While I’m driving to lunch my five-year-old granddaughter Khloe says, “Six more days until Kylie comes. What day is that?”
“It’s Thursday. Remember the song I taught you?”
Years ago a Merced College student taught me new words to a familiar song. I begin singing, “There’s Sunday and there’s Monday, ….” I sing the entire song, “Days of the Week” to the tune of “The Addam’s Family.”1 [You Tube link below].2 The song’s fun and catchy, even for little ones who have no idea about “The Addam’s Family.”
My granddaughter and I just sang a zipper song. A week ago, I didn’t know that’s what it’s called. I learned about zipper songs during the Learn 2 Read, Read 2 Learn conference. 3
Learn More with Music. Keynote speaker Alesha Henderson from Lakeshore Learning 4 noted the power of music for young children learning language.
“We remember three times as much with music than without music.”
My response: I really can’t carry a tune. How can I do this?
Her answer: Zipper songs.
Charlotte Diamond, Canadian children’s singer recommends zipper songs as part of her P.R.I.Z.E. method of teaching songs and chants. Diamond says, “Encourage children to compose their own songs by adapting songs they already know.” 5
There are two different types of zipper songs. The first type is to make up new words to a familiar song, such as in “The Addam’s Family” example. One group attending the conference wrote new words for a well-known song, “The Wheels on the Bus.”
“The monkeys in the trees go swing, swing, swing . . . ,” followed by,
“The bees in the trees go buzz, buzz, buzz . . . ”
The second type of zipper songs is when a familiar tune is sung traditionally except that one or more key words are substituted for each verse. 6 “This Old Man,” is a perfect example of the second type. “This old man, he played one /he played knick knack on my thumb/ . . . Then replace the underlined words with “two . . . on my shoe,” “three . . . on my knee,” 7 and so on. Other well-known songs that fit this type are “Old McDonald” and “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain.”
Fun with Language
No matter which way you sing a zipper song, children learn new words quickly and have fun with language. “Zipper songs are great sing-along songs because they require little learning time and can be sung for a long time.” 6
What zipper songs can you create with your students, children or grandchildren? I’d love to hear the tune and words they make up.
- Jean and Friends. Days of the Week (Tune: “The Addams Family”) http://www.drjean.org/html/cds_f/friends_lyrics3.html Accessed 9/4/ 2015.
- Conference sponsored by the Stanislaus County Office of Education.
- Days of the Week clap clap! [to the tune of the Addams…] Uploaded by Michelle Lebowe May 12, 2013. youtube.com/watch?v=yIvQOab00OQ. [0:31]. Accessed 9/4/ 2015.
- ZIPPER SONGS: Let’s make up a new song! The P.R.I.Z.E. Method of Teaching Songs and Chants byCharlotte Diamond. http://www.songsforteaching.com/charlottediamond/prize.htm Accessed 11/10/2015.
- http://www.uua.org/re/tapestry/resources/music/chapter6/129370.shtml Accessed 11/10/2015.
- Public Domain, “This Old Man.” http://www.pdinfo.com/pd-song-list/pd-song-list-best-t.php. Accessed 11/10/2015.
- Image: Birthday Monkey Clip Art [order.upprintinvitations.org] (Free to share and use commercially, 11/11/2015).
Thank you for sharing the power of zipper songs! I use zipper songs extensively in my teaching. I refer to what you called “type two” as a zipper song. I refer to “type one” as a “piggyback song” – when you take new lyrics and piggyback them onto a familiar melody. Keep singing, Risa