Vocabulary in Songs

13 Jan

This is a clever video of a musician replacing the words in popular songs with advanced verbs, adjectives and nouns.  The result made me laugh, even as my head ached trying to match what he was saying with the original lyrics (at the end he sings a few lines from each original song so you can compare.)

Kids love songs, and by fourth grade they love popular songs.  I have one in my class who has given her life to One Direction, and the other day a boy was wandering around the room singing Taylor Swift’s, “We are never, ever, ever, getting baaaaack together.”

Songs are a great way to work on complex vocabulary and parts of speech.  You can take a popular song and remove some of the key words and suddenly you have a cloze activity.  Take it a step farther by having the students identify a part of speech, like nouns, and then replacing just a few of those words.  If you have a word bank of more complex words that the kids could draw on, even better.  Afterwards you can sing the new, ridiculous, lyrics.

A simpler version of this idea is to use nursery rhymes or poems.  For example, I might give students the “Itsy-Bitsy Spider” poem.  We would brainstorm some adjectives and verbs that might be synonyms for “itsy-bitsy” or “came down.”  I could throw one or two in their as well to push their thinking.  Then we’d  have a word bank to choose from.

Word Bank:  

Tiny, minuscule, minute

ascended, rose, climbed, soared


Itsy Bitsy Spider

The ______ spider

_______ the water spout.

Down came the rain and

Washed the spider out

Out came the sun

And _________ all the rain

And the _________ spider

_________ the spout again.

As a class we might do one or two of these before I let them experiment on their own.

One Response to “Vocabulary in Songs”


  1. Preschool is too late: how school’s can address the word gap | Wordsmatter - April 4, 2014

    […] certainly a place for direct vocabulary instruction in schools (I talk about it here, here, and here) books are our greatest and most lifelong […]

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