A Great Song for Your Earth Day Circle Chant
A Nice Earth Day Song
The Earth is Our Mother
The Earth is Our Mother is a Native American inspired song with words that fit into the theme of taking care of our planet. Although it is not an authentic Native American song, I would like to respectfully defend its use for Earth Day. What needs to be crafted around the teaching of this song is historical accuracy and proper context.
Context and Activity:
On Earth Day we celebrate the world and the many things people do to take care of it. A good way to introduce this chant is to talk about what Earth Day means and what are things we can do to help the earth - recycle, don't waste resources, etc. You can explain how many cultures including the Native Americans use the circle chant as a community event. Chanting together demonstrates how we can work together as a people.
I would teach it this way:
- Sing or play a recording of the chant.
- Teach the phrases line by line by singing or playing and pausing each phrase so the students have a chance to echo the words.
- Sit in a circle and practice singing the chant.
- At another time practice the drum beat. I use the rhythm ta titi or long short-short over and over.
- Have the students practice the drum beat. If you don't have enough drums, have them take turns. First start by everyone patting their legs, then transfer the rhythm to drums.
- Have students chant while a few play the drum rhythm. Once they are all expert enough, some may even play the drum rhythm WHILE singing the chant.
Historical Accuracy and Background:
Make sure the students understand that this is NOT a Native American song, but a modern song that is in the Native American style. You want to successfully portray to your students a sentiment of how this song honors the culture and how it brings a sense of community.
For more information on teaching about the Native Americans, I would suggest going to teachervision.com and type 'Native American' in the search field. They even have printable songs like the call and response song O Hal'Lwe - a Nanticoke Women's Dance. Students get to practice their analyzing skills and gain deeper insight into musical style when they have the opportunity to compare an authentic Native American song with The Earth is Our Mother.