Wednesday, 5 July 2017

CURRICULUM KARAOKE™ ~ Integrating Classroom Learning Through Song

 'Through literacy you can begin to see the universe. Through music you can reach anybody. Between the two there is you, unstoppable.' ~ Grace Slick
I’m very excited to bring you our latest, innovative classroom teaching resource ~ CURRICULUM KARAOKE™

When I mentioned this concept to a few teacher friends a while back, their amused response was, 'Do you mean to tell us we're going to be singing the curriculum?!'. 

Well, yes, that's exactly what I meant to tell them! That is to say, this highly motivational, interactive resource, with its MP4 video format supports, enhances and integrates 

It extends literacy and adds another dimension to the way our students learn curriculum content, themes and concepts ~ all at the touch of a button!  

Not musical ~ NO worries!
  • Just download the MP4 file and play on your classroom whiteboard or computer!
  • Students read / sing & learn along as the song plays and the lyrics display on the screen.
  • No need to print out lyrics or create a power point - the Mp4 does it all for you, making it easy for the whole class or school to follow the lyrics on any screen and read / sing along together.

‘Because when kids are learning through the arts, they end up getting a deeper understanding and the concepts end up sticking much better…’ ~ Elizabeth Peterson 
Music is a very powerful and effective medium for helping young people to connect with learning content ~ it's a language they understand. It makes perfect sense to utilise song as a learning tool in our classrooms. 

Singer-songwriter, Bruce Springsteen illustrates perfectly the powerful effect of music on memory, in a line from one of his songs, 'Surrender': 

  • Comprises curriculum-aligned songs that target outcomes & learning sequences of curriculum documents (there's 'A Lesson in Every Lyric'®)
  • Supports, enhances  and integrates classroom learning across key subject areas
  • Plays on your classroom whiteboard and other devices to help students learn curriculum-aligned content, themes and concepts
  • Extends literacy ~ reading(students read / sing along with the lyrics, as if they are reading a book), comprehension, grammar, punctuation, poetry text type study...
  • Energizes classroom discussions
  • Enables students to take a more active role in their learning and have a better understanding and memory of content
  • Aids recall
  • Reinforces learning content
  • Hones listening skills
  • Contributes to a positive learning environment
  • Creates and promotes unity
  • Makes learning fun... 

  • Students take turns reading the text, while the rest of the class follows the rhythm ~ brains and bodies work together to garner meaning.
  • Pause the power point at any time to choose new readers, clarify meaning, make a point, question the class on a line of text for comprehension, define key words, etc.
  • Students sing along with the vocal track (this aids accurate singing of melody and lyrics)
  • Divide the class into groups for chorus, verses, etc.
  • Create a cloze passage to assess comprehension of content
  • Perform as a class item for school assemblies
  • Project lyrics onto screen, for whole school participation!  
CURRICULUM KARAOKE™ is a growing line of products. Currently, the following MP4 song videos are available:

Sample Slides:

Until next time!

Yours in Singing to Learn,

Nuala ♫

         Nuala O'Hanlon
         Teacher; Lyricist; Director,
         'A Lesson in Every Lyric'®

         A Review: ‘In terms of application to the classroom, and usability by teachers they rate a tick in every box.’ ~ Brendan Hitchens, teacher: Music In Action, A Magazine for Educators
**FYI: Our curriculum-aligned teaching teaching resources are also available as: 


Monday, 6 February 2017


‘A healthy outside starts from the inside.’ ~ Robert Urich

The ancient Roman poet, Virgil, was 'right on the money' when he stated that ‘the greatest wealth is health’. 

It is a very sad fact of modern day life that a preventable disease such as childhood obesity is not only on the increase, but that it is increasing at such an alarming rate.

There are many reasons for this, but our main concern as educators, is to do what we can to address this, by equipping children with information, skills and experiences  to enable them to develop healthy habits and lifestyle choices.

Thinking back through the centuries to when I was a child, exercise was a natural part of our daily lives, and the foods on offer were very close to their original state. 

Speaking for my own family, we did not have a car until we came to Australia, so we walked everywhere, including quite a distance to and from the nearest bus stops. 

We made our own entertainment, which meant we played outside a lot, and foods were closer to their original state, making choices much simpler and healthier, when it came to what we put in our mouths.

‘Fast food’ meant just that - something that would quickly satisfy our hunger: fruit, vegetables, home made bread, etc. If we complained of hunger between meals, we were given sticks of celery, carrots or a piece of fruit.

‘Sometimes foods’ (treats), in our house, were reserved for special times, such as family holidays, birthday parties, Easter, Christmas - and once a month on paydays, when Dad would arrive home from school with ‘crisps’ and confection for all.

