Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Free K-1 Music Lesson: It’s Raining and Que Llueva

Do you want to know something? I love Hispanic heritage month. I love all things multi-cultural, and Hispanic Heritage month gives me the perfect excuse to do a lot of Spanish songs, Spanish dances, etc. My students are not Hispanic, and I am enjoying being able to expose them to different things through music. For my Kindergarteners, that has been through the song Que Llueva.

Now, my kindergarten and 1st graders have actually had the least amount of Hispanic Heritage month fun out of all of my grades. That is because they do a program called Musical Explorers, where they learn about six different styles of music a year. After I teach those, and we work on our normal beat and singing voice, we are out of time. So this is actually the only Spanish song that they were getting this year.

But it will probably be ok.

This lesson features singing (mostly sol-la-mi with one low do. You could change that if you want, but since melody was not my focus, I did not worry about it.), soundscapes, beat v. rhythm, and—of course—the rain stick. If you have one.

I have a Teachers Pay Teachers resource (right here!) for this lesson. It has the melody, rhythm, words in Spanish and English, and rhythm cards. Everything in the resource is in both stick notation and regular notation. You can definitely do the lesson without it, but it does enhance the lesson.

You can also check out the YouTube video (right here!) that explains everything here and give pronounciations! Don’t forget to subscribe while you are over there.

You can tell, I really liked this lesson.


Here it is.

Also read: Ideas for Hispanic Heritage Month

Free K-1 Music Lesson: Que Llueva and It's Raining. A lesson for ta and titi featuring a song in both spanish and english. Because of the two languages, it is perfect for cinco de mayo, hispanic heritage month, or schools with lots of ELL or ESL students. Perfect for your elementary music class. Becca's Music Room

It’s Raining and Que Llueva

  • Teach the students the song It’s Raining by rote. Have them keep the steady beat while they are learning to sing it. It’s the same song as Que Llueva, just with English words.
  • After they have learned it, have them play the rhythm of the words while they sing it. My students are not looking or reading the rhythm yet (and won’t for this song, because single eighth notes? I don’t think so), just playing as they sing the song.
  • Talk about how the beat is the same, but the rhythm changes.
  • Sing the song again, but with sound effects. You can have a student play a rain stick (get one here!) or an ocean drum.

Lesson Extension: Make a sound scape

You could also have students make a soundscape. To make rain, you could start by using “sh” sounds. Then tap two fingers together. Then tap your legs. You could even have them stomp. Then bring it back down to get quieter and quieter. Bonus points if you use a thunder clap like this one.

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

  • Teach students the Spanish words. (I like to tell them we are singing it without telling them abut the language change, and then start singing in Spanish because they get so confused. It’s quite funny. That’s really mean, isn’t it? Oh well.)
  • Once they have learned it in Spanish and English, then you can work on the creative extension.
  • If they don’t know about ta and titi, take a moment to introduce that aspect of rhythm. For my students, this was the first time they had heard of it. We didn’t even say ta and titi. I just said that rhythm has long sounds and short sounds. We did some echos of “long short short long short short” and other versions of that. My first graders already know about rhythm, so they did the example rhythms in the Que Llueva TPT product.
  • Then we said that rain was our long sound (or ta) and llueva was our short sound (titi). Like I said, this was a Kindergarten and 1st grade lesson, so my first graders already knew about rhythm.
  • I arranged the “rain” and “llueva” cards on the board (it helps if you have heartbeats or something to show the beat. I used chairs to represent the beat, and put the words over the chairs.)
  • After I arranged them, I would read the words and students would echo back to me. After a few tries, I had students come up and do a rhythm on the board that we would all say.
  • Then you can break into groups and have them create their own rain-llueva compositions.

Also read: Free K-2 Music Lesson: Rhythm

Free K-1 Music Lesson: Que Llueva and It's Raining. A lesson for ta and titi featuring a song in both spanish and english. Because of the two languages, it is perfect for cinco de mayo, hispanic heritage month, or schools with lots of ELL or ESL students. Perfect for your elementary music class. Becca's Music Room

Lesson extensions:

  • If student are already notating, you can have them write their compositions down.
  • Have students come up with their own rain soundscape in groups.
  • Sing Que Llueva and read a student composition as a B section.
  • Sing Que Llueva and have students improvise with rain and llueva as a B section.
  • Sing other rain songs like “It’s Raining, It’s Pouring”.
  • Have students draw pictures of rain storms.

So there’s my lesson! Full disclosure, this took about three lessons in my room. Not necessarily because it was too much for one, but because it sinks into them better when you pull something out a few days in a row than if you do it all in one day.

You can do it however you’d like, of course.

Check out the YouTube version of this lesson (so you can hear the pronounciation!) and the Teachers Pay Teachers resource for it!

What is your favorite Hispanic heritage month song for Kindergarten and first grade? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Teaching!



Free K-1 Music Lesson: Que Llueva and It's Raining. A lesson for ta and titi featuring a song in both spanish and english. Because of the two languages, it is perfect for cinco de mayo, hispanic heritage month, or schools with lots of ELL or ESL students. Perfect for your elementary music class. Becca's Music Room

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Elementary Music

Things I’m Doing Differently in my Second Year of Teaching

My first year of teaching was ok. A lot of people have these stories where every single day of their first year of teaching is awful and they almost quit and so on and so on. I will say that I did not hit that point until about February.

That’s a pretty good time line, right? That’s quite a while for my first year.

Now that I am in my second year of teaching, I am realizing just how many things I did wrong in my first year. Or things I may not have done “wrong” but really, REALLY could have been better.

I thought all summer about things I’d do better in my second  year, and now that I’ve gotten through a week of school, I am able to nail down some of the things that I wanted to do differently but didn’t know how.

If you are in your first year of teaching, go ahead and take these tips so you won’t have to bother with as much of the first-year-ridiculousness. You can skip right into second year ridiculousness.

If you are a second year teacher, then go ahead and ake some of these ideas to help yourself! And if you are past the first and second years, hen you can still steal some of these ideas. They may still help.

And let us know in the comments what you learned your first year to help in your second year, and beyond!

Things I'm Doing Differently in My Second Year of Teaching. What did you change from your first year to your second year of teaching? The short answer is everything. Find out what mistakes from my first year teaching elementary music that i am not going to relive! Becca's Music Room.


Teaching Rules and Procedures

I’ll repeat that: teach rules and procedures.

People always said that, but I had no idea to what extent that meant. Or even how to do that.

Now, I got really lucky in that I teach at the school where I student taught. That meant I already knew a lot of the students, and I kept a lot of the procedures the same.

