Teacher Raps Migration Lessons

Wine-throated hummingbird (Photo: Laurens Steijn)

In need of a new or unique way to teach about migration? You may want to take a page out of Sandy Osborne’s playbook—or, rather, songbook.

This teacher from Lexington, South Carolina, replaces lyrics to popular songs with informative lessons, then raps or sings them to her students. One of her latest puts words about hummingbird migration to the tune of the children’s classic, “She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain” (words below). “It’s been a phenomenal experience,” Osborne says. “My passion is birds and animals. I developed my lessons [around] that.”

One of the first raps she created focused on teaching her first graders about field marks and included mourning doves, blue jays, and a plethora of other birds. She’s also done a song-filled lesson about how to use binoculars—skills her students put to use when they birded around the school. (They spotted Eastern blue birds, common grackles, hummingbirds, and house finches.) She hopes to take them to a birding site in Columbia (SC) soon.

“There’s always more to learn. I like to think of myself as a life-long learner,” she says. “It’s almost like a game to me. You go out, you learn the sounds [the birds make], you learn their movement, you learn the habitat. When I go out birding, to me it’s like solving a puzzle.”

Osborne hopes to impart some of that mystery, wonder, and knowledge onto her students. “Anytime that you can set any kind of material you want students to learn to music, they remember and retain information much better,” she says. “As long as I teach, I plan to use music.”

“Migration Song”
(To the tune of “She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain”)

I’ve migrated from the tropics
tzit, tzit, tzit
from Mexico and Costa Rica
tzit, tzit, tzit
Flying backwards or a hover,
looking for a tree for cover,
Flash my gorget for another,
tzit, tzit, tzit.

Building nests of plants and webs for my brood,
Flower nectar, juicy gnats my favorite food,
Goin’ to feeders for my visits,
rapid wings are going tzit, tzit,
others come if they dare risk it,
tzit, tzit, tzit.

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