Row, Row, Row Your Boat (pages 2–3)

Illustrated by Jackie Stafford
Text Type: Fiction: Poetry—rhyming song/poem

Oral Language Teaching Strategy: Offer Prompts and Frameworks to Reluctant Talkers Offer encouragement, low-key prompts, and adequate thinking time to elicit conversation from shy students.

Time: 20 minutes
All Together Now, pages 2–3
– boy or girl and lion puppets
– green sock to represent the crocodile (or crocodile puppet, if available in the classroom)
– two metre sticks or classroom pointers
– Media Key or Online: “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” audio
Grouping: whole class, small group, and partners
Assessment: Kindergarten Oral Language Assessment Scale See especially the section on Phonological and Phonemic Awareness.



  • Show the students the double-page illustration that accompanies the song.
  • Explain that students are going to learn a traditional song that they can move to as they sing along.

Activating and Building Background Knowledge

  • We call this rowing the boat.

    Pretend you are rowing a boat by sitting on a chair or on the floor and using metre sticks or classroom pointers as oars. Demonstrate the rhythmic nature of the rowing movement. Explain that you are pretending to row a boat, that the sticks represent oars, and that the oars help to move the boat in the water.
  • Tell me about where you’ve seen a boat. Was it on a lake or river?

    Ask students to share any experiences they may have had rowing a boat, being in a boat, or watching others in a boat. Ask them where they could go to row a boat. Students may discuss their experiences and ideas in groups of two or three or, alternatively, as a whole class. To encourage participation of reluctant talkers, offer gentle prompts, inviting them to expand their responses. [Making connections/analyzing]
  • Have students identify the different animals represented by the boats in the illustration. Accept both ‘crocodile’ and ‘alligator’ as responses. Tell students that some of these pictured animals will be included in the text, and discuss how the first letters of the words will be clues as to the animal names. Point to the animal words in the text (‘crocodile,’ ‘lion’).

Setting a Purpose

  • Join in the singing as soon as you like. As you sing, think about how this song would help someone row their boat.

    Use a boy or girl puppet to tell students to listen to the song and join in as soon as they feel comfortable. Ask them to think about the motion of rowing the boat as they sing this song. [Inferring/synthesizing]


  • Cover the second and third verses of the song with paper. Play the first verse of the song. Use the boy or girl puppet to encourage singing along.
  • Replay the first verse and track the print in the big book while keeping verses two and three covered with a piece of paper. As you replay, clap to the rhythm of the song and encourage the students to join in. [Phonological awareness]
  • Tell students that although they may have been familiar with this verse, they are going to learn two verses that they may not know. Ask them to try to predict what the verses will be about, reminding them of the animal words they located in the Before Singing and Reading activity. Move the paper to reveal the second verse of the song, but keep the last line covered. Read the first three lines of the verse to them, using the green sock as a crocodile to prompt student responses. Have students volunteer predictions for the last line of the text. Then read the last line of the verse. Follow the same process for the third verse, this time using the lion puppet. [Predicting/phonological awareness]
  • In the third verse, point out the change in the pattern from ‘Row your boat’ to ‘Rock your boat.’ Isolate the sound /r/ in both ‘row’ and ‘rock.‘ [Phonemic awareness]
  • Listen to the entire song. Encourage students to clap, tap, rock, and move as they listen.
  • Focus on comprehension by offering prompts:
    • In what places could someone row a boat? [Analyzing/inferring]
    • If you sang this song as you rowed a boat, how do you think the rhythm would help you row? [Inferring]
    • Why do the second and third verses of the song say ‘Don”t forget to scream’ or ‘roar’? [Inferring]
  • Focus on clarifying meaning and understanding each student’s intended message during discussions. Consider offering a structured framework to help the student clarify.

    Coby: I sawed a boat last summer.

    Teacher: I saw a boat too. What kind of boat did you see?

  • Read the entire song, tracking the print in the book. Ask the students to clap once for each syllable. Then, model how to clap to the beat of the song. Students may find this easier to do while listening to the song. [Phonological awareness]

Adding Playful Movements

  • Replay the first three verses of the song (up to the round) and teach students the actions:
    1. Find a partner.
    2. Sit on the ground with your legs outstretched, facing your partner with your feet touching and your hands joined together.
    3. Rock back and forth to the rhythm of the song as you sing it, pushing and pulling, just like rowing a boat.


