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Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Ambos a Dos: Puerto Rican game song

It may be the very end of Hispanic Heritage Month but I just recently came across this song and it's a great lesson to use any time of year! The Puerto Rican game reminds me a lot of some games I grew up playing in Japan, and it was a great song to use with my Kindergartners because it reinforced some concepts they were working on and it is easy to learn the words in Spanish.

There is a great explanation of the game, with lyrics to the song, on page 15 of the book "Juegos de mi Isla" by Marta Monta├▒ez. The basic idea is to have 2 lines facing each other, and they walk towards each other and back away on the beat while singing their verses back and forth. At the end everyone join hands in a circle. Here's a video:


The first obvious concept this game can reinforce is steady beat. I love that there is mixed meter thrown in there as well- actually I find young kids aren't that thrown by it when they do it with the steps and kicks because it makes sense with the phrasing, it's the adults who find it more difficult! But any time we can use music in lower elementary grades that's not straight duple meter is a good thing!

I also happen to have several instruments from Puerto Rico given to me by a friend and retired music teacher, so I had students take turns playing those instruments on the beat while others did the steps and kicks with this recording. Maracas, guiros, tambourines, bongos, and congas are good choices if you don't have instruments directly from Puerto Rico- I would recommend showing a video like the first minute of this one to show students examples of the instruments being played in context.

The other concept students are able to practice with this song is call and response. Once students have heard the song a few times it's easy for them to sing the repeated lines, "matarile, rile rile" and "matarile, rile, ron". Older students could probably learn the verses in Spanish, but for Kindergarten I just had them learn the first verse, "Ambos a dos", then I did the rest of the lines in English: I sing "(name of student) do your job", then the student whose name I sang responds "what's my job?", I respond with "you can be a (job title)", and the student sings back "I like that job" or "I don't like that job" (the whole class sings the repeated lines in Spanish in between throughout), and at the end everyone sings "celebramos todos juntos" in Spanish together while we go around in a circle. If you would like to see musical notation for the melody, you can find that here.

Have you heard of this song before? This was a great addition to my lessons this year and, now that I'm more familiar, I'm excited to use it more effectively next year as well. 

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