6 Ways to Integrate Camp Songs in Elementary Music

Traditional camp songs can be an important tool for developing music literacy in the elementary music classroom. Check out the ideas below which can turn fun and sometimes silly songs into real music learning experiences.

But first, let’s talk about WHY you should integrate camp songs into your elementary music curriculum.

Using Camp Songs to Develop Music Literacy Skills |  Elementary Music Classroom

Why Use Camp Songs in Elementary Music

There are MANY reasons to use traditional camp songs in elementary music classes.

  • Kids need to learn to how to have “good, old-fashioned fun.” Silly camp songs are fun by nature. Help your students learn how to unplug and have fun.
  • Camp songs naturally draw students in and increase engagement in music class activities.
  • Many children are exposed to a lot of inappropriate media. Even many cartoons and television shows which are written for children often send the wrong messages. Choosing our literature carefully can help build character and show students how to have fun without being disrespectful or demeaning anyone.
  • Many of your students will probably never get the opportunity to go to summer camp. They may not learn these traditional songs elsewhere. Pass on the tradition.

How to Integrate Camp Songs In Elementary Music Curriculum

At first glance, camp songs may seem to be a silly form of entertainment, but not all camp songs are silly. And these traditional songs can provide REAL MUSIC LEARNING opportunities. Read on for tips to teach music skills through traditional camp songs.

1. Develop a capella Singing Skills

Many of our students are bombarded with recorded music all day long. Very little, if any, is a capella. A capella singing is the best way to help students build vocal performance skills. It also teaches students that they can sing anywhere, at any time. They do not need accompaniment.

2. Practice Music Literacy Skills

It is important to integrate music reading activities into every class. And, using fun camp songs creates automatic buy in and increases engagement. But, many traditional camp songs have complex melodies and rhythms that are too difficult for elementary students to read. If a melody is too complex, create simple Orff ostinato patterns to match the music literacy level of your students.

3. Integrate Rhythmic Orff Ostinato Patterns

Even if a song has complex rhythms, it may be the perfect song for integrating simple rhythmic ostinato patterns. Rhythmic ostinati may be added to any song. And, you can tailor ostinato patterns to specific elements that your students are learning. Better yet, guide students to create their own rhythmic ostinati.

4. Integrate Melodic Orff Ostinato Patterns

The simple harmonic structure of many camp songs makes it easy to create melodic ostinati as well. Use whatever instrumentation you have available.

Simple melodic ostinato patterns make perfect accompaniments on barred instruments, Boomwhackers, recorders, or even keyboards.

Using Camp Songs to Develop Music Literacy Skills |  Elementary Music Classroom
5. Add Ukulele Accompaniment

The simple chord progressions in many camp songs are perfect for beginning ukulele players. Adding ukulele adds to the “campfire” ambiance. You might even want to set up a faux campfire in your classroom to help create the camp vibe.

6. Use Camp Songs as Performance Assessments

Ostinato patterns and other performance activities may be used as assessments as well. Music assessments that are naturally integrated into the flow of class are time efficient, authentic, and valid.

K-5 Differentiated Activities

These NO-PREP camp song resources are specifically designed for the elementary music classroom. They have been created with differentiated activities for multiple grade levels.

Each of these common camp songs includes an Orff arrangement with 2 rhythmic and 2 melodic accompaniment patterns of varying degrees of difficulty.

Other activities include movement and fun facts to provide enrichment and help students make connections. These “add-on” activities help to extend the lessons over several class periods without becoming stale.

Click to listen to each arrangement in the video previews.

Teach Part Singing with Camp Songs

Many camp songs lend themselves to simple harmonic singing. Rounds, partner songs, and songs with descants provide fun, attainable opportunities for part-singing.

The silly partner songs that go along with One Bottle Pop are some of my favorite songs for teaching beginning part-singing.


Using camp songs in elementary music class can be a fun way to integrate music literacy learning activities. Let’s have some good, old-fashioned fun!

If I haven’t convinced you yet, click to read this guest blog post by Zach VanderGraaff for 8 More Reasons to Teach Camp Songs in Music Classes.

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