I can still taste those almond toffees and coconut-covered mushroom cup sweets - Mmm!

Of course, being children, we still did what children do - my siblings and I were very fond of sneaking sugar cubes from the silver sugar bowl on the dresser, when Mum wasn’t looking!

We’d keep those blissful morsels in our mouths for as long as possible, savouring the syrupy sweetness, as they slowly dissolved on our grateful tongues, before trickling down our happy throats.

And we are still getting great mileage out of an incident that occurred on my 5th birthday...

I’d awoken that morning, covered in measles spots, leaving Mum with no alternative but to cancel my birthday party (suffice to say, I'm still looking for the right support group, but that's another story :-)!

My fun-loving, best friend (let’s call her ‘X’ - now, also a teacher), saved the day by turning up to help us eat the party food, her mother explaining that she was more than happy for her daughter to catch the measles sooner rather than later, to get them out of the way!

We were playing Hide ‘n’ Seek, and no one could find ‘X’ anywhere!  She was eventually discovered, hiding, crouched in a corner, stuffing her face with chocolate crackles as though there were no tomorrow!

It wasn’t long before her mother had to take her home, green around the gills and suffering, not from the early stages of measles, but from chocolate crackle overload!

There is no denying it - we all love our ‘sometimes foods', and there is certainly a time and place to enjoy them - it's all about balance.  

It is our role to educate children about finding this balance, and to make sure that their  environments support healthy habits and choices.

Many schools are already addressing this issue, with the introduction of healthier food canteens, and programs to promote physical exercise and healthy food consumption - ‘fruit breaks’, ‘brain breaks’, where I teach, it's 'Crunch 'n Sip', and  activity sessions built into the day, to enable students to engage in some kind of physical movement activity.

My colleague, Kathryn Radloff and I, addressed this issue by writing a song, ‘Healthy Kids’, to provide primary schools with a child-friendly, practical resource for helping students learn basic health facts, and understand the link between healthy lifestyle choices and general wellbeing.

The song, with its catchy, melody and content-laden lyrics, discusses everything from the five food groups to the need for daily exercise, providing the perfect vehicle for kick starting a discussion about healthy living.

Below, you will find sample song lyrics, as well as some simple suggestions for using this or any other song about health. 
Sample Lyrics: 'Healthy Kids':
Happy, happy, healthy kids!
Happy, happy, healthy! (X2)

We’re happy, happy, healthy kids,
It’s how we’d like to stay.
We eat nutritious, healthy food
At every meal each day.
We know that there are five food groups,
So, now we can’t go wrong;
’Cause we know what we must do
To grow up healthy, fit and strong.

Verse 1
Vitamins, minerals, good fats,
Proteins, carbohydrates,
Help keep bodies healthy, so –
Put good food on your plates.
Bodies are like fine machines, let’s
Eat the things we’re meant to.
Fruit is beaut, go use your loaf AND
Choose what you chomp into!
Do do do do, da da da.
Do do do do do.
©Lyrics: Nuala O’Hanlon/Music: Kathryn Radloff

Image: Hayden Williams

Suggestions For Use:

Before playing or singing song, unpack/discuss lyrics, line by line, e.g.

  • How many food groups are there?
  • What does the word ‘nutritious’ mean?...
Verse 1:
  • Lines 1 & 2: Define the terms: ‘vitamins’, minerals, etc.
  • Line 7: - What do ‘fruit is beaut’, and ‘use your loaf’ mean? What do we call this play on words?
  • Line 8: - Brainstorm ‘healthy choices’ for daily meals/snack - What does it mean, to ‘chomp’ into something?
  • Create a class/individual ‘Healthy Kids’ acrostic poem
  • Brainstorm, create and record health slogans, e.g. ‘Rice is Nice’
  • Students work in groups to write own verses for song, and perform for class
  • Students create a recipe and write a procedural text for making a healthy sandwich
  • Student groups create shopping lists of ‘Health Foods’/Sometimes Foods’
  • Collect favourite family recipes and publish a class recipe book (sell these through the school, to raise funds for a charity)
  • Students paste pictures from magazines into correct trolley
  • Students create a painting of a person – using only fruits and vegetables
  • Students paint health slogans on paper plates and attach to rulers
  • Use the above slogans as props for an assembly performance of song
  • Get physical - Older students choreograph movements to accompany the song, and teach to other students, at assembly

Until next time!

Yours in Singing to Learn,


**FYI: Our curriculum-aligned teaching teaching resources are available as: 

Wednesday, 18 January 2017


 'There is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children. There is no duty more important than ensuring that their rights are respected, that their welfare is protected, and that their lives are free from fear and want.' ~ Kofi Annan

The word 'bullying' is used a lot these days, so it's important to begin by defining the term.
The national definition of bullying for Australian schools states that: 'Bullying is an ongoing misuse of power in relationships through repeated verbal, physical and/or social behaviour that causes physical and/or psychological harm. It can involve an individual or a group misusing their power over one or more persons. Bullying can happen in person or online, and it can be obvious (overt) or hidden (covert).'
Have you ever felt bullied?

