Fun ideas and activities include Black History Month and many more activities that will become your new favorite elementary music lessons.
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February is a short month but it has so many holidays and observances! This is Black History Month and an important opportunity to include more history behind the songs in our elementary music repertoire as well as introduce new songs, stories, and activities.
There are countless ideas and ways to incorporate Ground Hog’s Day, Super Bowl Sunday, Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, and numerous other holidays and observances during this busy month.
What’s in this post? Click to open the Table of Contents
February Holidays and Observances
See if any of these holidays or observances spark an idea for a lesson.
- February 1 – National Freedom Day
- February 2 – Ground Hog Day/National Ukulele Day/National Wear Red Day
- February 4 – Thank a Mail Carrier Day
- February 5 – National Weatherman’s Day
- February 7 – Send a Card to a Friend Day
- February 8 – National Boy Scout Day
- February 9 – National Pizza Day
- February 10 – Chinese New Year
- February 11 – National Guitar Day/Super Bowl Sunday
- February 12 – Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday
- February 14 – Ash Wednesday/Valentine’s Day
- February 17 – Random Acts of Kindness Day
- February 19 – Presidents’ Day
- February 20 – Cherry Pie Day
- February 22 – Walking the Dog Day/National Chili Day
- February 27 – International Polar Bear Day
- American Heart Month
- Black History Month
- National Bird Feeding Month
- National Cherry Month
- National Children’s Dental Health Month
Songs to Pair with Special Observances
The following songs for grades K-2 pair nicely with these February monthly observances.
- Skinamarinky Dink (I love you) with Valentine’s Day
- Here Comes a Bluebird with National Bird Feeding Month
- Brush Your Teeth with National Children’s Dental Health Month
Get Up and Move
This SUPER FUN Rhythm Stick Line Dance by F. Willis Music will have your students up and moving while performing simple rhythm patterns and incorporating common solfege patterns with hand signs. There are even a few measures at the end to “freestyle”.
Perfect for your upper elementary kids.
Follow the Drinking Gourd | Black History Month
It is very hard for elementary-age children to understand the concept of the Underground Railroad. The storybook Follow the Drinking Gourd is a simple way to help students understand the concept of the Underground Railroad and some of the hardships of escaping to freedom.
There is some controversy about this book and song. Dr. Prince Brown, the Director of the Northern Kentucky University Institute for Freedom Studies offers some interesting insights in this succinct afterword, Follow the Drinking Gourd: A Cultural History, “Is This Song ‘Authentic’”?
There are several different versions of the storybook. There are also two videos based on the storybooks shown here. The Rabbit Ears Video is appropriate for students in grades 1-5. However, the Reading Rainbow Video of this storybook is much more intense than the Rabbit Ears version. It depicts slaves in chains in a very realistic and disturbing setting.
*DO NOT show the Reading Rainbow version of this video to your students without previewing it first. Consult with your administrator before using this video in your classroom.
Pair Spirituals with the History of Civil Rights Leaders
Spirituals are perfect for any time of year. There are several songs that are a natural pairing with the history of leaders of the civil rights movement.
Each song-based resource below include differentiated Orff arrangements and two short biographies of a civil rights leader.
Click to listen to the arrangements in the video previews.
Chinese New Year
I do NOT want you to miss out on this FREE SONG with mp3 accompaniment track. A few years ago I came across this beautiful piece by Nancy Stewart. Gung Hay Fat Choy translates as “wishing you good fortune and happiness.” This is a beautifully crafted and tasteful song for Chinese New Year. And Nancy is sharing it completely FREE of charge.
You may download the Full Performance mp3 and the Accompaniment mp3 for your elementary music classroom. You will be glad you did. We integrated sign language for a beautiful and memorable presentation. One of my school parents told me that this song touched her so much, it made her cry. She actually requested it several years in a row.
