Teachers or Parents: Choose any of these fun activities to experience the snappy book COOL DADDY RAT with your children in a big way!
Purpose: To help children learn to appreciate jazz music as an American art form, to help them recognize and use improvisation in language and music, and to encourage individual creativity and a love for reading.
1. Visit my blog online with your class, http://www.kristyncrow.blogspot.com/, go to my September 11th 2009 post, and watch a few clips of Ella Fitzgerald, Jason Mraz, and other musicians scatting.
2. Read Charlie Parker Played Be-Bop, by Chris Raschka. Students can invent their own musical interpretation of the book. Other fun jazz books to read: Before John was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane, by Carole Boston Weatherford; Jazz by Walter Dean Meyers, Jazz Fly, by Matthew Gollub. Talk about the history of jazz and its American roots.
3. Play jazz music in the background while you read COOL DADDY RAT aloud. Have the children “echo” back the scat lines. (You say it, then they repeat it back.) In jazz, this is called “call and response.” Talk about the word “improvisation,” a key element in jazz.
4. If Ace got his own bass for his birthday, what might it look like? Have students make a homemade “bass” using a shoebox, three to five large rubber bands, and a cardboard paper towel roll. Cover the shoebox with construction paper, and decorate it. String the rubber bands the long way around the opening and back of the box. Attach the paper towel roll with tape or glue. Experiment. What happens when the rubber bands are pulled tighter? Does the tone get higher or lower? Can you play a jazz tune?
5. Have students cover empty cereal boxes with construction paper to represent a closed “book.” Have them create their own book cover in the style of COOL DADDY RAT. Decorate the spine, too. What kind of jazz character could be the star of each book? What about a Groovy Mama Toad? Or a Snappy Cat? What jazzy sounds could they make?
6. Students can write a rhyming story, making every other line a “scat” line. What nonsense words can they come up with? Have them read and perform their work.
7. Imagine a strange new place for Cool Daddy Rat and Ace to perform. Use Mike Lester’s sketchy, jazzy drawing style to make it come to life!
8. Have a scat competition, with students being the “American Jazz Idol” judges. These judges must be positive!
9. Make a class mobile with cut-out drawings the students have created of Cool Daddy, Ace, the Fat Cat, the bass, Mama Rat, crowds, with syncopation words like ZOW! POW! And WOW!
10. Create a “READING IS COOL” bulletin board, with WOW! ZOW! YOW! And POW! Arrange pictures of each child wearing cool sunglasses (or striking a "cool" pose) with his or her favorite book and/or instrument. You could also do a "Get JAZZED about READING!" bulletin board.
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