Sisters’ Choice: science songs, animal songs, childrens music

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Too many puppies, not enough homes,

Too many dogs, not enough bones.


Fix my dog, fix my dog,

Goin' downtown to fix my dog.

My dog Blue's a good old hound,

Got her at the lost and found.


Raccoon loves a hollow log,

Tell you how I love my dog.


Blue's got me, and I got Blue,

She don't need a litter too.


Every puppy should be someone's pet,

Takin' my dog to see my vet.


Too many kittens, that's a fact,

If you don't have a dog, fix your cat.

Words and music © 1990 by Nancy Schimmel.

Lead Vocals, Claudia Morrow, Alicia Roca, Crystal Reeves, Marti Smith, Nancy Schimmel & Candy Forest · Back-up Vocals, Candy Forest, Claudia Morrow, Crystal Reeves, Sam Page, Avram Siegel & The Singing Rainbow. Acoustic Guitar, Nina Gerber · Banjo, Avram Siegel · Violin, Crystal Reeves · Acoustic Bass, Sam Page.


A huge number of dogs and cats and puppies and kittens are taken to the pound every year. Most of them don't get adopted. Others get turned loose by their owners in hopes they will make it on their own or be taken in by somebody else. Most of these die of hunger or disease. A lot of suffering wouldn't have to happen if owners would have their pets spayed or neutered so they couldn't reproduce.



1. Can you imagine how many puppies and kittens are born every hour in the United States? Kathie Flood, who ran the Berkeley Animal Shelter, says the best guess is around three thousand per hour, most of them unwanted. About fourteen million are 'put to sleep' each year in local pounds and shelters. Kathie thinks about twice that many are killed by their owners or left out to fend for themselves and die. In some areas, unwanted cats and dogs who are turned loose will compete with or prey on endangered wild animals; another reason to spay or neuter pets. Park rangers can tell you if this is a problem where you live.

2. If you have a pet, do you know the phone number of the pound or shelter near you or how to look it up so you can call them if your pet is lost? Do you know how long they keep pets? Do you know why your dog should have a license and how much they cost? Do you know if the pound runs low-cost spay/neuter clinics?

3. Do you know the difference between 'spay' and 'neuter'? 101 Questions and Answers about Pets and People by Ann Squire will answer this and other questions.

4. Have you read in the newspaper or heard on TV about 'pound seizures'? Karen O'Connor's book, Sharing the Kingdom: Animals and Their Rights will tell you what they are. (If you can't find these books, your public or school librarian can help you find others on the same subjects.)

5. Have you seen photographs in the newspaper of dogs and cats that need homes? Maybe you could bring one for the bulletin board. The Adventures of Taxi Dog, by Debra and Sal Barracca, is a terrific picture book about a stray dog who finds a new life riding with a taxi driver (Dial, 1990, illustrated by Mark Buehner).


1. Make a poster about the importance of spaying and neutering pets. Put it up where people will see it.

2. If you have a dog or cat, make sure they have tags with your phone number so they can be returned if they get lost or hurt. Even if you always keep them in, they could get out. Ask your parents about getting your pet spayed or neutered if it is not already.

From the All in This Together Activity Book, ©1997 by Nancy Schimmel. May be copied for use by any non-profit school or organization if this notice is retained. Sisters' Choice, 704 Gilman Street, Berkeley CA 94710.

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Beulah the big beast lived long ago.

You might know her relative, the very rare rhino.

But Beulah never harmed a flea, she was very sweet,

All Beulah ever did was eat, eat, eat! But...


She never ate an enemy, she never ate a friend,

For Beulah the beast was a vegetarian!

Beulah, la, la, la, la, Beulah,

Beulah the beast of Baluchistan!

Beulah the big beast had a peaceful tale.

Elephants looked up to her for she out-weighed the whale.

But Beulah was the kindest beast that ever walked on land.

Beulah had the world's very first peace plan! Because...


Beulah as a little beast only did one thing.

Beulah had no hobbies and she didn't like to sing.

But ev'ry day she'd eat her weight in eucalyptus trees,

Then she'd make the earth quake with a burp or sneeze. But...


Beulah had the biggest heart that ever beat a beat.

It would thump throughout the land whenever she would eat.

Down went the veg'tables and ev'ry kind of fruit,

Then came the plants and trees right down to the roots. But...


Words and music by Jack Miffleton © 1978 World Library Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Vocal, Candy Forest and The Singing Rainbow · Piano, Candy Forest · Soprano Saxophone, Ray Lockle · Drums and Percussion, Jim Zimmerman · Electric Bass, Scott Steed.


