I purchased this book this school year from my book fair. When I got it back to my classroom, my students were asking all afternoon when we would use it. The past few classes my 4th and 5th graders enjoyed using it during our lessons. This book has great ideas and an amazing message for all students.
When Franklin Willis came to Cincinnati to share a workshop with our Local Orff Chapter he used this book and lead us through an activity singing a simple melody with it. This was the springboard for the extensions I did in my classroom. You can check out Franklin’s original lesson plan and song here : I Promise
Once I read the story and we did the song together I also had my 4th and 5th graders add Ukulele accompaniment to our singing. We have been working on the C chord, which then fit perfectly with the key of the piece. You could transpose Franklin’s song into whatever key best fits your Ukulele teaching at that moment. We then played the C chord for the downbeat of every measure and also for every beat at the end.
I wanted to extend this book just one more day to really make an impact with my students. I thought about teaching them the melody and having them play it on the barred instruments (which is totally something you can do because it is really easy!), but I wanted them to make a personal connection to the text.
After reviewing the singing, playing, and some of the promises made in the story I asked my students to write their own promises. No one but myself and them would see it. Then they would take their promises and compose a short melody to them on the barred instruments. I walked around and facilitated some ideas for these compositions to keep the melodies simple and easy to play. The students did a good job remembering to end their compositions on C, since that was the chord we had used. I gave them plenty of time to work through this and then asked for some volunteers to play their melodies for us.
First I had them play their melodies solo. There wasn’t a meter involved in the compositions because I wanted it to be more focused on how they would interpret saying their promises, rather than trying to squeeze notation in. They would then play their melodies again, and the other students would accompany them on the Ukulele C chord, just like we had done previously. Sometimes the accompaniment worked and sometimes it didn’t. That was the nature of having no meter to go off of. But, my main goal for this extension was the experience and the connection. Here are some of my students’ promises:
This was the very first time I had done this book and extensions. In the future I might try and have the students keep some sort of meter for their playing, especially if we are going to accompany them. Lessons are always evolving and changing with each year and with the students. Feel free to use my ideas to extend your lessons, and make sure to check out Franklin’s lesson and song: I Promise