Thursday afternoon found me hunched over a table in my room. Finished with my parent conferences for the day, I was trying to find my focus and grade the last of the pre-post informational stack. I kept hearing the sound of children’s voices- which I always hear after school since my classroom is downwind from the after school club. It is usually a cacophony of screams, yells, random vocalizations and adult shouts of directions and requests for silence and lines. I tried to shut it out and focus, but it was insistent. And then I started to really hear it. It was actually a beautiful symphony of young voices in perfect unison and it didn’t stop- not for a long time. They were singing a popular song, over and over. It made me start thinking about the memory skills and fluency skills that were happening in a totally self-selected and playful way. Hmmm. How could I harness that energy? Fluid fluency is such a gatekeeper in my classroom right now. We read and memorize a lot of poetry to help us build our fluency, but songs… not so much.

Then, the sun went down and I kept working and eventually got home- life went on. I kind of forgot about it.

Next morning, at Breakfast in the Classroom (WHICH I HATE)- they served bananas. For some reason a few months ago I felt compelled to share the Raffi song “Bananaphone” (which you can learn more about here )with my class. That first morning I started to sing it, sort of under my breath, and they asked what I was singing. I told them, but they hadn’t heard of the song. “WHAT?” I asked. How could they have not heard that song? It was a staple when I taught Pre-K so many years ago.

“Don’t need quarters, don’t need dimes, to call a friend of mine!”

So I found it on my iPhone, since the district filters won’t let me get to such dangerous music… and we were off.

“Ring ring ring ring ring ring ring banana phone…

Ping pong ping pong ping pong ping panana phone.”


Now it is a tradition on banana mornings.

And on Friday, they begged for the lyrics. OH! Of course! And suddenly I had my natural pathway to that admired fluency and memory tutor. Music! A song! And a purpose! And they think it is all their idea! Which it sort of is.

“I’ve got this feeling, so appealing,

for us to get together and sing. Sing!”


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