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The Creation of Freddie the Frog

In 1995, as I was teaching preschool through third grade students, I observed the teaching methods of the classroom teachers around me. I observed teachers introducing letters of the alphabet in fun and
creative ways. They used illustrations, songs, and stories to engage the students.  I wondered how I could introduce the musical alphabet in a similar way that would help young children begin getting the foundational concepts of the musical language at an early age. 

Using a frog puppet and an oversized staff on a vinyl floor mat, I began to weave a story using the staff as a "map" of where the frog lived and the events that happened there.  The students were instantly captivated and emotionally attached to "Freddie", the frog puppet.


In subsequent music classes, Freddie and I would hold up treble clef flashcards and ask the students to quickly name who or what happened at each location marked by an oval.  It worked!  In addition, the students loved Freddie because of the story.  By second grade, the students were asked to respond with the first letter of the who, or what happened, on the miniature maps (treble clef flashcards).  In third grade, letter names were the only acceptable answer and the traditional way of teaching note names was introduced and integrated with the story to understand the structure and theory of music notation. 

Each year, I would tweak the story and process to produce the best results possible.  In 1998, I began individually assessing students twice a year--once, four weeks after telling the story, and secondly, at the end of the school year to check for retention. 
It was working!  I investigated the theory further by researching my theory and writing an educational research paper.

The strategy was working so well for my students that I developed an idea of an effective way to share the strategy so it was successful for anyone.  A children's illustrated book with a captivating CD narration and a matching frog puppet was the solution. Thus, the beginning of the book, Freddie the Frog and the Thump in the Night and Freddie, the frog puppet! 

The magic of the Freddie story works best combined with Freddie, the frog puppet.  Students connect with Freddie.  They respond faster to Freddie than to me.  They love him!  They love him so much, that they request him at each class and Freddie leads songs, introduces new concepts, and gives hugs to kids.  Freddie becomes “alive” as a dear friend the children can see, touch, and hug.  I highly recommend adding the Freddie puppet to your family or classroom.  He will be a well-loved little frog.

The benefits of the Freddie book occur only when repetition follows.  I designed correlating flashcards to use for reinforcement.  Flashcards are convenient.  They focus on one note at a time. You can review in as little as 30 seconds per class session with the flashcards at hand.  Review what happened or who lived on the various lines and spaces.   If only using the book, it is important to review using the staff pages without the illustrations.    Only use the illustrated pages or illustrated flashcard side to refresh the memory.  This mandates the child using only the whole note position to retain the correct answer.

>Once the child is confident in his or her answers, transfer the knowledge to big note music.  With every new material introduced, an explanation of the differences in the appearance will be necessary.  Emphasize that the “dot”, or note head name remains the same regardless of added stems, dots, or coloring in. 

Freddie the Frog and the Thump in the Night is the first in a series of books introducing five more concepts. They include more treble clef notes, simple rhythm and notation, music tempo terms, time signatures, and the next book, Freddie the Frog and the Bass Clef Monster.
If you would like to be notified when it is available, email Mystic Publishing at order@freddiethefrogbooks.com with your request.

I wish you much fun and success as you implement Freddie into your classroom or home.  Feel free to contact me with questions or ideas as you get to know Freddie.

Sharon Burch
Author / K-3 Music Teacher
sharon@freddiethefrogbooks.com




Freddie the Frog® Books available at:
Mystic Publishing, Inc.
Bradley Bank Bldg. - 2nd Floor
307 North 13th
Centerville , IA   52544
Phone: 1-866-242-5066