Friday, September 11, 2009


The apparent successors to Schoolhouse Rock, and now Bill Nye, the Science Guy, are none other than John Flansburgh and John Linnell, better known to you as They Might Be Giants, the great two-man ‘80s experimental musical oddity (hum “Ana Ng” or “Birdhouse in Your Soul” now) that has, after 14 or so albums, refashioned themselves as a formidable force in children’s educational music. Their first album for kids, 2002’s NO!, has become an integral part of my teaching arsenal whenever I substitute in the K-3 grades. I have invented wonderful and fun dances with my students to such NO! classics as “Violin”, “Don’t Cross the Street in the Middle of the Road” and “Stomp Your Feet” that are surefire ways for kids to laugh, get their excess energy out, get some circulation and some exercise and, heaven forbid, learn little something about the real world.

Well, now TMBG has come up with their fourth CD/DVD for kids entitled Here Comes Science, and I cannot wait to dig into it. The disc targets the same K-5 elementary age group that is my focus, and it looks like they’ve come up with even more catchy, info-packed tunes to inspire the curiosity and imaginations of students.

Why, there’s even a little creationism vs. science discussion brewing as a result of TMBG’s video for the song “Science is Real,” both of which put forth the startling notion that science is quantifiable, real, whereas stories and mythology may be, um, less so. It will be interesting to see how the Focus on the Family set reacts to such upfront declarations of the nuts-and-bolts magic of science as where the focus should lie in our educational process. For me, it was pretty refreshing to see this perceived educational dilemma faced so straightforwardly by Flansburgh and Finnell. It is what it is, they seem to be saying. Take inspiration from the questions we can ask that are answerable by science and leave the rest to home schooling.

You can order Science is Real right here and right here.


They Might Be Giants’ new video for their (controversial?) new song “Science is Real.”

My students’ favorite: “Violin.” We pretend to play instruments and impersonate hippopotami and specks of dust, as well as one-quarter/half/three-quarters of George Washington’s head, and have us a high ol’ time singing and dancing to this one together.

This little fella does it at home. Imagine 40 kindergarteners breaking down the foundations to this tune, and a tubby old boy at the front of the class to lead them, and you’ll get an idea of the fun I’ve had the last two years in my elementary school classes.


Thanks, as always, to David Hudson for leading the way!