The Pumpkin on the Vine – Identifying ABA Form
One of the things that is required in our district curriculum is teaching first graders to identify ABA form in song. Last year I couldn’t find any songs in my Thanksgiving or Fall repertoire that I really loved that were easy for my kids to see ABA form. So, I drew on a song that my beloved elementary music teacher, Mrs. Rytych, taught us when I was growing up: The Pumpkin on the Vine. I’ve notated it here for you to sing and use. Fun and easy in F! Not only is it a great tune but it also gives you a chance to talk about where pumpkins come from, how they grow, how you make a Jack-O-Lantern (if you follow that route after this lesson) and more.
Where Do Pumpkins Come From?
I start the lesson by talking about where pumpkins come from. We try to relate back to a few weeks before when we learned and sang the song “Peanut Butter and Jelly.” In that song we have to dig up the peanuts, smash them, spread them, pick the berries, squish them, and then spread them on bread. Part of the fun of that song is learning where the peanuts/berries come from. So, we talk about pumpkins and how they grow on vines in a big “pumpkin patch.”
A few years ago I found a quick and fun clip from the movie “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” where Linus and Lucy go to pick out a pumpkin. They walk to the pumpkin patch and then pick out the biggest pumpkin they can find. Well, Lucy makes that decision and Linus struggles under the weight of the pumpkin, trying to bring it home. This video is a PERFECT lead-in to our song about the Pumpkin on the Vine!
Pumpkin on the Vine – Song
Since I was planning to teach the song to first graders I simplified the song to its basic melody and made that the A section of the piece. There is a longer version (and I’ll post the rest of the lyrics here as well) but it’s more Halloween themed and I really needed this song for a post-Halloween lesson.
For a B section I improvised a little So-La-Mi pattern and filled in some words (since we’re also working/remembering the So-La-Mi pattern at this time) to create this little ditty. The lyrics are pulled from the A section to try and create some unity.
Identifying the Form and then Changing It!
The really fun part was helping kids find the pattern. We learned the song with some simple actions and echo singing and then once we were confident on the melody and words we started to identify. We talked about how the A sections sounded the same but there was something in-between that was different. I pulled out the pumpkin foam die-cuts to help here. I labeled two with “A” and the third with “B.” Those were strung along a yarn line between two other pumpkins to create “pumpkins on the vine.”
We sang the A section again and I turned over the first pumpkin to label that section with “A.” When we decided that the next section was different I asked students if they could give me a letter to show that the next section was different. After discussion we decided on and turned over a “B.” Then once we had done the same process we came up with another “A” at the end. Then we sang the song as I pointed to the different letters, further identifying each section as ABA.Another fun extension that we tried was that I gave the three letters “ABA” to the kids and said that I was going to sing another pattern and that they had to identify what it was.
I actually made printable versions of these pumpkins. Each little printable pumpkin has an “A,” “B”
or “C” on the image. Click below to download them for yourself if you want!
Then I sang the song in an “AAB” form. We listened and worked through it together to have the kids find the correct form and put that up on the pumpkin vine. Then I gave the pumpkins to one specific student and had that kid take charge of identifying and labeling the form. I would sing ABA or AAB for a few examples and then I would get tricky and only sing AB. After stopping after the B the kids took a few seconds to figure it out and eventually realized that it was only going to be AB.
It turned out to be a fun activity and one that I wanted to share. Let me know if the files aren’t working here. I’ve never used Finale Notepad before and I’m not sure everything worked out. Forgive the note value errors if they’re there… it’s been a long day.