And thank God I did. Seriously. Because if I had not, it would have been a mess. Because I did not do a very good job teaching the rules and procedures in the beginning.

So what does that actually look like?

On the first day of school, have kids come inside. Give them assigned seats. I’ll repeat that: GIVE THEM ASSIGNED SEATS. Seriously. It helps you learn their names and keeps the chaos down. Not to mention the talking.

Have them go back outside and come in correctly. Correctly meaning walking straight to your seat, quietly, etc. This is something that I did not do on my first year, and it has made a huge difference already.

Let them do something quick and fun, then go over some of your procedures. What procedures are we talking about? Here are some ideas:

  • Getting water
  • Going to the bathroom
  • Fire drills
  • Answering questions
  • Getting tissue
  • Exiting class
  • Everything else
  • How to sit
  • How to stand

Kids need really specific procedures. And they need you to be a bit over the top.

For example: When talking about answering questions, I tell them that I only call on people sitting quietly and raising their hands. We talk about how you have to hold it high, so I can see it. If you wave your hand around, I will not call on you. If you say “Me me me!” I will not call on you. And we practice all those things in the correct and incorrect ways. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s true.

And then you have to stick to that. When students call out answers, I say, “I’m sorry, I can only hear you if you raise your hand.” If they aren’t sitting correctly, I will make them fix it before I call on them. If they are making a bunch of noise, I don’t call on them until they stop.

Also read: Routines You Need in the Music Room

Giving them something to do immediately

Last year, I had a hard time with students coming into my classroom and running to their seats and acting ridiculous. I got a suggestion from a vetran music teacher to give them an assignment as soon as they get inside, to give them something to do. So far, it has been working well. You may want to check back in with me in February.

I have been doing this all week with my 2-5 graders. My k and 1 are usually ok with just coming in and sitting down.

Some examples of things that I have used so far:

  • Putting rhythms on the screen for students to play
  • Putting on music and having students keep the steady beat
  • Putting up a picture and having students guess what it may have to do with music
  • Reading lyrics to a song
  • Putting a question on the board for them to think about

Now, you don’t have to do all of these. Especially starting out, you can just pick one. Like every day, they will come in and find the steady beat. Or every day they come in and read lyrics to the song. Don’t stress.

It has made for really interesting conversations, and all of these require higher order thinking skills and autonomy. It doesn’t have to be perfect—they don’t even have to do it. The point is that if they have something to do, they will (hopefully) be calmer.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

Not giving out pity points

In my classes, students earn class points. They get points for coming in correctly, participating, listening, lining up, transitioning, etc. I have had different versions, but the idea is that the class earns some sort of reward from the points.

In the past, I would sometimes be a little too loose with my point giving—especially at the beginning of class. I have moved to a if I hear any talking at all when you walk in, we do not earn the first point system. Although this may seem overboard, I am sticking to it, because I want them to actually earn the points.

Now, if I have one kid that is just ridiculous all of the time, I’ll ignore the one. Other than that one kid, we all work as a team. And if there is always that ONE, I will even say, “I can ignore so and so as long as the rest of you are correct.”

Also read: 3 Really Specific Classroom Management Systems for the Music Room

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

Reviewing and referring to the rules

The first day we spent a lot of time on rules. And my first year, and that is all that happened. This year, we have reviewed them everyday (five times). We have talked about specific things I have seen to nip them in the bud. And on top of that, when people show what I expect, I point it out.

For example, one of our expectations is “Be respectful”. When I hear a student saying something nice, I say, “Thank you so much! That is really respectful!” And I literally point to it on the wall.

This way, the rules—sorry, they are supposed to be expectations now—are not just something that we go over once, but they are involved all the time.

Calling parents early

Y’all. I’m just going to be honest. I was TERRIFIED to call parents my first year of teaching.

I know, I know. Ridiculous. But seriously—did anyone else feel that way? Or is it only me that was a wimp?

Anyway, it took me a loooong time to call parents.

And once I did, I realized it wasn’t that bad.

This year, I started early. Like third day early.

But I called all of my students that can get a little more wild, but hadn’t yet, because it was so early. And I said, “Your child is doing a great job in music!”

This created a few things. 1. It establishes a relationship with a parent you may need on your side. 2. The kid gets really excited, and they continue doing a good job to get the same attention. 3. It changes the culture—my parents sometimes don’t even bother answering the phone when the school calls, because they get so much bad news. Sending home a positive phone call can really help change that. 4. You may find out things you did not know.

For example, I called a parent today, and she happened to mention that her religion does not allow them to sing songs that are not about God.

Y’all. I had no idea. I thought this girl was just refusing to sing. Honestly, she has some other behavior issues as well, so it wasn’t far fetched. But knowing that is valuable information! I talked with mom about what is and is not ok, and on Monday I am going to talk to the girl and make sure we are all on the same page. Because right now I’m not sure if she thinks she can’t do anything in music, and that is the problem. Even if it isn’t, at least she’ll know I am not upset with her about not singing.


Teaching my choir kids songs for later in the year

Last year, I got a choir together, and realized I had NO CLUE what I was doing.

I feel so much more prepared in my second year.

I haven’t started the choir yet (we’re only 7 days in!), but when I do, I have more of a plan.

I have a concert in December, one in January, one in February, and one in May. And possibly more. But at least those.

Last year, even without the January concert, it was a mess. It was a mess because I wasted my first few weeks when it is too early for Christmas music. Then after Christmas, we did not have a lot of time to get all of the pieces ready for February, and it was stressful.

This year, I am going to teach my students the songs for January and February right off the bat. This way, they already know some songs, and they will have something to do if we are asked to do a surprise concert.

Also, I am going to try structuring my choir rehearsals like this:

5 minute warm up

10 minute theory lesson (to help us learn sight reading)

15 minute work on new material

15 minute work on parts we already know

This way we are not working on the same thing for too long. I am hoping the pace will work out well.

Also read: How to do Auditions for an Elementary Musical (and why you should!)

More assessments and more centers

I don’t mean that every day we will sit down and write papers, but I want to do a better job knowing what my kids know.

This could mean that I just watch them play instruments to see them learn rhythms, walk around and listen to their singing voices, etc. I am trying to find something to assess in every class. That doesn’t mean that everything is a test, it just means that I am trying to know what they know.

Because if they know a concept, we can move on. And if they are struggling, then we can’t.

For some reason, this was hard as a first year teacher. I think you get caught up in the idea of assessment as sitting down and taking a test. That is part of it, but not all. In my second year of teaching, I am really exploring different (easy!) ways to assess students.

