Connecting children to the world around them was Lucas Miller’s goal Thursday night at when he performed at Wedgeworth Elementary. Miller has taken his love for animals and music and blended them together to be known by his fans as the “Singing Zoologist.”
After obtaining his degree in zoology, Miller started sharing his love of wildlife with students. Through his songs and informative talks, he educates students about different species of animals, their biology and the role they play in the circle of life.
“I studied zoology in college and found my way into science education via a zoo, the Austin Zoo, which is a like a rescue zoo. It is a small spot. I just loved what I was doing and just started taking my show on the road. That was back in 1994,” Miller said. “I just try to make it a fun experience. I am less worried about them being able to recite a bunch of factoids and more interested with them having a good positive experience with science. I get them dancing and moving and try to make it as kid friendly as possible.”
One of the first songs that Miller performed was called “How Many Spots Has An Ocelot Got?” This song educated the audience about the Ocelot, a wild cat found in certain parts of Texas. Through the song, both children and adults learned about the environment the Ocelot likes to live in, its habits and that it is an endangered species.
Miller said when he comes to a school, many of the students already know the words to many of the songs because they have watched his videos on YouTube.
“I did a show two weeks ago and I will have them usually sing along with the chorus. These kids knew every verse and the chorus,” Miller said. “So a lot of times they will find one of those videos that they will really, really love and have that teacher play it again, and again and again.”
Miller said the teachers are the true judge of how affective the songs are.
“The educators appreciate that the quality of the music is good and the information is accurate,” Miller said. “I know what elementary science standards are. I try to get as much information in the songs as possible so that they can use it in the classrooms. They have really embraced it.”
Wedgeworth Principal Lynda Solis said Miller’s use of music helps to create a fun atmosphere where learning can take place.
“The kindergarteners had a blast this morning,” Solis said. “They were singing along, waving their hands and participating with his questions. They were very interactive. They connected very well with him.”
Solis said she had seen students in the hallways who had seen Miller perform earlier that day signing some of the songs they heard from the show.
Another part of Miller’s performance incorporates puppets as a part of his informational talks. His “Chimichanga Song” explains what carnivores, herbivores, insectivores and omnivores eat with puppets as the animals come up to a food stand at zoo and order what they want on their Chimichanga.
Kristen Hughes, who is a kindergarten teacher at Wedgeworth, said her students who saw the show earlier in the day really connected with the lessons Miller was teaching through song.
“They loved his show. They were cheering, singing, clapping and moving their hands. They were really into it. It went along with a lot of the stuff that we are about ready to get to teach. It is a good introduction,” Hughes said. “It is interactive, so when I talk about it later they are going to remember because they were interacting with him and singing along with him.”
Glenna Reisner, who is the librarian at Marvin and Wedgeworth elementary Schools, said having Miller perform here in Waxahachie was a very special experience for the students.
“At both of our schools this year, we had successful book fairs. We thought about who we can use the support people gave us to give back to school. Lucas was just a great way to bless our kids. I had been a librarian at Frisco ISD and saw him come in. We were able to see the quality and interesting things that he had brought. Then I was a librarian at Midlothian he come to our school there. So this is the third time that I have been able to host him at a school. I just feel like it is a really valuable experience for our students,” Reisner said.
Reisner said the program was also paid in part by a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts.
Jeremy Schroppel attended Thursday’s performance with his two daughters.
“I though it was interesting and is a good way for the children. I learned this stuff years ago. This is a refresher for me,” Schroppel said. “We actually watched his videos on YouTube yesterday. It captures the child’s attention and goes over some well-known facts of different animals.”
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