The children at St. Paul's School in San Francisco taught Candy this song and the Rainbow has been singing it ever since.


1. To raise feed (alfalfa, grains, soybeans for cattle to eat) to produce one pound of meat protein uses about seventeen times as much farm land as it takes to raise one pound of vegetable protein. So vegetarian people leave more land wild for all the beasts. Beulah would appreciate that.

Of course, if a lot of people just cut down on the amount of meat they eat, that would help the animals just as much as a few people eating no meat at all. If you want to help preserve wild land you can choose: Do you want to do it by eating less meat or by becoming a vegetarian and eating no meat? How many people would have to cut down their meat-eating by 10% to equal ten people becoming vegetarians?

2. Which of the following were or are vegetarians?

Sylvester Graham (originator of the graham cracker)

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (author of Frankenstein)

Mr. Rogers

Isaac Bashevis Singer (author of Zlateh the Goat and other books for children and adults)

The Beatles

George Bernard Shaw (My Fair Lady was based on his play, Pygmalion)

John Harvey Kellogg, M. D. (inventor of flaked cereals)

3. You can find vegetarian recipes in Kids Can Save the Animals by Ingrid Newkirk (Warner Books, 1991) on pages 220 to 226. Try some and have yourself a Beulah-feast!

4. Could Beulah be a real beast or is she imaginary? (clue in second verse)

5. Animals don't have as much choice as people do about what they eat. Most of their eating patterns are linked to their instincts and the kind of digestive systems and teeth they have. We generally call animals that don't eat meat herbivores (elephants, squirrels). Animals that eat mostly meat are called carnivores (lions, wolves). Animals that eat just about anything are called omnivores (pigs, bears).

6. Here's a story that is another light-hearted look at the vegetarian choice: Fowl Play Desdemona, by Beverly Keller (Lothrop, 1989).

7. Draw a picture of what you think Beulah looks like. What kind of teeth do herbivores (animals that don't eat meat) have? Why? What kind of teeth do carnivores have? Why?

Answers: 1. 100 people 2. All of them 4. No land animal has ever lived that was bigger than the biggest whale.

From the All in This Together Activity Book, ©1997 by Nancy Schimmel. May be copied for use by any non-profit school or organization if this notice is retained. Sisters' Choice, 704 Gilman Street, Berkeley CA 94710.

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I saw my best friend hitting her dog,

She didn't see me see.

I couldn't understand it,

'Cause she's never been mean to me.


And she's my best friend,

She's my best friend.

I've never seen her folks hit her,

But I wonder if they might.

I've never seen them quarrel,

I've never seen them fight.

But she doesn't like to play at home,

She's quiet when we do.

She'd rather come to my house,

And I'd rather she did too.


I don't know what to say to her,

She knows that hitting's bad.

I wonder if she learned it

From her mother or her dad.


Words © 1989 by Nancy Schimmel. Music © 1989 by Candy Forest

Vocal: Vanessa Marshall · Piano & Synthesizer: Candy Forest


A friend told Nancy a true story about her childhood. Nancy took the story and changed it a little to make this song.


The best friend in this song may be hitting her dog because her parents hit her or each other hard enough to really hurt. A study made by the American Humane Association shows that if a child is abused, the child may in turn start hitting helpless animals.

Betsy Byars has written a terrific book, Cracker Jackson (Viking, 1985), about a very funny eleven-year-old boy and his even funnier best friend who try to deal with a terribly serious problem. Jackson's favorite former babysitter has married a man who hits her hard enough to leave bruises. When her husband starts hitting their baby, too, she asks Jackson to help her get away.

If you need to talk to someone about a family that has this problem, there is an 800 number that you can call free: 1-800-422-4453. Please don't use this number just to joke; that keeps the serious calls from getting through. This is a national hotline, and they may refer you to a number near you, so have a pen or pencil and paper ready. Also, you may find a local number listed under Child Abuse in your phone book.

Here are some more books about relationships with pets, and about troubled families like the one in the song.

Betsy Byars also wrote Pinballs (Harper, 1987), about three kids in a foster home. Two of them have been hurt by people in their families. They are mad and sad and don't want to be there, but gradually they team up.

Every Living Thing by Cynthia Rylant. Aladdin/Macmillan, 1985.

Each of these twelve short stories captures the moment when an animal causes a human being to see things in a different way and, perhaps, changes a person's life.

Koko's Kitten by Francine Patterson, photos by Ronald Cohn. Scholastic, 1985.

