We share this collection of Lesson Ideas in connection with the Great Kindness Challenge – https://thegreatkindnesschallenge.com/ and in plenty of time for Valentine’s Day!
The board members of ACEMM are hoping to spread a little bit of love out there to all of our friends far and wide through with the beautiful book, “While We Can’t Hug,” by Eion McLaughlin
Lesson idea by Crystal Pridmore
I found this beautiful book sitting in the window of my favorite independent bookstore, the Napa Bookmine, over winter break. The title immediately caught my eye, and I was overcome with emotion as I flipped through the pages. I teach in Southern California, and I have been teaching virtually since our schools suddenly shut down in March 2020. I often tell the students that one of the things I miss the most about in person music class is getting to greet each of them at the door with a high five, a hug, or a silly dance. We have come up with an entire nonverbal language over the course of this school year to communicate over our virtual classroom. As we continue virtual learning indefinitely and slowly reopen into a hybrid classroom, hugs and high fives will be off the table for the foreseeable future. What a blessing it was to read this book that helps children understand that there are many ways to show someone that you love them, even if you can’t hug.
I imagine that this book will find a place in families for many years. There are many health or distance related challenges that might prevent a family or friend from hugging. Friends move away and family members become medically fragile through illnesses and treatments. This book is an important tool for anyone who needs to help their child navigate expressing affection when touch is unavailable.
Begin by asking the students how playing on the playground, visiting some family members, or attending school is different now than it was last year. Ask if any of them have thought of creative ways to show someone that they love them without touching them. Say that the book we are about to read is all about two best friends who want to give each other a great big hug, but they are not allowed to right now. Instead, they use their imaginations to come up with the many ways they can show each other that they love them without touching.
Introduce the song:
You can get an ostinato effect on your ukulele by simply picking the top two strings in a C-G pattern. Sing the song through once and ask the students to listen. Read the story and sing the song after every page. Invite the children to join you after the third listening.
Ask the students to come up with their favorite way tortoise and hedgehog showed each other they loved each other in the book, OR come up with their own! Write everyone’s ideas down on a white board in person or digitally. Next, ask students to turn those ideas into rhythms. Here are some ideas to consider, you students will come up with a lot of ideas, yours there, and mix in some of these if you need some variety.
For older students make longer phrases and create a speech piece with one and two measure speech loops. It can be a lot of fun to add body percussion to these as you build them. The textures get very rich!
Invite students to work with a partner to string two or four different rhythms together to create a rhythmic ostinato. They can use body percussion or unpitched percussion to chant their ostinati while the rest of the class sings the song again. If teaching virtually, the teacher can sing the song for the A section and invite each student to clap and say their ostinato one at a time in between.
Lesson Connection Idea by Casey Goryeb
Inspired by Kris Olson’s Workshop at the AOSA Virtual Symposium 2020
Question for students: What is a hug?
Allow for students to respond with any words that they think of for hugs.
Demonstrate what a hug looks like by hugging yourself or a stuffed animal.
Pose questions: what would it look like to hug someone shorter than you? Taller? Two people at the same time? A dog? A cat? A baby? A room full of people you love? How does a Koala hug? How do you hug with just one hand? Can you hug someone without using your arms? Etc.
Ask students to imagine the sensation of hugging even if they can’t in real life.
Allow students to explore these different movements in their space and describe the physical and emotional sensations of a hug.
This could be its own C section with some additional music underneath or be incorporated into the A section; the teacher sings while students move.
Lesson connection idea by Drue Bullington
Here is a fun creative movement extension that reinforces the use of concrete and abstract movements.
The video features “The Entertainer” by Scott Joplin (from a player piano roll that he actually “recorded” himself! How fascinating!), and ideas from the book “While We Can’t Hug.”
By David Thaxton
Google Slides Presentation Here
This is an extension to the While We Can’t Hug book and lesson plan that can be explored across many different grade levels with possibilities for speech, movement and electronic instrumental ostinati.
Preparation can be as simple as a reading and short discussion of the book, but may include the song and other activities. Discuss alternatives to physical greetings like handshakes, hugs, and high fives.
With a rhythmic background playing (see below) echo speak each greeting on the slides. Some brief explanation may arise for some gestures such as:
“Pageant Wave” (elbow-elbow-wrist-wrist-wrist)
“Royal Wave” (Palm towards face, small circular motion)
“Snappy Salute” (Faster than normal, and may include whip-like sound effects)
“English Salute” (Arm arcs up with palm out)
Make a sequence of these ideas.
Make an example:
Small Group Work:
Groups may further modify sequences with additional movement and form
The music that might typically accompany such an activity may not be accessible with restrictions on barred instruments, non-pitched percussion, world drums and such. Fortunately, there are electronic options that can be accessed both for in-person and digital learning models.
A MIDI Grid Controller, such as Novation’s LaunchPad Mini gives opportunities to create loop-based accompaniments with programs such as Logic Pro (Mac), Ableton Live, or web-based midi loops.
Web Based Loops: Novation offers a sample array of looping choices that can be immediately controlled with the LaunchPad, but can also be controlled without one, directly on your browser from their Intro Website.
These loop accompaniments can create captivating and groovy additions to the gesture performances. Playback can be for the whole group, or with individuals (especially distance learners) using their own access to the software/website.
Hopefully, your students will have an engaging experience working with the musical elements and connection with each other in this activity.
We at ACEMM are so happy to have the opportunity to share these ideas with you! We hope you find ways to connect with your students in these challenging times and promote kindness in your classrooms and schools as much as possible. After all, in making music together aren’t we so fortunate to be a part of the great kindness challenge that never ends!?
We would like to thank our partners in music and joy at Teaching With Orff for their kind offer to share our lesson with their audience.
From all of us on the ACEMM Board of Directors, we hope you stay safe, stay healthy, and keep the music alive in the hearts and bodies of our favorite musicians: you and your students!
We create opportunities, YOU make the difference!
Drue Bullington, President
Crystal Pridmore, Vice President
Lissa Ray, Secretary
David Thaxton, Treasurer
Kate Bright, Director
Casey Goryeb, Director
Lisa Sempsey, Director
Natasha Thurmon, Director
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