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Favorite Elementary Music Lessons for January 2023

Do you need some fun activities for your elementary music class? These favorite elementary music lessons multitask teaching music literacy skills and more.

January 1, of course, is the start of a brand new year! No matter what the past year has brought, I always work to start the year off with a positive, fresh attitude. It is a BRAND NEW YEAR. You can make your corner of the world a better place. It is time to gather up all YOUR favorite elementary music lessons and dive in!

YOU are the most important factor in creating a successful, positive music program at your school. There have been MANY challenges in the past couple of years. But starting the new year fresh will help you rise to those challenges.

Ideas, Activities, and Lessons for the Elementary Music Classroom | January Favorites

Look for ways to SIMPLIFY and STREAMLINE your classes. Less is more when you choose FEWER activities that are more EFFECTIVE. With careful PLANNING you can make this a GREAT year in your elementary music classroom!

Read on for some inspiration and find some activities that are sure to become a few of your favorite elementary music lessons. Don’t miss the FREE song link for Chinese New Year and the FREE PRINTABLE and DIGITAL Treble Clef Staff for use with manipulatives.

My Favorite Quote of All Time

My favorite quote of ALL time is from Maya Angelou. It is a mantra that I try to live my life by.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

Maya Angelou

Isn’t that what we want our students to do? As teachers, we are always learning too. At times, we are even learning more than our students. If some lessons have not gone well for you in the past, get out there and find new resources, ideas, and activities. Analyze what areas you need to improve and “do better”. That is all anyone can ask.

January Holidays and Observances

I had no idea there were so many holidays and observances during the month of January! Undoubtedly, the most important day to make sure you celebrate is the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. His actual birthday is January 15, but this year it will be celebrated nationally on January 16.

  • January 1 – New Year’s Day
  • January 4 – National Spaghetti Day/National Trivia Day
  • January 5 – National Bird Day
  • January 6 – Epiphany – Three Kings Day
  • January 13 – Korean American Day
  • January 15 – Martin Luther King’s Birthday
  • January 16 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • January 18 – Winnie the Pooh Day -The Birthday of A.A. Milne
  • January 19 – National Popcorn Day
  • January 20 – National Penguin Day
  • January 21 – Squirrel Appreciation Day/National Hugging Day
  • January 22 – Chinese New Year
  • January 23 – National Handwriting Day
  • January 24 – Compliment Day
  • January 26 – Australia Day
  • January 27 – International Holocaust Remembrance Day
  • January 28 – National Kazoo Day/National Lego Day
  • January 29 – National Puzzle Day

Weekly Observances

  • Week 2 – Letter Writing Week

Monthly Observances

  • National Mentoring Month
  • National Hobby Month
  • Hot Tea Month
  • National Oatmeal Month
  • National Soup Month

Storybook to Read & Sing

Storybooks always make for favorite elementary music lessons. Ten on the Sled, by Kim Norman provides a different version of the old favorite Ten on the Bed. It is perfect for early elementary students.

For older students, pair the story & song with Orff ostinato accompaniments and/or So, Mi, Do patterns to match the melody when the characters fall off the sled. Students can rotate to a different instrument as they “fall off” the sled.

Storybook for the Elementary Music Classroom | 10 on the Sled, by Kim Norman

This storybook provides a FUN structure for students to be creative as they design their own accompaniments. See this post for more on using Children’s Storybooks in Elementary Music | Establishing Historical Context.

Fun Winter Rhythm Instrument Play along

This winter play-along by Elementary GrooveTracks is simple enough for grades 1-2, but engaging background vocals will hold the attention of upper elementary grades as well. Enjoy!

YouTube video

Celebrate the Life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

This song and lesson are truly among my most favorite elementary music lessons of all time! And, it is appropriate for any time of year. This Orff Arrangement of Oh, Freedom is a multitasking, differentiated lesson which is designed for grades K-5. This resource includes two short biographies of Dr. King, one for primary and one for intermediate grades.

The 4-part Orff arrangement includes differentiated ostinato patterns simple enough for even the youngest early elementary students and advanced patterns that will challenge more accomplished upper elementary students.

Start the New Year Fresh | Music Literacy Activity Series

Yes! Music reading lessons can and should be among your favorite elementary music lessons. Why would you want to do anything that wasn’t a favorite? If you need some tips to help you Integrate Music Reading into Every Lesson, be sure and check out the helpful post.

Do a quick inventory of your music literacy resources. Where do you need to reinforce your lessons? Are there gaps in student learning?

These NO-PREP guided music reading resources include ICONIC and STANDARD NOTATION, printable Take Home Pages, games, instrumental activities, and more. Click to preview the bundle(s) that best meets the needs of your classroom.

More Music Literacy Activity Bundles Coming Soon

Favorite Elementary Music Lessons are Always Interactive

Do your students need to practice and develop their rhythm reading skills? These Winter Interactive Rhythm Pattern Flashcards are differentiated into 8 different levels for grades K-5. Level 1 includes ICONIC reading while levels 2-8 use STANDARD notation and build sequentially. 

Take a peek at this post for 10 FUN Ways to Use Interactive Rhythm Pattern Flashcards. This helpful post includes ideas to integrate these DIGITAL Rhythm Cards seamlessly into your lessons. And, these ideas work for standard printable rhythm cards as well.

Squirrel Appreciation Day | January 21

Yes, we are supposed to appreciate those little critters that hang upside down and eat all of the birdseed out of our feeders. Oh well, they are hungry too.

Any time of year is a good time to learn the song “Hop Old Squirrel“. If you haven’t learned it yet, what better time than around Squirrel Appreciation Day. I LOVE this song and game. More importantly, kids love it too! 

This DIFFERENTIATED guided music reading lesson includes activities for MULTIPLE GRADE LEVELS.

Chinese New Year Begins February 1

I do NOT want you to miss out on this FREE SONG with accompaniment mp3. A few years ago I came across this beautiful song 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.

Chinese New Year | Ideas, Activities, and Lessons for the Elementary Music Classroom | February Favorites

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

You CAN Make Your Corner of the World a Better Place

I know that we are all in different places in our professional and personal journeys. Some of us have been teaching for many years. And for some of you, this may be your very first year of teaching. But, we have all been discouraged at times as we struggle to teach through this pandemic. I hope I have helped inspire you and given you some ideas to start off your new year fresh and motivated.

You truly do not know how far your influence may reach. You CAN make your corner of the world and beyond a better place. No matter where you are in your teaching journey, embrace it.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then do better.”

Maya Angelou

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