February 4, 2012

Raindrops & Rainbows

February is the month most of you are teaching "Choose the Right".  I'm saving that for March & focusing on the prophet Noah for February.  We are going to learn "Build An Ark".  And as I've pondered for WEEKS on just how to teach this song, I finally received the inspiration.  Granted, it was by "here a little, there a little"; but it is inspiration indeed!

I love the concept of melody maps.  They're not the quickest thing to produce, but the visual concept of them is remarkable.  Click on the link to find an utterly awesome blog (In the Leafy Tree Tops the "Birds Sing") that has 2 examples for January's & February's songs!  I just couldn't figure out how to make my own for "Build An Ark", so I'm doing it slightly different.

In the world of teaching music, you may be familiar with the method of teaching young children about the duration of short & long notes by using raindrops and rainbows.  For example, Beethoven's 5th Symphony's first four notes are: quarter, quarter, quarter, whole.  To put it into raindrops and rainbows would be: drop, drop, drop, rainbow.  In the story of Noah, there was plenty of raindrops & the promised blessing of rainbows!  I decided to turn this into a way to teach the primary kids the song, "Build An Ark".

Before I begin to explain, I need to tell you that I've divided up this song into 4 parts: part A, part B, part C, & part D.

I will begin with part A by asking the pianist to play middle C in 4 quarter notes & 1 whole note rhythm.  I'll explain to the kids that we just heard 5 notes being played: short, short, short, short, long.  I'll have the kids chant with me as the pianist plays the notes again.  Then I'll place 4 raindrops and 1 rainbow in a straight, horizontal line on the chalkboard.  I will then explain that each raindrop represents a short note and the rainbow represents a long note.  I'll again have the pianist play the note in this rhythm while I point to each raindrop & rainbow and we all chant along. Next I'll add another 6 raindrops & a rainbow to the same line.  We'll repeat the piano/point/chant exercise for the entire line: short, short, short, short, long, short, short, short, short, short, short, long.

The next step is to change the melody (plain middle C) to something more fun:)  The pianist will play the melody of the first phrase of the song, "Build An Ark".  We'll whisper-chant along with her as we learn the melody.  This will be repeated a few times until everyone is secure with the tune & we chant it loudly.

This is when I'll explain to the kids that this song is about a prophet who was an expert on raindrops & rainbows.  I'm sure they'll guess Noah.  So we are going to now add words to the raindrops & rainbows to tell the story of Noah.

This song has many portions of the melody that repeat throughout the song.  We'll use repeat signs as needed to shorten the amount of raindrops & rainbows.

So this is what part A looks like.  Notice the repeat sign I chalked in.  The lyrics for this are: Noah was a prophet, a man who did not fear. (Repeat sign) When he taught repentance the people would not hear.
How's that for clarity!  It all sounds so clear when it's in my head:)

Once the kids are comfy with the words in part A, I'll put up part B & repeat the process beginning with the "short-long" method.  This is where a couple of faster notes are added into the song.  It's the very first 2.  So what is like rain, but falls from the sky at a faster rate?  HAIL!  Hail is freezing raindrops.  So I add a winter hat & mittens to the first 2 raindrops.  The rhythm for these is "quick-ly", one syllable per freezing raindrop.
The chant for part B: quick-ly, short, short, short, short, short, short, short, (Repeat sign), quick-ly, short, short, short, short, short, short, short (2nd time only, they need to hold out that note).  Once the melody is learned by chanting, add the lyrics.  Then you add one raindrop after the repeat sign that leads right back into part A. Teach them the lyrics for the part A (3rd time singing it).  This time, ignore the repeat sign at the end of part A.  When you get to it, you'll immediately jump down to part C.  

Part C is longer, taking two lines of raindrops & rainbows. By now you should know the method drill: chant, whisper-chant with melody, add lyrics.

Part D has a repeat sign.  On the 2nd time through part D, hold out the note right before the 2nd set of freezing raindrops.  

You can also move the raindrops & rainbows to read as a melody map:
My attempt looks a bit squishy on parts C & D.  I would space it out better next time:)  Also notice on part D the last notes just before the last rainbow are at different levels.  That's because when we repeat to sing it through for a 2nd time, that note is written at a lower pitch than when we sang it the first time through.  

You can use this method with ANY song.  Can you think of other ways to use the Raindrops & Rainbows?  Please share!


  1. What a darling way to do a melody map. I love the rainbow and raindrops you have created. They are just so cute and versatile; you can reuse them for any song. I'm going to have to try this sometime. I think it would be fun to see if the kids can recreate the melody of a simple song or a phrase they are learning using your raindrops and rainbows. That would be a fun challenge for them. And hey, thanks for the link to my blog. That made me feel so special to be mentioned in your blog. What a wonderful community we have of music leaders out in cyberspace. I am loving the people I am meeting through this media.

    1. Nalani, I only got through parts A & B on Sunday before we ran out of time. But they memorized all the words without any other visual aid than the drops & 'bows. We'll work on C & D next week. And then I'll use your idea & for the final week and have the Sr. Primary attempt to place the drops in melody map style for a bit of a challenge. This teaching method is so versatile! Definitely can be used in the years to come:)

  2. I love all of your flip charts! I am new to this calling and have not yet made one. How do you put yours together? Do you laminate them or use plastic sleeves? Do you use three ring binders? Thanks for the help! I have loved looking around your blog and can’t wait to use many of your wonderful ideas!

    1. Janeil, if you click on the "organizing" label at the top right hand side of my blog, you'll find a post about how I store my flip charts. I store them in 3ring binders. I alway make the flip charts on card stock. Then I place clear packing tape on the back along the side where I will punch the 3 ring holes. This prevents tearing. When I use the flip chart, I have found it easier to just hold them in my hand in front of me as we sing. I never could "flip" them easily while they were in the binders. I also like to place each page on the chalkboard with a magnet as we are learning the song. Hopefully this helps a little bit:).

  3. Tifany:

    Thanks so much for your blog. It is a great place to get inspiration and wonderful ideas!

    I WAS SO EXCITED when I happened upon this song in January and wanted to teach it also. However, I have never used a melody map of any sort - so this Sunday is going to be a first for me. During the step that you add the lyrics to the melody to you write them on the board? Just a few in spots? I am nervous about fitting so many words with such a tricky melody?

    Any help would be appreciated...thanks:)