Teaching English’s Greatest Hits

By Amelia Leigner

I would like to introduce to you my absolute favorite collection of songs, a staple in my classroom, the “Super Simple Songs.” This collection was created for teachers, by teachers, and especially for teaching English. I have found these songs applicable for every level I teach, from my preschool students to my more advanced learners.

There is much to love about the “Super Simple Songs” collection. Every song is easy to understand and includes tons of opportunities to incorporate TPR (Total Physical Response). Many of the songs already feature basic movements worked into the lyrics, while others give teachers the opportunity to get creative in adding their own actions (it’s easy, don’t worry!). This active component allows students to release some of the built up energy that arises from sitting in a classroom for long hours, as well as practice their oral English.

While I haven’t yet found a “Super Simple Song” that isn’t appropriately paced, full of space for movement, and easy for my students to follow, I do have a few favorites that I always come back to. I have included these links below, as well as brief explanations for each song:

One Little Finger
“One Little Finger” is a great alternative to the classic, but often over-used, “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.” The song teaches the body parts finger, head, nose, chin, arm, leg and foot. It also introduces some other useful vocabulary such as up and down. My students love this song and the simple dance that is shown in the video. I would say this song is appropriate for children as young as 3 or 4 years old, and even enjoyable for middle school students.

Open Shut Them
“Open Shut Them” includes a lot of very important and useful vocabulary terms. It also helps students begin to understand opposites. I have used this song to introduce some helpful TPR in my classes. For example, arms spread wide for “big” and then close for “small.” I think it is important to incorporate your own physical movements into this song.

If You’re Happy
This version of the classic song “If You’re Happy” is my absolute favorite because it simplifies the lyrics and also contains a wider variety of emotions than the original including angry, scared and sleepy. My students have exhibited some pretty impressive acting skills when singing this song.

Do You Like Broccoli Ice Cream?
My students also love “Do You Like Broccoli Ice Cream?” because of it’s silly lyrics and images. It’s a great song to use during a food unit, but can be used at any time for a bit of fun. I would suggest adding your own overdramatic reactions.

I like to play these songs at the beginning of every class as a warm-up song, or between different activities if the students seem to be getting tired or bored. These songs are a great way to bring laughter back into the classroom! The “Super Simple Song” collection also includes holiday songs which work great for holiday parties and holiday themed classes.