It's bee season and that means the sweet sounds of our pollinating friends are filling the air. If you're a music teacher, you may be wondering how to incorporate bee songs, stories, and movement into your lessons. Check out these playful experiences that will have your pre-k and kindergarten students buzzing with excitement!
I like to introduce this fingerplay using my bee puppet friend and it's always a hit!
What happened to Johnny? It slipped!
Can we make our voice say, Whoops?
Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny,
(start at little finger, tap each finger)
(on “whoops”, slide down index finger,
then up & tap thumb)
Whoops Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny. (slide down thumb,
then up & tap index finger)
Repeat back in opposite direction,
to end with the little finger you began on.
Scroll through the carousel for more ideas!
There are many more variations of Johnny Whoops in Doug Goodkin's publication, A Rhyme in Time: Rhythm, Speech Activities and Improvisation for the Classroom.
Hickety Tickety Bumblebee
Although this video is a bit dated, Sharon Krull demonstrates a really clear process for playing the name game to explore steady beat, rhythm (clapping name syllables), and different voices. You can also find another version at the Holy Names University: The American Folk Song Collection.
Hickety Tickety (Pickety) Bumblebee, Can you say your name for me?
Let's all say it.
Let's clap and say it.
(speaking voice with body percussion)
Let's all whisper it.
Let's just clap it.
(inner voice/audiate with body percussion)
Here is the Beehive
Where do bees live? In the beehive! Children love this traditional fingerplay, especially the buzz part at the end! It also pairs nicely with the book, Over in the Meadow, a folk song adapted by John Feierabend and illustrated by Melissa Napoletano. A wonderful connection to teach counting, rhyming, and encounter the natural world through beautiful illustrations.
Here is the beehive,
Where are the bees?
Hiding away where nobody sees.
They are coming out now,
They are all alive.
One, two, three, four, five!
Down by the Bay
This traditional children's song is a great way to incorporate some bee rhymes! Have you ever seen a bee flying in a tree, sitting on your knee, drinking some tea, making honey? Enjoy this echo song version from Kate of Songs from the Sandbox.
Flight of the Bumblebee Movement
What’s that buzzing sound?
It’s the Flight of the Bumblebee!
Use a ribbon wand to explore movement pathways while listening to the music and moving like bees in the garden.
So many musical skills to explore with this instrumental piece, composed by Rimsky-Korsakov.
moving up, down, and around,
Identifying instruments…and more!
Flight of the Bumblebee - Bobby McFerrin and Yo Yo Ma
I love showing this live version of "Flight of the Bumblebee," performed by Bobby McFerrin and Yo-Yo Ma from their album, Hush. Their playful collaboration shows just how fun music can be!
Bee: A Peek-Through Picture Book by Britta Teckentrup
Bee: A Peek-Through Picture Book by Britta Teckentrup is certainly worth a “peek!” In this beautifully illustrated picture book, follow the story of a bee’s day in the meadow. As birds sing, ducks waddle, and butterflies flutter by, the little bee buzzes busily!
Children love reading this book and making connections with what they are learning in their homeroom. It is a great jumping off point for talking about the importance of bees and connects with so many bee songs and rhymes.
Busy Like a Bee by Stephanie Leavell of Music for Kiddos
Busy Like A Bee is an engaging movement song where children fly, twirl, bounce, and race. When the bee finds a flower, it's time to stop and take a drink! Great for active listening skills, self-regulation, and just plain fun!
This simple song can be accompanied with guitar or piano. Or, use the recording if you need a vocal rest. You can get your free download of the MP3 and leadsheet here.
I hope you’ve found helpful ideas for using bee songs, stories, and movement into your classroom. If you’re looking for more inspiration, or want to know more about incorporating this musical material into your curriculum, I'd love to help!
What fingerplay, song, story, or movement will you use with your students? I can't wait to hear about it!
Have a great week!
Feierabend, J. (2016). Over in the Meadow. (M. Napoletano, Illus.). Chicago: IL: GIA Publications, Inc.
Goodkin, D. (1997). A Rhyme in Time: Rhythm, Speech Activities, and Improvisation for the Classroom. Los Angeles, CA: Alfred Music.
Kinder Stories. (2021, April 19). Story Time: Bee: A Peek-Through Picture Book. [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/pLu7HKoyyo4
Mark Bonder. (2015, October 13). Bobby McFerrin and Yo Yo Ma on The Tonight Show with with Johnny Carson - January 15, 1992. [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVLE91tEUqU
Music for Kiddos. (2023, April 4). Busy Like a Bee by Stephanie Leavell: A Spring Movement Song for Kids! | Music for Kiddos [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/xg3aruqoEXs
Songs from the Sandbox. (2021, August 24.) Down by the Bay with Sarah Slezak [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMr4-SyFSfI
Steve Krull. (2009, August 2). Hickety Pickety. [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsDAeLrINpA
Teckentrup, B. (2017). Bee: A Peek-Through Picture Book. New York, NY: Doubleday Books for Young Readers.