Yesterday I had my second graders playing rhythms on drums. I literally just watched a different student each time, and marked down whether they got it or not. It seemed to be about half and half (although I was happy to see that the students I had last year did better than the ones I did not). So that told me we can stay on the concept longer.

It also told me how to group them. So next time we do rhythms on instruments, I can group together those who got it and those who did not. Even if I don’t do “centers” specifically, I can still put them together and help the struggling group more. (By having them repeat the rhythm, deconstructing it, pointing to the rhythms as they play, etc.)

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

Closing Activities

I still struggle with this one. But when you teach kids, you should always have some sort of closing activity where THEY tell YOU what they learned. With the little people, this might take some prodding, but from second on, you can just say, “What did you learn today?”

You can have them tell their partner. You can have them do a Kahoot! I am personally loving (although I still it from a first grade teacher who I think got it on pinterest) having 2-3 students tell we what they learned, and then having them write it on a sticky note. They get to put the sticky note on my anchor chart that says, “What stuck with you today?”

Guys. They. Love. It.

Like they are super excited to write on a sticky note. And most of my students hate writing. But this is exciting.

The other things is that I can use what they wrote and transfer it to anchor charts. So I can take all of the stickies talking about rhythm and put it on a poster that talks abut rhythm.

Your administrators will be so impressed.

And you can do this every day until you run out of sticky notes. Then you can buy a bunch from Amazon through this link. 

Or this one if you want them to be pretty colors.

I also have all of my students tell me what they learned (or answer a question) as they walk past me while leaving the class. I have learned SO MUCH from their answers. You could also write them down to help you remember.

I avoid writing exit tickets because it is such a pain to get all the stuff out as they are leaving. If any one else has this figured out in your second year of teaching, let me know!

I’m still learning more about closing activities, so if you have ideas, leave them in the comments!

If you are reading this looking for ideas and feel overwhelmed– don’t. I know. It is a lot to think about. Having something for students to do immediately and closing activities and assessing…. That’s a lot of stuff.

But you can do it! If I can, you can!

Just pick one thing from the list– or from your own list of things you want to change– and work on it. Once you get that thing, add in another thing.

What about you? What did you do differently in your second year of teaching? Or your third or fourth? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!

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Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Free K-1 Music Lesson: Singing Voice v. Talking Voice

Kindergarten music. It is so much fun. And so terrifying.

As I allude to in this post about teaching rhythm, I felt a bit apprehensive my first year about teaching 4 and 5 year olds EVERYTHING about music. I mean, these students come in and don’t know anything. We have very few students who attend pre K, so the first week of Kindergarten goes like this:

“Look down underneath you. That is a dot. It is shaped like a circle. It is a red dot. What color dot do you sit on? Raise your hand if you sit on a red dot.”

Seriously. I have to reseat kids anytime we stand up and sit down because they will have already migrated.

Where do you even start with music?

Steady beat and singing voice.

That is the answer. If you are not sure what to do with your Kindergarten kids at the beginning of the year, do those two things.

This lesson is the one I am using for the first week of school. I did a very similar lesson last year, but I am tweaking a few things for this year so that it will run smoother and be more effective. (It was too much sitting last year, so I am hoping that the actions will help students pay attention!)

I adapted this lesson from this one that I found from Pinterest, but I cannot for the life of me find it to tag for you! If I remember correctly, they used cups to represent each of the voices: singing, whispering, shouting, and talking. I did this with puppets and stuffed animals to represent each voice (for example, I had a lion for yelling– and this one is adorable and affordable). This worked well, but I think it was just too much for the very first day.

This year, I am adding in a tiny bit of steady beat work, and focusing on just singing v. talking voice. The next week we will talk through whisper and yelling voices, but for the very first day back, two will be plenty.

Also, this ended up turning into like two or three lessons, because we had to take out time to talk about things like where you sit and how to raise your hand, etc. So feel free to spread it out or pick and choose what you do. Make it work for you! (And tell us in the comments how you did it!)

Also read: Phrases for Classroom Management

Free K-1 Music Lesson: Singing Voice v. Talking Voice. This is a great first week of music lesson for kindergarten and first graders! And they love it! Becca's Music Room

Singing Voice v. Talking Voice



I can identify and use my talking and singing voices.



And although I don’t need them for this lesson, I just found these finger puppets while I was looking for the other ones to link for you and I want them so bad! My birthday is in October, if anyone wants to get them for me.


  • Greet the children when they walk into the classroom.
  • If this is the first week of school, go over seating charts, classroom procedures, etc.
  • Warm up: Have students listen to a song and tap the steady beat that you show. You tap your arms, legs, march in place, etc and students follow you. On the first week, I do not even tell kindergarten what this is, I just say “Try to match me!” I’ll introduce it later, but that is not my MAIN focus today. For my first grade I will say to show me the steady beat.
  • Next, pull out your talking voice puppet or animal. Introduce the kids to it (I like to give mine composer names like Bizet or Mozart).
  • After that, tell the students, “My friend here loves to talk. He talks all of the time. When he talks, he uses his talking voice. Can you say talking voice? Our talking voices are not very loud, but they are also not very quiet.”
  • Practice using your talking voices by saying kids’ names around the room. I use the chant “Name, name, say your name”. I’m not sure who came up with it but it goes like this: students tap the beat (when I saw it done they did pat, clap, pat, clap, but I am just going to pat our legs). Everyone says “Name, name, say your name”, and then one person says “My name is Ms. Davis.” The whole class repeats “Her name is Ms. Davis.”

Also read: Tips for the New Music Teacher from My First Year of Teaching

Free K-1 Music Lesson: Singing Voice v. Talking Voice. This is a great first week of music lesson for kindergarten and first graders! And they love it! Becca's Music Room

  • Once we finish that, pull out the owl stuffed animal. Ask if anyone knows what an owl says. Somebody will figured it out and make a “hoo” sound. Have everybody try the hoo-ing sound.
  • Then ask: Did that feel the same or different than your talking voice? Owls use their singing voice.
  • Have students echo-sing some hoo’s with you like the owl does.
  • Then have everyone practice their singing voice. I do this by having students sing “My name is Ms. Davis” and having everyone repeat “Her name is Ms. Davis” on sol and mi. (I learned that in my college general music methods class.) Allow students to hold the owl while they do this so that they can sing to it.
  • While students sing, jot down whether they used their singing voice or not and you have an assessment grade!
  • Next, read “There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly”. Emphasize that this is your talking voice. If you don’t have the book (and your library doesn’t either), you can watch this video where they read it to you. Stop throughout and let them do motions that go along with the song, like these:

Fly: Put thumb and first finger together and move around like a fly

Spider: Move hands like in itsy bitsy spider

Cat: Move fingers through imaginary whiskers

Dog: Hold hands in front of you like a dog

Cow: Make a circle in front of you like you have a big belly

Horse: Move hands like using reins on a horse

I don’t know why she swallowed a fly: Hold hands out for question

Perhaps she’ll die: Wave finger in front of you

Also read: Ways to Destress After a Crazy Day of Teaching

  • Ask students if you were using you singing voice or talking voice.
  • Tell them that now you are going to sing the song, and see if they can do the actions still.
  • Sing the song while turning pages in the book. If you don’t know it, look it up here.
  • Have students try to sing along with you. You are not looking for mastery if it is beginning of the year, just trying to get them to do anything in their head voice.
  • Have students answer the following questions for closing:
  1. What two voices did we talk about today?
  2.  Which voice does my owl use?
  3. Can you make an owl sound?
  4. Do you think your singing voice feels different than your talking voice? How?


