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Making a Difference through Literacy

  • Apr 20, 2011
  • Dianna Babcock & Cheryl Henningsgaard

“Beads on One String” by Dennis Warner

In 2004, Minnesota musician Dennis Warner composed and performed his song, “Beads on One String” for a captivated audience. Impelled by his music and the message of “we’re more alike than we are different” this song became the springboard for a beautifully illustrated children’s book, Beads on One String. The book is so appealing to all viewers, as the music, repetition of the chorus, and colorful illustrations reinforce the great themes that “bead” the listening audience together. The message of the story teaches about diversity, disability, and provides opportunities for anti-bullying and character education that the youngest elementary student can appreciate. 

Music in a Box

Book Title:  Beads on One String

Appropriate Audience:   Preschool-Early Elementary

Author:  Dennis Warner

Illustrator:   Allison Love Unzelman

Literacy Goals: 

Phonological Awareness:  The repetition, rhyme, and the rhythm of the music assist with the language patterning.
Print Motivation:  Colorful illustrations captivate and motivate the eye.  There are many illustrations of children, which is appealing to the audience.
Vocabulary:  The text includes “feeling” words that children can identify with such as cry. The repetition in the text increases word practice and usage.
Print Awareness:   Tracking text with song lyrics reinforces phonemics.
Letter Knowledge:   The music motivates the audience to sing along with the story, practicing word usage.
Narrative:  The story is easily understood, and can be retold through socio-dramatic play, sequencing characters as they appear in the story, and through feelings and interpretations.

Activities/Extensions with Music:

  • Character education, disability and diversity awareness and anti-bullying messages are found in this story.
  • Dennis Warner’s CD which can be played while reading through the book is a wonderful way to introduce this story.
  • The book can be sung to practice word usage and content.
  • Colorful scarves can be used, held between each child, to make a connected necklace .  The children can sing and move to the music while holding into their connected scarf necklace.  Each child is important. Together they make a beautiful circle.
  • Using a parachute, children can create their own circle of friendship as they move in time to the music.
  • Create a friendship necklace where each child represents a different colored bead.  Together they make a friendship necklace.

Materials: CD player, parachute, colorful scarves, and age-appropriate materials for a friendship necklace.

Parent Education Tips:  The message of the story: we’re more alike than we are different is an important one to teach. Find ways to incorporate this message at home and in your community.

©MacPhail Center for Music, 2011


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