Zar the Friendly Alien and His Broken Spaceship
Do you know about Zar, the friendly alien, and his broken spaceship? Zar has been a good friend in my classroom for years and has never failed to entrance Kindergarten, 1st, and even 2nd graders! I love turning to Zar when I have a group of kiddos who really need to shake out some wiggles and move. This little activity is great for a mid-lesson brain break, engaging first activity, or end of class reward. Zar is silly, Zar is cool, and Zar helps my kids to refocus and reset. What could be better?
I first came across Zar because of my friend Dino O’Dell who I met when I lived in Kansas City. Dino is a guitarist, singer, educator, performer, and all around entertainer for kids and wrote the song “Zar and the Broken Spaceship.” Dino’s interactive songs and tall tales engage curiosity, inspire laughter and stir the imagination. Before 2003, Dino was an elementary music and drama teacher by day and a folk-rock and reggae musician by night. Amazing combo, right? Now, with over a decade of experience as a family entertainer, his live shows and studio recordings reflect his time as both an educator and a performer; Dino is a master at tricking kids into learning.
When I taught in Kansas City, Dino was one of the featured educators who would come and perform assemblies at our school through the “Kansas City Young Artists” program. Dino has six themed shows he can do with kids that teach math skills, social studies concepts, music and reading, and more. Kids at my school instantly fell in love with Dino and were soon singing addition equations, songs about skip counting, and lots more. I worked with Dino at my church in our children’s music ministry and every time I saw him he was full of energy, fun, and excitement about being with kids. I really cannot say enough about how much Dino just loves being with kids and teaching in every moment. He is an amazing person
Zar, the friendly alien – All the resources you need!
“Zar and the Broken Spaceship” tells the story of how Dino met Zar one day in the park. Zar’s spaceship had broken down and he needed some help to repair it. The problem is that there are so many buttons on the inside of the spaceship. Zar can’t restart the engine until he pushes all the right buttons in the right order. Luckily Dino and his friends were there to help out.
The song reminds me of that old Preschool rhyme of “Hello, My name is Joe. And I work, In a button factory,” only Zar is much, much cooler! The kids are tasked to help Zar push buttons to help him get the ship off the ground. They start by pushing one button with a finger, then another finger, then their feet, and so on and so on. Pretty soon they’re moving faster and faster and buttons are lighting up all over the ship!
The song behind Zar was first released on Dino’s CD called “Itty Bitty Monsters” in 2006. When I first discovered the CD I instantly began to use it in my classroom. Zar was a hit with my kids along with another favorite song from that album called “Walk Around.” In that song, Dino gets kids up and moving, jumping, walking in a circle, tiptoeing, and more. “Walk Around” is GREAT as a beginning activity for kiddos and can be done locomotor or in their own personal space/seating chart spot.
Zar also showed up on Dino’s newest CD “Outer Space” which was released in 2012. There are several other non-Zar songs that I love on that album too… especially “Flapjacks” which has kids counting up and down and also includes a word that kids think is hilarious: “flapjacks.” Just this last year Dino had a Kickstarter campaign and from that came an awesome illustrated book about Zar and his predicament about the spaceship. All said and done I have two of Dino’s three CDs and a signed copy of his awesome new kids book, Zar and the Broken Spaceship. You can find all those resources including the book, albums, and links where you can listen to/preview Dino’s songs before you buy. Find everything here on Dino’s website.
I also just recently found out that Dino has a fantastic YouTube video that takes kids through the entire song and set of movements for Zar! Be warned, there is an awesome DJ/record-spinning turtle in this video along with some hilarious background singers. You’re gonna love it. So now, I teach kids the song using the book, reinforce when needed with the CD/mp3, and as a reward sometimes can show the YouTube video. Check out Dino’s YouTube Channel for a couple other songs you might like (especially the dragonfly song). Check it out below!
If you live in the Kansas City area I would definitely encourage you to check out a Dino O’Dell kids show if you get the chance. He’s amazingly engaging for kiddos and is such an incredible and uplifting person. I saw Dino perform at the kids festival “Jiggle Jam” a few years ago and I’ve been a part of things that he’s done at my church. Dino is amazing and kids flock to him. I also recently learned that Dino has been doing teacher training sessions and I know that he’s traveled quite a bit around the Midwest doing shows.I would LOVE if Dino lived closer to Michigan so that I could book him for school shows at my new school. Most of the school programs he does are Preschool-third grade but he’s also recently added a songwriting workshop for 4th-6th graders. It would be so cool to hear how he works through that process! You can read more about all of this school shows and events here. If you’re interested in having Dino come to sing with your kids or train teachers in your area, drop him a line!