And that’s it! It is nothing revolutionary, just pieces that I have picked up from different places meshed together.

Also read: Calming Down Activities for Music Class

How do you teach about singing voice? What do you teach the first week of school in Kindergarten? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!

Free K-1 Music Lesson: Singing Voice v. Talking Voice. This is a great first week of music lesson for kindergarten and first graders! And they love it! Becca's Music Room

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Elementary Music, Organization

Elementary Music Classroom Tour

Oh classroom tours…. how I love them.

But yet, there never seem to be enough classroom tours when it comes to music teachers.

Guys– I want to see your classrooms!

I figure that others must feel how I do to, so I am doing a classroom tour today! Now, it is not 100% clean (we’ve already had 7 days of school!) or 100% matching and gorgeous, but it is pretty good.

My classroom is huge. Really and truly, I am so spoiled by how big my classroom is. I have a general theme of blue-orange-yellow. I guess that’s a color scheme, and not a theme, but still.

Honestly, I don’t like to spend too much money on my classroom. I spent some last year and hardly any this year. I am slowly finding ways to make everything match a little bit better without breaking the bank.

And my back wall needs some serious help (like a paint job), so if you have ideas, let me know!

Also read: Easy-Peasy Differentiation in the Music Room


Welcome to my classroom!


Front section

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

This is the very front of my classroom, where the board is. Students sit on the dotted carpets. I LOVE them. You can get them here. OR you can get sit spots, which are significantly cheaper.

And I have a whole blog post on that cart, which I LOVE! Buy it here, or read the article here.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

This is immediately to the right of the board. I have my piano, word wall, standards, and I can statements. I always keep my djembe within reach, because I love it.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

This is a close up of the table in the front. I got this chalkboard super on sale at Hobby Lobby. The buckets were Easter baskets my grandma gave us one year.

The blue one holds papers and pencils. In my fourth and fifth grade classes, when I see students listening, following directions, participating, etc, I tell them to “Go put your name in the envelope”. They come up and write their name on a paper and put it in the envelope with their grade level on it. On Friday, I pull out three names, and they get to go to the treasure box. Works like a charm.

The pink one has sticky notes. At the end of class, I have a few students write what they learned on sticky notes. There is a picture of where they put it further down. (Keep reading!)

Scarves and a few xylophones are stored under the table.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

They love it.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

Standards and I can statements are in sheet protectors. The clothes pins have thumbtacks glued onto the back of them.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

On the left is my main classroom management tool. Each class earns up to five class points during a lesson. The points are represented by the owl magnets being put on the blue paper in a sheet protector (seriously, I use these for everything!) and is taped up. At the end of class I record the number on the sheets of paper (in sheet protectors!) above. They try to earn game time on Fridays. 20 points gets you 10 minutes of game time and 25 earns you 20 minutes.

We use music games they already know so I don’t have to teach them.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

I’ve been using my wind chimes to help students get quiet (although I really want this handheld one!). In my younger classes, they raise their hand as soon as they hear it. In 2nd grade on, they wait until it stops ringing, then raise their hands. This requires them to be really quiet to hear it. If they do it right, they get a point for it.

I got the idea from this post, which is a godsend for chatty classes. Seriously. It is for classroom teachers, but you can transfer a ton of the ideas.


Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

Expectations poster. On the first day, I play a rhythm and have students guess which one I am referring to. After that, we sometimes clap and chant the expectations at the beginning of class.


Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room. Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

Manipulatives! This is my bookshelf for all things centers. I eventually want to get some kind of file folder system, but this is ok for now. See those orange boxes in the middle? They are shoe boxes covered in fabric (with hot glue!). This has been my #1 way of coordinating my classroom without breaking the bank. The yellow tub was at my house. The blue ones were in an old science classroom. I have bass boomwhackers in the black home depot 5 gallon bucket.

Also here: white boards, markers, rhythm cards, treble clef battleship (read about it here), dominotes, clipboards (from a Donor’s Choose project), etc.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

These are just some fun things in the corner of my room– a Mahler poster, owl poster, Mozart and his family, people playing sackbuts (if you didn’t pay attention in music history, those are medieval trombones), and a picture of my college choir. These are all things that were in my house and we didn’t want post-moving.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room. Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

Behind my piano is most of my smaller instrument storage. You see more shoeboxes– and paper boxes!– covered in fabric. I haven’t finished them all, but it is some. I also keep my copies of choir music on the shelf so it is easy to find.

All those can drums and drum sticks are for my Artie Almieda stick stations. If you don’t have those– you should. Check out the book here!

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

Another view of my word wall. I call music vocabulary fancy shmancy music words.

For example, loud is a word, but forte is a fancy schmancy music word. So I wanted to include that.

Also, I totally color code grade bands. K-1 is orange (white here, because orange would not show up on the background), 2-3 is yellow, and 4-5 is blue.

Side of my room

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

These are new additions this year– owls playing instruments! They are so fun. Owls are our school’s mascot. And you would be surprised how many of my students have asked who painted these, and then are surprised when I say I did.

If you want some mascots playing instruments paintings, head over to my Etsy shop!

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room. Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room. Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

Close ups.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room. Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room. Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

More instrument storage. These jazz posters are the ones that come from the NAFME magazines. The blue cups with mallets were super on sale at Hobby Lobby (I think I paid $2 a piece for them). These are just a few of my Orff instruments. Most are in my closets. The bottom is full of textbooks. I don’t really use them to have students do activities out of them, but I do use a ton of the folk songs out of them. They have a wide array of songs in them. The ocean drums are super cool.

One day I’m going to spray paint all of my milk crates to match.

The suitcases don’t hold anything at the moment (but that might change).

