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The Arts Lesson Addressing Benchmark 25.A.ECc

Mrs. Silva and Mr. Chung’s class has been investigating the grocery store as a project topic. The children in the classroom love to dance during free play time when the teachers play children’s music. The children love songs with silly lyrics, especially songs by Raffi. Mr. Chung remembers that one of Raffi’s albums is called “The Corner Grocery Store.” He mentions this to Mrs. Silva during lesson planning. As they talk, they agree it would be a fun song to sing with the children. They listen to the song and realize not only is it a silly song the children will enjoy, it also is a great chance to use music to meet some of the IELDs arts and language arts benchmarks.

About the Classroom

Mrs. Silva and her teaching assistant (TA), Mr. Chung, are responsible for developing learning activities that meet the needs of diverse learners and address the Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards (IELDS). Mrs. Silva knows that the majority of children in her class will meet the standards and benchmarks. However, she will have to make adaptations for those children who need more individualized instruction.

Mrs. Silva is the state-licensed head teacher in a monolingual classroom of 20 children (all 4 year old) with diverse learning needs. There are 17 typically developing children with age-appropriate skills and behaviors in the class. These children act as peer models for the remaining children in the class. Of the 20 children in the class, five children speak a language other than English at home. Languages represented in the classroom include Spanish, Arabic, and Polish. These children are all dual-language learners who started school with a varied understanding of English. Mrs. Silva recently obtained her English as a second language (ESL) endorsement to teach young children who are learning English. Three children in the class have diagnosed special needs requiring an individual education program (IEP).

  • Aiden has a diagnosis of hearing impairment and has a moderate hearing loss in both ears. He wears two hearing aids. His parents have elected for him to receive speech-only instruction, and he is not being instructed in American Sign Language.
  • Olivia has a diagnosis of developmental delay and has Down syndrome. Most of her needs are related to cognitive skills and self-help skills.
  • Reggie has a diagnosis of autism. He has advanced verbal skills but has trouble staying on task for even brief periods of time. He is very directive in play situations with peers and is resistant to a change in routine.

On occasion, some children exhibit challenging behavior during small group lessons. Mrs. Silva would like to implement strategies to address challenging behavior in the classroom.

Mrs. Silva’s district uses a state-approved developmentally appropriate curriculum. Mrs. Silva and Mr. Chung perform universal screenings three times per year (fall, winter, spring) for preschool children.

This lesson addresses a primary benchmark. A secondary benchmark is included to offer ideas for addressing an additional benchmark within one lesson. Teachers are encouraged to be creative in thinking of ways to address multiple benchmarks within one lesson.

Lesson Activity


  • Song chart created with the song lyrics (sheet music)
  • Two sets of picture cards to match the song chart
  • Recording of Raffi’s “The Corner Grocery Store”

Step 1

Primary Benchmark

The Arts
Music: Begin to appreciate and participate in music activities.

Mr. Chung hangs the song chart with the lyrics to “The Corner Grocery Store” in the circle time area. The teachers have become familiar with Boardmaker software to adapt materials for Reggie, a child with autism. The teachers have found Boardmaker’s extensive picture vocabulary is useful throughout the classroom because the icons help all children learn to “read” the pictures for meaning. As Mr. Chung gathers children on the carpet for circle time, he plays the song while pointing to words on the chart. The children begin to giggle when they hear the lyrics about “cheese walking on its knees” in the store.

Picture cards to match the song chart
Song chart with song lyrics

Step 2

Primary Benchmark

The Arts
Music: Begin to appreciate and participate in music activities.

Mr. Chung wants the children to be more involved in the singing of the lyrics and learn the pattern of the song. Mr. Chung asks the children what they like about the song. He also asks them what instruments they hear playing. The children mention guitars, drums, and a person singing.

Secondary Benchmark

Language Arts
Interact with a variety of types of texts (e.g., storybooks, poems, rhymes, songs).

While learning the song, the children interact with the lyrics, a type of text. Mr. Chung reads the lyrics more slowly and holds up picture cards for key words in each line. (A picture of cheese, a picture of a person with an arrow pointing at the knees, an ear of corn, a picture of a horn, etc.) He talks with the children about the silly rhymes and the children laugh. He explains some words in the song, including “dim” and “specs,” which means glasses. He takes out a silly pair of sunglasses. The children laugh as he takes them off. He talks with the children about what it is like to walk in the dark and sometimes think you see something silly that isn’t really there. Through this conversation, the children build new vocabulary.

Step 3

Primary Benchmark

The Arts
Music: Begin to appreciate and participate in music activities.

Mr. Chung encourages the children to engage with the music by singing along and holding up their cards at the appropriate time to match the lyrics.