A true story of the gorilla who has learned sign language and described her beloved pet as “soft good cat cat.”

Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat. Little, Brown, 1961.

Billy sees some older kids tormenting a baby owl, and trades his pocket knife for their victim. His unusual pet gives him lots of laughs and surprises.

Storm in the Night by Mary Stolz, illustrated by Pat Cummings. Harper, 1988.

A thunderstorm has put the lights out, and an African-American grandfather tells his grandson how, when he was a boy, his dog helped him lose his fear of storms.


1. Think about what it means to be a Best Friend. If someone in your class isn't allowed to have friends over a lot, does that make it harder to be a best friend with that person? If someone is thinking about problems at home, does that make it hard for them to be a best friend to you? Are there people that you know who might need some special understanding at this time?

Often young people who are dealing with problems at home, have difficulties with friends at school. Sometimes they are teased and kept out of the group. How could you be a best friend to someone like the girl in the song? Sometimes we have to help people, as well as animals, through difficult times.

2. What does abuse mean? What does it say in the dictionary? If the dictionary isn't really clear, you might want to discuss it with your friends, a teacher, or family members. See if you can come up with your own ideas about what abuse means.


1. The dog in this song has been hit. While we're not sure why, we think that it might be because the best friend may also be getting hit at home. See if you can plan out a puppet show using animal puppets.

Use the situation in the song as the scene for the puppet show. You might have the dog talk to the best friend. What would the dog say? Think about the many different possibilities for the scene. For example, the dog could ask the girl why she is treating him/her that way, or the dog could be telling the girl how it feels to get hit. Maybe you can have the dog telling someone else about being hit. Can someone else help the dog? Think about how the puppet show will end.

2. The best friend in this song may not even know that she is being treated unfairly at home. For her, it could just be the way things are. How can we help the best friend get help if she or someone in her family is being hit? In order for someone to help her, she has to tell someone! While she may be telling us something by the way she treats her dog, we're still not sure. Make a list of the different people someone could go to for help with a problem like that of the best friend in the song. You might want to make a poster that says, “TELL SOMEONE!” Draw a picture of a young person going to someone for help. Make it clear on your poster who is available or offering the help.

From the All in This Together Activity Book, ©1997 by Nancy Schimmel. May be copied for use by any non-profit school or organization if this notice is retained. Sisters' Choice, 704 Gilman Street, Berkeley CA 94710.

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When a chick is sleepy, it snuggles in its nest,

And its momma tucks it in, like mine does when I need to rest.

Cats like to stretch just like we do.

Monkeys like to scratch just like we do.


They have their little pleasures,

They also feel their pains,

And they pull against their chains

Just like we do.

Pull against their chains,

They pull against their chains,

And they pull against their chains

Just like we do.

Rats like to run, just like we do.

Pigs lie in the sun, just like we do.


Rabbits like their food, just like we do.

Dogs try to be good, just like we do.


Words © 1989 by Nancy Schimmel. Music © 1989 by Nancy Schimmel and Candy Forest Vocal: The Singing Rainbow · Piano: Candy Forest · Banjo: Tony Furtado · Acoustic Bass: Laurie Lewis


All the animals in this song are ones commonly used in laboratories for experiments and tests.


Chimps: So Like Us is a 30 minute film in which Jane Goodall shows us chimps in close-knit families in their forest home, and then visits a laboratory where chimps are kept alone in small metal cages. It was made in 1990 by Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon, and is available from Direct Cinema Ltd., (213)396-4774.

While the United States now has laws to regulate the living conditions of laboratory animals (size of cages, cleanliness, etc.) the laws don't apply to farm animals. Sweden does have a humane farming law, and it was a series of articles by Astrid Lindgren, who wrote Pippi Longstocking, that inspired that law. We found this out from a book called Animal Rights, by Sunni Bloyd (Lucent Books, Overview Series, 1990), on page 79-80.

The book also gives arguments for and against using animals in medical research, describes alternatives to the use of animals in testing cosmetic safety, and discusses hunting. It includes a list of animal-related organizations.

The Okanagan Indians in British Columbia have a legend, How Turtle Set the Animals Free (illustrated by Barbara Marchand, Theytus Books, 1991). Turtle had a dream that told him how to win a race with Eagle and free the animals.

Shiro in Love, by Wendy Tokuda, (Heian, 1989) tells the true story of the only dog on a small island in Japan. He meets another dog when his person takes him to visit the next island, and he becomes famous when he swims the channel night after night to visit her.