And do you see that there are FOUR sets of handbells in this picture?! I have more in my closet. I don’t know who ordered all these handbells, but I have a lot. And no idea what to do with them.

If anyone has fun handbell resources, let me know in the comments!

And yes, those are music note curtains on my windows.

Desk area

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

Here is my desk area. Yes, my desk is crooked. It was waxed to the floor crooked and I can’t get it up.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

On top of one of my filing cabinets is my sub plans. I keep this binder standing up so that it is visible. Everything for my emergency sub plans is behind it, with some extra resources (books, papers, CDs) in the little magazine holder. You can download the template for free here!


Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room. Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

This bookshelf has most of my things that I use a lot– paper, hole puncher ( this is seriously one of my most useful gadgets ever), CDs, kid books, bingo, etc. My lesson books are in a closet.

The containers are really awesome here. I have a wire basket on the shelf, and one on my desk. They are from Office Depot. The one on my desk is my “to do”, and the one on the bookshelf is my “to put away”. The magazine holders are from Target dollar spot las year. One is for copies (anything that needs to be copied gets put in there, along with paper so I don’t forget it), and the other is for things I use everyday– clipboard and notebook. In between is my seating charts.

The back wall


Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.Does anyone else have to have a standards based classroom? We do.

Part of that is my focus wall, where we put anchor charts and stuff we are working on. These bulletin boards are just foam with fabric hot glued onto them and ribbons hot glued onto them.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room. Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

The 4-5 one is not posted, because it fell off the wall.

All these doors are closets (I know– I am so spoiled!) The signs say “Audience 1”, “Audience 2”, and so forth. This is my time out system, because when you are in the audience, you are watching and not participating.

I don’t actually plan to have 5 kids in time out at the same time, but it is so much easier to say “Go to audience 2”, than to say “Go sit against a door”. I’ve even had kids this week say, “Which one?” when I asked them to go to the audience. It is just a lot less confusing.

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

This is my data wall– another part of my “standards based classroom”. It is empty, because school just started. It will have graphs of pie charts to show the percentage of students that have mastered the standards in each class.

In addition, on my door I am going to put “I can use my singing voice!” and “I can keep a steady beat!” for the kindergarteners.


Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

This is my keyboard area. I do use the keyboards, although I am still working on the best way to use them. The kids love them though. I have some instrument posters on the back (that are intentionally crooked, because I’d never be able to get them all straight). This wall really needs something different…. suggestions?

Also read: Phrases for Classroom Management in the Music Room

And that’s my classroom! Thank you for sticking with me until the end! If you have questions or suggestions, leave them in the comments below.

Happy teaching!

Elementary Music Classroom Tour! Ideas for organization (for cheap!), and a standards based music classroom. Becca's Music Room.



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3-5, Elementary Music, Lessons

DIY Music Manipulative: Battleship

Funny story: Last year, I was working really hard to get my students to learn the notes of the treble clef. Towards the beginning of this adventure, I gave them all staves to look at, and bingo chips. I’d say, “Put a chip on line one. Put one on space four.” And on and on. In the middle of one of these, I thought that it sounded similar to the game battleship.

And I actually gasped and said, “We should play battleship!”

And all of my poor, board-game-deprived fourth graders looked at me like I had totally lost my mind.

Which is ok, by the way. If they think you are a little crazy, they are less likely to do something ridiculous in your room.

And so the brain-storming began.

Little did I know that other people had done this too… but I’m going to pretend I made it up. Because I did arrive at it independently, I promise.

Anyway, even though about two kids in each class had played battleship before, it was a lot of fun. It really helped them to learn the staff.

We also played it in centers, but if you do this, I suggest playing it all together first, so that you can explain to students what they are doing.

I also used this for assessment—I just walked around and watched them play. One person will say, “Do you have a battleship on A?” and the other will say yes or no, and you can see if they mark it on the right line/space.

I will also put the rules for how to play at the bottom, so that you can check it out!

If you need some help with using centers with crazy classes… check this post out.


DIY Music Manipulative: Battleship. This board game based teaching tool is great for upper elementary or middle school students who are learning about the treble clef. It can be adjusted for different lessons. My upper elementary music classes loved it! And it is super CHEAP. Becca's Music Room.

Musical Battleship




  • Print out two treble clefs on the same sheet of paper. I downloaded this one from Teachers Pay Teachers (for free!). Then I printed two out, cut them, taped them to a clean sheet of paper, and copied them. I know that sounds like a lot, but it wasn’t! I added the words “yours” and “theirs” so that we understood the game a bit better.
  • Stuff treble clefs into sheet protectors (you could also laminate, but this was quicker, and you can put other things inside them if you wanted!).
  • Staple sheet protectors into the file folders. I just put two staples in the top. I tried to make it so that I can put other things inside of them.
  • That’s it!

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

DIY Music Manipulative: Battleship. This board game based teaching tool is great for upper elementary or middle school students who are learning about the treble clef. It can be adjusted for different lessons. My upper elementary music classes loved it! And it is super CHEAP. Becca's Music Room.

Rules of the Game:

  • Students pair up. Each person gets a battleship game. We used expo markers and drew on them, but you could also put bingo chips on the lines/spaces.
  • Each students makes three dots for on the staff marked “yours”. These are their battleships.
  • Students take turns asking where the other student’s battleships are. It should sound like this:
  • “Is there one on B?” (You could also do second line, third space, etc. depending on what you are teaching them.)
  • “Hit” if they hit and “miss” if they miss it.
  • The students mark their guesses. If they guess correctly, on the staff marked “theirs”, they put a dot. That way they know there is a battleship there. If they miss, they put an x. Make sure they do this, otherwise they will ask the same place ten times.

That’s it! I played this with 3-5 grades. At first they really did not get it, but they slowly started to comprehend as time went on. And they LOVED it!

Also read: Lesson Ideas: Creative Movement with Scarves

What are your favorite DIY music manipulatives? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!

DIY Music Manipulative: Battleship. This board game based teaching tool is great for upper elementary or middle school students who are learning about the treble clef. It can be adjusted for different lessons. My upper elementary music classes loved it! And it is super CHEAP. Becca's Music Room.

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Differentiation, Elementary Music

Easy-Peasy Differentiation in the Music Room

Differentiation. Woo that is a scary word… especially if you teach elementary music. We tend to sit through lectures and professional developments about differentiation and shudder in despair.

I can’t do that, we think. This doesn’t apply to me.

Well…. Yes and no.

Now, some lessons really don’t lend themselves to differentiation. Some do. And when you think about it, you already do differentiation. Even when you don’t realize it.

