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Elementary Music Lessons to Start the Year Fresh – January 2024

Do you need fun activities for your elementary music class? These multitasking elementary music lessons teach music literacy skills and more.

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January 1, of course, is the start of a brand-new year! No matter what the past year has brought, it’s time to start the year with a positive, fresh attitude. This is a BRAND NEW YEAR. You can make your corner of the world a better place. It’s time to gather up FUN, quality elementary music lessons and dive in!

The most important factor in creating a successful, positive music program at your school is YOU. I know there have been MANY challenges in the past couple of years, but starting the new year fresh with a solid plan 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

Less is more when you choose FEWER more EFFECTIVE activities. Spend more time teaching and practicing those activities so your students can perform them independently. Use “add-on activities” to keep lessons fresh and students engaged.

With careful PLANNING you can make this a GREAT new year in your elementary music classroom!

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”. This 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/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 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 3 – Letter Writing Week

Monthly Observances

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

My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This sweet story is written by Martin Luther King III with the storybook video posted by Literally Cultured.

YouTube video

Celebrate the Life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

This song and lesson are among my 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. The resource includes two short biographies of Dr. King, one for early elementary and one for upper elementary 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.

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.


YouTube video

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.

Try this activity with your upper elementary students.

  • Pair the story and song with Orff ostinato accompaniments, OR
  • Play the So, Mi, Do patterns to match the melody when the characters fall off the sled, THEN
  • Students rotate to a different instrument for the next verse.

Keep the song going without stopping between verses.

This storybook provides a FUN structure for students to be creative as they design their own accompaniments. See this post for more ways to use Children’s Storybooks in Elementary Music.

Ten on the Sled

Last update on 2024-04-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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 students.

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 while keeping activities fresh. And, these ideas work for standard printable rhythm cards as well.

Free Rhythm Clip Cards with a Winter Theme

This FREE Primer Set of Rhythm Clip Cards is perfect for your early elementary kids. Students are engaged as they listen and identify the rhythm patterns they hear.

Clip It Cards are Perfect For. . . . .

  • Practice
  • Review
  • Assessment
  • Group activities
  • Centers or stations

Print a classroom set on cardstock and laminate them for use with multiple classes over several years. For more ways to use your clip cards, see Fun Rhythm Activities for Elementary Music – Clip Cards.

Do you need a full leveled set of clip cards for use with all elementary music classes? Click to see the COMPLETE set of Winter Clip Cards.

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.

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 struggled and been discouraged at times, especially while teaching 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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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.

More Ways to Connect – Instagram, Facebook, YouTube.

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