1. Make a survey of people who have companion animals. Ask what things their pets do that are “just like” what the people do.

2. If you or your older brother or sister are told to cut up an animal in a science class and don't believe you should, you can call the Dissection Hotline for advice. It's a free call, 1-800-922-FROG (1-800-922-3764). This hotline is sponsored by the National Anti-Vivisection Society.

See the study guide for “Fancy Face Waltz” for more things to do, or think up your own.

From the All in This Together Activity Book, ©1997 by Nancy Schimmel. May be copied for use by any non-profit school or organization if this notice is retained. Sisters' Choice, 704 Gilman Street, Berkeley CA 94710.

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Is there a habitat in heaven

For the species that no longer dwell on earth?

When I book a trip on that old gospel ship,

I would like to think the dodo has a berth.

We have cut down the wildwood the sweet waters blessed,

It must be the eighth deadly sin

To tear up creation so the birds have no nest,

I only hope that God will take them in.

I would like to take a walk with the great and little auk,

I would like to see the passenger pigeons fly,

And all the feathered folk who have no home in this world,

I hope they find a home in the sky,

I hope they find a home up above the sky,

I hope they find a home in the sky,

And all the feathered folk who have no home in this world,

I hope they find a home in the sky.

Is there a habitat in heaven

For the species that are still to meet their doom?

When earthly comfort fails for the elephants and whales

Will the pastures of heaven give them room?

Will the great condor glide over on the other side?

Will I still hear the mountain lion roar?

Will warblers be heard with the great speckled bird,

When we meet on that beautiful shore?

Will I watch the dolphins play in that home far away?

Will I meet with the shy chimpanzee?

And if we kill so many of the creatures on this earth,

Will there still be room in heaven for me?

Will there still be room in heaven for you and me?

Will there still be room in heaven for me?

And if we kill so many of the creatures on this earth

Will there still be room in heaven for me?

Words and music © 1987 by Nancy Schimmel

Vocal: Laurie Lewis & The Singing Rainbow · Piano: Candy Forest · Acoustic Guitar: Nina Gerber · Acoustic Bass: Laurie Lewis



Nancy took the words from a lot of old gospel songs“Great Speckled Bird,” “Old Gospel Ship,” “I Can't Feel at Home in This World Anymore”and wove them together with her feelings about extinct and threatened birds and animals to make a new song. When you write a song or story, remember that you don't have to be entirely original. You can take old pieces and put them together in new ways.

After we recorded the song, we found out (from the Mountain Lion Preservation Foundation, P.O. Box 1896, Sacramento CA) that mountain lions don't roar. They purr, yowl and whistle, but the roar was only in Nancy's head. If you want to sing the song with scientific accuracy, sing it as we do now: “Will I still hear the Bengal tiger roar?” Bengal tigers are endangered, and their roar can be heard for two miles.


1. The first verse of the song talks about some extinct animals. Can you find their names in the song? Do you know what they look like? The Sierra Club Book And Then There Was One: The Mysteries of Extinction (by Margery Facklam, illustrated by Pamela Johnson, 1990) has drawings and stories of the great auk and other creatures that became extinct or are the last of their kind.

2. Some of the animals in the second verse are endangered or threatened. Do you know the difference between extinct, endangered, threatened and rare? The World Book Encyclopedia, in the article on Wildlife Conservation, explains the difference between endangered, threatened, and rare.

Books on endangered animals can go out of date as more animals become endangered or extinct or, as sometimes happens, people remove the dangers to the animals and their numbers increase again so they are not endangered.

Do you know who decides which animals are “endangered” or “threatened”? There are state lists, national lists, and an international list. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources publishes lists of animals endangered all over the world in their Red Data Book. Sometimes a local population is in danger but there are larger populations elsewhere, and a state or province will list that animal to protect the ones within its borders. What department of your state or provincial government lists animals endangered in your state or province? Could you get that list and write a song or poem about your state or province's endangered animals?

3. A habitat is a place where an animal is usually found; where it has the food, water, shelter and room it needs to grow and breed. Water pollution, cutting down trees, building dams, and other human activities can change the environment so an animal can no longer find what it needs there. Then, for that animal, its habitat is destroyed, even though other animals can still live in that place.

To help keep species from becoming extinct, we can use less power and water, so we need to build fewer dams, and fewer animals' homes will be flooded. We can refuse to eat rainforest beef or buy fur, feathers, tortoiseshell, leather, ivory, or other products from threatened or endangered species. The ban on ivory has already brought the price of ivory down so it is less tempting to poachers. This means fewer elephants will be shot.

