Rain, Rain, Go Away!
I had so much fun with this lesson today that I just had to share. I’m continuing to work on sol-mi songs with my Kindergarten friends and had it in my lesson plans to go back and revisit “Rain, Rain, Go Away!” I always love teaching this song around this part of the school year because it’s just so timely. It’s inevitably raining every other day and staying in for “indoor recess” is fresh on every kid’s mind. The subject matter is perfect and the extension activities are so much fun for kids.
Problems, Solutions, and Process
We started out by singing a basic “Rain, Rain, Go Away!” with some made up hand motions. I generally teach this to my kinders with actions where I am looking up at the ceiling (looking at the “rain”) and singing the song AT the sky. They love the idea of bringing the rain into the story and actually making it a character in the drama. Then I stop and tell them about how mad I was that I wasn’t able to go walk my dog this morning because of the rain and about how much he hates the rain. This fact is totally true, he’s a fusser when it rains. Please note the picture here to see how fussy Milo can get.
Then we sing the song again and I say something like, “Wow! You are such great singers now. We’ve learned so much this year. I’ve got an idea. Why don’t I play an instrument and you sing by yourself!?” And then I grab a glockenspiel or a recorder if it’s close and I play the basic melody while they sing. I am a pianist and I usually love/default to playing a chordal accompaniment while my kids sing. I think that the piano backing gives them a good foundation and helps them learn to sing with a little more independence. However, in this case I love playing with just the melodic instrument because it supports them and at the same time it allows me to hear them each a little better. I can go on autopilot with the recorder (just a so-mi pattern, really) and listen closely to what the kids are actually doing.
I think that sometimes we rush through lessons or focus so much on the stuff that WE are doing that we stop really listening to the kids. If we get to caught up with what comes next in the lesson or the technology and whether it may/may not work or with any other distraction then we miss the true focus of our day: the kids.
Today when I listened I could hear that quite a few of my kids were using their speaking voices and droning along to the song instead of actually singing. I know difficulty distinguishing between singing/speaking voice is a natural kindergarten problem but I also know that this is a more pronounced problem with English Language Learners. I think that it’s just a language acquisition thing. ELLs are not used to the language and the processing of the language in their brain takes a milisecond longer than their English-native peers. That slows them down and affects their singing. Or it might be that they just can’t hear the difference in singing/speaking as easily because they’re trying so hard to distinguish the language. I imagine that I would have similar problems learning a new language of any kind. Imagine if you were trying to learn a language that is more melodic or relies upon up/down vocal inflection like some Asian languages. Even as an adult it would be hard to understand those nuances. Think about if you had to then sing in that language. But I digress… I’m not a language specialist and haven’t done all the research I’d like to on this topic. Other teachers of ELLs, what do you think? Please weigh in at the comments section if you have other thoughts to add.
I did a couple things to try and change the situation. I verbally demonstrated the drone they were doing and asked them what voice it was that I was using. They identified my speaking voice and so then I tried again and sang it back instead. They heard the difference and verbalized that I had changed voices. Then I gave them another chance to sing it themselves. I also altered the key. I had been playing G-E on the recorder because it’s quick and easy (I’d just been doing this with my 3rd graders so G-E was in my head) and it’s super easy to play. I moved the range up to A-F#. For me, this requires slightly more concentration but the change in their singing was noticeable and positive. I think that it helped to bring the song up and out of their speaking range into something that lends itself more to a singing range. Has anyone else ever experienced this?
What was that, Rain? — More verses
We did the song a few more times and they were getting comfortable with it (or bored with it, sometimes those go hand in hand, don’t they?). I knew that I needed to change things up and make it more interesting. I stopped and said something like, “That’s just so wonderful, I think that you’re doing a… wait a minute, do you hear that? I think that rain is trying to say something…” Then I look up at the ceiling again. “What’s that rain? Did you say that you’d go away? Thank you! We’d really like to go out today and maybe play the instruments in the grass if it dries up… Wait, what!? You’re coming back when?!” Then I look at the kids and say, “She said that she’ll go away for now but that she’s coming back on May 15th! That’s our school carnival day! If she comes back then we can’t do the inflatables or other fun outside games!”
So, then we come up with a new verse. “Rain, Rain, Go Away! Don’t come back on carnival day!” Repeat with gusto and shake your finger at the sky for an action. Inevitably the rain says that she’ll go away… until May 19th, our field day. So we sing, “Rain, Rain, Go Away! Don’t come back on our field day!” etc. She threatens to come back on the first day the pool will open and during a Royals baseball game and other inconvenient times. We could add verses FOREVER but we finally end up with, “Rain, Rain, Go Away! Go rain somewhere far away!” or “Rain, Rain, Go Away! Ru-in someone else’s day!”
Excellent Rain Resources!
Here are some fun things that you could use if you’re going to teach “Rain, Rain, Go Away!” Check out this link to BusSongs that gives a little history and also gives the fun verse of “Rain, Rain, Go to Spain. Never show your face again.”
Rain, Rain, Go Away on BusSongs.com
Or, play these rain sounds in the background if you want to actually sing to the rain!
Rain Sounds on YouTube.com
Does anyone have this board book “Rain, Rain, Go Away” by Caroline Jayne Church? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. It’d be great to have a book to pair with this lesson. If you’ve got it and use it, share in the comments and let me know if I should buy it.
I used the video below from hooplakidz and my kids loved seeing other people/animals that want the rain to go away.