3-5, Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Calming Down Activities for Music Class

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.

Calming Down Activities for the Music Room. Some ideas for musical ways to get students to wind down before sending them out again. Becca's Music Room.



SQUILT

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.

Just listen.

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

 

Videos

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.

Calming Down Activities for the Music Room. Some ideas for musical ways to get students to wind down before sending them out again. Becca's Music Room.



Books

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.

Sing Alongs

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



Deep Breaths

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.



Also read: Tips for Incorporating Social Studies in the Elementary Music Class

So those are some of my favorite calming activities. What do you do to calm students down? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!



Calming Down Activities for the Music Room. Some ideas for musical ways to get students to wind down before sending them out again. Becca's Music Room.



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Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Free K-2 Music Lesson: End of School Luau!

Now of course, you can use this lesson at any point of the year, but I am going to use it on the last week of school (and will update with any extra information I come up with then). This luau will include singing, dancing, and of course, limbo. Although we are doing music standards (we sing music, we move to music, we connect music with history and culture), this lesson will be mostly fun.

Because it’s the last week of school. It’s supposed to be fun.

You will notice I pick activities strategically—we do an active warm up first, followed by a calming activity, then some fun, and finally a calming activity at the end. I try to structure all lesson like this, if possible.

This lesson will include a little bit of social studies. You can find some more social studies tips here.

And without further adu.. here is the end of school luau!

Free K-2 Music Lesson: End of School Luau! What better way to celebrate summer than with a Hawaiian themed party? This lesson includes singing, dancing, geography, and a lot of fun. Becca's Music Room.



End of School Luau!

Materials:

Focus:

I can sing and dance to Hawaiian music.



Procedures:

  • When students come in, give them a lei to wear for the day (I take them back for the next class, but you can let them have them if they keep them). Tell them we are having a luau and ask if anyone knows where they have luaus.
  • Tell them luaus are from Hawaii. Hawaii is a state in the US, but it is far away (pull up a map that shows Hawaii).
  • Baby Shark song! If you don’t know this one, it is awesome. You can check it out here.
  • Pick a movement for the chorus, verses, and instrumental parts of the song Hawaiian Rollercoaster Ride. Have students follow you in their movements. You can also have students pick, but I picked ours so that they went with the song. I used this strictly to have kids get some wiggles out so I wasn’t concerned about them learning very much in this part of the lesson.
  • Watch the video of the Lilo and Stich movie that has this scene. This one is the sing along version.

Free K-2 Music Lesson: End of School Luau! What better way to celebrate summer than with a Hawaiian themed party? This lesson includes singing, dancing, geography, and a lot of fun. Becca's Music Room.



  • Then, pick two students who are doing a good job to come up and hold the limbo stick. Have them walk in a circle (I use the perimeter of the carpet) and limbo under the stick. Tell them that if they hit the stick, they are out.
  • Alternate version: If you prefer, you can have them go through a different way each time. So one time they could crawl like a crab. They can walk like a dog, they can lean forward or backward, whatever you pick. You can pick a different one each time they go through.
  • Limbo! Play some beachy 50s music while they do this.
  • To help them calm down, show them some pictures of Hawaii. You can just google “Hawaii” and then show them the google images results. This helps them understand that it is an actual place, not just something in Lilo and Stitch.
  • Teach them the song “Aloha Oe” by rote or by solfege (whatever you prefer). You can see the ukulele/guitar/piano tabs to play with it here. Once they have at least kind of learned the song (I’m only doing the chorus), sing it with them and play an instrument (or sing with a video). It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be fun!



And there’s our luau! It incorporates movements, games, singing, and social studies!

You could use this with older students as well—without even tweaking much.

Also read: Blue Skies Music Lesson

Another good thing about this lesson is that it has a very very easy backup plan—if the students are too out of control for the fun, then they can just watch Lilo and Stitch! (and make sure you write that into your lesson plans!) You can find more backup plans here.

What would you include in a last week of school luau? Let me know in the comments!

Happy Teaching!



Free K-2 Music Lesson: End of School Luau! What better way to celebrate summer than with a Hawaiian themed party? This lesson includes singing, dancing, geography, and a lot of fun. Becca's Music Room.


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Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Free K-2 Music Lesson: A Train Jazz Lesson

All month, I have been sharing Jazz resources with you (since April is Jazz month!). I shared ideas for incorporating jazz and a jazz lesson on the song Blue Skies (which includes scarves!). This week I have another jazz lesson on the song A Train.

