Sing with Mike!

Activities that Explore all Strands of the Irish Primary Music Curriculum


  Listening and Responding   Composing  
  Junior   Junior  
Senior   Senior  
  Listening   Composing and Improvising  
  Junior   Junior  
Senior   Senior  
  Developing the Singing Voice   Playing Instruments  
  Junior   Junior  
Senior   Senior  
  Rhythm and Metre   Games, Actions, Movement and Dance  
  Junior   Junior  
Senior   Senior  
  Part Singing   Literacy  



Listening and Responding

  • Listen to the choo sounds on the recording. Ask the children if they are high or low (high). Invite them to make choo vocal sounds at different pitches.

  • Ask the children to think of sounds they would hear at a train station. Can they use their voice and/or instruments to represent these sounds?

  • Before singing Toot Toot set the scene by combining toot sounds and station sounds.

  • At a chosen signal, e.g. a child blowing a whistle, the train sets off and the song begins.

In addition there are actions, a name game and a reading activity associated with this song.


Developing the Singing Voice

  • A new child is chosen to hunt the thimble. The children begin to sing Who's got the Thimble?

  • This time the other children guide the thimble-hunter by the dynamic of their singing - louder for 'getting hot' and quieter for 'getting cold'.
  • The children explore producing different dynamic ranges with their own voices and over time learn to get quieter and louder gradually.

  • Choose gestures to indicate how to sing at different dynamics, e.g. hand raised high for loud, low for quiet. Choose one child to be a dynamics conductor when singing the song.



Playing Instruments

  • A second part to this song is played on the flute in the recording. Older children may enjoy learning this part by ear.


Rhythm and Metre

  • Say the words of the song in rhythm while pointing to the paint pot picture rhythm.



Games, Actions, Movement and Dance

Part Singing

  • Make sure the children are very familiar with the song before trying it in parts.

  • Listen to the recording. On the second repetition of the song, mandola and flute play a two-part canon. This is followed by voices, mandola and flute as a three-part canon. Finally the voices sing in a three-part canon. Ask the children to choose one of the instruments on the recording and to tap along with its rhythm.

  • Further tips on singing canons on p49 of the book.

  • Keep the hí-há nice and light, as if bouncing.

  • Sing gently. Listen carefully to the other parts to check if each part can be heard clearly.

  • Think mischievous!




  • For the "Engine Jumps the Train Tracks" you will need:

    • Two lines displayed on a wall in your room, 1.5m - 2m long, 12cm apart (any material can be used, e.g. ribbon or crepe paper).

    • Write so on a large card disc and attach it to the beginning of the top line as shown in the picture below.

    • A toy train carriage.

  • Sing Engine, Engine p18 of the book, first with words, then with singing names. If you have chime bars, tap the G chime bar four times before you begin to give the starting pitch so and the tempo for the song.

  • Ask the children which note is high, and which low (so - high, mi - low).

  • Sing Engine, Engine and move the toy train from the high line, so, to the low line, mi, as shown in the following diagram.

  • Show the children how the engine (toy train) can show the so and mi notes by jumping from track to track on the railway line as shown below:

Composing and Improvising

  • Decide on ways of playing home-made and classroom percussion instruments to represent sounds in a restaurant, e.g. tinkling cutlery, washing and stacking dishes, chopping sounds, grater, clanging saucepans, bubbling pot, hissing coffee maker.

  • Place the chosen instruments in a circle with the players sitting in front of the instruments. Choose a conductor who walks around the outside of the group. The children play their instruments as the conductor passes by and freeze as he/she moves on.




Listening and Responding

  • In small groups explore ways of making scary sounds:

    • Using vocal sounds: belly laughs, whistling, whispering, muttering, hissing, swooping, nasal sounds.

    • Using junk: metal, plastic, paper.

  • Each group performs a sequence of sounds. A few children have their backs to the performers during the piece and try to identify the sounds in the correct sequence.



Developing the Singing Voice

  • Sing with a smooth flowing melody line by trying the following ideas with the children:

    • Be a ghost! Sing full song to oo.

    • Be a chilly ghost! Sing full song to brrr, taking a good deep breath before each new phrase begins. (Tummy muscles need to work hard to sing brrr, so the whole body is supporting the sound.)

    • Be yourself! Stand tall, full of poise, with relaxed shoulders to show YOU’RE not afraid of ghosts when you sing.


Playing Instruments

  • Make home-made instruments (ideas for materials on p36 of the book) and dress up as a Wren Boy’s Band. Make up repeated rhythm patterns to accompany your singing. The following word rhythms are played as ostinati on the recording.


Rhythm and Metre

Section One ( - 3 beats in each bar).

Section Two ( - 2 beats in each bar)
  • Tap knees once, tap desk twice. Repeat this pattern while singing the first section of the song.

  • Tap knees once, tap desk once while singing the second section of the song.

One group continues the clapping and tapping pattern while the other group says the rhythm names. Swap groups.

Games, Actions, Movement and Dance

The children divide into groups of six, each group holding onto a 'wheel', e.g. a P.E. hoop.



A - 8 steps clockwise.
B - 8 steps counter-clockwise.


C - Standing, rock the wheel backwards and forwards 8 times.
D - Raise up wheel.
E - Lower wheel.
F - Rock the wheel backwards and forwards 4 times.

Part Singing

  • Listen to the accompaniment on the CD recording. There are three layers of repeated melodic patterns, i.e. ostinati.

Practice each pattern with solfa names using the words doo doo bee. Combine one pattern at a time with the song building to a 4-part arrangement.


Music is written on a music stave, with five lines and four spaces. As the human hand has five fingers and four spaces in between them, a fingerstave is a very useful way of progressing from the two-line music tracks to the full music stave. We count up the stave from the little finger:

  • Introduce the fingerstave with a song that the children have already written on music boards e.g. Suogán, a do-re-mi song, p11.

  • Ask the children to hold up their left hand with the palm facing the chest (swap hands if left-handed). The right hand index finger shows the notes by pointing to the correct finger, or space between fingers, while singing the singing names.

  • Demonstrate where do is on the fingerstave, e.g. the second finger (line) as shown below (a). Ask the children to try and locate re and mi. Sing Suogán with singing names pointing to their position on the fingerstave as they sing.

  • Now move the position of do, e.g. to the first space and try again (b).

(a) (b)

Composing and Improvising

Create a Rhythm Accompaniment for Tongo Using Body Percussion