A Note About Music

Last Friday, I overhear the kids singing a song they learned in music called Jump Jim Joe. I was concerned when I heard this song because this song was originally written and performed with black face to demean African Americans. If you are unfamiliar with the origins of this song, here is an article that explains its history and why this song should not be part of school curriculum.

I talked with our music teacher and she agreed not to use this song going forward. She helpfully sent me a picture of the part of her supplemental music materials that incorporates this song. Here is the excerpt from the music book.
This is one of the many singing games and dances we learned at Pinewoods Family Week, the Country Song and Dance Society’s summer camp of traditional dance and song. We have since learned that Jump Jim Joe is related to the song Jump Jim Crow, made famous by white minstrel show performer Thomas Dartmouth Rice in 1828. The song was so widespread that it gave its name to the “Jim Crow” laws that kept African Americans in subjugation for many years after the abolition of slavery… While Jump Jim Joe on its own merit is a beautifully simple and engaging singing game, it is certainly understandable to choose not to use it because of it’s complicated ancestry. One could also say that this is an example of a painful symbol evolving into a positive, community building activity.”

What is music curriculum does not say is that Thomas Rice dressed in blackface to perform it. His intentions of the song was to perpetuate the stereotype of the happy-lucky-slave and justify slavery. His intention was to mock and demean. This song does not have a “complicated ancestry”, it has an ugly one. I can understand if African Americans might choose to take ownership of this song and use it as a tool of empowerment. However it is problematic for people who are not African American to continue using the song, knowing its history, and arguing they are being positive.

The history of this song is not necessarily common knowledge. It was written so long ago that many people might not know this songs origin. That is one reason why I wanted to share this situation with families. So if you are aware of the song’s history, you can feel assured that the situation has been addressed and will not continue. If you were not aware, it is a good learning opportunity.

I talked with the class about the song briefly and how the song even though it sounds nice, was actually made to make fun of and be mean to people with brown and black skin. We talked about how since in the past the song was mean, we are not going to sing it now, even though we are not trying to be mean. We are not going to sing it because we know it is wrong to treat people differently because of their skin color. We don’t sing it now because we want to be as kind and respectful as we can. I told the kids that it was ok that they sang it before because they did not know the history of the song. But now that we know, we will not sing it anymore. They were sweetly fired up that they would not being singing the song anymore. I love how simple these issues are to kindergartners. If it is mean-don’t do it! The kids renew my faith in the world! I am so lucky to spend my days with them!

I wanted to keep you in the loop in case this song comes up at home. We are all learning how to be the most respectful, empathetic people we can be! We are not perfect in this process but we are striving to do the best we can!

Earth Day!

Earth day is a great day to appreciate our beautiful planet. We enjoyed a Mystery Science video about how old Earth is and how scientists learned about the age of Earth. We studied natural objects like feathers, egg shells, acorns, shells, rocks, and leaves using magnifying glasses and our senses. The kids also recorded their observations on charts. It was so fun to explore these natural treasures! We ended our activities with a story about the earth.

Penny Drive Update

So far our class has raised $99 and the whole kindergarten has raised $251! We are doing great! We have about a week and a half left of our penny drive- all donations are due May 1st. Every little bit helps us get games, puzzles, and snacks for the residents of Columbia Manor. Thanks so much for your support and generosity!

Learning Lately

Reading- Lots of review and practice this week. We are working so hard to apply all the basics of reading to read independently. We also used some of our reading time to learn about Iceland. Each class in the school is learning about a country and we chose Iceland.

Writing-We learned different ways to tell our opinions such as “I like” or “My favorite”. We are working on telling 3 reasons to support our opinions. We are practicing spelling all sight words correctly, using word spaces, using capitalization and punctuation, and tapping to spell unknown words.

Math- We continued our work with addition, subtraction and seeing relationships between numbers. Math games like roll and record as well as making bracelets with different bead combinations were fun ways to practice these skills. We also applied our sorting and counting skills to count our money from the penny drive!

Science/Social studies- Our cool tool this week was about ways to manage stress. We learned about space, storm water and Iceland! What a random, yet interesting combination!

Storm Water

Today we had a special guest, Michele, some teach us about what happens with storm water! She used a model to show us how trash, chemicals, and loose soil get washed into streams and rivers. She also showed us how cleaning up litter and planting trees can help keep the water clean and hold soil in place. The kids made storm water hats and recording facts they learned in their science notebooks.

Kindergarten in Space!

We had a great trip to the planetarium on Tuesday! All the information really captivated the kids’ sense of curiosity and wonder. It is fun to think about all there is to learn about the universe. Who knows, maybe someone from our class will make the next discovery about space!?

I didn’t take pictures during the trip since the planetarium is dark but here are some pictures of the activities we did after we returned to school.

We used pencils to draw and prick out constellations. We hung them on the window to let the light from the sun shine through and light up our designs.

We used oil pastels and all the facts we learned at the planetarium to draw outer space!

May Dates

Here are the dates of special events in May. It is a little early but I figured this information will help everyone plan.

May 1st- Last day of Penny Drive

May 1st- Hy Vee field trip (We will return to school for lunch as usual. No volunteers due to space limitations.)

May 2nd- Tie Dye (If you would like to volunteer, please email me.)

May 14th- Talent Show

May 16th- Columbia Manor and Bethel Park field trip (Volunteers needed to transport coolers and assist with supervision at the park. Sign up for volunteering to come.)

May 17th- Field Day

May 24th- Kindergarten Celebration 10-11:25

May 28th- Last day of School