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Mi Cuerpo: A Spanish Song and Dance For K-4 Music

Updated: Jul 28, 2022


Mi Cuerpo is a fun, active Spanish song you can and should use in your elementary music classes! While you may have used this song before, I used some extensions with my kids this year and we had a blast- so I can't wait to share them with you here.


Kindergarten, first, second, third, and fourth grade can all have a great time with this song, with a few modifications for each grade. But every student will be singing and moving.


This is a great song to begin music class, or even to use as the bulk of your lesson!



I had a few tough groups this past year, including one fourth grade class that loved to interrupt me at every chance. But this song? They were coming into the room singing this song weeks later! They even taught it to one of their subs. That's how I know they enjoyed it. And your kids will too!


In this post, I will share with you how to teach the song as well as various extensions you can use with K-4 and tips you can apply to any lesson.


Depending on what tips you choose to use, this lesson could take 5-7 minutes, or the majority of class. I'd recommend breaking it up into several days worth of short activities. Students will build independence with the song through the week.


**Already know the song and ready to dive into an extension right now? I have a free boomwhacker notation sheet with the chords to this song in my TPT shop here. But there are SO many more things to do with this song. Keep reading to learn them all!**


P.S. Did you know I have a YouTube channel where I do music teacher toolbox chats about topics like this? Make sure you subscribe to learn more meaningful elementary music strategies!




Mi Cuerpo Lesson


I found out about this song this year in a Facebook group post, and I knew right away it would become one of my staple songs.



Learn it here!


It's sung entirely in Spanish... and that's where the first extension begins.





1. Sing your students the song (note: if you plan on using diatonic boomwhackers, which I'll explain below, teaching it in C Major will be helpful).


Lyrics:

Mi cuerpo, mi cuerpo hace música

Mi cuerpo, mi cuerpo hace música

Mis manos hacen (clap clap clap)

Mis pies hacen (stop stomp stomp)

Mi boca hace ("la la la!")

Cintura hace ("cha cha cha!" and shake your tailfeathers)

Mi cuerpo, mi cuerpo hace música

Mi cuerpo, mi cuerpo hace música


English translation:

My body, my body makes music!

My body, my body makes music!

My hands go...

My feet go...

My mouth goes...

My hips go...

Tell students that it is in another language, but don't say which one. Let them guess. Even kindergarteners can get this one (they know the names of LOTS of languages, I've found!). Do a turn and talk so all students have the chance to voice ideas before you ask for volunteers to share.


I ask for all those who want to to share before saying who is correct. This way, students can reconsider their answer and change it if they want. Not that I'm grading their answer- but it gives them a chance to say, "Oh yeah, I actually agree with THAT!" in a way that avoids bickering.

Extensions:

a. Upper elementary: ask students to identify the words they know.

3rd and 4th graders often have begun Spanish instruction, so they

can pick out many of the words, like música, boca, and cuerpo.


b. Lower elementary: ask the students what certain words mean.

Then what manos, pies, boca, and cintura mean. Sing it again with

emphasis on the motions for each line.


With each grade, you might not need to directly translate the

song. With enough emphasis on the connection between the words

and motions, the basic idea of one's body making music will come

through, either through you or through students helping each other.



2. Add simple motions to the refrain ("Mi cuerpo, mi cuerpo...")


There are already motions/actions for the body part section. But I added made a simple dance for the refrain too. All of us stood in a circle to make it work.


You can add motion or actions to virtually ANY song. This helps reinforce lyrics, form, and melody, and turns a simple greeting or opening song into something you can film and share with home.

Extensions:

a. Upper elementary:

For the first line, take two steps to the right on "Mi cuerpo, mi

cuerpo" and circle your hands/arms a la a conga line on "hace música."

For the second line (same lyrics), take two steps to the left and circle

your hands again.


b. Lower elementary: ask the students what certain words mean.

Almost the same as upper, but change left and right to forward and

backward. You could also turn around one way then the other way,

swing your arms over your head, or whatever else students come up

with.



3. Fill in the blanks


When you've sung the song several times, students are ready to fill in the missing words:


You: Mi cuerpo, mi cuerpo...

Students: Hace música!

You: Mi cuerpo, mi cuerpo...

Students: Hace música!


Extensions:

a. Upper elementary:

Ask them listen carefully to their lyrics. Are they the same melody

each time? (The answer is no- one ends higher, one ends lower). Is

your (the teacher's) melody the same both times? (Yes.) If this is

tricky, ask them to draw the shape and notice where they hand lands

each time. Another step you can take to help them is to sing it and

draw it yourself. They can make the connection from there.


