Partner Spotlight: Lyrical Learning!

The Children’s Music Network is honored and grateful for the support of our wonderful Business Sponsors and Non-Profit Partners. This series is meant to shed a little more light on what they do. Today, we highlight Lyrical Learning.

Doug and Dorry Eldon
Doug and Dorry Eldon

1. What is your mission?

Years ago, while teaching sixth grade life science, I hit upon the idea of putting life science content into lyrical form and set to traditional tunes. Several students were able to quickly learn and easily remember the steps of the scientific method when set to “Dixie.” So I proceeded through the text, condensing the content in each chapter — terms and definitions, characteristics used for classification, etc. — into lyrics that fit melodies I thought would be familiar, or at least easily learned and remembered: “Oh Bacteria” to Oh Susanna,” “Viruses” to “Yankee Doodle,” and “Invertebrates” to “Oh My Darling.”

As a foundation for other ways of learning and knowing, such as hands-on activities and field trips, this approach has proven to be effective with auditory learners especially, and other kinds of learners as well. The purpose is to establish the language of science, which can be like a whole new language, firmly in the minds of the learners.

2. How do you apply it practically?

For children to learn the songs and the information by listening, singing, reading, and writing. After 20 years, we’ve heard some wonderful stories of kids having fun learning science, and remembering the songs for years. Students I had in 4th, 5th, or 6th grade reported they were quietly singing these songs to help them on high school biology tests five years later! One homeschooling family had the older children learning the songs, reading the text, and doing the workbook, but the younger siblings picking up on the songs just from hearing them being played and sung around the house. The mom reported getting a lot of heads turning when their two-year-old was sitting in a shopping cart at the grocery store singing “Protozoa, also called Protista; they’re microscopic and they’re single-celled” to “Listen to the Mockingbird.”

3. Why did you choose to partner with CMN?

I heard about CMN from Alice Burba at Songs For Teaching. (Incidentally, Songs for Teaching will be offering a free download from their website of The Scientific Method—mp3 of the entire song, and all the pages from the text and the workbook—for the month of February) I believe singing and music to be a great way to learn, both effective and enjoyable. I’m hoping others in CMN will find our songs helpful in teaching science to elementary and middle school students.

4. What song from your own childhood do you still sing regularly?

Dorry said she doesn’t have one particular favorite song from childhood, but remembers many from Capt. Kangaroo. She also remembers songs from the American Civil War, which her father, a history teacher, would often listen to. Those songs led to Dorry’s interest in the Civil War, which eventually led her to recordings of Bobby Horton—a Civil War songster—who agreed to produce our music for Lyrical Learning! My, how one thing leads to another!

5. What is your official dance move?

Can’t think of any! Dorry and I met in college while involved in international folk dance, but we haven’t been involved in dance much since then—almost 40 years ago!

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