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Pretty much every Spring, we will learn about jazz in my music class. Sometimes I align it with April, which is Jazz month. Other times I align it with Black History Month in February. Either way, if you’re looking for some Jazz lessons, here are some Jazz lessons for lower elementary students.
If you want a FREE Jazz Google Slides activity, you can click here to grab the FREE Google Slide March Madness style bracket. It features 16 different jazz artists. Students will listen to two of the (imbedded!) songs, and vote for their favorite. Their favorite will then go to the semi and quarter finals until there is only one left.
A Tisket A Tasket
A Tisket A Tasket is a nursery rhyme that was recorded in a Jazzy version by Ella Fitzgerald.
For this lesson, I like to teach the nursery rhyme first. We also play the game (it’s basically Duck, Duck, Goose). You can click here to see the sheet music.
This song has half notes, by the way, which makes it perfect for second grade!
Then, we listen to Ella sing it. At first, I ask them to listen for the words that are different in her version than in the version we learned.
Then we sing and dance along with Ella.
Sometimes I pair this with the book Ella, Queen of Jazz so that they get a feel for who Ella was.
Also read: The Best Books for Black History Month
What a Wonderful World
What a Wonderful World is a classic song by Louis Armstrong. Interestingly, the kids have been familiar with this piece the last few years, because it plays at the end of the movie Finding Dory. (As soon as you play it, they’ll say, “I’ve heard this before!”)
Typically, I’ll use this book first. It’s just the lyrics to the song, so I play it and we flip through the pages. I have this one.
Then we listen to it and put the different things that Louis dreams of in order. I usually give them manipulatives with things like “trees of green” and “red roses too”, and more. Students listen to the song, and put them in order.
This year, we will be listening and doing the same thing, but the kids will do it digitally on a Google Slide while listening.
Then, we imagine what a wonderful world would look like, and write or draw about it.
You can click here to get the whole Google Slides lesson. It includes information about Louis Armstrong, about the song, videos of the different instruments in jazz music, writing prompts, and the slides to drag the items into order like in the picture. My second graders loved this!
Rhythm Plan Along Jazz Lessons for Lower Elementary
If you’re working on quarter rest, this rhythm play along is perfect for elementary and jazz themed. Not just jazz themed, but Soul themed. Like, the movie.
The play along uses words from the movie, like “Joe Gardner” and “Twenty Two” to have the kids play along with the rhythms.
Super cute, super easy, and super fun.
Blue Skies is one of those pieces that you have to smile when you hear it.
On the chorus, we trace the melody. The rest of the time, we typically keep the backbeat, either with snaps or with tambourines (we have these star ones, which are super cute!).
This is really fun with tissue paper, because you can use it like a scarf to show the melody, and then you can move it up and down to the backbeat. It will make a small noise similar to a snare drum.
Plus, you can throw away tissue paper, so it you’re doing this in 2021, and you don’t want the kids to share materials, this is a great way to do it.
The last of the Jazz lessons for lower elementary is A Train. This song is written by Billy Strayhorn, and it is actually directions to Duke Ellington’s home in Harlem.
For this piece, we keep the backbeat, and then we will come up with our own directions! We will draw maps (to our homes or to fictional places), and then write the directions for how to get there.
A Few favorite Books
As a bonus to the Jazz lessons for lower elementary students, here are a few of my favorite Jazz themed books for kindergarten to second grade kiddos. Click on the covers to purchase on Amazon! (affiliate links)
What’s your favorite of these Jazz lessons for lower elementary music students? Share it on your Instagram stories, and tag me @beccasmusicroom.