Friends and Mothers

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SWBAT identify the words of phrases in songs that suggest feelings.

Big Idea

Students will engage in a real life experience analyzing words and phrases that suggest feelings.


10 minutes

Common Core Connection

I am so excited about this lesson because we will analyze three phrases in one of my favorite songs, That's What Friends Are For by Dion Warwick, and Ain't No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gay.  Now That's What Friends Are for is very relevant, because all students have friends.  But, Ain't No Mountain High Enough, could be analyzed from as a love song, but I am going to scaffold this to make it more relevant. I will tell the class this one is about a mother and child.  It could really be interpreted different ways.  In every lesson I try to share something personal about myself to engage my students, but I also try to use some kind of real life application.  

The big idea in this lesson is to analyze the way words or phrases suggest feelings in a song. These songs suggest feelings, and they are also something I like to teach, so it's fun, too. In addition both lyrics allow the students to make inferences as from the phrases I selected.  The complexity is added in the excerpts I selected, because it can be very challenging for first graders to make inferences in a text about feelings.  The other issue is that the songs use different literary devices to suggest feelings. That's What Friends Are For uses metaphor, and Ain't No Mountain High Enough uses hyperbole.  This could be confusing, but I directly approach these devices and discuss what feelings they each evoke. At this point, it's not necessary for first graders to understand all the nuances of each type of literary device, but calling attention to their subtle differences from the outset helps keep the focus on the feelings and emotions suggested.

Lesson Overview

The students work in small groups (Peanut Butter Jelly Partners) throughout the lesson, and they Transition often to keep themselves engaged. Check out my videos on both in the resource section.

Guided Practice

20 minutes

The class now transitions to the desks to they can see the Board and we begin to analyze three phrases in That's What Friends Are For by Dion Warwick. (The That's What Friends Are For Lyrics and Chart are in the resource section.) The first thing I ask the class to do is echo read the song with me.  Now they have heard the text three times.  After getting familiar with the text the class can begin to analyze specific phrases in the text.

Now the students talk to their peanut butter jelly partner about what, keep smilin keep shining, means.  First graders are so literal,  I am hoping they do not talk about using some kind of paint to make a person shine, but I would not be surprised if I hear some of these kind of conversations.  I am wanting them to say it means to stay positive and keep trying. It could mean never give up or just be happy.  After listening and assessing their knowledge, I select he students that had the most appropriate answer and ask them to share their ideas aloud. Other students add to their idea and the class engages in a discussion that leads to the best analysis, and I add that to the chart on the board.  The chart is in the resources with the lyrics.

Then the students discuss what, you came and opened me and now there is so much more I see, really means. I listen as the students discuss what this means.  Then I ask several students to share or add to what the previous speaker said. After the class has a discuss about the meaning, I add the final meaning on the board.  The author is saying that the person he is singing to has made him see things in a new perspective.

Last the students discuss with their partner what, these words are from my heart, means.  Then I listen to assess their understanding.  Next, I ask several students to share their ideas and the class engages in a discussion about the meaning. Once they determine the meaning I add it to the chart on the board.

One quick note about the chart: I have selected excerpts to save time, but it does take some of the natural pleasure out of enjoying the words and phrases and gives students less ownership over finding the important words and phrases on their own. This would a more organic approach and probably would allow the students more freedom to explore and find more figurative language than I selected. But, I am a little scared to not scaffold my instruction at first. I plan to let them start finding their own words and phrases that suggest meaning or appeal to the senses in later units. For now, they need this scaffold.

Partner Work

20 minutes

Now my class transitions to the center tables where materials (pencils and chart with lyrics) are already set up to save time.  To scaffold instruction we echo read the song, and then the groups work to determine the meaning of selected phrases.  I really try to maximize my instructional time, so I select phrases that are not literal for the students to analyze.

Then I walk around and make sure everyone is thinking, working, getting along, and understand what to do.  By keeping many of my strategies, graphic organizers, charts, and material consistent my students rarely get confused about what they are expected to do. But, they often need help understanding text.  I use alot of questions to get the students thinking. What is it about? How does it make you feel? What is the point or what is the authors trying to say?  These help students determine meaning along with rereading the line before, line of the phrase and line after the phrase.

Student Reflection

5 minutes

Now students present their work to the class and work on their speaking and listening skills. I usually allow three students to present.  After each Presentation the other students give the presenter feedback on their work.


5 minutes

The lesson is about over so I ask the students to tell each other on thing they learned.  This is a little formative assessment.  Then the students restate the lesson goal by echoing it after me, then telling a friend, and repeating it one more time. This helps the students remember the goal.