Now, if it is not April, do not panic. Jazz is great to teach all year long, and can be used to incorporate many different aspects of music—pitch, steady beat, instruments, mood, etc.

This lesson has some steady beat, but the bulk or it is actually making up lyrics for a writing connection. Because as we all know, incorporating academics is very important. I did this lesson with K-2, but you can definitely tier it up and use it with older students. Free K-2 Music Lesson: A Train Jazz Lesson. This lesson uses the Ella Fitzgerald and has a writing component! Becca's Music Room

A Train Jazz Lesson

Focus: I can keep a steady beat while listening to Jazz. I can make up my own lyrics based on the song A Train. Materials:

Free K-2 Music Lesson: A Train Jazz Lesson. This lesson uses the Ella Fitzgerald and has a writing component! Becca's Music Room Procedure:

  • I started this lesson with a review of the song Blue Skies from the week before (which you can read in this lesson). Students kept the steady beat, moved their hands up and down with the contour of the melody on the chorus, and pretended to play each instrument during the solos.
  • Tell them: We’re going to listen to another jazz song. This one is a little bit different, because at the beginning, they use instruments to sound like something that is not an instrument. If you think you have figured it out, give me a quiet thumbs up.
  • Have students close their eyes and listen to the beginning. I always have them close their eyes because than they are not concerned with their neighbors. Be prepared, some of them will start laughing, because it is funny.
  • Ask: What did that sound like? (Keep letting them guess until they guess train) It sounds like a train! They use a drum to sound like the tracks, and a trumpet to sound like the whistle. What do you think the song will be about? Let’s see where we are going on the train…
  • Allow students to listen to the rest of the song, and determine where the train is taking them (to Harlem).

  • Tell them: This song is like a map. It is giving people directions to Harlem. Harlem is a place in New York where people would gather and write songs, write stories, make paintings, and do other artsy things.
  • You can do the next part as a class or individually (or in small groups!). Have students come up with three directions to get to Harlem—the sillier the better! I put things on the board like “Go over….” And let them fill in the blanks. With some classes, I had three people pick and we wrote them on the board as class lyrics. Some classes have better writing skills, so they got to make up their own.
  • Have students write their three directions and then “That’s how we get to Harlem!” on the bottom.
  • Have students illustrate their map. Make sure they show all of the directions.
Free K-2 Music Lesson: A Train Jazz Lesson. This lesson uses the Ella Fitzgerald and has a writing component! Becca's Music Room
Here is an example of one of my kids’ map!
  • Put on some Jazz music while you finish up!
  • Have students share their maps with their classmates.

  PS– Here is a really great video of Duke Ellington’s band playing the song!

And there you have it! This was a hit (even though I made them write) with all of my classes. And for those who cannot handle pencils and clipboards (yes, I have those classes and if you need some help with them you can read here), we came up with lyrics and then we just danced in our seats to the music.

What is your favorite jazz song or lesson? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Teaching!

 

Free K-2 Music Lesson: A Train Jazz Lesson. This lesson uses the Ella Fitzgerald and has a writing component! Becca's Music Room

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Elementary Music, Lessons

Tips for Incorporating Social Studies in the Elementary Music Class

As music teachers, most of us try to incorporate different subjects into our classroom. Some of us may even have administrators that ask us to do this. I would do this regardless, but my administrators have expressed that they would like to see this as well. In school, social studies was one of my favorite subjects. I have always loved history and different cultures.

Even before I became a teacher, I knew that I would want to incorporate as much social studies as possible into the curriculum.

Throughout this year, I would say I have done ok with that. I definitely haven’t added it in as much as I would like, but I have used it some. I admit, I have been concerned with the new teacher I-want-to-teach-everything-everyday issue. I keep thinking I want them to sing every day and move every day and read every day and play music every day and incorporate other academics…. And that is a lot of stuff. I am trying, and hopefully I will be able to add more next year.

Anyway, here are some super easy tips on ways to incorporate social studies (history, geography, and different cultures) into your classroom. Most of them are little things you can add into most lessons without very much effort.

Check out a music-science lesson here and a math lesson here!

Incorporating Social Studies in the elementary music room. Some practical ways to use social studies with the lessons you are already doing in your classes! Becca's Music Room.



Keep a Map

This is something I installed at the beginning of the year and I love it. All year, I add songs to our map to show where everything is from. And every time we learn a new song, I show the kids where we live and where the song is from on the map. I also allow them to ask a few questions, because maps make kids super curious. (“What’s that big purple one? It’s huge!” “Why is England so small?”)

