Year 1 Music

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Fast and Slow

tortoise and the hare

Get Ready

Talk with your child about animals that usually move slowly, such as tortoises or cows. Then talk about animals that can move very quickly, such as hares, birds, or cheetahs. Ask your child to think of other animals that we think of as usually moving slowly or quickly.


Sing 'Old MacDonald' with your child, then choose one of the animals you discussed earlier (such as a tortoise) that moves slowly. Sing a verse of 'Old MacDonald' in which you name this slow animal, and sing at a slow tempo (use your imagination when you sing the sound the animal makes). For example:

Old … Mac … Don … ald … had … a … farm … E … I … E … I … O.
And … on … this … farm … he … had … a … tortoise … E … I … E … I … O.
With … a … ho … hum … here … [or insert your own, imaginative noise here]
And … a … ho … hum … there … [Etc.]

Encourage your child to choose another slow-moving animal and sing the next verse, also at a slow tempo. Then ask:

For example, you could sing at a brisk tempo:

Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O.
And on this farm he had a hare, E-I-E-I-O.
With a vroom-vroom here and a vroom-vroom there [Etc.]

Go a Little Further

Listen to music that is sometimes slow and sometimes fast. For example, 'In the Hall of the Mountain King' from Grieg's Peer Gynt starts out moderately slow and turns furiously fast by the end. Listen to this piece and then ask your child:

Play the music again and have your child move to the music. If you're feeling up to it, join in!

This activity is adapted from page 180 of What Your Year 1 Child Needs to Know, which can be purchased here. This activity has cross-curricular connections: click below to see the related activity:

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