Friday, September 18, 2009

"this curriculum sponsored in part by Tom Chapin"

Today's poem is really part of a song from Tom Chapin's album "Billy the Squid." In case you don't know him, Tom Chapin is a musician famous for being Harry Chapin's younger brother--but I'd risk asserting that his music for kids is known by far more people because of his downright usefulness in the classroom.

The first day of school I sent my first-graders out delightedly singing verse one of "Great Big Words"--because there's great pleasure in being able to announce to grown-ups that you're an "eager bibliophile." And here I give a loud shout-out to John Forster, a frequent lyricist for Tom Chapin. I can't confirm that he wrote the lyrics for this one, but his wordsmithing is behind most of the other cleverly composed, perfectly appropriate yet never syrupy songs I've taught children over the years. All join in!

La, la, la la la la la, la, la, la!
When I was a little kid (a diminutive juvenile),
I liked my folks to read to me--I was an eager bibliophile.
Now I like words for how they sound and how they communicate...
I guess I should explain myself--that is, elucidate.
Great big words, I love big words!
Letter by letter, the bigger the better--
Great big words!

Now maybe you're adept at sports or excellent at school,
Or maybe you're vainglorious (which means you think you're cool).
But give me a massive ideogram (a big word) to make my point--
When you can verbalize your thoughts, you can really rock the joint!
Great big words, I love big words!
I get a thrill out of every syllable--
Great big words!

Big words are prodigious terms; now don't they sound delicious?
They impress your teachers, confuse your folks, and make your friends suspicious.
But that's okay; we'll start a trend that soon will sweep the nation:
The Hyperlinguistic Polysyllabic Speech Association!
Great big words, I love big words!
Letter by letter, the bigger the better--
Great big words!

La, la, la la la la la, la, la, la!

2 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh--I love this! Too funny! (Though I don't care for the kid singers.)

    Somehow feels like a cross between Weird Al and Schoolhouse Rock.

    Thanks, Heidi, for introducing me to this.

    (Cat's in the Cradle is one of my all-time fav songs, though, so don't make me choose between the brothers!)

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  2. Wow! I like this very much!! Learning whilst being educated. How much better can it be?

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