When you ask higher level thinking questions like this, you are inevitably going to get students who just don't know the answer. Sometimes, no one will volunteer the answer, or they'll give the incorrect answer.. Rephrase the question (maybe they don't understand what you mean), but don't answer it for them. Return to it later in the lesson, or even the next day. Avoid answering it for them- guide them as much as possible!

b. Lower elementary: ask the students what certain words mean.

Draw the shape of the students' melody with your hand and ask them

to join you. Draw it with your body even by bending your knees to rise

and fall to a medium and low level as you end each line. Ask them if

their lyrics are the same each time? If they can't hear that they are

different, help them see that they are different through this drawing

strategy. You can do the same with your melody, but your shape will

be the same both times.


c. All grades: Change from teacher/student groupings to students/

students groupings, like half the class and half the class. Sing for the

students, not with them. Let them take the reins here. (This is

HARD. I still have trouble doing this. But it's true- they learn more

from each other than from me being a crutch for them.)



4. Solo time!


It's a great time for the littles to learn what a solo is! I love defining by demonstrating, and this next part works best in a circle.


Sing the refrain, then you will go around to each student one by one as you sing through the body part actions.


Example:

You (pointing to a student): Mis manos hacen...

Student: (clap clap clap)

You (pointing to the next student): Mis pies hacen...

Student: (stomp stomp stomp)

You (pointing to the next student): Mi boca hace...

Student: La la la!

You (pointing to the next student): Cintura hace...

Student: Cha cha cha!


Note that the "la la la!" is pitched, i.e. sung. That is the goal with that line, and it may need group prep beforehand.


Sing the refrain again, then pick up where you left off. Repeat until every student has gone.


Extensions:

a. Upper elementary:

Ask them to sing their own lines and do their motions./actions Or

have the class sing each line while single students perform the

motion/action.


b. Lower elementary:

Separate them into four groups and point to a group to solo each

time. Rotate which groups do which motion/action. Then you can ask

for single students once the experience has been scaffolded in the

groupings. Using a puppet or stuffed animal can also help reluctant

soloists (that was a no-no this past year due to Covid, but I'm sure it

would work well!).



5. Add some harmony


This song uses the I, IV, and V chords, so it's easy enough for you to either play on a keyboard or barred instrument (while they sing and perform) or have students play on guitar or ukelele while they sing and perform (I do not play those instruments yet, so- sorry!- no guidance there). Buuuuut.... I do have access to boomwhackers!


**If you have no idea where to start with boomwhackers, I have a whole blog post about it here.**


Extensions:

a. Upper elementary:

Make sure you grab my Mi Cuerpo boomwhacker chord freebie on

my TPT shop. It's a color-coded, easily-readable sheet that breaks

each chord into voices/groups for students to play.

mi cuerpo boomwhacker chords adifferentmusician

Each Group (aka, voice of the chord) can be a group of 2-3 students.

It's possible for one person to cover all the notes within a Group, but

Group 2 will be trickiest because of the switch from Fa to Re. But by

reading this sheet, students will be able to count and anticipate where

the switches will happen.



Here's how I did my classroom setup for grades 3 and 4:



b. Lower elementary:

Admittedly, with kindergarten this could be challenging. But my idea

is to do each Group/chord voice individually. Putting them all

together will take time, so tart with one group at a time. Assign

different students different boomwhackers. If you give each note a

number (1-7, and 8 is a rest), they can count and play on their

numbers.


If you use my freebie chord progression with them, I'd cut it into

three sections (literally, use scissors!) and have students point while

others play.



Final performance


So what would a final performance of Mi Cuerpo look like?


Well, let's back up.


You can record ANY stage of learning. I relate music learning stages to rough drafts or work in progress. You can even share any stage of learning, but keep in mind that not all students are allowed to be photographed or videotaped (check your school's media policy). Sometimes even seeing themselves on video can detract from the purpose of watching their own performances.


But more generally, you can call a first grade performance of Mi Cuerpo with dance moves and motions and final performance. Final performances do not need to be complicated. But they should be the students' best work, something they're proud of.


Invite the principal or classroom teacher to watch at the end of class. Invite their other grade level peers to watch, or other adults in the building.


Something like this should be performed. Music is meant to be shared. Celebrate all successes, big and small. This will build students' confidence and help them associate performances with joy and pride.




If this post helped you, I'd love to know about it! You can email me or reach out to me on Instagram.


And if the idea of specific music teacher toolbox strategies and resources is something that excites you, you’d get a lot out of joining the ADM community. In my email newsletters, I help educators like you teach meaningfully and joyfully- but beyond the music- in your classrooms.


Happy music-making!







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