4. What other activities can you think of to go with this song?

From the All in This Together Activity Book, ©1997 by Nancy Schimmel. May be copied for use by any non-profit school or organization if this notice is retained. Sisters' Choice, 704 Gilman Street, Berkeley CA 94710.

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We're eating up the forest when we eat that burger thing,

We're eating up the monkeys and the little frogs that sing,

We're eating up the ocelot, the orchid and the snake,

This meal would give Godzilla a monster bellyache.


Hold the ketchup, hold the meat,

I'll find myself another treat

Because a mile or so of jungle

Is a bit too much to eat.

They are cutting down the jungle to let the cattle graze,

But the rainstorms in the tropics wash the naked soil away,

And what is left will bake and harden in the burning sun,

It's turning trees to desert puts the burger in the bun.


The banks put up the money to cut the forest down,

The owners take the profit and they spend it in the town,

They do not hear the eagle's cry or see the parrot's flash,

It's clear to me they cannot see the forest for the cash.


Words ©1986 by Nancy Schimmel. Music ©1986 by Candy Forest

Vocal: Candy Forest & The Singing Rainbow · Piano: Candy Forest · Tenor Saxophone: Ray Loeckle

Electric Guitar: Joyce Cooling · Electric Bass: Scott Steed · Drums & Percussion: Jim Zimmerman



A lot of fast-food beef comes from Central and South America where people are clearing the rainforest to make grazing land for the cattle. The people and animals who have always lived in the rain forest lose their homes, and in a few years the grazing land is no good anyway. Nancy wrote this song to sing at a demonstration to protest a meeting of the World Bank, which was lending money to countries to “develop” their rainforest by clearing it. Protests in the United States and in Brazil helped the World Bank see that they had to stop lending money for rainforest destruction.


1. A Brazilian rubber worker named Francisco Mendes (nicknamed Chico) led demonstrations in Brazil to save the rainforests. Now Chico Mendes has been shot and killed, by men believed to have been hired by the land speculators whose own selfish interests were threatened by Chico's work. All In This Together is dedicated to Chico Mendes. You can read more about him in Chico Mendes: Fight for the Forest by Susan De Stefano (Holt, 1992).

Besides Chico Mendes, other people in Latin America, the United States, Africa and the South Pacific have been killed or hurt trying to defend the rainforest, the elephants, and other endangered animals and habitats. Watch the newspapers or the TV news for stories about these brave defenders of our planet.

2. Bats, Bugs and Biodiversity: Adventures in the Amazonian Rain Forest, is an account by Susan E. Goodman of a trip seventh- and eighth-graders from Michigan took to Peru to see a tropical rainforest for themselves. (Atheneum, 1995)

An eight-year-old boy, Omar Castillo, tried to save the rainforest in Mexico. Save My Rainforest by Monica Zak, tells his story (Volcano Press, 1992).

You can read about an African-American family defending their forest during the Depression in Song of the Trees by Mildred D. Taylor (Dial, 1975).

Look at Where the Forest Meets the Sea to see how one artist, Jeannie Baker, uses an unusual method to picture the Australian rainforest. (Greenwillow, 1988).

3. You can be a food detective and find out where your beef is coming from (the Rainforest Action Network can help). Also see their Kids Corner: Kids taking action for rainforests.

4. What countries have rainforests? An atlas or encyclopedia can help you find out. Does the United States have rainforests? Where? Are ours threatened too?

5. Why are rubber and Brazil nuts considered renewable resources? How do we get them? Have you tasted a brazil nut? Do you like them?

6. Do you know what an ocelot looks like? Do you know what kind of monkeys live in the Brazilian rainforest? Does a different kind of monkey live in the African rainforest?

List the animals in the song. Find out how some of them get what they need to live from their rainforest habitat. A book about the rainforest can help you, or find books on each animal in your library.

7. Make up your own activity for this song.

From the All in This Together Activity Book, ©1997 by Nancy Schimmel. May be copied for use by any non-profit school or organization if this notice is retained. Sisters' Choice, 704 Gilman Street, Berkeley CA 94710.

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I share my yard with a very tall friend,

I love to watch her dance and bend

When the wind comes through.

I'd like to you to come and visit me

And my very tall friend, the redwood tree,

She could dance with you.

Jump like a squirrel, sing like the sea,

That's how you dance with a redwood tree.

I share my sky with a very tall friend,

She spends her day making oxygen

And it fills the air;

My very tall friend is wild about

The carbon dioxide I breathe out,

We're a happy pair.

