Take a well known round: I use ‘London’s Burning’ for younger children (KS1 in the UK) and either ‘Frere Jacques’ or one of the quick to learn African rounds for older children (KS2 in the UK)

Make sure that the children are secure with both the words and melody, singing in unison before embarking on the, sometimes, daunting task of singing it in 2, 3 or 4 parts. Obviously gear this towards the age / ability of the class! Once they can manage this with ease split the group into smaller groups and ask them each to write new words to the tune.. I find that taking the curent curriculum area works well as a starting point. So, if the group have, for instance, been studying something on the sea and the coast I ask each group to create a new round on this topic. Because they are already familiar with (a) the tune and (b) the vocabulary around the topic this comes quite naturally. Talk about the picture that they want to paint to the rest of the class, ask them to perform the round to the larger group (not always easy but with encouragement perfectly possible) and then ask whether they feel that they have achieved their aim.

They love the idea of creating a ‘new’ song, increases confidence and skills in composition and improvisation and encourages working together

Submitted by Jane Brown