Jedi Music

A Resource for the Beginning Elementary Music Teacher


Children's Literature for Music Ed: "The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything"

Our first grade curriculum focuses on "voice choice" and discriminating between singing, speaking, whispering, and shouting voices. A terrific reinforcement for this concept is found in "The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything" by Linda Williams, and it is seasonally appropriate for October!

"The Little Old Lady. . . is a clever reworking of the classic story of a ghostly body that appears bit by bit (see ``What's the Matter'' in Maria Leach's Whistle in the Graveyard Viking, 1974 ). The humor of the little old lady's fearless attitude and her clever solution as to what to do with the lively shoes, pants, shirt, pumpkin head, etc., that are chasing her, will enchant young audiences. The catchy refrain never falters, and the rhythmic repeated sounds made by each of the woman's pursuers are sure to appeal to children. Lloyd's brilliantly-colored, detailed folk art-style illustrations are a perfect complement to the text." -Alice Cronin, Belleville Public Library, N.J. Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Here are my ideas for including this book in early-elementary music class:

  • We begin our lesson on exploring voice choices with a song from our text "Sing, Speak, Whisper, Shout". Children share specific places where each choice of voice is appropriate.

  • Read "The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything" to the children. This is a very active read aloud, so be sure that the children spread out and have plenty of room. Each item that begins to follow the old lady adds another movement for the children.

  • "Two shoes go CLOMP,CLOMP": stomp both feet

  • "One pair of pants go WIGGLE, WIGGLE": wiggle both legs

  • "One shirt go SHAKE, SHAKE": shake out both arms

  • "Two gloves go CLAP, CLAP": clap hands

  • "One hat go NOD, NOD": nod head twice

  • "One scary pumpkin head go BOO, BOO!: the BOOs that you model for your class to repeat should be drawn out vocal slides from high to low.

  • The story is naturally building suspense from beginning to end, and the children love that! To add to the suspense, each time the old lady repeats, "I'm not afraid of you!", I use a different tone of voice and have the students identify the voice choice.

  • As the character's confidence wanes, I descend the intensity of the voices, she begins shouting, then sings, then speaks, and then finally whispers.  As she gains confidence in the story, I reverse the order: from whispering to shouting. Each time the old lady speaks, I ask the students to identify how she used her voice.

  • For a closing activity, I made a deck of cards with picture/words for sing, speak, whisper, shout. Each student volunteer gets a chance to choose a card, and without showing the class their card, perform the line from the book, ("I'm not afraid of you!") as directed on the card. The other students then identify how the student used their voice.

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