Jump like a squirrel, sing like the sea,

That's how you dance with a redwood tree.

My two old dogs share the yard with her,

Her needles and cones decorate their fur

And they bring them in,

So though my friend's very grand and tall,

She sends little bits of herself to call,

And it makes me grin.

Jump like a squirrel, sing like the sea,

That's how you dance with a redwood tree.

Words and music © 1988 by Nancy Schimmel

Vocal: Nancy Schimmel & The Singing Rainbow · Acoustic Guitar: Nina Gerber · Recorders: Jim Rothermel · Acoustic Bass: Laurie Lewis


Nancy named the redwood tree in her backyard Margaret after a very tall friend of hers. Then came the Old English sheep dogs, Sonnet and Casey, and then this song. Redwood trees and all green plants (and some not-so-green plants, like seaweed and copper beeches) use carbon dioxide from the air and give off oxygen into the air. People and other animals use oxygen from the air and make carbon dioxide. Where do we get the carbon which combines with the oxygen we breathe to make carbon dioxide? From the plants too, by eating them!


Maybe there aren't any redwood trees where you live. Maybe you could change this song to fit your neighborhood. In place of “redwood” in the song put a kind of tree that grows near you: “maple” or “palm” or whatever. All trees dance in the wind and make oxygen, so the first two verses can stay the same except for the name of the tree. But not all trees have needles, and most of the ones that do have needles, have cones too big to decorate a dog's fur. So that last verse will have to be replaced.

Find a tree of the kind you want to put in the song. Sit and look at that tree. (The tree doesn't have to be in your own back yard. You can pretend it is. The important thing is to find a real tree somewhere to look at and write about.) Get up close to the tree. Shut your eyes and touch and smell and listen to the tree. Get acquainted. Then open your eyes and write down:

1) things you notice about that tree

2) things you feel about that tree

3) things you know about that tree. (Does it lose its leaves in the fall and grow new ones in the spring? Does it grow fruit? cones? What do its seeds look like? If you haven't looked at this kind of tree in other seasons, look in a book

You don't need to think about rhythm and rhyme at this point. Just write down lots of things about that tree.

Now you can start writing your own last verse.

1) Look at the things you jotted down about the tree. Hum the song as you do this, and some of the things will begin to say themselves in the rhythm of the song.

2) Take one of these phrases that has a good beat and use it as the seed of your verse. Begin to attach other thoughts to it, mix words around, maybe get a rhyme somewhere. Your verse doesn't have to rhyme. It is more important to get the rhythm of the words so they sing easily to the melody.

3) Instead of rhyme, you may want to look for words that begin with the same sound, like sing and sea. Using them will make the song sound good. (The fancy word for this trick is alliteration.)

4) As you fool around with your list, you may think of new things to say that will fit. The things you say don't have to be facts. They can be wishes or dreams.

5) If words aren't falling into place, go away and do something else. Come back later and see what fits, and eventually you will have a verse that is just yours.

If you live where redwoods don't grow (outside of coastal California, Southern Oregon, or the Sierras), your new last verse will fit your whole part of the world better than Nancy's last verse. If you write a verse you like about a tree friend of yours, please e-mail it to us. We would like to see it. (Candy and Nancy, Sisters' Choice, 704 Gilman Street, Berkeley, CA 94710.)


After you write about your tree, you may want to look at Joanne Ryder's book Hello, Tree! (Dutton, 1991). She doesn't use rhyme or alliteration, but she uses rhythm, and she uses verbs (action words) to make pictures: “Around you, branches curl and twigs droop with leaves.”

For other books and activities about trees, see Johnny Appleseed and Lambeth Children

From the All in This Together Activity Book, ©1997 by Nancy Schimmel. May be copied for use by any non-profit school or organization if this notice is retained. Sisters' Choice, 704 Gilman Street, Berkeley CA 94710.

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Fifty children sitting in the trees,

Fifty children swinging in the breeze,

Up in the branches and off their knees,

Hooray for the Lambeth children, O,

Hooray for the Lambeth children, O.

Eleven fine maples growing in a row,

The road to be widened doomed them to go,

But fifty kids of Lambeth cried, “No, no!”

Hooray for the Lambeth children, O,

Hooray for the Lambeth children, O.

The men with the chain saws all stood around,

'Cause the kids were in the trees and they wouldn't come down,

So the lumberjacks packed up and went back to town,

Hooray for the Lambeth children, O,

Hooray for the Lambeth children, O.

