When you listen to the track “Serengeti” from Wild Child, you’ll be invited to close your eyes and imagine the Serengeti, with zebras and lions. “Sunrise in the Jungle” lists a wonderful assortment of African animals. “Rita the Cheetah” is in first person, bragging “I’m bigger than anything you’ve ever seen! I’m Rita the Cheetah, the fastest cat in the land!” There’s a lot of information in this song and in many of the others as well. “The Mysteries of the Nile” has history and geography. “An Elephant in the Congo” is another first person song, with a message about elephant endangerment that fits perfectly into the jazzy song. “Drumming with the Animals” has a great section with call-and-repeat of animals’ names. This song also has instructions to raise hands, hold hands, etc.
I was glad to hear the traditional south African lullaby “Thula Baba,” too. The harmonies are very pretty, and it’ll make a good “settle down” song.
The whole album has an environmental focus, though it’s more obvious in some songs than in others. Nancy Doan, the founder of Recess Music, says, “Of all the creatures on Earth, the animals of Africa are some of the most threatened in our world. When I think of the children of future generations, I’m struck by how sad it will be if they never have the possibility of seeing an elephant or a tiger or a hippo in its natural habitat. I believe that Mother Nature intended for ALL of Earth’s inhabitants to share our green planet with one another.”
This focus makes Wild Child a good choice for Earth Day and other environmental literacy lessons.
The music has a somewhat retro pop sound overall, but with strong influence from traditional African music and a nice selection of nature sounds.There are lots of different voices, including some children, and lots of instruments. You may recognize some of the voices here, including Jack Grunsky and Kathy Lowe. There are songs at different tempos, from calming nap music to energizing rock. All of them are danceable and singable.
Kids will love singing along and dancing to this recording. Here are some ways to enjoy it in your classroom:
- Play it for creative movement and relaxation during jungle units.
- Enjoy it when studying about Africa, and compare with traditional African music.
- Race to “Rita the Cheetah.”
- Use “An Elephant in the Congo” for elephant units, and also for discussions of endangered animals.
- Use “Drumming with the Animals” for morning gathering or after lunch music, following the movement instructions and having kids repeat the animal names along with the children’s choir.
- Have students listen closely for the names of all the animals they can hear.
- Listen for animal calls and cries as well.
- Listen to identify musical instruments. You might need to do some research to identify all of them.
- The songs can be enjoyed as a glimpse of a day, from sunrise to full moon and back to sunrise again, so why not use them in this order to organize classroom routines?
This is a nice, well-balanced CD for early childhood and younger elementary classrooms, and it should be useful for a variety of instructional and classroom management tasks as well.