Nanna Kissed Baby Show

Many years ago someone asked my father what I did for work. His reply was ‘I dunno. Playschool or somethin’.’

In Australia it’s the dream of every early childhood educator to get a gig on Playschool- Australia’s longest running and I believe, still the best TV show for young children. But alas and alack I am on the other side of the screen … still. I am no longer waiting for the ABC to include me in their stable of early childhood presenters, I’ve got my own youtube show for little kids and their carers: The Nanna Kissed Baby Show.

A weekly broadcast of songs, rhymes and stories featuring Alby (needed a real baby not a teddy for this gig) thanks to Atlanta and Aaron who kindly provided me with said Grandchild.

This is a family show, and Roman, aka Opi, is camera operator, wardrobe mister, director and production manager. The aim of this project is to share some rhymes and songs that I have written over the years I have been storytelling and playing music with children.

Please note: If you’re looking for a slick, sponsored, capitalist production, this aint it! But if you want to learn some new rhymes and songs in an Australian context, please watch.





There’s a Grey Koala in the Tree

Each day I am visited by a menagerie of birds, reptiles, mammals and insects. If they don’t come to my house then I go out and see them on the local walking tracks. I am fortunate to live near a rainforest and with a photographer. I wanted to document the other denizens of this area so created a blog, Morgan’s Wild Life.

I have written lots of raps and rhymes about Australia’s indigenous animals, some you can see on video here.

However, when I saw this koala perched in the fork of a tree I just started to sing and because trees are home to many different species, this is the song that came.
It can be adapted to suit the specific animals or ecosystems you want to sing about. Below are some learning outcomes.

Tune: There’s a Brown Girl in the Ring
(traditional West Indian children’s song, made famous in1970s by the band Bony M)

There’s grey koala in the tree,
La la la la la,
A grey koala in the tree,
La la la la la la,
There’s a grey koala in the tree,
La la la la la,
And its blinking at you and at me.

2. There’s a white cockatoo in the tree,
And it’s squawking at you and at me.

3. There’s a green tree snake in the tree,
And it’s hissing at you and at me.

4. There’s a brown cicada in the tree,
And it’s singing for you and for me.

5. There’s a striped goanna in the tree,
And it’s flicking its tongue at you and me.

6. There’s a spotted tree frog in the tree,
And it’s croaking at you and at me.

7. There’s a red dragonfly in the tree,
And it’s flapping its wings at you and me.

8. There’s a blue wren in the tree,
And it’s chirping at you and at me.

9. There’s a black flying fox in the tree,
And its calling to you and to me.

10. There’s a rainbow lorikeet in the tree,
And it’s chattering at you and at me.

Learning Outcomes:
Identifying the different groups of animals: mammals, birds, reptiles and insects.
Identifying colours and patterns on animals.
Vocabulary extension as movements and sounds are identified.
Discussion on habitat and whether the creatures live in a tree, use it as a food source and/or visit it.
Presentation:- build visually on the song by reading a picture book that features a creature(s) in the song or making a story board with a tree with cut out pictures of the creatures that children can place in the tree.


Learning Outcomes for a Song that Doesn’t Rhyme

For the past two days Roman and I have been presenting storytimes to our groups in the Storytelling for Literacy and Connection Project in the Kempsey region of NSW; Australia. We have included my new song, The Colour Song and I want to share the learning outcomes I have observed.

It is a song that has a traditional tune.  Not only does this overcome copyright issues, it is also familiar to some listeners who immediately sing along. My primary purpose in writing the song was to assist children identify colours, although as I will outline, there are many other learning outcomes it addresses. There is no particular sequence or even requirement to sing about every colour. The content of the song is entirely up to the singer to include or exclude at will. (You don’t even have to sing it, you can chant it.)

However, it is important to have a collection of items that are representative colours, such as balls, crayons or paper, so that children can associate the name of the colour with its appearance.
Because I am working with Roman, we present the song together, although it can be performed by one person quite easily. I play the music and sing the song and he displays the colours. They are in the form of ribbons which he has draped around his neck. He holds up a particular colour and that forms a verse of the song. If he holds up the red ribbon then I sing the following verse:
I like red, red, red,
Red for apples.
I like red, red, red, 
Red for * Jamie’s shorts.
(* allows for children to call out the things that are the appropriate colour.)
We then move on to the next colour. ‘I like yellow, yellow, yellow, etc.’
This song does not rhyme (so you don’t have to suffer the impossible: trying to find what rhymes with purple or orange). It can be as long or short as you want. I haven’t been tempted to sing ‘I like beige, beige, beige’ and I don’t refer to shades of colours e.g. light green, because the most important thing I discovered was not the colours themselves but the children’s relationship with them.
Aside from promoting visual literacy, this song promotes joy, inclusion, affirmation, language extension, the opportunity for interaction with other listeners, stimulation of memory and curiosity. How can one simple song do all these things?
In our observations we saw children thrilled by being able to contribute their suggestions and then having them acknowledged in the song. We saw them actively seeking visual identification of the colours, pointing them out and having them affirmed. They observed themselves and others, naming the colour associations. e.g. my dress is purple and so is my sister’s. They also looked beyond their physical environment as we assisted them with hints like ‘what else is green and grows outside?’ to use their imagination and memories to offer suggestions. Children who didn’t verbalise contributed through pointing. In this way it was a song that everyone happily participated in.