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All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman

Updated: Oct 19, 2021

Social and Emotional Learning in Music

As music educators, we know that when children feel physically, socially, and emotionally secure, it contributes to their positive and healthy development. Students should feel safe to be their authentic selves, free to take risks, and encouraged to let their creativity shine!

Of course, setting up a physical space is a top priority for learning. It should be clean, safe, and accessible for all. However, we must also consider how our space supports the social and emotional needs of our students.

Whether teaching virtual or in person, creating an inclusive and equitable atmosphere of acceptance and belonging is crucial for our students’ growth and development. Social and emotional learning (SEL) is no longer a “buzz word” or something to check off a list. It must be intentionally embedded in the work we do with children. This is also a personal learning goal I’m working towards this year.

All Are Welcome Here

To start off the school year, I shared the book, All Are Welcome, written by Alexandra Penfold and illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman. Its thoughtful message sparked conversations about inclusion, empathy, and building community. The front cover also becomes a poster you can display in your classroom and use as a reference throughout the year.

The Teaching Process

Here are some ways that I explored the book with kindergarten students.

  • Show the cover of the book and pictures prior to reading the book.

  • Ask students: What do you think this book will be about?

  • Read the book.

I used a beautiful melody composed by Stephanie Leavell of Music for Kiddos and invited students to join in on the “All Are Welcome Here” ending (mm-rr-d).

Take a listen to a short clip below.

Discuss some of the images in the story and consider question prompts. I teach within a school community where many students are third culture kids and they may have heard these questions before.

  • Are you from a different country than the one we live in right now?

  • Do you know a friend who is from a different country?

  • Do you speak a different language at home other than English?

  • Do you know a friend that speaks a different language at home other than English?

  • Do you eat different foods than your friend at lunch?

  • Do you have a friend or family member that moves differently than you?

  • Are there things that are the same between you and your friends?

  • Do you like the same foods, games, or have the same pet?

  • Discuss what it feels like to include someone or not include someone.

  • Discuss what it looks like, sounds like, and feels like to include everyone in the music classroom.

I hope these ideas were helpful for you and your community and wish you a great start to your school year!


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