so many reasons. It gives you a chance to talk about improvising new lyrics and coming up with variations. It gives you a chance to define the word “lyics.” It allow for new actions and movement activities to match your newly created lyrics. Once you know the tune you can make “piggyback” songs endlessly (where you keep the familiar melody but completely change the lyrics out). It lets you work on the interval “low so-do.” It’s easy to accompany on the piano or guitar. Oh, and did I mention that kids just love singing it? It’s a super fun song and so catchy!
I love this song and when I decided that my 2nd-3rd grade kiddos were going to do a program about emotions I knew that this song had to be included. My idea for the emotions program was that we would sing about different feelings that we might feel (happy, sad, sick, frustrated, etc.) and there’d be a song about each. It was a grand idea but I quickly hit a snafu. The problems was that there are so many emotions and my kids can only learn so many songs in the time allotted. We had songs for happy, healthy, sick, loving, but needed a catch-all song to get the rest! Luckily, this song let us explore a new emotion with each verse.
Choosing our Favorite Emotions
My kiddos learn this song when they’re in Kindergarten and revisit it when they’re in First grade so my 2nd graders should absolutely know it by now. If you want to read about an AWESOME book (by Jan Ormerod and Lindsey Gardiner) that I use when I first teach this song with my youngest kiddos check out this blog post from a year ago.
For the program I wanted to give them a chance to come up with lyrics and actions to go along with the song. That way they can feel some more ownership of the song and the verses and the program in general. Also, I could have written it all out or done some more traditional verses (clap, stomp, nod your head, do all three, etc.) but kids come up with wonderful and hilarious options. Why not go with their ideas and see what happens!?
So, one day in class we had a brainstorm session. I let kids raise their hands and come up with fun emotions/feelings that they might feel and then create corresponding actions. We thought a bit and then wrote all of our ideas down: sad – you can cry, angry – stomp your feet, embarrassed – you can hide, hungry – you can eat. There were some really creative ideas. One of my favorites was, “If you’re bored and you know it, play outside.” I mean, what elementary kids voluntarily say play outside instead of play video games or watch TV or something? I was impressed. 😀 I grabbed a dry erase marker and made little smiley/barfy/angry/jealous faces for each idea as the students came up with them and the kids loved it! Once we were done brainstorming ideas we sang the song and tried them ALL out. Some of their ideas worked better than others, but it was fun to try each one and give every person the chance to contribute to the formation of the song.
I wish we could use ALL of their ideas, but the problem is that I’m doing this with a grade level for the concert and we can’t have 45 verses. So we had to limit ourselves in some way. Once we sang through as a class we worked through all of them and voted for our FOUR favorite (more on that procedure in a second). I did this process with all four of my 2nd grade class sections. Then I took those 16 choices and we voted again. I talled up the top SIX favorites from the combined grade level and viola, a new arrangement was born!
Tiny Time Saver: Voting Procedure
This was a fun little trick that I stumbled upon for class voting that worked really well for my kiddos. I wanted to find a way for them to easily vote but not let each kid vote 17 times. I told them that they got two votes and could use them for whatever choices they wanted. I read through all the choices before we voted and then reminded them that they only got TWO votes. The procedure was that when a student wanted to vote for an idea that they got to raise their hand. Then, when we moved on to the next idea, they keep track of their “used” vote by putting the hand they voted with on their head. So, “if you vote for ‘angry and you know it’ put your hand in the air and when we move to the next one, ‘sick and you know it,’ put your hand on your head so you remember that you already used that vote.”
Somehow this actually worked really well. When they wanted to vote they raised their hand and when they were done they put that hand on their head. By the time we were finished each kid had two hands on their head and had used their votes appropriately. It was great!