Getting my 8 year-old granddaughter to memorize something to exercise her brain wasn’t my intention, but it sure turned out to be fun for us both.
As I drove her to my house for a sleepover, we heard this song with the silliest lyrics ever on Kids Place Live. Choo’n Gum, sung by Teresa Brewer with Jimmy Lytell & the Dixieland All Stars, was a Billboard hit in 1950: “A wing zingy slicing of a spirited novelty built around the virtually traditional ‘My Ma Gave Me A Nickel’ child chant.”
We were so captivated by the rhyme, music and the singer’s little girl voice that we later looked for the song on YouTube (love the internet for this stuff) and spent the evening singing along. The next morning, we couldn’t remember the exact words, so I wrote out the lyrics. Even her grandpa had to laugh as we sang over and over about nickels and pickles and chewing gum.
The Value of Memorization
After we’d memorized the whole thing, chorus and all, I thought about the value of memorization:
- Memorizing trains your brain to remember things.
- Memorizing is a good mental challenge.
- Rote learning improves the neuronal plasticity of your brain.
- Memorizing songs and poems teaches children rhythmic patterns.
- Memorizing helps children practice focus.
Personally, I think the practice of memorization may help counter the instant gratification we get from smart phones and tablets, especially for young brains. Best Colleges Online has a list of ten proven brain benefits in praise of memorization and the science behind it. Choo’n Gum is a great song because it’s catchy and cute with lots of repetition. It made Lillian laugh, especially the line about the father hollering at her when she buys more chewing gum.
Lillian wanted me to record her singing. Then she got a great idea: “Wouldn’t it be funny if I was singing in a box?” (like on TV). I cut the bottom out of a cardboard box, set it on a step ladder, and she sat behind it and sang while I recorded her. It was great fun — like theater.
Here are the lyrics to Choo’n Gum:
My mom gave me a nickel
to buy a pickle.
I didn’t buy a pickle
I bought chewing gum.
My aunt gave me a quarter
for soda water
I didn’t buy the water
I bought chewing gum.
I’d chew away the day it seems
I’m even blowing bubbles in my dreams.
My pop gave me a dollar
to buy a collar
You should have heard him holler
when I bought chewing gum
In the End: Too Much Fun
My granddaughter is back home now, but I still have the song stuck in my head. In the evening, I asked my daughter if Lillian sang the song for her, but she said “She’s been in a mood since she came home.” Apparently she has Grandparents’ Hangover –the withdrawal children go through when they return home to their parents after being with their doting grandparents, who indulge their every whim.
I love it. Well, I don’t love that she’s in a mood, but I do enjoy indulging her with attention and love.