Jenkins’ New Album Is An Invaluable Teaching Tool For Parents And Educators Alike

Courtesy: Smithsonian Folkways

Courtesy: Smithsonian Folkways

Ella Jenkins’ released her second full length compilation of multicultural songs last month.  The album, More Multicultural Songs from Ella Jenkins, is another wonderful teaching too whether it is being used in the classroom or the living room.  The album collects twenty songs from Jenkins’ previous albums to form a compilation that teaches not only cultural diversity but geography and even basic language studies, too.  As Jenkins herself notes in the compilation’s companion liner notes, the reasoning behind the compilation’s creation was the growing cultural diversity not just around the world but within America’s very own cities and small towns.  She also notes that children are far more aware of that diversity now more than ever.  So what better reason for Jenkins to assemble this record and what better time than in a time of so much growth and change in America and around the globe?  Whether it be for mini geography lesson in ‘I’m Going To Cairo,’ the basic foreign language lesson that is ‘Count From One to Ten’ or the lesson about Jewish culture in ‘My Little Blue Dreidel’ More Multicultural Songs from Ella Jenkins has something for everyone and then some from start to finish.  Collectively, these songs and those not mentioned collectively make Jenkins’ new record one that any parent and educator will appreciate as much as its younger audiences.

Ella Jenkins teaches quite the lesson on cultural diversity throughout the nearly two dozen tracks chosen to be included on More Multicultural Songs from Ella Jenkins.  Along with those lessons on cultural diversity, she also teaches an enjoyable and basic lesson on geography.  That lesson is taught early on in the record in the form of the song ‘I’m going To Cairo.’  It’s in this song that Jenkins teaches her audiences that while a city or town may be spelled the same in different regions that does not necessarily mean that they are pronounced the same from one region to another.  As the title alludes, the first example of this difference in pronunciation comes in the form of Cairo.  She writes in this song, “I’m going to Cairo [KIGH-roh]/Cairo, Egypt/I’m going to Cairo [KAY-roh]/Cairo, Illinois.””  She goes on to write of the different pronunciations of both Lima and Toledo, pointing out how the two are pronounced completely differently around the world.  From Lima [Lee-mah], Peru to Lima [LIGH-mah], Ohio and from Toledo [toh-LEH-doh], Spain to Toledo [toh-LEE-doh], Ohio, Jenkins points out to her audiences that what they know as right isn’t necessarily right in other parts of the country or even the world.  It’s both an effective basic geography lesson for audiences of all ages, but one that is just as effective in teaching cultural diversity.  It does so on a level that young audiences can understand with ease.  It’s just one of so many songs that makes More Multicultural Songs from Ella Jenkins so enjoyable for audiences of all ages.

‘I’m Going to Cairo’ is a wonderful example of what makes More Multicultural Songs from Ella Jenkins a joy for audiences of all ages.  It teaches not just cultural diversity, but also a basic geography lesson, too.  Just as welcome on this record is the language lesson that lies in ‘Count From One to Ten.’  This song is the longest of all the pieces included on Jenkins’ new compilation.  It comes in at just under the nine minute mark.  To be more precise, it clocks in at eight minutes and forty seconds total.  As long as it is, it is still another great addition to the record.  That is because of the sheer depth of the lesson even as basic as the lesson proves to be.  Jenkins take the basic lesson of counting from one to ten as the basis for the song.  From there, she goes on to teach listeners how to count from one to ten in Spanish, French, German, Italian, Hebrew, Japanese, Greek, and English.  It seems like a lot on the surface.  But it’s important to get children started as early as possible learning other languages, even if it’s with something as simple as counting from one to ten.  The longer children wait to learn, the more difficult it is for them to learn and even want to learn foreign languages as they get older.  Understanding the importance of getting children started on the path of learning foreign language early on makes this song all the more important of an addition to the record despite its length.  One could even argue that considering this argument, it becomes one of the most important of all of the record’s song in the long run.

Ella Jenkins teaches some extremely important and valuable lessons on geography, language and cultural diversity through the course of both ‘I’m Going to Cairo’ and ‘Count From One to Ten.’  Both songs play their own key role in the success of this recently released album.  Listeners could also argue that ‘My little Blue Dreidel’ is just as important to the overall enjoyment and success of this compilation.  It is through this song that Jenkins teaches listeners about one of the most well-known items in Jewish culture—the dreidel.  This is not the song with which most listeners might think of in reading this song’s title.  That is a completely different song.  This song is far shorter.  It is a simple song that presents the joy felt by young children as they spin the toy.  She sings in this song, “My little blue dreidel/Spins morning, night, and noon/And each time it spins/it spins a happy tune.”  It’s so simple lyrically speaking.  But that simplicity works so well, especially set against the song’s equally simple musical backing.  Jenkins sings by herself and plays what sounds like her ukulele in time.  Such simplicity makes this song one more wonderful addition to the album’s overall musical picture and its lesson.

The songs noted here comprise just a small glimpse into what makes More Multicultural Songs from Ella Jenkins another invaluable addition to educators and parents alike.  Those songs not mentioned each add their own value to the album’s overall presentation in their own way.  From her musical trip to China to her trip up to our neighbors to the north in Canada and even down under, Jenkins offers listeners glimpses into so many different peoples and cultures throughout this record.  Teachers and parents can all take that musical multicultural ride around the world now with younger listeners as the compilation is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct now from the Smithsonian Folkways website at  Jenkins currently has no live performances scheduled.  But audiences can find out when they’ll get to hear all of these songs and many more online through her website, and  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at

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