The school year is flying by. The winter holidays are right around the corner. With two major holidays and a few days off of school, November is a short month. Plan carefully to maximize class time and present FUN, efficient, multitasking lessons. Read on for some of my favorite elementary music lessons for November and beyond.
November Holidays | USA
The main holidays celebrated in the US this month are Veterans Day and Thanksgiving.
- November 11 – Veterans Day
- November 28 – Thanksgiving
Patriotic Songs ALL American Citizens Should Know
Patriotic songs should be woven into lesson plans throughout the year. But, they work especially well for back to school time, 9-11, Veterans Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, and The 4th of July. We would start each all-school assembly with the Pledge of Allegiance followed immediately by a patriotic song. The audience would all join in too. What a GREAT way to start an assembly.
I identified what I call “The Big 6” patriotic songs that I taught my students at each grade level. This list is cumulative. So, by fourth and fifth grades, students should be able to sing all of these songs from memory.
- This Land is Your Land
- Grand Old Flag
- America (My Country ‘Tis of Thee)
- America, the Beautiful
- The Star-Spangled Banner
- God Bless America
Thanksgiving | Harvest Song
“The Mill Wheel” K-5 Orff Arrangement provides the simplest rhythm reading patterns for grades K-1 and challenging ostinato patterns for grades 4-5. All grades will enjoy the optional activities which include reading, writing, singing, playing pitched and unpitched rhythm instruments, and recorder. Younger students will enjoy the game which reinforces musical concepts. The lesson also includes a history of mills and optional video links to tours of real working mills.
The following are observed all month long and have lots of correlating activities from which to choose.
- Native American Heritage Month
- National Drum Month
- National Model Train Month
- Peanut Butter Lovers Month
Native American Heritage & National Drum Month go well together and can easily be celebrated simultaneously in the elementary music classroom.
Train month has SO many musical correlations. Below are just a few. Don’t forget all the favorite train storybooks. My favorite is still the old standard, “The Little Train that Could”. It is a fun way to help teach perserverence.
Favorite Elementary Music Lesson | November
My students would always tell me, “You have a lot of favorite songs.” Yes, I guess I do. That is probably why I am a music teacher. But if I had to pick just one for the month of November, it would be this one – Land of the Silver Birch. I remember singing it when I was little. I love this song and I love the Orff arrangement too.
I know your students will love the differentiated Orff arrangement of this Canadian folk song. The arrangement includes attainable performance activities while also providing challenging experiences for more advanced students.
Interactive Rhythm Flashcards
You don’t have to make a choice between focusing on music literacy skills or celebrating a holiday theme. These interactive rhythm flashcards in PowerPoint format are differentiated into 6 different levels for grades K-5. Level 1 includes iconic reading while levels 2-6 build sequentially.
Check out this post for 10 Ways to Use Interactive Rhythm Pattern Flashcards.
November | More Observances
There are many holidays and unique things to celebrate every day of the year. Many days have several different observances, some of which can be a bit wacky. Check out the list below. Can you work any of these into your lesson plans?
- November 4 – King Tut Day
- November 6 – Saxophone Day
- November 7 – STEM/STEAM Day
- November 21 – World Peace Day
Many music classes are working very hard on preparing holiday music programs this time of year. Several of my favorite elementary music lessons are holiday lessons. Since the school where I taught for many years had a diverse population, it was VERY important for me to mirror that diversity in our music programs. Even if you teach at a school that is rather homogeneous, it is still important to learn about other cultures and traditions. Check out this blog post about using Diverse Winter Holiday Songs in the Elementary Music Classroom.
It is hard to find lessons and songs that have musically rewarding performance opportunities and that are attainable and contribute to music literacy skills. So, over the years, I collected songs and created my own Orff arrangements for the elementary classroom. Click to listen to each K-5 differentiated Orff arrangement and song below.
Planning Ahead | Black History Month
I know it is not even Thanksgiving yet, but music teachers are always planning ahead. And, before you know it it will be time to celebrate the life and accomplishments of Martin Luther King, Jr. and other heroes of the civil rights movement.
These are some of my favorite elementary music lessons of all time! These Orff arrangements of African American spirituals can truly be used all year long. (Be sure to scroll down after clicking the link.)
One Day at a Time
The holiday season can be a very hectic time. Save time for yourself. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every year. Hopefully, some of the resources here will become some of your favorite elementary music lessons too!
Plan ahead, pare down, and enjoy!