3 Short-Necked Buzzards

3 Short-Necked Buzzards (traditional)

Self-regulation, balance, math, science


(Look up in the tree with your binoculars)
Three short-necked buzzards, three short-necked buzzards.
Sleeping in a dead tree, sleeping in a dead tree.
I tiptoed up so quietly…
Then I stomped my feet! And I waved my arms!
And one bird squawked (squawk!) and flew away.
Repeat the above with 2 and 1, and for “no short-necked buzzards” end with:
And the tree squawked (squawk!) and flew away.


  • This is my version of a traditional chant that is much shorter.

  • I’ve incorporated sensory feedback (the stomping); the self-regulation technique of making our voices quiet and loud; Anne Green Gilbert’s core-distal movement when we look through binoculars down low and then up, and also going from being a short-necked buzzard to a dead tree; and there’s the balance challenge of the dead tree.

  • The end is a true story – I really didn’t know what to do when I got to zero short-necked buzzards, and so I asked a class, and a boy said the tree should fly away. If you are stymied about how to proceed with something, I highly recommend being frank with children and admitting that you haven’t figured out a particular part and find out what their ideas are.

  • Notice the story element to this version, and consider how you might make it your own. I begin by showing them the picture of the buzzard and telling them a bit about what a buzzard is and what it eats. You could just as well tell this as a story: “Once there were three buzzards, and they loved to soar up high in the sky…” You could have the children soar around the space to start, and then settle down to sleep, and continue the chant from there.