Hip Hop Makes Learning Sweet

There are just some lessons in the library that can be drier than sun burnt mud no matter how much I have tried to make them interesting. Librarians you know what it’s like. You have to teach THAT LESSON, but 3 minutes into it, the kids are picking at the carpet, staring off at the corners of the room or waving their hands and pointing at  the cobweb they found in the art installation. Trying to ignore it all (and secretly hoping full chaos doesn’t start) you keep going because it’s the required curriculum topic.

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We all have those lessons. My struggle has been helping students understand the difference between fiction and non-fiction in a fun way. The lessons have been okay. Nothing great. Certainly not newsworthy. And I’m pretty sure they aren’t part of the conversation at the dinner table when the kids tell their parents about the best part of their day.

I had some extra time yesterday and was searching AGAIN for a quick mini-lesson to go along with an author/illustrator study emphasizing that Lauren Castillo’s books are fiction, not non-fiction. I admit, my effort was a bit lackluster. I was scrolling through my browser on one screen and deleting old email on the other. Then I came upon my reminder email about my subscription to Flocabulary. Flobaculary teaches concepts through hip-hop music


I’d signed up in September, but hadn’t tried anything out yet. I was supposed to do a review, but I hadn’t done that either. Okay I thought, I wonder if there’s a video on fiction and non-fiction in Flocabulary? Sure enough, the first video in the Reading and Writing section, was one on Fiction vs Non-Fiction.


Could it be my lucky day? Fridays are notoriously NOT lucky days, so I admit, I wasn’t exactly holding my breath. I pushed play and the next thing I knew I was rockin’ in my school chair. (thanks Pete the Cat). I liked it. Now, the question was would the kids AND would the info stick in their brains?

Four Friday afternoon grades 1-3 classes later, I can say yes, the music video worked! Hurrah! I pushed play at the minute they sat down and they were engaged from the first beat. If there was ever a lesson we could learn from Sesame Street or any other children’s show, is the combination of music and learning works. Make that music hip-hop and these 21st century learners are ready, engaged and learning.

Later when we finished reading Twenty Yawns by Jane Smiley and Lauren Castillo, I had a sea of hands to choose from when I asked,  “What kind of book is this, and how do you know?”

Thanks Flocabulary for turning what is usually the dreaded lesson into, “Can we watch that again next week?” 

Blogger note –

I did not get paid for this review. Nobody made me write it. I like Flocabulary because it worked for me. If you would like to learn more, you can sign up for a free trial on the Flocabulary website. They have songs & videos for the major content areas, plus the Week-in-Rap videos that summarize the major news stories for the week. The teacher handouts have the CCSS listed, quizzes, handouts, lessons – the basics you need to supplement your lesson. Check it out. Rock on….



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4 thoughts on “Hip Hop Makes Learning Sweet

  1. This is great Mrs. Hembree : )
    Josa and I just checked out the video and can understand why your class enjoyed it so much.
    You rock (and hip hop!),
    Josa and I are reading The Inquisitors Tale right now and are enjoying all of the different narrators.
    Judy and Josa

    • Hi Judy and Josa,
      thanks for visiting the blog! The video music is so engaging that it makes learning a lot more fun. I have not read The Inquisitor’s Tale. I have seen the cover before however. As I was searching for a review I wondered to myself if it had similarities to the Canterbury Tales. One reviewer did support that view. What do you think?
      I did a podcast interview a couple weeks ago that will be published soon about The Honest Truth. I specifically give you credit for putting the book in my hands! When it goes live, I will let you know.
      Have you seen our new Books to Africa website? http://www.bookstoafrica.weebly.com If you ever have anything you want to include on the website – a song, recording of a book, explanation of a favorite sports team, etc. please let me know. I’d love to include your voice!
      Mrs. Hembree

  2. Hi Mrs Hembree,

    I wish I had been a fly on the wall for this lesson!!

    Music is certainly a powerful motivator for students. I wonder if some of your students might arrive in your next library library with their own hip hop songs to share after this…or that could be a fun library lesson to do with them!

    Miss Y 🙂

    • Miss Y,
      Having the students come up with their own hip-hop song is a great idea! We might have to try that sometime. So far nobody has come in with an original, but it could happen!
      Mrs. Hembree

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