Hey, kids! Let's put on a show!
January 31, 2010 11:49 AM   Subscribe

I'm "THAT" mom - and it's that time of year. It's time to plan the Spring Concert performance for a Kindergarten class, having a "Jungle" theme; and aside from the limitations imposed by circumstances, only one rule applies: "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" has been banned after five consecutive years of being performed in every concert no matter what the theme.

Though I will probably procrastinate on making the costumes, the production takes place in May. The teacher would like to start teaching the kids the song and movements now. I'm in charge of costumes, additional ideas and general helpfulness and pretty much the only volunteer in the class for this aside from the teacher's assistants. They work on this a few times a week in ten-fifteen minute segments, adding things a bit at a time. But, what song? What to do?

We have approximately 21 kindergarteners to wrangle, ranging in age from under four to over six. This includes the full spectrum of personalities, from exuberant, dynamic natural performers to sweet thumb-sucking hair twiddlers. Many will perform well in class, but once on stage, become "deer in the headlights". It's adorable and expected. It's like karaoke, but instead of drunken adult Idol-wannabes, we have small SNL characters who'll occasionally flail around in a coordinated fashion. They will walk on stage in a line, break into groups for a verse with accompanying hand movements, bow or curtsey and file off. That's about all they can handle.

For example, last year, for the "Under the Sea" theme, they were able to sing "Listen to the Water", with a few simple hand movements, divided into groups of birds, fish, flowers and ducks. The costumes we made were from large squares of felt. For the bodies, we made tunics by cutting out the shapes from sheets of felt and attaching them only at the shoulders, decorating them with feathers, scales or whatever was appropriate. Some of the costumes had hoods made of felt, made from a basic tutorial found online; others, headbands with appropriate decorations like petals or feathers. Those suited my Sewing 101 skills. Headgear is better than make-up or masks, for time and safety reasons respectively. I have one, maybe two friends who'll help put things together one night before before the show, bribed with drinks and nibblies. I'll be sewing/making in fits and spurts rather than in steady nightly efforts. Aside from the felt, we use "found" items from classroom supplies to decorate the costumes - we unfortunately blew the budget on felt, as none was to be had otherwise.

So far, this link has the best song possibilities, and the teacher and I will be putting our heads together this week and may need to cross some of these off the list if they've been taken on the sign-up sheet. There are two kindergarten classes besides ours, and we're not judgy, but we do like basking in compliments and if we get a few asides that we were so much more clever than the other classes, so be it. Our school is pretty fun and we can get away with something a wee bit subversive and maybe a little edgy - but the older grades will have sewn up the "Welcome to the Jungle" ideas. We do want to keep it simple and appropriate, but fun and interesting. If everyone gets bored with what we're doing before the show, we fail.

I've started looking up costume ideas, but would be grateful for any ideas or information about various simple patterns for jungle animal costumes, crazy dance moves, or Jungle-themed songs that kids (and the adults that guide them) can handle. Links to photos and videos are great, I can be inspired by those. And thanks!
posted by peagood to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
"The Bare [think Bear] Necessities", from The Jungle Book? I performed to that as a kid and loved it. Fun felt bear costumes could work well for paws and ears and tummy.
posted by sallybrown at 11:57 AM on January 31, 2010

How about a song from The Lion King? I think kids like singing, "Oh I just can't wait to be king!" or "Hakuna matata".
posted by like_neon at 12:23 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Turn the World Around.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:36 PM on January 31, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best answer: 'Jungle Boogie' is pretty great. Perhaps you could segue into 'You Gots to Chill,' 'No Diggity' or 'Welcome to the Terrordome.'
posted by box at 12:47 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Effervescing Elephant. Disturb your children for decades, at no cost to you.
posted by scruss at 1:59 PM on January 31, 2010

Best answer: I love the Banana Boat song.... if that counts as jungle themed. And kids love to sing it as it's about a food they all know, and often love.

Fozzie interrupts, of course... but it's still the best when Harry Belafonte does it.
posted by taff at 3:34 PM on January 31, 2010

maybe get some ideas from ferngully
posted by water bear at 3:57 PM on January 31, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, all - please keep suggestions coming.

The Jungle Book and Lion King songs will likely be taken by the older classes, as the complete lyrics are a little complex for kids this young. Also, I can't listen to any of those songs every day for two months without going mental.

Turn the World around is amazing, I love it, and would be so glad to use it and I'd forgotten about it and it's great - but it's over six minutes long. That's enough time for nose-picking and peeking behind curtains and giving each other wedgies and stuff on stage. The event is over two hours long as it is, and for every three minutes of singing there's two or three or five minutes of filing on and off stage in a most painful shuffling fashion. If people are already checking their watches during the recorder songs, I can't do that to them.

Effervescing Elephant is actually a pretty great idea - but too many words for the kids to sing along with and the parents aren't encouraged to use mind-altering substances at these events.

Jungle Boogie could be awesome - and parents would forever thank us for adding this iconic song to their kids' vernacular. There are few words, a good beat, nd I'm envisioning cartoonish cardboard horns being played by little jungle creatures. I just need some dance moves - they can get pretty forgetful they're on the stage and dances need to be choreographed carefully to fit all twenty+ up there. One kid did a face-plant off the stage last year...

The Banana Boat song is possible - if it's not thought of and taken. After all, there ARE jungles in Trinidad...I can teach the kids the Beetlejuice moves!

Ferngully is a good thought, but not a cultural reference point for kids of this age and probably not for the makeup of this school. I'll spend more time peeking through there, though.
posted by peagood at 6:29 PM on January 31, 2010

peagood, if you want to do Turn the World Around, mefimail me -- I've got a version of this that I've been singing for AGES with kids from five to eighteen that's (a) shorter, and (b) has some really simple actions that would be age appropriate. Caveat: you'll need a musically-inclined person to accompany (I use acoustic guitar), as there isn't a recorded version of the song that I'm aware of.

(I actually had never heard the original until last year. :)
posted by liquado at 10:32 PM on January 31, 2010

What about creating a thunderstorm? Apparently this is a popular thing at summer camps, but I first heard about it here, in this post.

Also, George of the Jungle? Something from Disney's Tarzan movie? I also heard “Tarzan Boy” by Baltimora on the radio this morning, which was awesome, but I’m not sure you could do anything with that.
posted by yawper at 7:42 AM on February 1, 2010

The Matilda the Gorilla song! Simple words and hand movements and the kids get to pretend to be monkeys. And it's short and makes people smile. Could do a simple costume too.
posted by eleanna at 10:19 AM on February 1, 2010

« Older Twenty-Four Pixels of Sweet, Sweet Sticking it to...   |   Cutting contact with an Ex from the same... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.