Sing Books with Emily, the Blog

A 2017/2018 School Year Tuckahoe Elementary School PTA Teacher’s Grant (and what I got with it)

Posted on: April 17, 2018

sbwe by eloise fixed for FB - Copy
I am very grateful this year to have received a $300 PTA Teachers grant, put in for me by the Kindergarten Team at Tuckahoe Elementary. Thank you very much Kindergarten Friends of Sing Books!  This report is to share with you what I have done with it.

The grant gave me a wonderful opportunity to buy some new books and enrichment materials for my Sing Books with Emily Repertoire.

Katie McAllister, the PTA treasurer, was my contact.  I submitted requests to her and she purchased the items for me.  My heartfelt gratitude goes to her, too, for being so accommodating, kind and helpful.

When the Tuckahoe Elementary PTA Silent Auction rolled around this year, I was delighted for the opportunity to “pay it forward” with a donation of a Sing Books performance.  I know that the item got purchased (and who purchased it as the donated performance is already scheduled) but, of course, I do not know the amount Sing Books donation brought.  Whatever it is, I hope that the donation can go at least in some part to offset the cost of the grant.

SBWE round heart logo

Below is a list of the items that I got for Sing Books with the grant and notes for what I’ve been able to develop so far, or my plans for developing the materials.  Developing each of these requires time/focus/expense/energy, things that are hard to come by with multiple performances each day and taking care of my home and family the rest of the time (a predicament everyone is aware of!).  But overtime each item will get its due to delight, educate, and enrich the cultural lives of the children with whom I get to share Sing Books.  I can’t overstate my gratitude to have the new raw materials to develop.  It’s a wonderful thing for an artist to have support.  So far, I’ve been able to develop music for a few of the items below, which are already in my repertoire.  If the title is blue, it is linked to the post about that song or item.

Bluebird Finger Puppet

One of my favorite illustrated songs to sing with kids is OVER THE RAINBOW , and not just because it is such an excellent song. In all honesty, I do think that OVER THE RAINBOW  is practically perfect.  It is beautiful to listen to and relatable to the heart. It is a JOY to sing with a lovely melody, legato line, and wide open vowels to sing on. And the words.  Good heavens, those words which so perfectly capture intense longing to engage in life that one suspects is dancing in technicolor glory right outside of what seems to be within reach.  But the song also hints that one CAN find a way to reach those places.  A rainbow is a bridge and bridges cross divides and allow access to new places.  And bluebirds fly over the rainbow.  The singer asks, “Why oh why can’t I?”  When I sing this, I don’t think, “Everyone else can do it, but I can’t.”  I think, “The bluebird can do it, so that means that I can, too.”

As achingly longing and sublime as the song is, it is also one of empowerment, the beginning of a plan.  As much as I’d like to EXPLAIN all this to kids, I was thinking it might be more fun to demonstrate it.  So, I found this bluebird finger puppet.  Separately, I bought a rainbow soft sculpture from a wonderful person in Ibiza, Spain who makes rainbow items.  I’ll ask for two volunteers. One child will hold the rainbow and the other will have the bluebird.  I’ll ask all the children to to listen carefully for the lyrics “If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow…” and demonstrate the bluebird flying over the rainbow.

Maybe over time this demonstration will spark the notion that “the dreams that you dare to dream, really do come true” (with hard work, focus, persistence, and determination).

cardinal finger puppet

NOTE:  There are many songs which refer to birds and having little friends like this one gives a resource for audience participation.

egg shakers
Egg Shakers

NOTE: I got this excellent set of egg shakers for audience participation in songs like BIG ROCK CANDY MOUNTAIN. and WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW IS LOVE SWEET LOVE.

firefly finger puppet
Firefly Finger Puppet

NOTE: I got two firefly finger puppets. These twinklers (they light up!) will be fun to allow audience participation for a few songs about fireflies.  These include a variation of  TWO LITTLE BLACKBIRDS about TWO LITTLE FIREFLIES. The fireflies will also get use when singing a musical setting I wrote for a short poem by Elizabeth Madox Roberts called FIREFLY.

hey diddle (nosy crow) cover
Hey Diddle Diddle
Traditional Words and Tune
Illustrated by Yu-Hsuan Huang
Published by Nosy Crow “Sing along with me!” Series

NOTE: This is my blog post addendum for this version of HEY DIDDLE DIDDLE:

This version of HEY DIDDLE DIDDLE was purchased with a kind 2017/2018 school year Teacher’s Grant from the Tuckahoe Elementary School PTA, put in for Sing Books with Emily by the Kindergarten Team. I’m so grateful!  Nosy Crow’s rendition of HEY DIDDLE DIDDLE is really cute.  For one thing, I appreciate when the characters are animals.  This allows all kids to identify with all the characters without having to encounter the barriers and feelings associated with racial and cultural identities. This Nosy Crow board book also features engaging moving parts (like a wheel you can turn to make the cow jump over the moon which also makes the carousel spin).