I have caught kids staring at it while getting into line, because it is a cool thing. I color code it so that each grade has a different color.

I printed mine off of the internet, but I couldn’t get the quality very good. I am planning to buy this one off of Amazon.

Incorporating Social Studies in the elementary music room. Some practical ways to use social studies with the lessons you are already doing in your classes! Becca's Music Room.
This map is up all year. I add names of songs as we learn them.



Use Music from Different Countries

Most of us do this without thinking, but think about it. Especially with older kids, tell them where the song is from or what kind of music it is. Add in one or two fun facts about the country or the culture.

It doesn’t have to be long, just one or two little things.

Even if you don’t go with different countries, you can show them different styles of music too. I have a really fun music styles bingo that you can do once they have learned about it. Find it here.

Incorporating Social Studies in the elementary music room. Some practical ways to use social studies with the lessons you are already doing in your classes! Becca's Music Room.
Bubble map about things we learned about Ireland during our St. Patrick’s Day lesson.



Embrace the Holidays

Black History Month. St. Patrick’s Day. Mardi Gras. Hanukkah. Christmas. Hispanic Heritage Month.

All of these provide easy opportunity for teaching about different cultures. Pick some lessons that go along with what holiday is coming up. Explore traditions in different countries.

 

Use different instruments

I observed a teacher this year that had an instrument of the day. Each one provided an opportunity to talk about different cultures. When I was there, she was showing the claves, so they talked about where they come from and what the claves are like. Then students who did a good job throughout the lesson were able to play them for a minutes or two.

This is a really great calming down activity, and if you are reinforcing the song or dance from the lesson, it is even better.

I just got some castanets like these!

Incorporating Social Studies in the elementary music room. Some practical ways to use social studies with the lessons you are already doing in your classes! Becca's Music Room.



Composer of the Month

This is a little more on the history side—composer of the month. This is something I have not tried but I have seen other teachers doing. Each month they pick a composer, and then use some of the composers’ music in the lessons. That doesn’t mean that that is all you do, put a portion of it. You can take some time to talk about the time period and the composers’ life—again, they do not need a big long lecture, just some quick facts.

Try to pick people you were going to pick anyway. You can use their music for movement routines (like this one) or for listening activities (like this one). For younger kids, it is a good idea to have a calm down activity so that they are not totally crazy when you release them into the hallway. I have found that just having them close their eyes and “move to the music” is a really great way to accomplish this.

Incorporating Social Studies in the elementary music room. Some practical ways to use social studies with the lessons you are already doing in your classes! Becca's Music Room.
Example of a chart on a country.



Show the country

This is my favorite thing to do. Whenever we talk about a different country, I show them where it is on the map, and then I google it and show them photos. It requires no set up at all. For St. Patrick’s Day, I typed in “Ireland” and showed them pictures of the landscape, the flag, the map, etc. Then we look at the pictures and talk about them. It’s super quick, and they will be amazed by it.

I find this is good because it makes it come to life. You can say that we are learning about a country called Ireland, but it may as well be Narnia if they cannot at least see pictures of it. Once they see pictures of the country and maybe the people, it becomes a real place to them.

 

So those are a few of my favorite ways to incorporate social studies in the classroom! I did not include any sort of country study or videos or books, but all of those are also great ways to include social studies in the classroom.

How do you incorporate social studies? How do you incorporate other academics? Let us know in the comments! And don’t forget to subscribe!



Incorporating Social Studies in the elementary music room. Some practical ways to use social studies with the lessons you are already doing in your classes! Becca's Music Room.



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3-5, Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Free Music Lesson: Blue Skies Jazz Lesson

As you may know (or you read in my post about Jazz lessons here), April is Jazz month! I actually just finished a unit on jazz (yes, my planning should have been better), but this allows me to share some of my jazz lessons with you. This one is one of my favorites from the year, based on the song Blue Skies.

I used this with kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade. This lesson uses the song Blue Skies to incorporate singing, movement, instruments, and improvisation.

And yes, I used scarves.

Because if you cannot tell from this post or this post… or this post…. I LOVE scarves.

They are fun, they integrate movements, and you can use them as incentives. What could be better?

Now, this was actually two lessons for my students, but I will put it all here and you can make it one or two (or three if you want). Free Music Lesson: Blue Skies Jazz Lesson. Jazz lesson including singing, dancing, improvising, scarves, and instruments! Becca's Music Room.

