We started out by learning how to hold the uke. I emphasize hugging the uke against the body, asking students daily if they have "hugged their uke today?" We then learn how to support with the left hand.
I teach the C chord first, because I love that the one finger needed to play the chord helps kids be successful with a ton of one chord songs right away. Then, we we are ready to add the 5 chord, (G), the ring finger just pops one string over. Once we have the fingering down for C, we add a simple down stroke strum with the right thumb. Once that is mastered, I challenge them to try strumming with a down, down up pattern.
I started with a new "first song," for the uke this year. I have loved it and the kids are eating it up. I used "Coconut" by Harry Nilsson. First, I sang while they played the uke and then after some rote echoing, they were able to join me on the chorus. We will add more of the verses next time.
Here is a youtube link to Kalani teaching the song on the uke. We did the same conceptual idea but used the C chord instead because of where we are headed with our ukes. Kalani visited our school as artist in residence a few years ago, and first inspired my interest in teaching kids to play the ukuleles. We didn't even have ukuleles when he came to visit. Boy, how times have changed!
Stay tuned for more ideas on starting off with the uke with your kids. We'll be hanging out on the c chord for a few classes to get fingering solidified along with the down, down, up strumming pattern we are working on.