Nosy Crow’s webpage for this book has an embedded sing along player:

HEY DIDDLE DIDDLE, as a rhyme, has been in my repertoire for some time, but it is always good for children to see rhymes represented different ways.  I’m making a conscious effort to include more rhymes in my visits with kids PreK and Kindergarten. Many studies have shown that children come to Kindergarten knowing a number of nursery rhymes by heart significantly increases the ease with which that those children learn to read. And the effects continue even to more advanced elementary grades. Singing rhymes might seem like a silly, even expendable, activity, but the effects it has on forming the brain of an emergent reader are profound.  Knowing rhymes tunes the ears for sounds and language.  And knowing a rhyme by heart helps a kid to start recognizing words in print that they already know in their heads.  And then young brains can use that skill to start making other connections.

This mission to include more rhymes in my repertoire is even more profound after talking to many PreK and K teachers who say that few children come to school knowing rhymes any more. This is a gap that I can help fill.  I also sing frequently at libraries and community events.  I will certainly work to share with parents and caregivers how fun and easy it is to sing these kinds of rhymes with their young ones.  One of my goals is to share programs for people who don’t feel confident singing rhymes with their children (maybe they don’t have books or they don’t know the words or the tunes) and teach them and give them the resources to do that.  Along these lines, I’ve already begun my SING BOOKS WITH EMILY SONGBOOK SERIES. This is a series of printable song sheets linked to posts with everything I can find to help folks know about and sing the rhymes (including Sing Books with Emily embedded scratch vocal sing along SoundCloud players).

Hickory Dickory Dock (Cantata Learning)
Traditional Tune
Words Adapted/Additional Words by Megan Borgert-Spaniol
Illustrated by Annie Wilkinson
Music Arranged & Produced by Wes Schuck
Book Published by Cantata Learning

NOTE: This is an enjoyable, extended/adapted version of the rhyme HICKORY DICKORY DOCK. Singing it will give kids a chance to work on their analog clock. time-telling skills.  I’m working now to think up ways to involve audience participation with the kids.  Maybe have someone hold a clock and turn the hands. I imagine another child using a triangle instrument to DING the hour.  Maybe puppets for the animals so other children can act out the parts.  It’ll be fun once I figure it all out.

hummingbird finger puppet
Hummingbird Finger Puppet

NOTE: I got one of these with the grant and then purchased another myself to make a pair. I thought this was such a beautiful little thing and I know it will capture the enchantment of kids when we use it.  There are a number of little poems about hummingbirds.  I will write tunes for them.  Or write a whole little song myself.  For one thing right away, I can use the pair for an adaptation of the rhyme for TWO LITTLE BLACKBIRDS called TWO LITTLE HUMMINGBIRDS

jingle stick
Jingle Sticks

NOTE:  I got two of these jingle sticks through the grant and subsequently purchased more myself.  I’ve had some experience with different kinds of jingle sticks and these are excellent.  About 10″ long and with 21 bells, they aren’t to big or too small and have an excellent hardy sleighbell sounding jingle.  I have put these jingle sticks to use with songs like JINGLE BELLS, WALKING IN A WINTER WONDERLAND, and OVER THE RIVER AND THROUGH THE WOOD.  I ask for volunteers and kids jingle away while we sing the songs.

love me tender stephanie graegin
Love Me Tender
Words Elvis Presley, Vera Matson (credited),  Ken Darby (uncredited)
Music by George R. Poulton
Illustrated by Stephanie Graegin

NOTE:  LOVE ME TENDER has also entered my repertoire. I was singing the song with a different book, but, frankly, I didn’t like the book very much.  What I love about this one especially is that it is inclusively illustrated.  I feel like every child deserves to see a representation of him or herself through which to identify with the material.  This illustration achieves that in a sweet and wonderful way, to lovingly match this sweet, loving, and mesmerizing song.

oopsie do cover
Words and Music by Tim Kubart
Illustrated by Lori Richmond

NOTE:  This book has not been published yet.  It’s release date is May 1, 2018 (there very last day upon which I’m eligible to put in for the grant).  Katie has my order and I will gratefully receive it. I made a preliminary post for OOPSIE-DO, which includes an embedded SoundCloud player of Tim Kubart’s recording of his song.  It’s terrific, adorable and sweet without being condescending. It’s got a fun to sing Broadway-Pop sound to it.  I think kids are going to love it.  This one is going to require my working with a musician to make an excellent instrumental track for singing.  My ukulele isn’t going to cut it with this one.