Roads we've enough and roads everywhere,

Roads for the cars we can very well spare,

But long live the maple trees, green or bare!

And hooray for the Lambeth children, O,

Hooray for the Lambeth children, O.

Words and music ©1966 by Malvina Reynolds

Vocal: Nancy Schimmel, Candy Forest & The Singing Rainbow · Piano & Synthesizer: Candy Forest · Drums: Jim Zimmerman



Nancy's mother wrote this song in 1966 when she read in the newspaper about children in Lambeth, Ontario, Canada saving some maple trees there. In 1989, Pass It On, a newsletter of the Children's Music Network, brought more news:

“This May when the M.B. McEachren School in Lambeth, Ontario asked Sandy Byer to perform stories for grades K-8, she decided to also bring Malvina Reynolds' song about an event 25 years ago in that very town. When she sang the story of children sitting up in trees to prevent them from being cut down to widen a road, the children had neither heard the song before nor heard the story of local civil disobedience. But . . . some of their parents may have been the very ones up in the trees at the time. One of the teachers told Sandy that her father-in-law still lived on that street and, in fact, had been the very one who organized the opposition. Sandy went out to visit the trees and found them to be large lovely maples, still flourishing. Now more trees nearer to the school are again scheduled to be felled to widen a section of the road. Perhaps her visit, her carrying of Malvina's song, will suggest a possible response.”

Sandy Byer is a storyteller and singer who lives in Toronto, Canada, a few hours from Lambeth.


1. Start a bulletin board or scrap book of newspaper and magazine articles about children and teens doing good things for the earth.

2. Locate Lambeth on a map of Ontario, Canada.

3. Find a book on maple sugaring, a recipe using maple syrup.

4. Make up your own activity. The books on the next page may give you some ideas. If you are in a group or class, you can “brainstorm” to get a good idea for a group activity. In brainstorming, everybody in a group thinks up ideas and someone writes each one down (where everyone can see it) without discussing whether they are good ideas or not. Even a silly idea can lead in the direction of a terrific idea, which is what makes brainstorming so powerful.


1. Children help in an entirely different way to save a cherry tree in The Cherry Tree, by Daisaku Ikeda, with pictures by Brian Wildsmith. (Knopf, 1991.)

An old cherry tree in Japan hasn't bloomed all through the war but afterwards, with the help of an old man and two children, it does.

2. You can read about other kids who have made a difference in The Kid's Guide to Social Action: How to solve the social problems you chooseand turn creative thinking into positive action by Barbara A. Lewis (Free Spirit, 1991).

The fourth-fifth-sixth grade teacher who wrote the book helped her kids get two city grants totaling $3,600 and collect another $720 on their own to plant 187 trees in a park and in their neighborhood in Salt Lake City. Calling themselves “Leaf It To Us,” the kids also pushed through a state law creating $10,000 in grants for kids in Utah to plant trees. The “America the Beautiful Act of 1990” (S2830) makes tree planting grants available to groups, including youth groups, in any state. Contact your State Forester or your local Cooperative Extension Service Office or USDA Forest Service unit (which should be listed in your telephone directory) to find out how your group can participate in the America the Beautiful program.

The Kid's Guide to Social Action also tells how other kids can make a difference: how to write a letter to a city official, how to lobby for a bill, raise money, apply for a grant. It even gives forms to copy and addresses to write to.

Another book like The Kid's Guide is It's Our World, Too! Stories of Young People Who Are Making a Difference by Phillip Hoose (Joy Street/Little, Brown, 1993).

3. Kid Heroes of the Environment, by the Earthworks Group (Earthworks, 1992) tells about many real children and teens doing good stuff for the earth. On page 50-52 there's even a story about some kids in Massachusetts who saved some trees from being cut down to widen a road, in 1989, twenty-three years after the Lambeth children did it!

From the All in This Together Activity Book, ©1997 by Nancy Schimmel. May be copied for use by any non-profit school or organization if this notice is retained. Sisters' Choice, 704 Gilman Street, Berkeley CA 94710.

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1. In 'cold-blooded' animals, the temperature of their blood varies with the temperature of their surroundings. On a cold day, their blood becomes cold; on a hot day, their blood warms up. Reptiles don't function well on very cold or hot days, so you'll usually find them out of the sun on hot days and in it on cold days.

Fish and amphibians are also cold-blooded. Newts and salamanders are often mistaken for reptiles, but they have no scales, and they are born with gills. Only as adults can they breathe air. So they are amphibians.

