I remember the first time I used Out of the Ark songs in an assembly and what a breath of fresh air they were. The songs were bright and breezy, catchy and memorable. Crucially, the songs were ones that children enjoyed and asked for time and time again. They were an assembly fail-safe and we certainly got our money’s worth. A God-send.
Since then, Out of the Ark has produced an impressive series of titles for singing and learning together, the most recent being Songs for Every Happy, Healthy School. This 15 strong collection of feel-good tracks has been created to discover and support healthy values for happy schools. They all have their own creative charm and are stimulating, buoyant and great fun to sing. Themes include: happiness, self-acceptance, appreciation, choices, gratitude, cooperation, simplicity, kindness and aspects of healthy living and self-worth. All the songs can be used to support SEAL, PHSE, and Value-based Education. They offer a best fit to Christian values and faith, although not exclusively as the themes address the breadth and diversity of life we are all part of.
The quirky songs vary in their musical flavour and include soft-rock, Cajun style, marching band ‘wartime’ style, and even a bit of Latin. Some songs are full of fizz and fun, others catchy and ultimately contagious. They are all very singable and deliver a valuable message in a meaningful and thought-provoking way. You’ve got an aspirational track, a moving ballad anthem, a highly enjoyable shuffle song, a toe-tapper and up-beat cheery songs. Importantly, the songs are sung by children and they all have strong melodies, clever rhymes and solid song structures. Some songs are ideal for working on diction and some lend themselves really well to solo and group singing with lots of scope for harmonies.
There is a CD ROM package for projecting words on a screen, which is invaluable for collective worship purposes or for classroom singalongs. The lyrics can be displayed in one of two ways depending on the age of the children. One screen suits younger children or those with reading difficulties and another screen sports a funkier layout and suits older learners. Now that’s thoughtful and something many resources don’t really consider.
I think the Out of the Ark resources are always terrific value for money and this ninth quality title in the series is no exception. For 5p shy of £40 you get a book, CD and CD ROM. The Teachers Book comes with lyrics and music scores, although it would have been nice to see activities and ideas in there beyond the overview to support the happy, healthy school theme.
Out of the Ark claim that Songs For Every Happy, Healthy School will become a classic. Given their track record for inspiring and empowering singing schools, it stands a very good chance. Listen to samples of the songs online at outoftheark.com and judge for yourself what’s on offer. Remember though, this isn’t the X-factor!