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As music teachers, we spend a great deal of time trying to get kids; energy up—it requires energy to sing, dance, use scarves and parachutes, etc. We do tons of movement activities and games that teach but also are a lot of fun. And then we send the little people back to their teachers without calming down…
Halfway through the year, I realized I was sending these kids back wired. I thought that getting the wiggles out by dancing was enough, but it isn’t. Kids do not yet know when or how to calm themselves down—they need help calming down.
Since then, I have done a much better job at calming kids down. I find that they act better in line, and hopefully beyond that.
So here are a few super easy end of class calming down activities to help your kids.
I also sometimes use them throughout class if they are particularly wild that day.
These are not anything monumental, but they work. They are all no prep and can be used for any amount of time.
This is a great concept. You can check out the website here. SQUILT stands for super quiet uninterrupted listening time. The basic premise is that students learn how to listen to music.
And that’s it.
Now, we all know that students cannot just sit and listen. They need something to do. There are lots of different ways to do SQUILT (I love these worksheets for when we do this as a large part of class).
My favorite way is to have students close their eyes and “put the music in their bodies”. I tell them they can move their head, hands, or bodies, but they cannot get up and they have to close their eyes. They actually get really into it. It’s awesome. I have seen a huge difference in the kids’ ability to move to the music and describe it since I started incorporating this.
Another way is to have them show you movements. With my older kids, I will play a song and have them close their eyes and show me the hand signs for the letters of the form. You could have students put their hands up for high parts and down for low parts. Have them pretend to play an instrument they hear. There are all sorts of super easy movements that can keep kids engaged.
Bonus: You can use this as assessment!
Also read: Lesson Ideas: Creative Movement with Scarves
Now, videos are always a great way to end a lesson and calm children down. You can find videos of everything on YouTube.
One easy thing to do is to show an orchestra playing a song that you learned. So if you did a movement routine like this Bizet scarf routine, you could show people playing the music. This helps kids get a feel for the song.
You could do a video that has to do with the country a song is from, or a composer.
For time fillers or for fun, I like to use some of Disney’s Silly Symphonies. They are cartoons set to classical music and they are hilarious—and have classical music! I always ask the students to notice how the music and the cartoons line up.
Books are a great way to get students to calm down. You can find a book that goes along with any of your songs or concepts.
There are also a ton of great music books. Berlioz the Bear, I Know a Shy Fellow who Swollowed a Cello, and Orchestranimals are some of my favorites! You can click on the pictures below to see more about them on Amazon.
Thre are a few ways to do sing alongs.
First, you can teach a song (or do a song they learned a while ago) and sing it while you play a background instrument (I really want this ukulele!). Second graders especially love songs that build on themselves—we have done There was an Old Lady who Swollowed a Fly and the Irish song Rattlin’ Bog (they thought this was wonderful!) and they were all about it.
You can also teach a song and put up a YouTube video with the lyrics on the screen.
And…. You can also use Disney sing along songs. I reserve these for right before a break or when I am trying to reward my students. I just play Disney songs on YouTube and they go for it.
Also read: Free K-2 Music Lesson: Animal Form
This is a super quick and easy calming activity. if I run out of time for a calming activity, I will at least do this.
I have students move their arms up and breathe through their nose, and then out and breathe through their mouth.
I have actually had kids request this.
Dum Dum Dah Dah
This is a really fun song that I often use when we are in line waiting for a teacher. You can check it out on YouTube. Essentially you sing dum dum dah dah and do an action, and the student copy you. It’s like music Simon Says.
So those are some of my favorite calming activities. What do you do to calm students down? Let us know in the comments!