Blue Skies Jazz Lesson

Focus: I can sing, move, and improvise to jazz music. Materials: You can click on these affiliated links to see them in Amazon.

Procedure:

  • Tell the students that we are going to learn a new style of music, called jazz music. Jazz music started in the United States when people from different cultures mixed their music together.
  • Listen to Blue Skies. You can do steady beat motions (snapping to the back beat is great for this), or have students close their eyes and “move how the music sounds” (I talk more in detail about this in this post).
  • Ask the students: If we have Blue Skies, what do you think that means? Are we happy or sad?
  • Teach them the chorus for Blue Skies by rote. While doing this, have the students move their hands up when your voices go up and down when it goes down.
  • Practice the chorus with the recording.
  • Listen to the song again, this time doing steady beat motions (patting shoulders, marching in place, swaying, etc.) until the chorus. At the chorus, stop and move hands up and down to trace the melody (my students like to pretend they are holding a paintbrush and we are painting the melody).
  • Do this activity again, but use scarves this time—because scarves make everything better!

Free Music Lesson: Blue Skies Jazz Lesson. Jazz lesson including singing, dancing, improvising, scarves, and instruments! Becca's Music Room.

  • Have students get a handheld percussion item, like tambourines (we just got these from Donor’s Choose and they are awesome!).
  • Have students keep the beat on their instrument on the verses and move their “paintbrush” up and down on the chorus. You could also have them move their tambourines up and down for a fun effect.
  • About halfway through, stop the music and talk about improvisation. Tell them this is something that happens in jazz a lot, where we make up our own music. Does this mean we are just as loud as possible? No. This means we try to think about what will sound cool and do that.
  • Play the song and allow students to improvise to the song. Walk around the room and listen and encourage those who do not need a little extra support.
  • Closing: Ask students what words they would use to describe the song. Was it fast or slow? Was it loud or soft? Legato or staccato? What kind of instruments do you hear? See what they come up with.

So that is my Blue Skies jazz lesson! I broke it into two by stopping after the scarves on the first day. On the second day, we reviewed the chorus, danced to the song, and then added in the instruments.

The kids loved it. So much so, that I may try it with some of my older students too. I am playing around with a parachute routine for it… So make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss anything! You can also click here to view a lot of lesson ideas on my Pinterest page.

Happy Jazz month!

Free Music Lesson: Blue Skies Jazz Lesson. Jazz lesson including singing, dancing, improvising, scarves, and instruments! Becca's Music Room.

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3-5, Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Music Lesson Ideas: Jazz

If you cannot tell from other posts, I love to teach students about different kinds of music. I think that music teachers have a unique job in that we can show the students the similarities and differences between different cultures. Music is a great way to integrate different cultures. I spent some time teaching my students about jazz this year, and am sharing some of those lessons—along with some other ideas—with you.

If you want to incorporate different kinds of music, jazz is a good starting place. It is different enough from what most students listen to that it is new, but close enough to popular music that they don’t think it is totally weird.

Here are just a few ideas for how to incorporate jazz music into your music class!

PS—These are great for Black History Month, but you should know that April is Jazz month! And of course, you can just do it anytime.

And if you want to incorporate other styles, here are some ideas for opera!

Music Lesson Ideas: Jazz. Free music lessons to help teach jazz in elementary music. Great for Black History Month or Jazz month. Becca's Music Room.



Backbeat

Jazz is all about the back beat. Practice keeping the steady backbeat first by using movements, then with instruments. I found that tambourines provide a similar sound to the cymbal on the drum set.

By the way– I just got these tambourines in my classroom (from Donor’s Choose!). They are super cute– they are the ones in the pictures above.

Improvising

There are a few ways to do this.

With younger students, I used the song “Blue Skies”. They kept the backbeat with the tambourines. About half way through, we talked about improvising, and I allowed them to try it. We talked about trying to make it sound cool instead of just making tons of noise.

With older students, you could start there, and then go further. On xylophones, you can do question and answer improvising—you improvise for eight beats with the music, then they improvise for 8 beats. Don’t forget to make the xylophones pentatonic.

You can also practice scatting! Have students listen to a song that has scatting in it. Talk about what scatting is. Decide on a syllable and note, and have students come up with their own rhythms. (For example, you can have students use the syllable “do” on middle C. This way they only have to come up with the rhythms.) Once they have that down, you can open it up to different syllables. (Don’t forget to model for them.)

