The Musical Fruit
by John Pearson
When I was in elementary school, I had to learn the multiplication tables the hard way, through rote memorization. There were no shortcuts, no cute little mnemonic mantras to aid the learning process. Nowadays, the kids have catchy songs that stick in their heads. In my classroom, I use a cassette tape that contains songs for the numbers two through ten, but I've heard and/or heard of a plethora of other songs that serve a similar function. There are hip-hop versions, country versions -- there may even be yodeling versions and death-rock heavy-metal versions for all I know.
The point is, the songs work. Some of my lowest kids -- the ones who still forget to borrow when they subtract or who think going from 92 to 87 represents a temperature drop of 179 degrees -- can tell me what 6 X 8 is because of those songs.
So here's my question. Why aren't we using catchy melodies and memorable lyrics for EVERYTHING?
Sure, it would be easy to just say, "Because nothing good rhymes with onomatopoeia." But that's just being lazy. So in the interest of educators everywhere, here are a few suggestions for various topics. I should point out that I'm a lyrics guy; you'll have to come up with the melodies yourself.
Knight, knee, knife and knack,
Knuckle, knob, and knave;
The thing that sets them all apart –
They'll have silent K’s.
Smart like a fox, and tall as a tree,
You use "like" or "as" that is a simile;
But you don't use those words -- His mouth was a door,