“7 Years”

Lukas Graham, 2015

This song’s themes make it ideal as a springboard for class discussions.

Choose from the following activities:

  • Pre-Listening Discuss life’s best age. Structure the discussion with the Four Corners activity. Write the numbers 11, 20, 30, and 60–the ages the songwriter describes in the song–on four pieces of paper. Post one number in each corner of the room. Ask students, “Which is the best age?” Students stand next to their answer. Working together, students in each corner make a list of reasons why that is the best age. One spokesperson for each group reports the reasons to the class.
  • Listening Listen to the song while reading the punctuated, annotated lyrics below. The lyrics are intended for nonprofit educational use only.

7 Years, lyrics.docx     7 Years, lyrics.pdf

  • Post-Listening Watch the official video. There are two official videos; the video with the montage of family photos is recommended.
  • Post-Listening Discuss important years. The songwriter reflects back on when he was 7, 11, and 20 years old, so the song invites a discussion about important years in students’ lives. Structure the activity with the reproducible interactive worksheet below for levels high beginning and above. (Students need to be able to form questions in the past tense.) I found the idea for this activity on the website of the Minnesota Literacy Council under “Tutor Tips” for volunteers, a great resource for practical, creative ideas.

important years.docx          important years.pdf

  • Post-Listening Interview your future self. The songwriter imagines what his life will be like when he’s 30 and 60. To follow up on this theme, ask students to have a conversation with themselves at a future age. First, show part of the YouTube video “Later That Same Life” (starting at the 32-second mark to about the 2-minute mark). Ask students to guess who the two men are. My students guessed it was a son interviewing his father and were surprised to learn that it was an 18-year-old interviewing his future 56-year-old self. Then ask, “What would you like to ask your 56-year-old self?” Write the students’ questions on the board. Some of the questions my students, all in their early twenties, asked were:
  • Did you find the love of your life?
    How many children do you have?
    Did you achieve all your goals?
    Are you happy?
    What kind of work do you do?

    Students answer the questions in writing, in the present tense, as if they were their future selves at age 56. You could then use their writing as the basis of one of these activities:

    1. The Interview. Students set their writing aside. Then, in pairs, they ask one another the questions. (The person being interviewed assumes the persona of his/her future self and answers in the present tense.)
    2. The Essay. Students convert their answers into a first-person essay, arranging the information in a logical way. They write the essay in the present tense, as if they were their future selves.
    3. The Five-Minute Activity. If time is short, pick just one of the questions to ask your students. I chose the question What kind of work do you do? and quickly  asked each student that question. (I had a class of 15 students.) I was amazed at the detail and certainty with which my students answered. Ah, to be 21 again!

    (For more ways to use the “Later That Same LIfe” video in the classroom, please see lessonplansdigger.com.)

  • Post-Listening Discuss “Rules to Live By.” The songwriter shares the advice his parents gave him at ages 7 and 11. Follow up by asking students, “What are two rules to live by–rules that all children should know?” They write their rules on a sheet of paper. Then they walk around the room and share their two rules with a classmate. They memorize one of their classmate’s rules and add it to their list. They share those three rules with another classmate. They memorize one of that classmate’s rules and add it to their list. They share those four rules with yet another classmate. They memorize one of that classmate’s rules and add it to their list. They return to their seats with their list of five rules. Students share rules they particularly like with the class. I found the idea for this activity in the resource book  Zero Prep by Laurel Pollard and Natalie Hess. (p. 22, “Building Up a Chain: Rules to Live By.”)
  • Post-Listening Use the phrase I started writing songs as the springboard for a grammar lesson (for more advanced levels). The verb start is one of a group of verbs that can be followed with either an infinitive (I started to write songs) or a gerund (I started writing songs). Other verbs in this group are begin, continue, likelovehate, and can’t stand. The interactive worksheet below gives students practice with this group of verbs. For levels intermediate and up. Note: You may need to stress that there are two grammatically correct ways to fill in each blank–with a gerund OR an infinitive; students are generally accustomed to worksheets in which there is only one correct answer.)

infinitive or gerund. docx          infinitive or gerund. pdf