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!

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!

Penny Drive for Columbia Manor!

This month we are having a penny drive to benefit our service learning partners, Columbia Manor! So far we have made class books for the residents to read. We made awesome placemats for them to enjoy at their meals. This month we would like to collect change to use to buy board games and snacks and treats for the residence at Columbia Manor to enjoy. Please help your child collect change at home to bring into school for our drive. Every little bit helps! At school we will be counting and organizing the change and picking out the games and snacks to purchase.

Learning Lately

Reading- Our reading groups have focused on a lot of different skills to help each child move forward in the process of reading. Some groups are working on sight words, identifying visually similar letters, vowel sounds, and tapping and blending words. Some groups are working on using picture clues, checking the beginning sounds, checking what makes sense, or breaking a longer word into chunks. Some groups are working on endings like ed, ing, er, s and es. Some groups are working on predicting, retelling, making connections or reading with fluency. There are so many parts to the reading process! The kids are learning so much!

Writing- We wrapped up our nonfiction unit this week by writing our very best nonfiction piece with no help at all! Wow! we also applied what we learned about nonfiction to make place mats for the residents at Columbia Manor as part of our service learning project. After spring break we will begin opinion writing.

Math- We continued working on names and attributes of 3D shapes. We played many addition and subtraction games with number lines and dominoes. This helps the kids visualize the operations in different ways. A big part of these games also has the kids using the correct symbols for addition and subtraction and writing number models.

Science/Social studies- Our Mystery Science video was about how earthquakes happen! We celebrated the beginning of spring and are excited to observe the changes that will be happening in nature soon. We continued learning about nutrition with our each the rainbow party.

Learning Lately- Last week (oops!)

I guess I forgot to hit publish last week?!

Reading: We interrupted our nonfiction unit to read Kevin Henkes books for reading week! We enjoyed lots of funny stories! We continued our work with letter sounds, especially long and short vowel sounds. The kids are getting good at using the sounds they know to read and spell words! We continue to work on memorizing sight words as well!

Writing: We worked together to write about plastic. We worked on choosing a nonfiction topic, writing a heading, drawing a realistic picture and labeling. We are working on forming sentences that tell 3 facts about our topic.

Math: We focused on subtraction this week and used number stories to understand the meanings of the minus symbol. We played math games to practice

Science/Social Studies: We began our Living and Nonliving unit by learning about what animals need to live. We enjoyed a Mystery Science video about Pluto.