Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Italian fun

This post is an idea submitted by Trisha...
Thanks for the great idea!
(If anyone else has an idea, to share, let me know!)

Because most music words are Italian, I decided to teach the children some common Italian music words while reviewing songs for the program.

I used the following pairs of words:
* Forte (loud) and Piano (soft)
* Allegro (fast) and Largo (slow)
* Staccato (crisp, detached) and Legato (smooth, connected)
* A capella (without music) and Con musica (with music)
* Regazze (girls), Ragazzi (boys), and Insegnanti (teachers)

I used an online translation site to find the translations for girls, boys, and teachers. The site also says the words for you so that you can hear the correct pronunciation ( It works for other languages too. Want to learn Head, Shoulder, Knees, and Toes in another langugage? This site is extremely helpful for that. There are other such sites out there, but this is one of my favorites.

I dressed in a trench coat, with a hat, and big sunglasses. I was a detective and I invited the children to play detective with me to figure out some Italian words that have to do with music and singing.

For Junior Primary, I hid the pairs of words in numbered envelopes under their chairs so that they could help me find the missing Italian words.

Then, I had the children with the number one words come up to the front and hold their words.

I had a "magic wand" (a digital drumstick with the power off). I told the children my wand could read Italian, so they had to guess what each word meant based on how my wand responsed. I'd read each word by running the tip of the wand across each word. Then, my wand would respond in a corresponding way. I'd then ask them what they thought that word meant in English.

* Forte (very large movements)
* Piano (very small)
* Allegro (very fast)
* Largo (very slow)
* Staccato (robot-like, sharp)
* Legato (flowing, almost dancing)
* A capella (sharp, cut off motion towards pianist)
* Con musica (pick up/include motion towards pianist)
* Ragazze, Ragazzi, and Insegnanti (point towards girls, boys, or teachers, or point to pictures on the board or on a poster, or walk around tapping a few gently on the head)

For Senior Primary, I also put "How?," "Who?," and "When?" wordstrips on the board. For each set of words, they helped me deduce if that pair of Italian words helped us know WHO shoudl sing, WHEN we should sing (or sing with accompaniment), or HOW we should sing.

We sang through several songs in the program with a different set of words for each song. The children had to watch the wand carefully to know how to sing the song at any given moment because the wand would switch back and forth between each word in a pair. If they needed extra practice with a song, a helper got to come up and direct the wand with the appropriate motions for the Italian words used with that song.

At the end, we sang through a couple songs using all of the Italian words together. They really had to watch me and my wand then!

I also sent home a straw with each child. The straw had a little paper flag taped to the end of it. The "flag" listed all of the Italian words we learned that day. I told them they could practice their Italian and music with their families.

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