one little owl cover
One Little Owl
Traditional Words and Music
Adapted by Kenneth K. Guilmartin and Lili M. Levinowitz
Additional Words by Kenneth K. Guilmartin
Illustrated by Nancy Meyers
Published by Music Together Singalong Storybooks

NOTE: My plan for this song is to use the printed music in the back of the book as a starting point and develop my own instrumental arrangement for ukulele as accompaniment when singing with kids in their classrooms.

owl finger puppet
Owl Finger Puppet

NOTE: This little owl became the start of a delightful Parliament of Owls for Sing Books. Over the years, I have collected a repertoire of OWL SONGS FOR SING BOOKS WITH EMILY and it is fun and engaging to have representations of these enigmatic creatures.  I’ve been using my carved wood owl whistle for a couple of years.  After receiving this owl, I purchased a few others on my own.  I have a bag with all the owls and copies of the owls songs to keep them all in once place.  Now volunteer children can actively engage with the songs to act out some of the behaviors described for the owls in the lyrics and poems.

rainmaker stick hohner
Rainmaker Stick (rainstick) by Hohner

NOTE:  This has been in use practically since the moment it came out of the box. I got one of these through the grant, but have subsequently purchased three additional ones.  All four rain sticks accompany the illustrated song SINGING IN THE RAIN.  It is SO much fun to share songs from THE GREAT AMERICAN SONGBOOK and marvelous American musicals with kids. The one makes a very nice sound of rain, but wasn’t enough sound to fill a room with anywhere between 20 and 100 kids.  And, it’s best to be able to invite an equal number of children from each class, as I sing to between one and four classes of children in each performance.  Four rainsticks played together (by 4 child volunteers) turns out to make a nice sound of a good healthy rain (like the downpour in which Gene Kelly dances in the movie).

sailor went to sea cover
A Sailor Went to Sea Sea Sea
Traditional Words and Tune
Adapted by Lucy Bell
Illustrated by Asha Pearse

NOTE: This fun/familiar song (and playground clapping game) will be a terrific edition to the Sing Books Repertoire. I’ve begun to assemble a post about this song (starting with a cute story how kids helped me learn the tune). Next steps for this one is to create a song sheet with lyrics and ukulele chords to fit the book and then it’s ready to go for singing together.

sandpiper music together
Sandpiper (Singalong Storybook)
Words and Music by Kenneth K. Guilmartin
Illustrated by Christina O’Donovan

sandpiper for SBWE
Sandpiper Song (Adapted for SBWE)
Words and Music by Kenneth K. Guilmartin
Song Adapted and Additional Words by ELEG for SBWE
To view or print this page, click here:
sandpiper for SBWE

NOTE:  This song is already in my regular repertoire.  I adapted the music which was printed in the book and created a song sheet for accompanying myself and the kids with guitar or ukulele.  Kids seem to enjoy learning about that funny bird the sandpiper and making all the fun sounds.

sleeping bunnies cover
Sleeping Bunnies
Traditional Words and Tune
Illustrated by Yu-Hsuan Huang
Published by Nosy Crow “Sing along with me!” Series

NOTE:  I’ve managed so far to create a post for this sweet little song.  Next step is to create a songsheet for the tune so that I can accompany myself on ukulele while singing it.

Tambourine Sticks

NOTE:  These tambourine sticks are another resource for allowing audience participation.  I love to add tambourine fun to songs like ALL GOD’S CRITTERS and BIG ROCK CANDY MOUNTAIN.

waltz of the snowflakes cover
Waltz of the Snowflakes
Illustrated by Elly MacKay
Set to Tchaicovsky’s WALTZ OF THE SNOWFLAKES
From the ballet The Nutcracker

NOTE: My plans for development of this one are in the post.

when i grow up cover
When I Grow Up (Tim Minchin’s)
Words and Music by Tim Minchin
From the Musical MATILDA
Illustrated by Steve Antony

NOTE: WHEN I GROW UP is already in my repertoire. I’m still learning it (as it is a tricky song to sing) but I decided to invite the kids in to the journey of learning a song and some of the musical skills one has to master in order to do that.  In doing this, it is fun to remind kids that music is not just something we enjoy listening to.  Music is words and stories (literature).  Music is a language all it’s own (using symbols to represent sounds). Music is art (and AN art).  Music is science (the physics of sound).  And, music is math (how notes and measures are put together to create rhythm and meter).