Bullying is nothing new - it has certainly been going on for as long as I can remember.

My first experience of this type of behaviour was back in the ‘olden days’ when, as a 10 year old, I became what is known as an ‘immigrant’.

My family (Mum, Dad, three sisters, brother, and I) had farewelled all of our family, friends and neighbours in Ireland and England, and set sail for our new life in Australia, where Dad was to take up a teaching post as Head of English Department in a country high school.

Migrants were still rather a novelty in country NSW in those days, and certain students in my new school saw my minority status as an open invitation to tease, ridicule, and humiliate 'the new kid on the block’.

They repeatedly mimicked my accent, made fun of my English clothing and whatever Mum had put in my lunchbox for the day, and excluded me from their games. I began to hate going to school.

It was a very lonely, distressing, and unhappy time (until they got to know me and we became friends) and to this day, I still cringe, whenever I recall the time that the nun on duty at playtime, rang the bell to command the other children to include me in their games!

Bullying, then, is nothing new, however, what is new is the frequency with which we are hearing about this behaviour, and the alarming rate at which it appears to be escalating, in our schools and wider society.

Bullying occurs in many different forms - from verbal, emotional, and racist bullying, to psychological, physical, and the now, all-too-prevalent, modern day phenomenon, cyber bullying – but one thing is for certain, whatever form it takes, it is never OK!
Mahatma Gandhi once stated that ‘If we want to create lasting peace, we must begin with the children.’
There is great wisdom in this, and education is key.

Parents, schools and wider communities have major roles to play in helping to achieve this. We do it by:
  • Creating and promoting peaceful, safe, and secure environments for children
  • Modelling positive behaviours built on mutual respect, trust, and empathy
  • Setting very clear behaviour expectations and guidelines
  • Helping children to understand and take responsibility for their own behaviour and consequences of their own actions
  • Providing children with coping strategies for dealing with distressing behaviours, if and when they arise.
Looking back with adult eyes, I’m sure the behaviour of that handful of students from my school stemmed more from fear of difference and a lack of understanding than from any conscious malice on their part.

This belief prompted me to tackle the issue of school bullying head-on, in a way that would make it easy for children to understand ~ the non-threatening, effective medium of song.

Drawing on my childhood and teaching experiences, I set about writing lyrics to address various types of unacceptable behaviours, including the ever-increasing cyber bullying - with an emphasis on the right of every child to feel safe and protected.

My colleague, Kathryn Radloff, worked her usual magic with the music, and the result is 'Bully-Free Zone!' a child-friendly, whole school, positive behaviours approach to dealing with this serious issue.

We are very grateful for the support of a wonderful local primary school principal, Mrs Terri Paterson who, together with the parent body, graciously allowed us to work with and record some of their children on the song’s chorus, and to record a student assembly performance video of 'Bully-Free Zone!' with an introduction by older students - children teaching children!

Sample Lyrics:

Attention, please!
May I have your attention, please!
This is a bully-free zone!
I repeat, a bully-free zone!
No bullying will be tolerated in this school,
It's a bully-free zone!

Verse 2
Everyone is valued here and all must be protected.
Negative behaviour at all times will be rejected!
Trying to annoy someone does not build good relations,
It's a form of what is known as private space invasion.

Bullying is not OK - no way! It's never a solution;
Deal with problems as they rise, with conflict resolution.
Caring isn't optional, it's what we all expect;
Everyone is welcome here, but bullying, we reject!
©Lyrics, Nuala O’Hanlon / Music, Kathryn Radloff
Keystone Creations ~ Educational Songs
'A Lesson in Every Lyric'®

We are very proud of the students, who took ownership of the message, some even going as far as writing to a local newspaper to tell of their experience, and to urge other schools to become bully-free zones:

Until next time!

          Yours in Singing to Learn,
  • Nuala 
**FYI: Our curriculum-aligned teaching teaching resources are available as: 
  • 'A Lesson in Every Lyric'®


‘Bullying is a problem borne of dysfunction whereby the perpetrator and the victim are caught in a negative cycle of fear and control. We, as caretakers and educators have a duty to interrupt this cycle and facilitate change through early education and intervention. This song, 'BULLY-FREE ZONE!' addresses the issues in a positive, child-friendly way. It not only provides strategies to help empower the victim, but also raises awareness and accountability in the perpetrator.’ ~ Eileen Condell, Psychotherapist