16 years ago my husband and I were blessed with a little boy. We named him Christopher. After my initial concern for getting Christopher to sleep occasionally, I began focusing on other issues such as—How will Christopher ever learn to spell his name? Do you know howmany letters are in the name Christopher? Way too many for any little fella to remember in order. I was concerned that Christopher would be the only child in his kindergarten Sunday school class who couldn’t spell his name. He was less than two years old at the time, but we moms who want only the absolute utmost for our firstborns have to plan ahead for these kinds of things. Well, I set to work trying to figure out how to deal with this dilemma.
I remembered that as a student I would frequently have difficult things to memorize. Oftentimes I would put those things to music—nothing fancy, just a short little childhood tune. I was already very familiar with the songs, so it was easier for me to remember facts that I set to those tunes. This method helped me remember such things as important dates, world events, vocabulary words, parts of the body, etc. You get the picture. I even took that method with me to college working on my undergraduate and graduate degrees. I usually studied by myself so I didn’t disturb anyone else while singing my little ditties. “But what about the test over the material?” you ask. Well, one of my other hidden talents is humming in my head. No one had a clue what I was doing. But I do remember getting a few strange looks when I bobbed my head to the silent tune. (Yet another argument for homeschooling: Chances are no one is watching, so homeschoolers can bob their heads all they want—OR even sing out loud!)
Anyway, I figured if that method worked for me, it might work for Christopher. So I set about putting his name to music. “Christopher” doesn’t fit well with most children’s songs. I went through lots of familiar tunes, and finally I remembered the song from The Mickey Mouse Club. You remember—the song that the kids sang at the beginning of the show while wearing their Mickey Mouse ears (I’m not sure how to spell “mouseketeers,” but that’s what they were). Many of you will have to do an Internet search to find out what in the world I’m talking about. Trust me; it was a real show.
Getting back to my point: “Christopher” fit perfectly to that tune.
I was so proud of myself! I went and sang it for my husband, and I sang it for my friends, and I sang it for my mother and my sister… And then I sang it to Christopher, too. Here’s how it goes:
That is how we spell Christopher.
OK, so I’m not Barry Manilow. The point is that it’s catchy and easy to learn. Christopher caught on quickly. I proudly made Christopher perform his name song for the nursery workers in the toddler room. He was just going into the 2-year-old class. Hey, how many kids do you know who can spell their names at 2—much less spell Christopher? (He’s going on 16 now, so I don’t make him sing his name song any more.)
Fast forward 2½ years. A little brother joined Christopher. We named him Nicholas. We really liked the 3-syllable names. I set about creating a name song for Nicholas. I don’t think Nicholas could sing his name song at 2, but that was because he always had that “boppy” hanging out of his mouth. (That’s another issue for discussion.) But, he did know how to spell his name well before he started kindergarten. Here’s how his name song goes. It’s to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” Everyone sing along with me.
He loves to make a mess.
He never likes to rest.
I put this song in 3rd person, because remember—Nicholas wasn’t the one singing at first due to his pacifier obsession. (He’s over that now.)
Five years later, Rebecca joined us. (We had to stick with the 3-syllable trend we had started.) Rebecca liked to sing her name song. Here’s how it goes. It’s set to the tune of “Ten Little Indians.”
I’m Rebecca, and I’m here to say
What a happy day!
Were you singing along that time?
It was at this point that we decided to homeschool our children. It occurred to me that I could really put anything I wanted to remember to music—or rather, wanted my children to remember. I started with days of the week, months, and the five senses. Then I branched out to the fruit of the Spirit and colors in their natural order. I was really onto something. Hey, what about other stuff I wanted the kids to know? What about abstract concepts? Yep. It works for everything! Kids can learn just about anything as long as it rhymes and is set to music. Just think about how long it takes your kids to pick up songs they hear on the radio or commercial jingles from TV. Why do companies use catchy jingles to sell their products, anyway? Because we get the jingles stuck in our heads and go around singing them (sometimes even when we’re not really impressed with the product and intend never to spend money on it). How many of you can still sing the Oscar Meyer song or the Burger King “Have it Your Way” song? Well, you get the point. I want my kids to remember important stuff, not just the theme songs from their favorite shows. Can I hear an “Amen!”
Have fun singing with your kids. Who knows—you might find out that you have the next American Idol living right in your own home. It could happen…but if it does please let me know.
Here’s a sampling of some of the teaching tunes I have used.
5 Senses (“B-I-N-G-O” tune)
I have five senses God gave me.
Have you heard of such?
Hear, see, smell, taste, touch;
Hear, see, smell, taste, touch;
Hear, see, smell, taste, touch.
Have you heard of such?
Colors (“Ten Little Indians” tune)
Red and orange and yellow and green;
Blue and Indigo and violet I’ve seen
Arching over the mountain and tree-
God made a promise to you and me.
Months (“Mulberry Bush” tune)
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March and April,
May and June,
July and August,
November, December –
12 months in a year.