Friday, November 10, 2006

Blowed Away!

Oklahoma's statehood centennial is coming up next November. All this year the state is celebrating in many ways. The 2007 summer reading theme in Oklahoma will be the centennial. So I've been reading up on Oklahoma and working on a centennial program which I've already booked into a couple of schools and a good number of libraries.

I've received official recognition from the state centennial committee for my program!! You can see a growing list of all the recognized celebrations here: Celebrate Oklahoma's Centennial - Book an Event. This also authorizes me to use the nifty logo above, which probably looks very familiar to you by now if you live in Oklahoma!

Now all I have to do is write some songs... no pressure!

I've made good progress on the program these past two weeks. I've secured permission to use the song "My Oklahoma Home, it Blowed Away" by Bill and Sis Cunningham. You might know it from Bruce Springsteen's latest CD. It's an authentic Dust Bowl song from the 30s and it treats the topic with humor. I tried it out with three classes, two 3rd grades and one Kindergarten, last week. They appreciated the humor and really enjoyed singing the echo part "It blowed away!"

I also completed the first draft of a song about the first Land Run in 1889.

For those who may not know, when the government opened the "Unassigned Territories" to settlement, they gave away lots in the most insane way possible, which was to literally hold a race. Settlers lined up on the borders and at the stroke of noon got themselves into the area any which way they could to stake their claims. Many "Sooners" snuck in early to get a jump on the best spots. Amazingly nobody was shot over land disputes, but the courts were tied up for years.

In looking for a "way in" to make a song for kids out of this topic, I was struck by the many different strategies and modes of transportation people employed; the railroad, race horses, bicycles, hiding in the bushes, etc. Each verse highlights a different strategy and ends with a cumulative section where the kids do sounds and motions. If you know my song "Grandma's House Tonight," this song has a similar structure.

I tried it out on two classrooms yesterday, 1st and 2nd grade. Even though the song is still pretty rough, they did great with it and really seemed to enjoy the participation. The teachers both seemed excited about it.

I'm anxious to try these songs out on some fourth graders, since state-wide, those are the kids who really study Oklahoma history all year long.

Well, I have an outline that calls for three or four more original songs, so I'd better go get back to work!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Vote Today!

I'm sure you're getting plenty of reminders, but here's one more - don't forget to vote today!