Here are some easy-peasy differentiation ideas. Some of them are things you already do, just need to be more aware of them. When you are aware of them, you can make sure to point them out (to the kids and administrators!). Others will take more effort, but none of these ideas are difficult or time consuming.

Also read: Music Centers Classroom Management for “Bad Classes”

Easy-Peasy Differentiation in the Music Room: Think you can't differentiate because you teach music? Think differentiation is only ok in centers? Think again! Here are some RIDICULOUSLY easy ideas to differentiate in your class-- that you may already be doing! Becca's Music Room


This is an example of differentiation that you already do. If you use any kind of dances or movement activities, you use differentiation.

Naturally, when preforming dances, students who are struggling will do less and students who are doing a good job will start to add more to their moves. Think about it—if the child is struggling to do movements while walking in a circle, they are naturally going to just walk instead. That is automatic differentiation.

Now that you know that is differentiation, you can use it consciously!

When I teach students a new dance, I tell them ways they can make it easier or harder. Like if we are walking in a circle doing a dance, then I’ll tell them to make sure to do the walking and not worry about the rest.

If students are doing a good job, I’ll ask them to push it harder—how can you make this movement look like the music? What could you add to make it better?


You can also observe them throughout the class and put them into teired groups either for part of the class or for the next class. You can give them different ways to do the dance, and they can perform it for the other groups. Have each group add extra movements, but change the difficulty of each of the dances. This way they will each look different– without them knowing that some groups are more advanced than others.

Also read: Boomwhackers and Science Lesson



There are two different types of instrument lessons. There are instruments to accompany songs or books. Then there is recorder karate or rainbow ukulele.

As for the first type of lesson, there are ways to make it different. If a student is struggling with a rhythm, you can have them just play the downbeat, or you can put them onto a different instrument that may be easier.

You don’t even have to sort them– you can just say, “OK guys, if that’s too hard, then try playing the steady beat on mi and sol. If you think this is too easy, then try playing this rhythm on different notes.”

To tier it up, you can have them sing the song while playing the instrument. You could have them make up their own accompaniment. If you want everyone to play the c-e-g-c on the quarter notes, you could have more advanced students play different rhythms one the same notes.

Recorder karate is literally made for differentiation– students who understand more quickly move quickly.

Easy-Peasy Differentiation in the Music Room: Think you can't differentiate because you teach music? Think differentiation is only ok in centers? Think again! Here are some RIDICULOUSLY easy ideas to differentiate in your class-- that you may already be doing! Becca's Music Room


Singing may seem like it is hard to differentiate, but it is not.

How do I tier a song down to make it easier? Easy. When teaching, you can break it down with solfege and rhythmic notation. When singing, you can have students sing on “loo” instead of with the words. This is helpful, especially if the song is in another language. (These are all things you can do in your whole group lessons!)

To make songs harder, you can add dynamics or phrasing. Ask students to make up movements to go along with the song. You can do the song as a round, and allow students who are excelling fend for themselves while aiding the other group.

Also read: Blue Skies Jazz  Lesson



Now this is a form of differentiation that you have heard of before.

But good news—you can use this is the music room.

Here are two easy ways to differentiate with centers:

  1. Flashcards: There are lots of centers activities including flashcards—singing the solfege on them, reading rhythms, performing rhythms, etc. You can use two sets of them—or three or four. You could have students play rhythms on one note of an instrument, and to tier up you could play the same rhythm on different notes. (Check out some rhythm flashcards here)
  2. Working with students: When I do centers (and how they advise to do them in professional development meetings), I always have one center that is an activity with me. Sometimes we practice writing rhythms or melodies, identifying notes on the staff, composing rhythms, etc. Sometimes the students really don’t need me, but I station myself there anyway. These are ridiculously easy to differentiate, and allows you to see more easily who understands the concepts.

Easy-peasy, right?

How many are you already doing?

Probably all of them.

Anyway, those are some really easy ways to differentiate. Most of them are already being done, but when you realize that, you can point them out to students and write it into your lesson plans to help emphasize that you are doing those things.

This year, I plan to dive deeper into differentiation (which, of course, also includes better assessment… yuck…), so look subscribe for more posts about differentiation and other music teaching stuff. You can also subscribe to my email list here. You will get two emails a month with updates about my blog, YouTube, and TPT shop. You will also get a FREE music interest survey for signing up!


How do you differentiate in your music class? Do you find it easy or difficult? Let me know in the comments!

Happy teaching!

Easy-Peasy Differentiation in the Music Room: Think you can't differentiate because you teach music? Think differentiation is only ok in centers? Think again! Here are some RIDICULOUSLY easy ideas to differentiate in your class-- that you may already be doing! Becca's Music Room

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Management, PBIS

An Easy (and fun!) School Wide PBIS Incentive

PBIS takes on many different shapes in today’s schools. We use it for individuals, classes, schools, etc. As part of our school’s PBIS plan, we have a school wide PBIS incentive periodically. Last year we did things once a nine weeks, this year the plan is to kick it up to once a month.

For people who have no idea what I am talking about, PBIS stands for Positive Behavior Intervention System. The idea being that students work towards a reward by having good behavior.

A school wide incentive is not necessarily the whole school. Students earn the school wide PBIS incentive through good behavior that is tracked by Dojo points. Any student who earns the set amount of Dojo points gets to go to the school wide PBIS incentive.

Now, these can be really crazy (carnival, fall festival, field trip, etc.) or more subdued (sock hop, popcorn and a movie, etc). Today I am sharing one of my school’s go-to rewards. This is cheap and easy to change so that it can continue to be fresh.

Speaking from experience, I would not suggest making this the only type of reward offered, but it can be used some times. If your school is strapped for cash (like most schools), this can be good. You could use this in between other rewards to keep momentum going.

Also read: Positive Management Strategies for when You Don’t Feel Positive

An Easy (and fun!) School Wide PBIS Incentive. A simple and cheap idea for rewarding students for good behavior. Becca's Music Room


The best way to describe the school wide PBIS incentive would be centers. We usually do school wides during specials times. Instead of going to music or art or whatever the case may be, the students in the grade that earned their incentive will go to the incentive. It is usually housed in the gym.

We plan as many activities as there are classes (although sometimes we double up and have two classes at each station). We usually have one specials teacher at each of the stations, and we switch after a few minutes.

The different stations allow you to change activities each time and keep things fresh. One suggestion is to alternate between high energy activities and low energy activities.