Important Tip: In order to avoid all the giggles and snickers from singing the word “fat”, I admit that I changed the word to “fa” with the same “short a” sound. We simply left off the “t”. That small change made sure that students were all focused on the beautiful message of the song and not being silly about the lyrics
Favorite Elementary Music Activities for Valentine’s Day
If sappy lyrics turn off some of your students, take a peek at this song. I have found Valentine, Valentine to be the best-received Valentine’s song for grades K-5.
This differentiated resource includes music literacy activities geared to each grade level. The Orff accompaniments and recorder notation provide attainable but challenging options for differentiation within grade levels as well.
Do you need activities to teach and practice rhythm reading? These interactive digital rhythm flashcards include 8 sets of leveled flashcards with 16 cards each. That is 128 rhythm cards!
My favorites are the iconic reading for your youngest musicians. But, your more accomplished musicians will be challenged by sixteenth note patterns, syncopation, and dotted rhythms.
Need some ideas for ways to use any rhythm pattern flashcards? Take a peek at this BLOG POST with 10 Ways to Use Interactive Flashcards in your elementary music classroom.
February Freebie for Your Early Elementary Kids
These Free Valentine Clip Cards are perfect for your early elementary students. Students are engaged as they listen and identify the rhythm patterns they hear.
- Group activities
- Centers or stations
Print a classroom set on cardstock and laminate them for use with multiple classes. See this post for more FUN ways to use your clip cards – Fun Rhythm Activities for Elementary Music.
Prepare Your Students for Band and Orchestra
This is the season when students begin to register for classes for the upcoming year. For your upper-level students, this may be the first time they get to choose any of the classes they will take. They may have the option of registering for beginning band, orchestra, or choir.
You are the best advocate for these programs! Help your students make informed decisions by teaching them about the instruments and the various music programs in your district. Build excitement for these programs.
These COMPLETE, no-prep lessons include the major instruments in each family as well as OPTIONAL STUDENT WORKSHEETS. There are links to short, quality performances by professional musicians. The PowerPoint presentations are compatible with Google Slides.
Help Create Life-Long Musicians
This could be the start of a life-long passion for your students. I am currently playing in an ensemble with one of my former elementary students. And, I have had several elementary music students choose music as their career. Do not underestimate your influence as an elementary teacher in helping to guide students toward positive musical endeavors.
Digital Interactive Notebooks
Using interactive notebooks is another FUN way to learn about the instruments of the orchestra or band. These activities may be completed as a class activity, as centers or stations, as individual activities, or as distance learning activities. These DIGITAL interactive notebooks are available in PowerPoint and Google Slides versions.
Just for FUN!
Do you need a simple activity just for fun? This FREE Valentine Break the Code Puzzle makes a great party day activity. It is fun for fast finishers or sub days. Best of all, it is FREE! Just download, print, and go!
Or, use the DIGITAL VERSION. This puzzle may be assigned with Google Classroom and completed online using Easel (TpT’s digital tool).
It is FREE to use. Currently, it is only compatible with Google Classroom. But TpT is continually upgrading and enhancing their digital offerings. Stayed tuned to keep up on new developments.
February is a short month but there are a LOT of FUN and important activities to add to your lesson plans. As always, make music literacy skills a priority and schedule those lessons that meet your music literacy goals first. Using multitasking lessons that teach music literacy skills while also observing seasonal events is a fun, efficient way to integrate seasonal themes.
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More Lesson Planning Ideas
- Designing Black History Lessons for Elementary Music
- Black History Music Lessons that Teach History and Music Skills
- March is Music in Our Schools Month
Meet the Author
Terri Lloyd is a former elementary music teacher with over 25 years of experience. She holds a Bachelor of Music, a Master of Science in Education, and a Technology Certificate in Instructional Design.
She is currently active in music education through blogging, workshops, and curriculum development. She serves on the music staff at her church and volunteers for an after-school children’s program. Terri is an active musician in the community, performing in a local Big Band, pit orchestras, and various events.