TpT’ers are singing the praises of music and the significant benefits they’ve seen by incorporating singing, lyrics, and melodies into their lessons. Tune in for inspirational anecdotes from Teacher-Authors, plus discover great resources geared toward a variety of subject areas and grades.
Jenny’s Class and Edutunes says, “During my first year teaching, I attended a seminar about singing with students. I’ve found that children learn more, remember more, and have more fun with music. I tried writing some songs for my class, and I saw immediate positive and amazing results. I began writing songs to teach everything — from reading skills, to math strategies, to science concepts, to character education, and more.
I’ll never forget a 1st grader named Darlene. She didn’t speak a word of English when she entered my classroom. Her face was extremely expressive, so I glanced at her often to see how she was reacting to my lessons. Often, she looked nervous or worried. When we sang, she smiled and her entire face lit up. Her words were off, so I would say, ‘Darlene, look at me.’ As the class sang, she would watch my mouth and learn to pronounce letters, sounds, and words correctly. Soon, she was grasping all subject areas and even translating when I would speak to her mom! Soon, the teachers in my small San Diego district asked me about my songs. I ended up doing a pilot study of 80 teachers and 1500 children from grades preK-6. I learned to write and professionally produce songs that were truly kid-friendly and effective in classrooms.
While teaching full-time, I’ve professionally produced over 300 educational tunes: my ‘Edutunes.’ Right now, the most popular ‘Edutunes’ on TpT are my Common Core 1st Grade Math Songs. You can listen to samples in the preview. This CD-book set teaches all Common Core 1st grade math standards and strategies through 38 songs. It also comes with a 58-page book that includes illustrations, lyrics, and standards alignments. I’m so grateful to be able to teach in my classroom everyday while children all over benefit from my songs!”
“I love using music with math!” exclaims Vivify. “The most obvious connection is with beats per minute, and students can have so much fun with this. They listen to their favorite songs and determine the different tempos. They use this data to complete word problems and graph the results. I even added a marching band component to see how to measure a distance while marching to the beat! This was a big hit with my 5th graders. You can find the lesson here – Math and Music Activity/Project: Fractions and Ratios (grades 4-8).”
“Music is a vital part of my classroom environment,” says Lindsay Keegan. “I’m one of those people who breaks out into song whenever the mood strikes them, and my students have learned to join in on the fun. I use little songs to help teach math and literacy skills, and these songs can be found in many of my products. Music has such a positive influence on students and stays with them as they grow. I love when I catch them singing our class songs when they’re working independently, or even better, singing them at lunch time with their friends. This is one of the song sets we love to sing: Author and Illustrator Songs and More! (grades PreK-1).”
“I’ve always incorporated music and chants into my morning meetings,” says The Candy Class. “During my first year teaching kindergarten (and having few resources and no time to prepare), I knew I had to come up with something quick for all those bright-eyed children staring at me. Off the top of my head, I came up with songs to teach the calendar, alphabet, and more. The kids loved them, so I stuck with them. Over time, I started doing phonics chants with the students. My alphabet blends and vowels turned a routine that could easily become redundant into fun! Take a look: Sound Charts & Chants: Alphabet, Blends, Vowel Teams, Digraphs, Bossy R & More (grades PreK-2).”
“One of the best ways to get my struggling students reading is by singing!” exclaims Miss DeCarbo. “Students are able to learn the lyrics to songs quickly, and they find it motivating and engaging. My struggling students learn the words and are then able to follow along with the text. I use my Just Print Fluency Packs to promote fluency, decoding, and sight word identification through monthly, seasonal songs. My students love to pull out their poetry binders and sing, and I love that they’re reading new words (often without realizing it!). Here’s my December Just Print Fluency Pack (grades 1-2).”
Tweet Resources says, “As a trained primary teacher and music teacher, I’m forever writing songs to create memorable learning moments for students. Singing is a uniting activity, and when you link it to learning it doesn’t just sink in, it can be enjoyable and memorable for all! I wrote and recorded a Contraction Rap (grades 1-2) that is a freebie in my store (as part of a Christmas activity), and I get heartwarming messages from teachers all the time letting me know that this song has helped their students learn contractions. Music in the classroom is such a joy!”