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

An Easy (and fun!) School Wide PBIS Incentive. A simple and cheap idea for rewarding students for good behavior. Becca's Music Room


Here are some ideas for activities for school wide PBIS incentives:

  • Snack station (or water station)
  • Scooter races
  • Jump rope station
  • Relay race
  • Dance station
  • Non-elimination musical chairs: even my fifth graders loved this game!
  • Craft station: Bookmarks are an easy and cheap craft that require little time and supplies.
  • Basketball station
  • Just Dance videos on YouTube
  • Dress up relay: Students put on hats, sunglasses, large shoes, necklaces, etc. and run a relay. When they get back, they take the dress up off and the next person goes. This is easy to change for the seasons (these leis for summer, sweaters for Christmas, etc.)
  • Bean bag toss
  • Photo booth station: Have a camera to take photos. You can send them to teachers afterwards. If they are older, they could just use their phones. You can use props like these cheap ones.
  • Volleyball station
  • Parachute station
  • Tug of war
  • Fake tattoos: These are cheap and the kids love them! These look like fun.


Also read: Keys to Classroom Management in the Music Room


The list can go on and on—that’s the beauty of this type of school wide PBIS incentive. What would you add to this list? And what does your school use to encourage good behavior? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Teaching!

An Easy (and fun!) School Wide PBIS Incentive. A simple and cheap idea for rewarding students for good behavior. Becca's Music Room

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Elementary Music, Management

Music Centers Classroom Management for Bad Classes

If you have been teaching music for longer than a day, you will know that not all classes are well behaved. If you have had your kids for a few weeks, you will have already figured out which the “good classes” versus the “bad classes”. It is easy to let the bad classes rule your life—and your lesson plans.

One thing I knew that I wanted to do this year was centers. Centers is the big thing when it comes to education at the moment, and I wanted to incorporate that into my music class.

I know a few teachers who work in schools with many bad classes, and that causes them to shy away from centers activities due to classroom management problems.

I am not going to lie, it took a lot of effort for me to figure out how to do centers with some of my classes this year. It definitely wasn’t perfect by any means, but I did figure out some ways to keep control.

If you shy away from centers due to bad classes, read through this article for some ideas on how to make things better. Because it is possible. It may not be easy, but it is possible.

As a disclaimer, I don’t normally call any classes “bad classes”, but I thought it would be the best way to get my point across!

Also read: Routines You Need in the Music Room

Music Centers Classroom Management for "Bad Classes". Difficult classes and differentiated centers are not usually things that go hand in hand. Find out how to get your difficult elementary music classes to do centers well! Becca's Music Room.


Don’t Make Too Many Activities

This one of the first mistakes that I made. The first (and second and third, I’ll admit!) time that my students did centers, I gave them five or six different activities.

While I have heard that many people do this successfully, it did not work with my classes.

Just being honest.

There was a time restraint, of course. I have 50 minute classes, but they often come late. And you have to take a few minutes for closing and lining up the classes. By this time there’s usually 30 minutes left, including explaining how to do each activity. We never end up with enough time to do everything.

Even without the time restraint, we still end up not having enough time to really dig deal into each of the activities. I fine that 8-10 minutes for each activity is ideal in my class. This, of course, would may be different in your class.

I usually plan three centers—four at the most. This seems to be the best way to allow my students to really benefit from each center.

I found that when I had too many centers, it was too hectic. On top of that, the students didn’t have time to grasp each center as they ought to.

Also read: Keys to Classroom Management in the Music Room


Use Activities the Kids Know

This was apparent to me after our first round of centers.

Not only did I have way too many centers, but the students did not know any of the activities.

The first round went ok, but even just the second center was a mess. I walked around and half of the kids were just sitting there, because they had already forgotten what they were supposed to do.

Nevermind that I wrote the directions on papers for them, they still were not doing anything. Or they were goofing off.

So the next time I did centers, I picked activities that we had done in class. Some of them I changed slightly, added more to it, or used the same activity but new concepts.

This worked so much better.

Since then, I only add one activity that is new, and I station myself at that activity to help. This will keep trouble makers occupied. The more occupied they are, the less time they have for trouble making.

They love playing Bingo, like this one for instruments or this one for rhythm.


Make Groups Small

I cannot stress this enough.

Make. Groups. Small.

Especially if you have bad classes. The smaller the groups, the better.

I know you are thinking—you just told me now too make too many centers!

Yes, I did.

What I like to do is have two sets of the same centers.

So I will have six groups with three rotations. Everyone still gets to do everything, but the groups are smaller. I usually set up three centers on one side, and three on the other side of the room.

Another way to do it is pick an independent or pair activity for half the class, and work with the other half of the class.

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

Music Centers Classroom Management for "Bad Classes". Difficult classes and differentiated centers are not usually things that go hand in hand. Find out how to get your difficult elementary music classes to do centers well! Becca's Music Room.


Keep Everything Contained

When I say contained, I mean keep the supplies contained. Not the kids.

Well, the kids too.

If students do not know where to go for each center, it will be a mess. They will be too close to other groups, or way up on instruments, or whatever.

Give them a place to sit.

This could be groups of desks, tables, a blanket or tablecloth on the floor, etc.

I like to use hula hoops. I put out a hula hoop for each center. My students sit around the hula hoops, and the supplies stays in the hula hoops. I like to also put everything in a box so it is organized.

Also, because I do two sets of the same centers, I color code them. If I have two sets of Kaboom!, then I put them both in blue hula hoops. this way I can say, “Blue hula hoops, go to red.”

You can get hula hoops here or some cheap colorful containers here.


Work on Transitions

This is the most important part of your first round of centers.

Especially for a bad class.

You need a clear signal for when to stop—this can be a saying, a noise, etc. you need to decide what they are to do when this happens—do you want them to clean up, or just freeze and listen to directions? Do they automatically go to the next station, or wait for your signal? These are all up to you.

I like to play a rhythm on the cowbell (this one has a cow print on it!) and have them echo it—this way they can hear it over their noises—and then I say “1, 2, 3, 4, pick everything up get off the floor and freeze.” (I learned it from my mentor who would say instruments instead of everything, but this is more far reaching. I also added the freeze part because I don’t like the kids just going onto the next part without my signal.) Once everyone is up and QUIET, I will say “5, 6, 7, 8, hurry don’t be late.” This is the signal to go to the next center.

You can do whatever you see fit, but this works well for me.

Whatever you decide, make them do it right. Even if it takes the whole class period. Eventually they will do it right and quickly (yes, even the worst of classes) if you make them do it right from the get go.

Also read: Free Music Lesson: Bizet Scarf Routine

So there are some ideas for how to do centers with your “bad classes”. I know it may be daunting, but you can do it. They can do it.


Although to be perfectly honest, it’s not a bad idea to have a backup plan (find some here!) in case it is not successful. You could consider having enough supplies to have every one do the same thing if centers are not in the cards that day.

