John Kanaka | Simple Rhythms
from The Lesson Zone
This activity is ideal for elementary age kids in grades 2-4.
Students will demonstrate an understanding of basic rhythms including the quarter note, quarter rest and eighth note as they participate in this joy-filled song and dance. This lesson is designed to fulfill Standard #1 of the National Standards for Music: Singing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
John Kanaka Sheet Music or Recording
Tubanos, Hand Drums and/or Rhythm Sticks
Teach the lyrics to John Kanaka. Begin by chanting the lyrics phrase by phrase. When the students have successfully repeated the first phrase, move on to the next.
Learn the melody to John Kanaka. Ask the students to perform the song phrase by phrase as you play the melody on the piano. When the students have successfully repeated the first phrase, move on to the next. When the students seem confident, ask them to sing the song all the way through with you at the piano.
Quiz the students on the values of the following rhythms, and then ask a student to clap the rhythm:
Ask the other students to evaluate the performance to determine if the rhythm was clapped correctly. Clap the rhythm as a class.
Pass out the drums and/or rhythm sticks. Try performing this rhythm while reinforcing correct drumming technique. When the class is successful, try playing the music as they perform the rhythm.
The dance movement is also based on the same rhythm. Students choose a partner and face them.
John - stomp your right foot
Ka-na-ka-na-ka - right-left-right-left-right pat on your knees
Tu - lai - e - clap - clap - pat (pat hands with partner)
Oh - raise both hands in the air and sing 'Oh' with a fun, dramatic voice and a big smile
Try the dance movement with the song. When the class is successful, add the last part.
In the phrases that precede John Kanakanaka tulaie, the partnered students should lock arms and walk or skip in a circle.
Try the complete dance movement with the song. When the class is successful, divide the class into dancers and drummers. Perform it and then switch groups.
Other MMF! Resources for John Kanaka:
John Kanaka Song Sheet - Preview, listen to and print the free printable song sheet (melody, lyrics and chord symbols)
John Kanaka Lyrics - Find this sea shanty and the history and lyrics to many other children's songs in the MMF! Songbook.
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