Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Make A Joyful Noise

Make a Joyful Noise! Music, Movement, and Creative Play to Teach Bible Stories. Kathryn Nider Wolf & Heather P. Robbins. New Day Publishing. 2007.

This guide is for teachers working with preschoolers through kids in first grade. I got *help* reviewing this guide from two sources. The first, my sister, is a first grade teacher. On the weekends, she works with toddlers at her church. The second, my pastor, is a mom of six who while her kids are grown now has taught through the years Vacation Bible School (not to mention Sunday School) who knows how many times!

My sister wrote:

-The activities in this book are very appropriate for ages 2-6.
Children at this age learn best through song, movement, and play,
rather than just being "told" a story. Participating through song and
creative play help children to internalize and remember Bible stories
and attributes of God!
-Familiar songs are best! This is easier on the teacher, and the
children, so the focus can be on learning the content or story of the
song, rather than the actual tune.
-Speaking as a teacher, keeping students actively involved through
song and rhythm helps students to stay focused and listen.
-I would probably use this book in VBS or Sunday School setting rather
than at home.
-Again, speaking as a teacher, I would make charts of the songs, to
encourage children's literacy learning whenever possible!
-I like the extension activities, especially making a craft or a
puppet to then go back and retell the story or song. Children can
take these home and retell to parents or siblings.
-Flannel patterns in the back are helpful - children can help the
teacher retell the story with these.
-Several songs are included for each story - I would probably focus on
just one per story, especially for ages 2-4. Five and six year olds
could handle more.

My pastor wrote:

-very age appropriate movements & crafts
-good creative ideas
-fits well into Sunday School time frame
-songs use familiar tunes--good idea!
-very detailed instructions--anyone could use this

There is also a CD available to use with the book. I did not loan out this CD to my sister or pastor. I listened to this CD several times, and overall I think it would be useful to use alongside the book. There are a few songs where the timing is tricky and having a CD track can show you just how it goes. The CD is sold separately.

Generally speaking, I enjoyed this book. I thought some of the poems/songs/fingerplays/activities were really good. A few were just okay. But most were really on target. So I would definitely recommend this one to those that teach youngsters.

There are also picture books called "action rhyme" books that could be used for at home or in group use. Titles include
  1. Come Into the Ark with Noah
    ISBN: 978-0-9789056-6-8; $5.99
  2. Share Out the Food with Jesus
    ISBN: 978-0-9789056-1-3; $5.99
  3. Sail On the Boat with Jesus
    ISBN: 978-0-9789056-0-6; $5.99
  4. Stand Up and Walk with Jesus
    ISBN: 978-0-9789056-4-4; $5.99
  5. Come to the Party with Jesus
    ISBN: 978-0-9789056-5-1; $5.99
  6. Climb the Tree with Zacchaeus
    ISBN: 978-0-9789056-2-0; $5.99
  7. March Round the Walls with Joshua
    ISBN: 978-0-97890567-5; $5.99
  8. Follow the Star with the Wise Men
    ISBN: 978-0-9789056-3-7; $5.99
While some of these "action rhyme" books are good, there were a few I didn't like. It's not that they were bad. It's just that they weren't all of equal quality. Some stories lend to this kind of telling better than others. Some are more age appropriate than others.

The books do focus on 'action' but I think 'rhyme' is the wrong word. The books are rhythmic but they don't rhyme. There is a difference. Dr. Seuss rhymes. Cat. Hat. Mat. Sat. Fat. These books don't rhyme. But a book doesn't have to rhyme to be a good story. Rhythm is important for books, and these books do have that. They also have repetition. And repetition is key to this age group. It is a good thing to have lots of repetition in books for this age group. It makes participation much more likely.

So while I didn't *love* the picture books as much as the group activity book, I did like some of the titles and would certainly recommend them. (I think that Come To the Party With Jesus is the weakest title of the bunch.)

Conclusion: If you have limited funds go with MAKE A JOYFUL NOISE. It's the strongest of the bunch and has many, many purposes. If you can afford it you should definitely get the CD that goes along with it. And the picture books are nice, but not necessarily essential.

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