Also read: Free K-2 Music Lesson: Five Little Monkeys (with Math and Reading!)



Instrument study

Jazz songs are great for instruments, because the instruments often take turns improvising! Talk about the types of instruments that you hear in jazz music, and show them pictures (if you can bring some in, even better!). Show them how to play the instruments.

While listening to the music, have the students pretend to play each of the instruments they hear.

Bonus: for an assessment, you could have students hold up cards that say what each of the instruments are.

 

Scarf movements with melody

I did this with the Blue Skies song too. Teach the students the chorus, and have them move their scarves up when the melody does up and down when the melody goes down.

For the verses, you can have them follow you with movements or make up their own!

Read more above listening lessons with scarves here and get YOUR scarves here!

 

Music Lesson Ideas: Jazz. Free music lessons to help teach jazz in elementary music. Great for Black History Month or Jazz month. Becca's Music Room.



A Train

This song is about directions to get to Harlem. Have the students listen to the song, and tell what directions are said (take the A train). Have students come up with their own directions on how to get to Harlem, and draw a map that shows it. The more ridiculous, the more fun! My favorite one said that we had to go over the Great Wall of China.

 

What a Wonderful World

Talk to students about Louis Armstrong, and how he was a really important jazz composer. Tell them a little bit about his life. Have them listen to the song What a Wonderful World. Have students make up actions for the song—you could have one group make up actions for the first verse, another group for the second, so on and so forth.

Ask students what you think a wonderful world would look like. Have them draw a picture and write a few sentences about their own wonderful world.

Also read: Phrases for Classroom Management in the Music Room

Books about Jazz

Books are always a really great way to teach about music– and include reading lessons as well.

Miles the Crocodile is a really cute book about jazz. Here are two books about jazz you can read to the kids. Click on the pictures to see them.

So there are some ideas for Jazz music! How do you incorporate jazz music? And how what styles of music do you like to incorporate?

Happy Teaching!



Music Lesson Ideas: Jazz. Free music lessons to help teach jazz in elementary music. Great for Black History Month or Jazz month. Becca's Music Room.



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Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Free K-2 Music Lesson: Five Little Monkeys (with math and reading!)

As a music teacher, I try to encourage academics in music as much as possible. That does not mean that I sacrifice musical integrity or that we just read textbooks all day, but it does mean that I try to fit in math, science, social studies, and reading wherever possible. This lesson, with Five Little Monkeys, incorporates math and reading perfectly!

I am pretty sure I got part of this lesson I got from another website, but I cannot find it anywhere. I had already planned on using this rhyme, and the high/low fit perfectly. And if you can know what website the high and low part came from, please let me know so I can link it!

You can also do this without the book, although without the book, there is no reading aspect to it. You can read extension ideas at the bottom of the post.

You can read about my 3-5 Boomwhacker and Science lesson here.

And don’t forget to subscribe for more ideas!  

Free K-2 Music Lesson: Five Little Monkeys (with math and reading!) Really fun lesson for younger music students to teach high and low and steady beat. Also includes reading and subtraction/counting. Becca's Music Room.

Five Little Monkeys

Focus: I can differentiate between high and low. Materials:

  Procedure:

  • Start by gathering the students together and reading the book Five Little Monkeys. Most of my students knew the book already, so just be aware that may happen. Have students hold up five fingers at the beginning and lose one each time. After every monkey ask (So five take away one is what?).
  • PS: At least in Georgia, Kindergarten phrases it as “take away”. During 1st grade, they learn subtraction, but depending on what time of the year this is done, you may still need to say “take away” instead of “subtract”.
  • Tell them that we will read it again, but this time a little bit silly. We are going to use our high voice and our low voice. So we will read the first part normal, but when we get to “Mama called the doctor and the doctor said” we use our high voice, and when we do “No more monkeys jumping on the bed”, we use our low voice. Demonstrate this for the students.
  • After demonstrating the first time, allow students to join with you if they have figured out the words. They can also do some simple actions (Hold up the number of fingers for the monkeys, pretend to bob their head on bumped their head, and then put hands up for the high part, and down for the low part.).
  • Go through the rhyme again, but this time, after each monkey, have a few students write on the board (or have everyone write on their own board) the subtraction problem. So the first time it will be 5-1=4. Pick different students each time so that everyone gets a turn. Be prepared to fix some of the problems, even though it feels like they ought to be able to do it themselves.
  • Performance time: Have two students come up to the front. Everyone in class will do the first part of Five Little Monkeys. One student will have a solo in their high voice on “Mama called the doctor and the doctor said.” And one student will have a solo in their low voice on “No more monkeys jumping on the bed.”
  • Continue until time runs out or everyone has had a chance.

