We are Dancing in the Forest

If you have ever used this song in your classroom, I am sure it has been a student favorite. My students love the game, obviously, but they also enjoy the challenge of aurally identifying “la.”

I use a modified version of body solfege with my students when they are in kindergarten through the beginning of 2nd grade (please see list below). When we learn this song, we take a field trip to our Melody Street bulletin board. The kids already know “sol” and “mi,” so it doesn’t take them long realize we have a note higher than those two in our song! Once we name and can sing “la,” we go back to our song and the kids have to identify which lyrics are sung with “la.” When students feel confident in their answers, they place a magnet over the lyrics that they think are sung with “la.” The rest of the class has a discussion until we figure out where it goes.

“We are Dancing in the Forest” body solfege:
–Mi = hands on hips
–Sol = hands on shoulders
–La = hands on head

Suggested Grade Levels: 1st grade, 2nd grade

Analysis:

History:
This is another song that is tricky to pinpoint its origin. One of my sources mentioned that they did not know if it is an actual folk song or something that was teacher-created. Another, which is the one I focused on, lists it as a European children’s game and chant.

On the Holy Names University Kodály Center page, they list the source as coming from the collection of Betsy Moll. Moll spent two years studying Kodály music education in Hungary, so based off of the song’s listing as a European children’s game and Moll’s time in Europe, I would assume that the song originates from Hungary or another nearby country in Europe.

Game:
There are many ways to play this game! This game is best suited to either being played outside or in a large indoor area.

Version 1: One wolf is in the center of a circle created by the rest of the children. The children in the circle walk around, singing the song. At the song’s end, they ask, “Wolf, are you there?” to which the wolf responds either yes or no. If the wolf responds no, the song is repeated. If the wolf responds yes, they must chase the other children until one is caught. This child becomes the next wolf.

Version 2.1: One wolf is alone on one half of the playing space. The rest of the children are located on the other half of the playing space. The children sing the song and at the end ask, “Wolf, are you there?” The wolf may respond yes or no. If the wolf responds no, the song is repeated. If the wolf responds yes, the children must run to the other side of the playing space without getting caught. If any children are caught, they must freeze where they were caught and turn into “trees” or “bushes” to create the forest. Repeat this until only one child is left. This will be the new wolf.

Version 2.2: One wolf is alone on one half of the playing space. The rest of the children are located on the other half of the playing space. The children sing the song and at the end ask, “Wolf, are you there?” The wolf may respond yes or no. If the wolf responds no, the song is repeated. If the wolf responds yes, they must chase the other children until one is caught. This child becomes the next wolf.

Classroom Applications:
–Teaching or reviewing quarter notes and eighth notes
–Introducing/identifying “la”
–Due to the tritonic (mi-sol-la) melody, this song lends itself perfectly to simple orchestrations on Orff instruments; a bordun can be used for the simplest accompaniment

Resources:

–Ankuda, M. (Host). (2020). Interview series: Elizabeth (Betsy) McLaughlin Moll [Audio podcast]. Organization of American Kodály Educators. https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/organization-of/interview-series-elizabeth-VDGv7WFp12g/

–Holy Names University. (n.d.). We are dancing in the forest. Kodály Center: The American Folk Song Collection. http://kodaly.hnu.edu/song.cfm?id=856

–Musicplay. (2010, September 9). 74. We are dancing in the forest kids demo [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkJXqd2pGiI

–Roberts, C. (2014, April 17). Wolf games, cross-culturally: Grrrr….. Kodály Corner. http://kodalycorner.blogspot.com/2014/04/wolf-games-cross-culturally-grrrr.html

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