One of my greatest hopes with Sing Books is that children and their families will pay the songs forward.  I imagine that children go home humming some of these songs and I’d love for the parents to know who I am, what Sing Books with Emily (Mrs. G) is, what I do with the children, and where to find information about the songs we sing together so that they can enjoy the songs as a family or in social settings.

My blog is full of information/explorations/celebrations about illustrated song.  But the best place for parents to start is my repertoire. The blog has explored thousands of illustrated songs, but only about 300 of them are in my repertoire, a link to which is below.  Every song we sing together comes from this list.  Nearly every title is linked to a post about THAT illustrated song.  Posts contain everything I’ve been able to gather about that song so far, including song origin info, printed music, free printable music I’ve made myself, performance notes, embedded sound players, videos, illustrator info, etc.

Sing Books with Emily is also on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
I use these social media outlets to post singable goodies, pictures, notices about public performances, share blog posts/articles/videos etc.

Sing Books with Emily on Facebook:

Sing Books with Emily on Instagram:

Sing Books with Emily on Twitter

Related Posts

A 2017/2018 School Year Tuckahoe Elementary School PTA Teacher’s Grant (and what I got with it)


Singable Picture Books of the Great American Songbook and Michael Feinstein’s Foundation for the Preservation of the Great American Songbook

A Parliament of illustrated songs about owls

Mother Goose and Nursery Rhymes with Individually Illustrated Singable Picture Books


A list containing compilations of Mother Goose and Nursery Rhyme Singable Picture Books, including links and resources for learning, singing, and playing the tunes



For the love of birds!

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SING BOOKS WITH EMILY Saturday, January 19, 2019 11-11:30am Mary Riley Styles Library 120 N Virginia Ave Falls Church, VA 22046 (703) 248-5030 More information, here:
‪I don’t remember when my daughter made this picture. Maybe she was 5 or 6. It’s hard to believe I didn’t note the date on it. None the less, and needless to say, this is one of my possessions most dear to my heart.‬ ‪❤️‬ #SingBooksWithEmily #IllustratedSong #SingToKidsOfAllAges #Enrichment #SingToChildren #ChildrensMusic #PictureBookSong #Music #Sing #ShareCulturalHeritage #EducationalEnrichment #CulturalEnrichment #Children #Kids #CultureConnectsUs
SING BOOKS WITH EMILY 1/10/2019 BOTH SIDES NOW, an Illustrated Song BITLY LINK BOTH SIDES NOW, a classic song by the great singer/musician/songwriter Joni Mitchell. It’s such a rich and full song about how we experience life. It’s the illusions I recall, still, truly, about all of it, too. I do a lot of thinking about things. In the end, though, for me, very often, I’m happy to let magical thinking win the day. To find more info and materials about this song, visit the link in this posting or type the song title into the search box of the Sing Books with Emily blog: Like or Follow Sing Books with Emily on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter Come Sing Books with Emily #SingBooksWithEmily #IllustratedSong #SingToKidsOfAllAges #Enrichment #SingToChildren #ChildrensMusic #PictureBookSong #Music #Sing #ShareCulturalHeritage #EducationalEnrichment #CulturalEnrichment #Children #kids #JoniMitchell
SING BOOKS WITH EMILY Saturday, January 12, 2019 10:30-11am Reston Regional Library 11925 Bowman Towne Dr. Reston, VA 20190 More information, here:
SING BOOKS WITH EMILY Thursday, December 27, 2018 2:30-3pm Chantilly Regional Library 4000 Stringfellow Rd Chantilly, VA, 20151-2628 703-502-3883 ext 4 No Registration Required – Please Join Us! Free for all ages! For  more information:,31106&cm=3438
Just a page on a notebook? A list? Yes. But to me, it’s much more than that. This list represents 45 minutes of Sing Books joy at Mary Riley Styles Library this morning. I especially loved the chance to try out my new ukulele arrangement for BRING A TORCH JEANNETTE ISABELLA. We also sang favorites like I WANT A HIPPOPOTAMUS FOR CHRISTMAS, SILVER BELLS, and HANUKKAH O HANUKKAH. I played ukulele, kazoo, jingle sticks for many songs and my beloved limberjack horse while we sang Jingle Bells, including the verse with Fanny Bright. Such great fun! Ps: Many Thanks to my daughter Eloise who came and helped me set up, clean up, and hold books when I accompanied with ukulele. And HUGE thanks to the marvelous staff and volunteers at MRSL who make it such a nice place to visit. @littlecitylibrary

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