Also read: Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Extra Beat, Take a Seat

Free K-2 Music Lesson: Five Little Monkeys (with math and reading!) Really fun lesson for younger music students to teach high and low and steady beat. Also includes reading and subtraction/counting. Becca's Music Room.

Extensions:

  • Students could play rhythms or keep a steady beat on instruments.
  • Students could act out the scene, starting with five “monkeys”, a mom, and a doctor.
  • Students could write down each of the math problems and then draw pictures to accompany each one.

My students (even my second graders) really enjoyed this lesson—even more than I anticipated! They were asking for weeks if they could do the Five Little Monkeys rhyme. From a teaching standpoint, it is great. Students keep the steady beat, move with actions, differentiate between high and low, and use reading and math skills. Talk about a win for everyone!

Don’t forget to subscribe for more content, or check out this Pinterest board for more teaching music ideas.

Click the picture below to check out the book!

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Happy teaching!

 

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3-5, Elementary Music, Lessons

Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Extra Beat, Take a Seat

This is one of my favorite games! I learned it from my mentor during student teaching. I am not sure where she got it from. I haven’t seen it in any books or on the internet. If you know where Extra Beat Take a Seat comes from, feel free to let me know so I can give credit where credit is due!

I have also used it during a long term substitute job, and the first week of school during my first year.

It is easy to figure it out, musical, and fun.

It is also good if you need to travel to classrooms. I have used it many times for that. Just do it with hands instead of rhythm sticks.

Also read: Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Boomwhackers and Science

Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Extra Beat Take a Seat. A really fun rhythm game for upper elementary. Can be played with rhythm sticks, drums, or no materials at all! Becca's Music Room



Extra Beat, Take a Seat

Focus:

I can count rhythm patterns.

Materials:

Also read: Phrases for Classroom Management in the Music Room

Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Extra Beat Take a Seat. A really fun rhythm game for upper elementary. Can be played with rhythm sticks, drums, or no materials at all! Becca's Music Room



Procedure:

  • Have students sit on a circle on the floor.
  • Start by having students play a short rhythm on repeat. I like to use quarter note, quarter note, half note. I play the first two with rhythm sticks on the floor, and the last note tap together. This, by the ways, is the “We Will Rock You” rhythm, so get ready to hear someone sing that.
  • Once they have the rhythm down, tell them to put their sticks down and listen. Tell them you are going to play the rhythm three times and three times only. And then do it. Count out loud so that they can hear what you mean.
  • Have them play it with you, three times and three times only. Someone will keep going—use that as an example.

Also read: Free K-2 Music Lesson: Sempre Libera Scarf Routine

Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Extra Beat Take a Seat. A really fun rhythm game for upper elementary. Can be played with rhythm sticks, drums, or no materials at all! Becca's Music Room
Here are the rhythms in notation. D for playing on the floor, and u for playing sticks together.



  • Tell them that you are going to play a game. They have to play the rhythm first three times and three times only. If they make an extra beat, they have to take a seat (sit in the middle of the circle). Then the class will try it again. Once the whole class (or whoever is left!) gets it right, then the round is over and everyone can rejoin the circle.
  • Once students get three times down, the round is over. The next time everyone will play the rhythm five times. Keep moving up by two each time. I usually go to eleven, and then find a new rhythm. You can do that or choose something else.
  • Once they get to whatever your magic number is, get a new rhythm.
  • My second rhythm is quarter note, quarter note, two eighth notes, quarter note. Play the rhythms as down-down-up-up-up. Again, if you make an extra beat, then you take a seat.
  • The third rhythm that I use is eighth notes, eighth notes, quarter note, quarter note, quarter note. this one goes down-down-up-up-down-up-down

A few tips:

Use a djembe to play the rhythms, because students can hear it over their sticks. This will help them keep the beat study.

You can play this without the sticks—just have students tap their legs and clap. This makes it great for the classroom.

You can add in some simple math practice by asking questions like, “If I have three notes and I play it three times, how many notes do I play total?”

Also read: Music Lesson Ideas: Opera Stories

So there you go! It’s not too difficult, but it is very fun! What is your favorite rhythm game? Let us know in the comments!

Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Extra Beat Take a Seat. A really fun rhythm game for upper elementary. Can be played with rhythm sticks, drums, or no materials at all! Becca's Music Room



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Elementary Music, Lessons, Organization

Backup Lessons for when the Plan is not Working

We’ve all been there. At least…. I hope it is not just me! Sometimes, the lesson plan that we want to do is not going to happen. So it is a good idea to have a backup plan. Or two. Or three.

This has happened to me on a few occasions.

There was the time that I showed up at school to find a bunch of fans in my room, and no one could tell me what was going on. (The room flooded, by the way. You can read the lessons I did during that time here.)

There was the time that I went to a meeting twenty minutes before my first class to find out that they were testing in the room next to mine. Which means I could not make noise. And my lesson plan was really, really loud.

I’ve had supplies that didn’t get laminated on time, days that I ended up with extra students and didn’t have enough stuff, days that I found out just beforehand that the counselor needed to spend half of my class talking to kids.

And sometimes, you are sick or tired or just plain cannot make it happen.

And, of course, there are days that my students are just way too crazy for the lesson at hand.

So there will be two main parts to this post: backup ideas for when the lesson doesn’t work out, and what to do so that you do not get in trouble (hopefully) for not following your lesson plan.

Also read: Really Specific Classroom Management Systems for the Music Room

Backup Lessons for When the Plan is not working-- Because sometimes, it just is not going to happen. Ideas that you can use with all of your grades. Keep a few in your back pocket to help you out on teaching days that are difficult. (As opposed to the easy ones?) Becca's Music Room



Backup Idea #1: A Game You Know Really Well

Preferably one that does not require a lot of supplies.

And bonus points if the kids have played it before so you don’t have to teach it to them.

This option is great if your class just has way too much energy, or if you don’t have a lot of time to get things together.

Everyone has those singing games that they have done so many times that they no longer need to think very hard about them.

You know what your versions are. Some ideas are:



Backup Idea #2: Read a Book

Reading a music book is really great if you need the students to calm down. Music books are great, because there are so many of them. There are a ton of extension opportunities that go along with them!

One of my favorite short-notice no-prep ideas is to read through the book straight through once. Read it a second time and make up some movements to go along with it (especially if you read this book—I like to have the kids pretend to play each instrument). After that, I have the students color a picture based on the book.

Super easy. Super simple.

I also leave this for subs quite often.

There are other fancier things that you can do—games, worksheets, lessons, etc.

Here are some of my favorite books. Click on the picture to read the description on Amazon.


Also read: Music Lesson Ideas: Opera Stories

Backup Idea #3: Coloring

One of my favorite lessons is to listen to a song and color.

This is also great for a sub.

Have the students listen to a song. You can pick whatever song you want. Listen once just listening. Listen again, and tell the students to think about what it reminds them of. Give them paper and crayons and let them go to town. Play it a few more times so they don’t forget it.

The older students do better with this, and really enjoy it. For some reason, I didn’t think that all of my students would be so into it, but they were.

You could also do coloring sheets based on songs or units that you are doing. There are a ton of Teachers Pay Teachers stuff for free or cheap.



Backup Idea #4: Watch a Movie

When all else fails, just watch a movie.

I always feel like this is cheating, but it is not.

One more time, watching a movie is not cheating!

Just make sure it has to do with music.

Here are some of my favorite options. Again, click on the link to see the Amazon description.

Backup Lessons for When the Plan is not working-- Because sometimes, it just is not going to happen. Ideas that you can use with all of your grades. Keep a few in your back pocket to help you out on teaching days that are difficult. (As opposed to the easy ones?) Becca's Music Room

Now… what if the principal walks in?

This is always a fear for all teachers. It always cracks me up when I go to trainings and they talk about how you need to be flexible. Because that’s true… but when you get an observation mid-backup lesson, what do you do?

Well, officially, you should always be on lesson plan. Some principals are such sticklers for this that there is nothing I can tell you that will help.

But since we already discussed that that is not always possible… what do you do?

 

Explain the Situation

Let the admiistrators know that you are not doing what your plan is. Tell them why—don’t make excuses, but they should know that you are not just being lazy (hopefully).



Put in a Sticky Note

If you know ahead of time that you will be changing your lesson, stick a sticky note on top of your lesson plan binder, or add a note to your lesson plan if they are turned in online. This way, they can see that even though you changed your mind, you still had a plan.

The last thing you want is to not have a plan.

You could also shoot an email or tell them if you see them.