  • How would this song help someone to row a boat?

    Revisit the purpose for singing and reading by using the boy or girl puppet to ask students why this song would help someone row a boat. [Inferring/synthesizing]


The students will want to reread and re-sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” During further lessons, consider including a balance of ideas from the following areas:

Engaging in Playful Language Activities

  • Sing the song in three parts so that one group sings the first verse, another the second, and the third group the final verse. This will help students to concentrate only on the part of the song that they are responsible for. Remind students to be quiet when others are speaking or singing.
  • Once students are very familiar with the words of a verse, teach them how to sing a round. Play the part of the song where the verse is sung in a round and discuss what they are hearing. First, have half of the students stand apart from the other half. Direct the singing of one group and then have the other group join in at the appropriate time (you may need another adult to assist in leading the singing of the second group).

Extending Comprehension

  • Use the puppets to ask students how the boat would move if the song was sung slowly, sung quickly, or alternately quickly and then slowly. Have students practise these tempos while making rowing motions with their arms.
  • As a shared writing opportunity, develop some new verses for the song. Brainstorm with students alternative words to use in place of the last word of the second line (e.g., ‘lake,’ ‘bath’), and alternative animals and actions for the third and fourth lines. Encourage students to think of rhyming words. Sing the new verses as a group. Use the music-only song track on the Media Key or online to provide the music.
  • Display the digital cloze version of the text on the Media Key. Working with the whole class, or with a small group, reread together and encourage students to supply the missing words (spaces for words highlighted in yellow). You may decide to pause to consider word predictions and prompt, “Does that make sense?” or “Does that sound right?” Then click on the colour-highlighted spot to reveal the word, saying, “Let’s check that out.” An option on the tool bar allows you to create your own cloze versions of the text to meet the needs of the students you are working with. Click on the ‘Help’ button to find out how to use the different features of digital texts.

Developing Phonological Awareness

  • Have students use percussion instruments (e.g., drums, tambourines, sticks, rattles) to beat out the rhythm of the song in groups or independently at the listening centre.
  • Orally develop a list of words that rhyme with ‘row’ (e.g., ‘low,’ ‘grow,’ ‘so,’ ‘sew,’ ‘blow,’ ‘below’), or ‘boat’ (e.g., ‘goat,’ ‘moat,’ ‘float’). As this is an oral activity, the spelling pattern is not the focus.

Enriching Print Concepts

  • Track the print as you read, reread, and sing the song. As you model this for students, encourage word-by-word matching and emphasize the return sweep.
  • As the song becomes more familiar to students, ask them to take turns in tracking the print.
  • Emphasize the concept of ‘word’ by asking the students to clap or make an action for each word. For example, ‘gently’ contains two syllables but is one word, so in this activity would receive only one clap.
  • Use a word frame (e.g., a Wikki Stix bent around the word, a cut-out cardboard frame, or a piece of coloured acetate) and place it overtop of selected words such as ‘boat,’ ‘row,’ and ‘to.‘ Ask students to clap the number of letters in each word. (Concept: A word is made up of letters.)
  • Ask students to look at the capital letter ‘R’ in ‘Row’ and the lower case letter ‘r’ in ‘roar.’ Attend to the formation of the two letters and to the sound that they both make.


  • Place the puppets and the big book at the listening centre and encourage students to reread the song. Use the fluent reading provided to support students as they reread.
  • Students can sing the song with the puppet, using the recording on the Media Key or online.

  • Place cut-out felt pieces to represent the items in the song at the drama centre. Demonstrate to students how to recreate the story in the verses, using the felt pieces.

  • Include books and images about boats in appropriate centres throughout the room, such as the reading centre, the water table, or the block centre. Encourage students to share their findings and interesting images with other students.

  • Students can work together or independently to create the setting of the song at the sand table or water table. For students” inspiration, you may wish to display the song’s illustration in a safe place nearby. Provide props such as toy boats, toy animals and people, and material for making trees. If at the sand table, provide tools for forming a pond and water, or another material, for filling the pond.