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Star Light, Star Bright is a fun folk song to teach kindergarten, first grade, and second grade elementary music students about sol and mi or quarter and eighth notes. Although the song is quite common, these lessons are not. Make sure you read down to the extensions so that you get all of the ideas for teaching Star Light, Star Bright.
PS All the slides and graphics you see below are part of my Star Light, Star Bright lesson pack on Teachers Pay Teachers. It includes:
- Presentation for ta and titi
- Presentation to present sol and mi
- Digital activities to practice either concept with the song
- Printable worksheets
You can do the lessons without the lesson pack, but it does make it easier!
Want some free resources? Join the FREE Resource Library! After joining, you’ll get access to a library with powerpoints, lyric sheets, quizzes, worksheets, and more! Plus, you’ll get elementary music lessons emailed straight to your inbox to keep the ideas flowing and make lesson planning EASY.
How to Teach Star Light, Star Bright
First off, teach the song. You can do this by rote, or by having students read the rhythm or solfege. I like to use this piece for sol and mi, which means that we’ve usually already do quarter and eighth notes. Because of this, we decode the rhythm first, then learn to sing it.
After we have learned the song, we will introduce sol and mi. We point to the staff and talk about the highs and lows. We point while we sing.
I usually (in non-COVID times) have kids get lap packs– sheet protectors with different helpful pieces of paper in them. I have a measure of heart beats on one side and a reduced staff on the other. They can point to the solfege there.
After that (usually on a separate day) we will work on putting the notes onto the staff. Depending on what we’re doing, sometimes we will do this on Google Slides, and sometimes we will do it on paper.
I have a Google Slides presentation where I or the students can drag stars to the two line staff. In the lesson pack, I also have a printable version, where students can cut and paste (if you’re feeling adventurous) or drag the notes on the staff above the words.
You could also use the printable page and mini erasers to show the solfege! Then you only have to print out a class set and laminate them.
Whichever you choose, having the hands on component makes ALL OF THE DIFFERENCE. Seriously. If you’ve never tried it, try it.
Anyway, once we get through this, now we have the really fun part.
Put a large reduced staff (two or three line staff) on the board. You can just draw it with markers.
Then, give the kids (you can do one at a time or all at once) FLASHLIGHTS.
Turn the lights off (I usually turn on a light in my closet or a lamp so that I can still see), and have the kids point to the staff while they sing. With the flashlights!
I recommend starting with only a few kids at a time so that you can control the chaos a little bit more, because they will LOVE this.
To finish, I like to ask the kids what they would wish for if they could wish for anything. Sometimes I will have the kids draw or write about this.
Extensions for Star Light Star Bright:
- A Short Ride in a Fast Machine with flashlights: Since you’ve got the flashlights, you can have kids lay down on their backs and “draw” on the ceiling with the flashlights while they listen to A Short Ride in a Fast Machine. This piece sounds like being in a spaceship and is so much fun.
- Form with flashlights: A really fun way to use the flashlights is for form! You can have students do different movements (figure 8, turn on and off, back and forth) for different parts of a piece of music. Or you can color the kids’ flashlights with sharpies so that they are different color have had different colors play during different sections of the piece. March from Star Wars is a favorite for this.
- Little Silver Moon: I like to do a whole outer space theme when I do this piece, so Little Silver Moon is perfect! It is a Chinese folk song that teaches quarter rest. You can check out the Orff arrangement and lesson by clicking here.
- Follow the Drinking Gourd: Along with Little Silver Moon, I like to use Follow the Drinking Gourd. Follow the Drinking Gourd: This song is a spiritual, so it’s a bit of a stylistic change. That being said, it’s so good, and my second graders love it. The drinking gourd is code for the Big Dipper, and the whole song is directions for the Underground Railroad! We talk all about constellations with this piece, and we read this book as well!
- Star Festival: Star Festival is a really fun Japanese song that teaches quarter rest. There is an Orff arrangement for this one too! Click here to learn more.
So there you go– a couple of (hopefully new!) ways to teach the song Star Light, Star Bright. How do you like to teach this song? Head over to Instagram (@beccasmusicroom) and let me know by sending me a DM!
Also– don’t forget to grab your Star Light, Star Bright lesson pack by clicking here!