I know we don’t want to think that way, but sometimes it is best.

The first time you do centers, I suggest picking all activities that they know how to do so that you can concentrate on procedures until they are able to do the routines easily.

How do you handle centers with bad classes? Let us know in the comments!

Music Centers Classroom Management for "Bad Classes". Difficult classes and differentiated centers are not usually things that go hand in hand. Find out how to get your difficult elementary music classes to do centers well! 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, Management

Routines You Need in the Music Room

All teachers know that classroom management is essential for learning. This is very true in the music room—without classroom management, how can you play instruments or do dances? An essential part of classroom management are routines. Routines keep things orderly. And if students do them enough, they will be so second nature that you do not even have to help (or at least that is the end goal—we may get there one day!).

Honestly, even though it is March, not all of my classes are to the autopilot stage yet. There are a lot of factors that go into that fact, but honestly, I think a lot of it is that some classes just don’t care. I think this because I have a lot of classes that can do all of the routines we will talk about without any help.

So what kind of routines do you need? This will be different for every class and every school. you have to think about things that students do often in your classroom. These would the very basics:

  • Entering the room
  • Exiting the room
  • Getting supplies
  • Bathroom/water/tissue/etc
  • Movement in the classroom

Now, you may have more routines than this. You may have centers movement, turning in work, dealing with instruments, etc. These would be the very basics of routines in the music room.

Again, these will all be different depending on your classroom. We all have different classrooms with different students and different set ups. We all have different “crazy tolerances”. (AKA how much we are willing to let students wiggle or sit strangely, etc.) All of these things affect how you do your routines.

I am going to let you know my routines, as well as ways that I have seen other teachers do it. If you have anything to add, please leave it in the comments!

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Also read: Phrases for Classroom Management in the Music Room

Routines You Need in the Music Room. You need each of these routines to ensure a smooth music class! Becca's Music Room

Routine #1: Entering the Room

I will admit, this is one that my students and I have not totally figured out yet. Now, my kids have assigned seats (and if yours don’t, fix it quick!), so they come inside and sit on their assigned dots. They know (and I tell them every single day) that if they come in quietly and quickly, they will get a class point (you can read more about that here).

For people who do not have assigned seats, I have seen other teachers that brought the line inside and made a circle, keeping the same order. They held hands just to make sure it looked good and then they sat down.

I have also seen where they sat in assigned seats, but the teacher had music playing that they were listening to immediately. This is something that I have not done, but am going to try. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Routine #2: Exiting the Room

Again, depending on how you have students set up, this will change. My students have assigned “dots” that they sit on. We skip some rows so that they have space, so I have students on green dots, purple dots, red dots, and “brown dots” (carpet squares). To line up, I have the green dots stand and walk towards the door. Then the purple dots stand and walk away from the door so that they can go down the green row. Red and brown follow. This has worked very well for me.

Line order? You may ask. I always tell them we will get in Mrs. Davis’ line order first. Then I count down from ten to give them time to get into their line order.

Note: Some classes have had problems getting into their line order, so I just say that their teacher can do it in the hallway if they want to.

Also read: Keys to Classroom Management in the Music Room

Routines You Need in the Music Room. You need each of these routines to ensure a smooth music class! Becca's Music Room

Routine #3: Getting Supplies

This one is so important! Especially if you have a lot of supplies to get in a day. Try to make it as streamlined as possible.

For example, if we are coloring, then I put the paper, clipboards, and crayons right next to each other. This way it is easier to get all of the things.

I do this by rows as well. I tell them I am looking for a row sitting criss cross applesauce and quiet to pick. Once I pick a row, they stand up, stay in the same order and come up front. Then the walk around to the other side and go down their row. This way, no one walks through the carpet (AKA less likely to step on a hand). They should all still be in the order the sit in when they get back.

If you have tables or have students in groups, you could have students pass out the supplies. You could have them pass the supplies down the line until they get to the end. But there must be a system.

And if you do have that sort of system, I would definitely get these organizers.

Use the same system for picking up the supplies as well.

Routine #4: Bathroom/Water/Tissue/Etc

That is very vague, I know.

This routine is for all of the extra stuff. Are you going to let the students go to the bathroom during class? Do you have a sign out sheet? Do they ask you? Can they just get up and get tissue?

In my class, I like to minimize movement as much as possible. I do not like students walking around if I don’t know where they are going, so I require students to raise their hand to ask for these things. Even tissue. Especially because a lot of them like to go to blow their nose or go to the bathroom when they are bored. And they like to intentionally walk past people to talk to them. Yes, that’s a thing.

I only do bathroom as an emergency, and I tell them if they go they will not get a ticket (PBIS—same as a Dojo Point) because we are not supposed to go during music. This deters most of the kids who are just trying to play.

With blowing noses, I will let them but only one at a time so they don’t talk. Again, they have to raise their hands.

And I don’t do water unless someone seems like they are dying.

Note: if we have a really active day, like dancing or parachute, then I will usually play a video at the end and let them get water one at a time.

A lot of people use hand signs so that the teacher knows without calling on someone what they want. I do not. If you do, let me know how it works.

Another idea that I like but have not tried is having students write their name and destination on a dry erase board stuck to the door like this.

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


Routine #5: Movement in the Classroom

This is also a vague name for a routine. Essentially, what will students do the rest of the time? Like if you have to move from one activity to the next.

Again, this totally depends on your activities and what is going on.

A big on is centers.

If you are moving from one center to the next, what do you do?

I indicate the end of centers by playing a rhythm and having them clap it to me. (This requires them to put down anything in their hands.) Then I say “1, 2, 3, 4 put everything down, get off the floor AND FREEZE!” Students clean up their stations and stand. I always make them point to the next station to make sure they know where they are going. Then I say, “5, 6, 7, 8, hurry don’t be late.” And they go to the next station.

This took a few times of doing it before students really got this down, but now it is like second nature.

Also, I did not make that up. I got it from my mentor during student teaching and I have no clue where she got it from.

For pretty much any other movement, I call students by row. And I always tell them I am looking for the row that is sitting the nicest.

So those are the main routines for the music room! Of course, there are quite a few other routines that are not as major. Again, everything is going to depend on your students, your lessons, and your room. And of course, your “crazy tolerance”. (I totally made that term up, by the way.)

Subscribe and check out my Pinterest page for more classroom management and music lesson ideas!

What are your favorite routines in the music room? Feel free to share your routines in the comments!

Happy teaching!

Routines You Need in the Music Room. You need each of these routines to ensure a smooth music class! Becca's Music Room

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