Teaching Students About the ‘Rockin’ Robin’ Song

Rockin’ Robin is a classic rhythm and blues song written by Leon René, under the pseudonym Jimmie Thomas. Originally recorded by Bobby Day in 1958, the song became an instant hit and has been covered by many artists, including Michael Jackson. Its catchy tune and lyrics make it an ideal topic to teach students about the history of popular music and its cultural significance. In this article, we will explore effective ways to engage students in learning about Rockin’ Robin while having fun at the same time.

Incorporating the Song Into Classroom Activities:

1. Listening and lyrical analysis

Begin by playing Rockin’ Robin for your students, encouraging them to listen carefully to the song’s melody, rhythm, and lyrics. Afterward, initiate a group discussion about their impressions of the song. Ask questions like:

– What message does the song convey?

– How would you describe the style of music?

– Can you identify any particular instruments used in the song?

2. Music genre exploration

To deepen their understanding of rhythm and blues music, have students research other artists and songs from this genre or similar genres that emerged during the 1950s and 1960s. Encourage them to present their findings to the class and share their favorite songs.

3. Dancing time

Organize a fun dance session where students can learn popular dance moves from the same era as Rockin’ Robin, such as hand jive or twist. This activity not only allows them to enjoy themselves but also provides historical context through physical expression.

4. Creative writing exercise

Inspire creativity by asking your students to rewrite the lyrics of Rockin’ Robin using their own words while keeping in mind its original theme—a joyful celebration of music experienced by birds singing in a tree. This task encourages individual expression while maintaining focus on the song’s core elements.

5. The art of cover songs

Prepare a lesson on the concept of cover songs and their significance in music history. Have your students compare different renditions of Rockin’ Robin, such as Bobby Day’s original version and Michael Jackson’s 1972 cover. Ask them to analyze:

– How each artist’s version differs from the original

– What elements remain consistent between both versions

– Which rendition they prefer and why


By incorporating Rockin’ Robin into various classroom activities, students not only learn about a classic rhythm and blues song but are also introduced to broader themes, such as music and cultural history. Through listening, research, creative writing, and dance, educators can engage students in understanding this iconic tune while making learning enjoyable for all.

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