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What Does the 1st Day of Music Look Like?

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I remember when I was a 1st year teacher (let’s be honest, it may feel like it’s been a million years, but it’s really only been 2) and I was so nervous about the first day of school. I asked people what I was supposed to do the first day, and they said, “Oh, you just teach the rules.”

So I thought, ok, I’ll teach the rules. But I have absolutely no idea what I was doing. I remember my fifth grade class being bored to death because I was talking to them about aaaaaall of the things that they needed to know for the whole year. It took way longer than I thought. My first grade class, on the other hand, got through my whole rules spiel and my lesson in about ten minutes. And I was left with 18 jittery, bouncing first grades and no clue what to do.

Let’s just say that my second set of classes went much better.

Lord, please help those poor Monday classes that get the worst version of every lesson.

Anyway, my second first day of school went much, much smoother. Now that I am in my third year, it went even smoother still.

So today we are going to answer the million dollar question: What does the 1st day of music look like?

And no, I am not going to tell you to teach the rules.

And if you need some help for when you do teach the rules, you can learn more about how to do that in my YouTube video down below.

The 1st day of music class can be really exciting, or really terrifying-- for the teacher I mean! What do you do when the doors close on the 1st day of music and you have 25 1st graders staring at you? Find tips, tricks, and activities for the 1st day of music. Becca's Music Room

1st Day of Music

Unlike what everyone tells you, I now prefer to wait for most of the rules talk until the second day of school. On the 1st day of school, my goal is to have fun, so that students want to come back. If they want to come back, they will behave better.

That being said, there are always a couple of house keeping thing that need to get done on the first day, like fire exits, lining up procedures, etc.

Other than that, I always include a movement activity, usually a name game, and some other easy, low stress activities. You do not want anything too difficult the first day, because even at the same school, you will have new kids who are new to you and maybe new to the way you do music. This year, they change the districts for our schools, so I have 5-6 students who are new to my school in every class. And those fifth graders are looking at me like I am the craziest person in the whole entire world. So, even though I expect them to do things differently than their old teacher, I am trying to make the first few activities easy and low stress.

So what do we do? I am going to put some sample lessons below. Bear in mind that even if you try not to talk too much about house keeping, you still need to, and it still takes a lot of time.

1st Day of School with 4-5

  • Students come in, and I give them their assigned seats. We talk about appropriate ways to sit in the music room.
  • Students line up and go in the hallway, and we “start over”. I make a big deal about pretending that this is the beginning. We go back in and find our seats. This is super important, because it sets the standard for how you expect them to walk into class from now on.
  • Stretches (I always start class with stretches, in every grade)
  • Low-stakes movement activity. I have a few that I like, but this year, I have been using my stick figures. I just hold up the paper, and students match the stick figure. I count to 4 or 8, and then switch. Change tempos throughout. This gets kids moving, feeling phrases, and anticipating.
  • Talk about fire drills, our class point system (which you can read about here), and the behavior management system I am currently using (more about that if it works!). I try to make this brief, but the kids ask a lot of questions while we are on these topics.
  • Get to know you game. I have used Jump In, Jump Out for two years now. It’s easy and fun. I heard about it from another music teacher in my district, but you can read about it here.
  • If we have any more time (depending on how many students want to go during the game), then I teach them the words to a song and have them play the rhythms.
  • That’s all folks!
The 1st day of music class can be really exciting, or really terrifying-- for the teacher I mean! What do you do when the doors close on the 1st day of music and you have 25 1st graders staring at you? Find tips, tricks, and activities for the 1st day of music. Becca's Music Room

1st Day of School 1st Grade

  • Students stay in line. I play a drum and have them match their feet to the drum beat. We march around the room and tiptoe around the room, and I lead them to sit in the back.
  • I give out assigned seats. We talk about how to sit.
  • Stretches
  • Seat finding game: Students get into a circle. I play the drum, and they match their feet to it. We walk around, and when the music stops, they have to find their seat. (This gets some wiggles out, and helps them to remember their seat.)
  • Talk about fire drills, our class point system (which you can read about here), and the behavior management system I am currently using (more about that if it works!). I try to make this brief, but the kids ask a lot of questions while we are on these topics.
  • Song with movement: Next, we always do a song that has movements in it. Usually I sing, and they will eventually join in. This year it is Jim Along Josie (Every time you sing the chorus, you walk. Then you can change it to jump along Josie or stomp along Josie, etc.), and last year we did Walk and Stop.
  • Name game: If there is time, we do a name game (Let’s be honest, with my classes yesterday we did not have time.). I like Name, Name, Same Your Name with the littles (I talk about it here), and this year I’m trying out Hickety Pickety Bumblebee.
  • Wawako: This year, I added a new favorite activity to my set. We went over a son the kids learned last year, Wawako. It is from Mali (in Africa!). It is all about how people should try to be friends, and not fight. I like this to set my intention for the year. There is a clapping game that goes along with it. You can read about it here.
  • Then we line up and that’s all!

So that is the structure of the 1st day of school with my older kids and my younger kids.

On the 2nd day of school, we talk more in depth about what is and is not appropriate in music class, and we do a name game if we did not get to it the first day.

A few things to note:

  • I try to make music as easy and fun as possible that very first day. My main goal is that students WANT to come back to music class.
  • I don’t make older students sing the first day. I know a lot of people do, because they want to establish what is normal in music, but I like to save that for day 2.
  • As far as procedures go, I teach them as they come up, not one at a time. So I teach students how to line up when we line up. I teach them how to gather materials when we need to– even if that is a few days in. This saves time and makes it much more relevant for the students because they need how to do it right now.

So there you have it! That is what I do on the 1st day of school in music class! This can be tricky, especially when a class is late and you have to decide what to leave out, but I try to squeeze it all in.

Want to get free resources? Sign up for the FREE resource library– all you do is put your email in, and you have access to all of the resources in the library (including quizzes, powerpoint, beat charts, rhythm cards, lyric sheets, and more!)– and new resources are added monthly! Sign up here!

Do you have a 1st day of music favorite? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!

The 1st day of music class can be really exciting, or really terrifying-- for the teacher I mean! What do you do when the doors close on the 1st day of music and you have 25 1st graders staring at you? Find tips, tricks, and activities for the 1st day of music. Becca's Music Room

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