Erin Beers from Mrs Beers Language Arts Class says, “I find that my students are able to concentrate better when music is playing in the classroom during their small group, partner, and independent working times. I’ll play classical music with no lyrics during silent reading as well. Many of my students come from homes that are full of noise… many siblings, many family members living under one roof… and the background noise of the music in the classroom almost helps them concentrate better. Here’s a blog post featuring one of my classroom playlists. I also use music to help my students grasp different concepts. Here’s an example – Plurals, Possessives, and Plural Possessives: Get-it-Straight Sing-Alongs (grades 4-8).”
From Presto Plans: “Music has breathed life into grammar instruction in my class this year. I created a resource called EDITING MUSIC MISTAKES: Finding Grammar Errors In Song Lyrics (grades 7-10) that allows students to find errors in music lyrics, correct them, and explain why they made the correction. My students really enjoy it, and some have even come in with their own examples!”
Songs in Social Studies Class
“Social Studies can be taught through music,” says Social Studies Success, “and students love it when you do! I often find songs from the time period to pull out key elements of culture and ‘current events’ that appear in music. One song I use is ‘The Bonnie Blue Flag’ when I teach about the Civil War — it shows such spirit and pride! We post the lyrics and pull out the historical context of the events leading to the Civil War. The link to the lesson can be found here: Texas in the Civil War Through Song, Images and Text – Texas History (grades 4-8). Another lesson I use highlights the call for freedom; in Mexican War for Independence – Texas History – Battle of Medina – Interactive, students listen to the national anthem and pull out emotion and context — how can words inspire a revolution?”
Foreign Language Lyrics
La Profe Plotts says “Music is on in my foreign language classroom all the time! It’s a key ingredient in bringing the latino culture alive for my Spanish students. Something about listening to music in Spanish helps students get into the Spanish mindset more so than if the classroom was quiet. Spanish is a fun class where games are played, activities are completed, and kids are constantly moving around. Music provides the perfect backdrop! It’s fun to see the kids go from rolling their eyes about the music the first week to tapping their toes and singing along by the end of the term.
Music is also a great instructional tool. For example, I like to give students cut-up lyrics that they then have to put in order while listening to the song. That can turn into an activity where students have to find all the gerunds or whatever we are learning and then work in groups to translate the song to English. The possibilities are endless, and students really enjoy working with music!”
From spanishplans: As a foreign language teacher, music is my favorite tool in the toolbox. The repetition of songs really helps students with pronunciation, and when they’re singing the song in the hallways later on, I know it’s getting through! We use songs to teach vocabulary and discuss themes. One of my students’ favorite lessons was to complete a bracket of music by choosing the song they liked best. Take a look: Foreign Language Music Lesson (grades 7-12).”
Spanish Sundries says, “Using popular Spanish language music in my classroom has sharpened my students’ ability to recognize spoken words. It’s also helped to improve their pronunciation, strengthen their grammar skills, and truly enjoy the culture. They’re able to recognize all the important Latin artists and regularly report back to me about seeing Pitbull host an awards show or Romeo Santos sing during the Thanksgiving Day parade. They go on vacation to Mexico and they already know all the dance songs! I’ve created a lot of activities for use with the most popular Spanish language songs; here’s the entire catalog. The most popular of my song lessons by far is the one that goes with the song ‘Bailando’ by Enrique Iglesias.”
Music for Special Education
Susan Luengen says “As an Early Childhood Special Education teacher, I find music plays a very special role in the day. Each morning, our Student of the Day selected a music/movement song. It was so exciting when one of our students with autism started dancing to a Greg & Steve song; it was his first time interacting with the class! I also had special songs we used for transitions, as a signal to pick up toys, and at nap time. I have a multisensory counting activity in my store that provides little ones with a song and visuals for counting to 10 (forwards and backwards) using one-to-one correspondence, number identification, and ordering. The activity also addresses making estimates. Take a look: I Can Count Ten Penguins (grades PreK-K).”
