Fill-in-the-Blank Songwriting with a Thanksgiving Theme


A Songwriting Adventure for All Ages

For several years, I’ve been wanting to share this simple Thanksgiving song with you. It’s a very easy to implement fill-in-the-blank songwriting adventure you can use with multiple ages.

This is one of those songs that was written on the fly with very little effort, but has been a tried and true favorite every year. We end the song by pointing to everyone in the circle and saying “you and you and you…” to let them know we are grateful!

The chords are very simple "one" and "five" chords. In the video, we are singing in the key of D so the only chords you will need are D, A and A7. These are among the easiest to learn on the guitar.


How to Structure the Songwriting Experience

One way to structure this as a songwriting experience is to pass a bean bag or other object around the circle as you play recorded music. When the music stops, everyone freezes and the person holding the object gets to tell us something for which they are grateful. For our youngest learners, I try to make it more concrete and have them tell me a favorite food or favorite toy.

Check out this version we wrote in one of my Tuneful Tots music classes this year:

Thanksgiving, thanksgiving, I am thankful for
Trucks, and rocks, and playing with Daddy
Dancing, and chocolate, and playing guitar
Thanksgiving, thanksgiving, I am thankful
For you, and you, and you and you and you and YOU!

Ways to Structure Active Participation

This is also a great song structure for working on executive function, impulse control and sustained attention in a one-on-one setting. In the first video below, we use Boomwhackers to accompany the song. The simple lead sheet (available to you below!) is highlighted so that we each know when it's our turn to play. Tapping the "d" and "a" together makes for a great sounding D chord. In the video, I am tapping "a" and "e" for the A chord. In this variation, we substitute A for A7 and it still sounds fabulous. Get ready for a silly ending!

In the second video, we structured the musical experience with melody bells. Because the note "a" is present in both the D chord and the A chord, the less experienced musician is playing the "a" melody bell for the entire song. Until it's time to set it down—not easy to remember!— and point to the camera for the "you and you and you" ending. I am adding the "d" on the D chord, the "e" on the A chord and the "g" on the A7 chord. It adds quite a bit of color and makes for a successful experience and a wonderful sounding composition to share with the family!

Free Worksheet and Chords

And I am grateful for you! It has been an incredible year with launching the Literacy for Littles online course over at Music for Kiddos. Thank you for following my adventures and learning more about how we can use music to help kids learn.

Click here for a simple fill-in-the-blank worksheet and a simple lead sheet with guitar chords.

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