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The importance of song in the field

The Arts

Singing is a joyful experience and can be used as a teaching tool out in the field. Songs can help introduce, supplement, or debrief a lesson. Here are some ways to use songs in the field.

As an Introduction: Use song as a hook for a lesson. Making melodies for lessons helps the students think about the words they are singing as a repeat after me.

Review of a lesson:  Using a familiar melody with a ‚Äúrepeat after me‚Äù allows them to review the material in a fun new way.

As a motivator for Stretching: Scientists have proven that stretching improves the ability to learn. The increase in blood flow helps the brain and stimulates learning. However, some students are unwilling to do morning stretches before a hike but when singing a “do as I do” song it allows their body to move and wake up. With song they forget they are stretching and enjoy the moment. Also after a meal singing an entertainment song is a nice way to get the “digestive juices flowing.”

For increasing energy: When the group is low energy and there is still more time for field group a song can be a “pick me up”. A dance party or just a camp song can liven the group.

To maintain focus: When doing an observation lesson front load the students with instructions of doing the observation for as long as the song is playing and when the song stops discussion of the object will start. While the song is playing the students know only to observe the item selected and they know there is a certain length of time they will be focusing.

Supplementing a lesson: There is a point in a longer lesson that the students might need a brain break and a song can add to the lesson while allowing a kinesthetic learning element.

Debriefing: After a day at the harbor I like to sing a song about the beach, but before that I have the students say what they saw at the beach. This provides evidence of what they remember seeing and what animals live in a marine ecosystem. The students can realize that they are in fact marine biologists. This can be done with any lesson or theme.

Team bonding: Trail walking and singing a favorite song keeps the group together and engaged. This will allow the fast walkers to slow down and the stragglers to keep up so they can sing with the team.  A team that sings together will stay together. 

Examples of Songs:

Night Hike:
During night hike singing the melody of row your boat with rods and cones. For example: "Rods, rods, rods and cones sitting in my eye. One sees color and the other movement so night won't pass me by."


Harbor Song:
Sponge Bob square pants jogging down the beach. He looks over there and what does he see? He sees a crab doing crabby things - pinchy pinchy pinch. He sees the sea gulls flying in the sky - (sound of droppings). He sees the jelly fish in the water- squishy squishy sqish.


Singing is a joyful experience and can be used as a teaching tool out in the field. Songs can help introduce, supplement, or debrief a lesson. Here are some ways to use songs in the field.

As an Introduction: Use song as a hook for a lesson. Making melodies for lessons helps the students think about the words they are singing as a repeat after me.

Review of a lesson:  Using a familiar melody with a ‚Äúrepeat after me‚Äù allows them to review the material in a fun new way.

As a motivator for Stretching: Scientists have proven that stretching improves the ability to learn. The increase in blood flow helps the brain and stimulates learning. However, some students are unwilling to do morning stretches before a hike but when singing a “do as I do” song it allows their body to move and wake up. With song they forget they are stretching and enjoy the moment. Also after a meal singing an entertainment song is a nice way to get the “digestive juices flowing.”

For increasing energy: When the group is low energy and there is still more time for field group a song can be a “pick me up”. A dance party or just a camp song can liven the group.

To maintain focus: When doing an observation lesson front load the students with instructions of doing the observation for as long as the song is playing and when the song stops discussion of the object will start. While the song is playing the students know only to observe the item selected and they know there is a certain length of time they will be focusing.

Supplementing a lesson: There is a point in a longer lesson that the students might need a brain break and a song can add to the lesson while allowing a kinesthetic learning element.

Debriefing: After a day at the harbor I like to sing a song about the beach, but before that I have the students say what they saw at the beach. This provides evidence of what they remember seeing and what animals live in a marine ecosystem. The students can realize that they are in fact marine biologists. This can be done with any lesson or theme.

Team bonding: Trail walking and singing a favorite song keeps the group together and engaged. This will allow the fast walkers to slow down and the stragglers to keep up so they can sing with the team.  A team that sings together will stay together. 

Examples of Songs:

Night Hike:
During night hike singing the melody of row your boat with rods and cones. For example: "Rods, rods, rods and cones sitting in my eye. One sees color and the other movement so night won't pass me by."


Harbor Song:
Sponge Bob square pants jogging down the beach. He looks over there and what does he see? He sees a crab doing crabby things - pinchy pinchy pinch. He sees the sea gulls flying in the sky - (sound of droppings). He sees the jelly fish in the water- squishy squishy sqish.


About the Author
Morgan Lawless
Hi, my name is Morgan and I am from Syracuse, NY. I graduated from the University of New England with a degree in Marine Science. At UNE I had a unique opportunity to volunteer for their marine animal rehabilitation center. Upon graduation I became an outdoor educator for Nature's Classroom. Here I taught forest, salt water marsh, and beach ecology. I have also had an opportunity to work on and off since high school at an all inclusive preschool. I am currently enrolled at Islandwood, a graduate program for education for environment and community.