Cap’n Pete’s PE says, “I use music during all of my daily P.E. lessons because it helps me so much with activity transition. It creates a ‘flow’ during movement and game play, and it promotes a positive energy that helps with my classroom management. I use up-tempo music during fitness activities and ‘lighter’ background music during games, activities, and teaching segments. I also utilize music during big events such as Field Day to add excitement and keep classes ‘moving’ during the events and ‘coordinated’ during our group line dances. I recently created a new 12 Days of Fitness- PE and Classroom Christmas Movement Activity (grades PreK-5), which gives the students a chance to perform a number of health and skill-related fitness that compound on each other, using the style of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ song.”
Getting Vocal in Art Class
“I use music often in my art room to help create a calming atmosphere,” says Art with Jenny K. “Also, I have a very popular lesson designed around using music, to associate with colors and feelings. I show students a slideshow about how colors make them feel, and we discuss the primary colors and the familiar feelings attached to them. For example, I use Picasso’s blue period to represent sadness. Then I give my students paint, and I play different types of music. Students are asked to paint the way the music makes them feel. I give them primary colors and a very large piece of paper. Slowly the colors run together to make new colors as the music changes from happy to sad to mad. I play all different kinds of music for about 1-2 minutes and let kids work. I emphasize how music can make one person feel one way and another person a different way, so there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer. This is one of my students’ all-time favorite activities, as it gives them freedom of expression. And it’s great for all age groups because all ages enjoy this kind of free-thinking activity.”
Tunes for Classroom Management, Anti-Bullying, and More
“I love to start my 2nd grade day off with what’s called an Australian stick dance,” explains Teaching in the Tongass. “Students grab a pair of wooden sticks and clap them together to match the rhythm of the song. We all move in a circle and there’s a real sense of community that happens after everyone learns how to have fun with this!”
“Music has made a huge difference in my classroom,” says Smarter Teaching. “I have different kinds of music for different purposes. Quiet instrumental background music allows children to continue to work studiously with purpose. I reserve calm music with lyrics for creative work like art. I play from a variety of genres, and I frequently connect music videos to character building, social skills, and all mandated curriculum. My students beg me to play music, and they bring in musical suggestions all the time. They also share the music at home with their parents. It connects us all in a very soulful way.”
From I am Bullyproof Music: “Years ago, while serving as ringleader to a giant pop choir full of kids, I noticed a pattern: Whenever a student came to me with a personal dilemma, the best way to help him or her figure things out was to write lyrics full of useful advice, add those wise words to an addictively fun-to-sing melody, then have my student sing the song over and over again. Singing around that new way of thinking would always lead them to a better mood and a fresh way of looking at any frustrating situation.
When my youngest was in 2nd grade, he was a quirky little nonconformist. I wrote a song about him and a zillion years later, a student who’d learned it in his class wrote me on Facebook: ‘Your nonconformist song changed my life. It taught me who I am. No mean-natured person has EVER been able to touch me with their nonsense.’ How could I not get organized after that? That’s actually the moment I became inspired to create I am Bullyproof Music from my library of studio recorded songs. And now, thanks to TpT, I’m working on ELA galore with Rainbow City Learning! Deep lyrics make amazing writing prompts, they work for Common Core, and they’re fabulous for close reading. When kids come to me with their problems, I ask them to help me write the song. This gets them all fired up behind not only fixing the problem, but writing itself. Just one simple word can inspire a song/poem/story. Take a look at Song based on a word – great for lyric study– inspires creative writing!”
From Rainbow City Learning: “The amazing lyrics and tunes of I Am Bullyproof Music literally changed the lives of my students last year, and set us up in the most motivated, energy-charged, learning community you could imagine. I bought all of I Am Bullyproof Music’s songs at the beginning of last year, played them throughout the day in my room, and watched the magic happen! We played and sang along with these songs as students entered in the morning, cleaned up at the end of the day, changed classes, and transitioned to new activities during the day. Although I had used music in these ways in my classroom before, using these particular songs made observable changes in my students’ individual and group behaviors. They became kinder, more responsible, clearer-thinking students. Choosing this music with a message truly made my last year of teaching before retirement the best year of my career.
My students and I even started developing lessons to accompany the songs that they came to love as much as I did. I Am Bullyproof Music and I have been collaborating on those lessons ever since. Here’s a bundle of four of our most popular units, mp3 songs included. (grades 4-8).”
“Music in the soul can be heard by the universe.” – Lao Tzu
(Thanks to David Row at Make Moments Matter for the feature image.)