I knew I had an observation coming up when I found out that I could not make any noise, so I just told the assistant principal that. If she had walked in, then she would have understood.

Also read: Tips for Keeping on Top of Lesson Planning

Add a Clause

I ALWAYS add this to the bottom of my lesson plans.

“If the class’ behavior is not good enough, the teacher will differentiate the lesson by …… If students are still having trouble being successful, the teacher will put on a music-related video.”

I also add an extra activity at the end, just in case there’s extra time at the end.

I fill in the dots with whatever my backup plan is… singing game, coloring, etc.

 

What is your favorite backup plan? Let us know what you do in the comments!

Backup Lessons for When the Plan is not working-- Because sometimes, it just is not going to happen. Ideas that you can use with all of your grades. Keep a few in your back pocket to help you out on teaching days that are difficult. (As opposed to the easy ones?) Becca's Music Room



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3-5, Elementary Music, Lessons

Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Boomwhackers and Science

Boomwhackers. I love Boomwhackers. I love to use them for everything, really. Rhythms, chords, etc.

This is a super simple, mini science lesson that I like to use with Boomwhackers.

In Georgia at least, they talk about the science of sound in 1st grade and 4th grade. I have used parts of this with all of my grades to help reinforce some science. This lesson is better suited for older students though.

Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Boomwhackers and Science. Great lesson for third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Students read rhythms, talk about high and low sounds, and learn how size affects sound. Becca's Music Room.



Boomwhackers and Science

Materials:

Boomwhackers in a Pentatonic scale (click here to check them out)

Hula hoops

Rhythm cards

Baton (optional)

Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Boomwhackers and Science. Great lesson for third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Students read rhythms, talk about high and low sounds, and learn how size affects sound. Becca's Music Room.



Procedures:

  • Start by introducing the Boomwhackers, and going over the rules.
  • Show them two Boomwhackers that are the same note but different octaves. I like to use C because I have them in three octaves, so I can use my really big one and really small one.
  • Repeat after me: Small is high, big is low, that is science you should know!
  • Say that a few times and then ask which one of the boomwhackers is going to be higher just by looking at it. I like to have them point either right or left so that I can see what they think. Then play them so the kids can hear if they are correct.

Also read: Phrases for Classroom Management in the Music Room



  • Pass out the Boomwhackers.
  • Have the students get into groups, one with each of the Boomwhackers and have them arrange themselves lowest to highest (this works better if your kids haven’t figured out that the letters are on the Boomwhackers. And yes, mine usually don’t notice.) Then have them play a rhythm in that order so that you can hear it going up the scale.
  • Have students sit with all their colored Boomwhackers at a hula hoop. Put a rhythm (I just use my normal rhythm cards) inside of the hula hoop. Give them thirty seconds to practice the rhythm (I always walk around and double check that they are all playing them correct).
  • Do whatever your attention-getting system is. I use a cow bell because it is louder than thirty Boomwhackers.
  • You are the conductor. Walk to each of the groups and have them play their rhythm on repeat. Bring in each of the other groups until everyone is playing. I like to add in crescendos and decrescendos after everyone is playing.
  • After everyone has come in, go through and stop each of the groups.
  • Assessment time: Have students take a good look at the Boomwhacker they have. After rotating to a new instrument, have them hold it above their head if it is higher than the old one or close to the group if it is lower—just by sight.
  • Bonus: Have a student “conduct” the Boomwhacker choir!
  • Extension: Show them two other similar instruments and have them guess which one is higher. I like to bring in my violin and cello, but it could work with a guitar and an ukulele or a flute and a piccolo, or whatever you have available.

Also read: Music Lesson Ideas: Opera



Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Boomwhackers and Science. Great lesson for third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Students read rhythms, talk about high and low sounds, and learn how size affects sound. Becca's Music Room.
This is a fourth grade playing Boomwhackers along with In the Hall of the Mountain King. Video from YouTube.

So there you go! It’s not too hard, but it does really help solidify their understanding of how size relates to sound. You can also show them pictures of the whole string family, or a close up of strings on a guitar or ukulele or violin and show them how even the thickness of the strings affects how high or low they are.

If you don’t have and Boomwhackers, get them! Click on the picture below.

Also read: Free Music Lesson: Bizet Scarf Routine

Do you talk about science in music? What is your favorite way to do that? Let us know in the comments!

 



Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Boomwhackers and Science. Great lesson for third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Students read rhythms, talk about high and low sounds, and learn how size affects sound. Becca's Music Room.

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