2. Fish are “covered with scales” but they have gills and can breathe under water; reptiles cannot. Reptiles have lungs, like us, not gills. Even sea turtles and alligators have to come up for air.

3. Introduce Emily Dickenson's poem “A Narrow Fellow in the Grass” without its title, as a riddle. Ask the students for other reptile riddles.

4. Coda means tail and this is a big long one.



Sarah Pirtle, who teaches conflict resolution and is a writer of children's books and songs, suggested the following books for teachers and parents to learn about teaching conflict resolution to children. Her own tape and the tape by Andrea Stone are also excellent resources.

Crary, Elizabeth. Kids Can Cooperate. Parenting Press, 1984. [Parenting Press: 7750 31st Ave. NE, Seattle, WA 98115.]
For parents.

Faber, Adele and Elaine Mazlish. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk. Avon, 1982.
OK and easily available.

Hopkins, Susan. Discover the World: Empowering Children to Value Themselves, Others and the Earth. New Society, 1990. [Sarah Pirtle wrote the section on conflict resolution.]
For work with pre-schoolers.

Kreidler, William. Creative Conflict Resolution: More Than 200 Activities for Keeping Peace in the Classroom. Scott, Foresman, 1984.

Pirtle, Sarah. Songwriting Together: Cooperative Songwriting to Build Closeness with the Earth and Each Other. Audio cassette. Sarah Pirtle, 1990. [54 Thayer Road, Greenfield, MA 01301.]
A tape of 22 songs including “The Mahogany Tree” about the rainforest and “Thinking Like a Mountain” with 17 song patterns for children to create their own songs. Includes a teacher's guide lyrics, guitar chords, and complete lesson plans for songwriting in small cooperative groups using a whole language approach.

Prutzman, Priscilla. The Friendly Classroom for a Small Planet: A Handbook on creative approaches to living and problem solving for children. New Society, 1988. [Children's Creative Response to Conflict.]

Sharing Thoughts. Compiled by Andrea Stone. Audio cassette. Stone Productions, 1990. [Box 307, Montvale, NJ 07645-0307.]
A collection of songs for kids by various contemporary singer/songwriters about issues related to getting along with others. A Group Leader's/Educator's Guide Book which offers ideas, guidelines for facilitating discussions, and activities to go with each song is also available.




QUESTION: How many months would it take for six kittens (an average litter) to reproduce to over a thousand if none were killed or fixed?


Average litter: 6

Months to maturity: 6

Gestation period: 2 months

Figure that half will be male and not have litters

These are all averages. In real life the litters might be bigger or smaller or might come even more often.


Work this problem as a class. Ask the question, then ask what they need to know to get the answer. As they figure out, with your help, what they need, give them the information provided in CLUES.

SECOND QUESTION: If each female cat were fixed after her first litter, how many cats and kittens would result in the same amount of time? Is this still a lot?



1. Acting out a puppet show of the scene described in the song, “Best Friend,” can help all children verbalize feelings about abuse and powerlessness, and think about ways of dealing with it, even if they are not victims. The puppets can express fear, anger, powerlessness, or sometimes power. The children can test out different solutions to the problem while still keeping it at a distance.

You can ask them if they feel that their solutions would work for people too. Have them explore the problems that might come up if their shows were about people. For example, could a child run away? Could a child bite the abuser? Which solutions could work for children? It is helpful to support the idea that a child can get help from another person if a child can't find a solution alone. It is helpful for children to know that in most states teachers and principals and/or doctors are responsible (by law) to help children if they are being abused. You might find out what the laws are in your state.

2. When discussions come up about the idea of telling someone about a difficult situation at home, it is important to emphasize that a child should keep telling someone until help is found. Sometimes children will tell the non-abusive parent. Unfortunately though, at times, that parent is also a victim and needs to deny what is going on at home, so help is not given.

3. If you would like to discuss this topic with the author of these suggestions, you can write to Andrea Stone, P. O. Box 307, Montvale, NJ 07645. She is a social worker and analyst who works with children, parents and teachers.



With younger children or with children who need help starting out, making a new last verse to the song can be done as a group. As children look at the tree, they can take turns feeling and smelling it. The teacher can jot down their ideas. If the children need more time for turns, the group can sing the song. Then make a quiet time for listening to the tree and jot down the responses to this. Standing like a tree may help too.

Back in the classroom, words and phrases can be put on the board and the teacher can help the children find rhythmic phrases and alliterative or rhyming words, and help the class put them together. Clapping and chanting the rhythmic phrases may help at this stage, as it is easier than trying to sing them to the melody before they are ready.

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