It has often fallen happily to my lot to compose songs for children about the natural world: weather, plants and creatures. Here are twelve of the best of them. They are the best because they have been performed the most, listened to the most, been the most useful, have the best tunes! The video has short snippets of each song, and below are links to full recordings and scores.
Slow Down! Red Squirrels! It refers in the title and the choruses to the road signs we have in red squirrel territory, telling drivers to take care. The four verses are about pheasants, sparrows, owls and red squirrels. It was composed and first performed by 7-10 year olds.
Autumn Sea A song about the grey north sea and the way it behaves on an overcast day. It can be (and has been) sung as a single line with piano accompaniment, but is also available with simple harmonies and repeating accompaniment patterns.
The Sand Between Her Toes. Inspired by a friend’s story of a trip to the beach when her daughter, Joanna found to her horror that it was full of jellyfish, and also by my own sunrise walks along Warkworth Beach in Northumberland, this beachy, numbery song for children lists a few things to be found there!
Wavily Bobbily. The two main characters in a primary school play written by the children, hear a loud noise coming from the ocean. They don their scuba gear and go in search of it. On the way they find all sorts of other sea creatures – you can substitute your own descriptions here.
Rain. A drippy setting of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem. I’ve used it as a unison song with young children and also as a 3-part choir piece with older singers.
Windy Nights. A unison song with piano that gallops along using the words of Robert Louis Stevenson.
Creatures Of The Night. A song mostly about bats. “do you have a song about bats?” enquired a Year 2 class studying night-time. “No, but I will by tomorrow if you tell me all about them!” I replied.
Great Crested Grebe. It’s got a beautiful tune, flowing along, and telling the story of a Sunday morning fishing trip and many of the creatures you might see on the rivers and lakes nearby.
Rainbow Song. A longish song with verses about the characteristics of each of the colours of the rainbow, and as well as one about the rainbow itself. I composed it for a whole school Rainbow Festival. Each class represented a different colour, and therefore only learnt one verse each. The chorus has a round, or repeating patterns, which builds up to an eight-part texture.
When My Roots Begin To Grow. A song composed to help some Year 5/6 classes with their study of flowering plants. Some classes have used it as a starter activity – it contains lots of botanic vocabulary which they have researched in order to understand the lyrics of the song. Others have used it to reinforce the learning in more traditional ways. Still others have used it as an end-of-topic finale to illustrate what they’ve learned.
I’m A Plant. Composed to help a Year 2-3 class with their study of plants. Plants covered are carrots, sunflowers, oak trees and cactus plants.
Spring Burst. A song to explain some of the changes that happen from Winter to Spring. I’ve used it with Early Years through to Year 4