Secondary Benchmark

Language Arts
Interact with a variety of types of texts (e.g., storybooks, poems, rhymes, songs).

With Mrs. Silva’s help, Mr. Chung hands each child a card with a picture (cheese, knees, corn, horn, plums, thumbs, specs, beans, jeans, eyes). There are duplicate cards so each child has one to hold.

Before playing the song, Mr. Chung tells the children to hold up their picture card when it matches what he’s pointing to on the song chart. He has the children practice by pointing to different pictures and holding up their cards. After this practice round, Mr. Chung turns on the music, and the children try to hold up their cards as the class listens to the song.

Monitoring Progress

The teachers repeat the song during circle times through the week. Using an anecdotal record sheet with the children’s names, the teachers note who can hold up the cards at the right time at the beginning of the week and who is able to do so at the end of the week. They expect the children will improve as they practice more. They also note how children respond to help them decide whether music would help engage the children in future activities.

Ideas to Extend Children’s Learning

Mrs. Silva notices some of the older children are spending time by the song chart during choices time. They want to read the song chart using the star-shaped pointer that Mr. Chung uses during circle time. Mrs. Silva encourages them by singing the song for them as they move the pointer. One child also notes that some of the words rhyme (cheese and knees, plums and thumbs). This provides Mrs. Silva an opportunity to help the children meet benchmark 4.C.ECb, “With teacher assistance, identify and match words that rhyme.” She notes some of the skills the children are interested in exploring in her anecdotal records for future planning.

Individual Adaptations for Children in Your Classroom

This lesson was written in the context of Mrs. Silva and Mr. Chung’s preschool classroom. We now offer some general suggestions of adaptations you can use in your classroom.

Individual adaptations for a child with Down syndrome

Child characteristics

Child has more difficulty following directions and matching the pictures.

Teacher action

The teacher invites children to hold their card up to the song chart to show a “match.”

Teacher: Can you find the plum on the chart?
Child holds up card with picture of plum to the chart.
Teacher: Your card with the plum matches the plum on the chart.

Individual adaptations for an English-language learner

Child characteristics

Some children in the classroom are English-language learners. These children may need additional supports to build vocabulary and understand directions.

Teacher action

The teacher has used pictures to explain new vocabulary words in the song, such as specs. He holds up the cards to make the directions clearer for the children to follow. The teacher also asks the children if they know other songs about food, shopping, or grocery stores in their home language. He asks other school staff members and families if they know any songs the children might like to build on the children’s enthusiasm for singing “The Corner Grocery Store.”

Individual adaptations for a child with autism

Child characteristics

Emotion card with frustrated face

Child has verbal skills but has trouble staying on task. During the activity, this child interrupts other children as they talk about the song and becomes upset when the teachers do not change the song that is playing.

Teacher action

The teacher labels the child’s emotions and uses a picture to help him understand.

Teacher: (She hands child a card with a picture of an angry face) Maybe you feel frustrated because we are not playing your favorite song.

Teacher: (She shows child a second card of a smiling face) Your friends feel happy and like the song that is playing.

Teacher: (She shows child a second card of a smiling face) Your friends feel happy and like the song that is playing.

Individual adaptations for a child with a hearing impairment

Child characteristics

Child wears two hearing aids and is receiving speech-only instruction. The child reads lips as a receptive language skill.

Teacher action

The teacher helps the child find a place in the circle directly across from the teacher’s chair so he can see the song chart and the teacher’s lips. The teacher faces the child whenever she gives instructions to the group or to this child. She encourages peers to do the same.

Individual adaptations for children exhibiting challenging behavior

Child characteristics

A few of the children have a hard time calming down after they begin to laugh at the silly lyrics. They laugh very loudly and jump around.

Teacher action

Teacher uses a visual aid to help the children calm down.

Teacher: I know that you aren’t mad right now, but you are way at the top of the thermometer on excitement, and we need to calm down. Let’s take some deep breaths

Children take deep breaths, and the teacher slowly takes his finger and moves it down the thermometer until he is at the bottom.

Teacher: Now we’re cool and calm and ready to go on with our song.


“Song chart with song lyrics” and “Picture cards to match the song chart” examples above were created using Picture Communication Symbols ©1981-2011 by Mayer-Johnson LLC. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Used with permission.

Boardmaker® is a trademark of Mayer-Johnson LLC.

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About this resource

Setting(s) for which the article is intended:
  • Child Care Center
  • Preschool Program

Intended audience(s):
  • Teachers / Service providers
  • Faculty / Trainer

Age Levels (the age of the children to whom the article applies):
Related Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards:
Reviewed: 2013