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Fun Elementary Music Lessons to Teach Music Skills – October 2024

School is in high gear and schedules are hectic! Consider paring down your elementary music lessons to teach more.

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By October, school is in high gear and you are CRAZY busy! There is always way too much on your agenda and never enough time. Sometimes music teachers can accomplish more with careful planning and paring down lessons. 

Your students may achieve at a higher level and be more confident when you plan fewer multitasking elementary music lessons that meet strategically targeted learning objectives.

Choose a few focused seasonal activities that align with your elementary music curriculum to save time and stay on track. October lesson plans lend themselves to many fun themes. Take a peek at the special dates and observations below.

Smiling students playing elementary music classroom instruments

October Observances

Consider integrating a few of the special dates and observances into your elementary music lesson plans.

  • October 2 – World Farm Animals Day/International Walk to School Day/Rosh Hashanah
  • October 3 – Look at the Leaves Day
  • October 4 – International Walk to School Day
  • October 9 – National Bring Your Teddy Bear to Work & School Day
  • October 14 – Columbus Day/Indigenous People’s Day
  • October 16 – Unity Day
  • October 25 – International Artists Day
  • October 26 – Pumpkin Day
  • October 31 – Halloween
  • October 31 – November 1 – Diwali (A Festival of Lights)

Weekly Observances

  • October 6-12 – Fire Prevention Week
  • October 21-25 – National School Bus Safety Week
  • October 23-31 – National Red Ribbon Week

Monthly Observances

  • Bat Appreciation Month
  • Celebrating the Bilingual Child Month
  • Italian-American Heritage Month
  • Stamp Collecting Month (There are a TON of music stamps. Collecting digital music stamps could be a FUN project.)
  • Squirrel Awareness & Appreciation Month

Evaluate Your Previous Lessons. Keep, Revise, or Toss?

Take a little time to evaluate your lessons from last year and last month. Ask yourself these questions.

  • What lessons went especially well? Those are KEEPERS for sure.
  • What lessons did not go well? TOSS or REVISE them.
  • Where are your students excelling? Your lessons have been effective for those skills.
  • Where are your students struggling? Look for activities to strengthen these skills.

Check your yearly curriculum charts (free to subscribers) and your monthly scope and sequence to help pace and focus your lesson plans. Build on or emulate lessons that went well. Revamp or cull lessons that didn’t live up to your expectations.

Below are some of my favorite tried and true elementary music lessons that have been successful in many varied classroom settings. Take a peek – you may discover some new favorites for your classroom.

Seasonal Rhythm Reading Play-Along Video

Your students will LOVE this simple rhythm play-along video posted by Elementary GrooveTracks. The no-prep activity includes the following music elements.

  • Quarter note
  • Eighth notes
  • Quarter rest
  • Repeat signs
YouTube video

The Perfect Storybook for Your Elementary Music Classroom

Rin, Rin, Rin, Do, Re, Mi by José-Luis Orozco (Affiliate Link)with illustrations by David Díaz is a bilingual picture book written in Spanish and English. It’s a perfect addition to your elementary music classroom library.

Rin, Rin, Rin is a part of the Scholastic Lee y Seras literacy campaign, but it’s also perfect for the elementary music classroom. Check out the Scholastic book order for this title or ask your librarian to order it for your school.

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Teaching Treble Clef Note Names is Fun!

I know it might not be a top pick for every elementary music teacher, but personally, I enjoy teaching treble clef note names. There are countless ENGAGING methods to learn and practice them!

Take a peek at these interactive PowerPoint Games which are perfect for Microsoft Schools.

Note: These activities MUST be used in PowerPoint. They are NOT compatible with Google Slides.

Boom Cards Engage Even Reluctant Learners

Self-checking Boom Cards are always a favorite for both teachers and students. And there’s no better way to get started than with a FREE set. These sequential decks have a FUN soccer theme that will hook even your reluctant students – Complete Treble Clef Boom Cards Bundle

Boom Learning allows you to play the first four cards of any set for free. This allows you to determine whether a particular set aligns with your music curriculum and your students’ needs.

If you’re new to Boom Cards, take a peek at this blog post with a short video tutorial that provides a quick introduction. I promise using Boom Cards is NOT difficult, but I do have a couple of tips for a seamless start.

Innovative Ways to Use Boom Cards in the Music Classroom

Boom Cards do NOT have to be an individual 1:1 activity. In fact, my favorite way to use Boom Cards is as whole-class interactive activities. Treble Clef sets easily become a class activity when ALL students answer every question in sign language.

Pair Treble Clef Note Name Boom Cards with Sign Language

  1. Display the Treble Clef Boom Card on your classroom whiteboard.
  2. Instruct students to “hide your answer hand” to allow for adequate think time. (Under their shirt is a good place for students to hide their hands.)
  3. Prompt ALL students to “show your answer” at the same time.

Learn how to use interactive Rhythm Dictation and Melodic Dictation Boom Cards with simple manipulatives and get 5 Free Boom Cards Decks when you subscribe to our helpful elementary music teacher newsletter.

FUN Ways to Develop Rhythm Reading Skills

These Halloween Interactive Rhythm Pattern Flashcards are differentiated into 8 levels for grades K-5. Level 1 includes iconic reading while levels 2-8 build sequentially. 

Do you need fun engaging ideas for ways to use interactive rhythm cards? Take a peek at this post for 10 Ways to Use Interactive Rhythm Pattern Flashcards. This post includes techniques to integrate rhythm patterns seamlessly into your elementary music lessons.

October is Squirrel Appreciation Month!

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

Any time of year is a good time to learn Hop Old Squirrel, but, what better time than during Squirrel Appreciation Month! The rhythmic ostinato and recorder notation allow this lesson to span multiple grade levels. Elementary music teachers LOVE this song and game. But more importantly, kids love it too! 

Oktoberfest is a Highlight for Elementary Music Classes

In Munich, the site of the original Oktoberfest celebration, the holiday is traditionally celebrated from the last two weeks of September into the first week of October. In the USA, Oktoberfest celebrations may continue throughout the month of October. 

Join in the FUN with our unique differentiated Oktoberfest Music Activities. This K-5 resource includes a German Folk Song, Orff accompaniments, Boomwhackers notation, hand clap activities, early elementary and upper elementary histories of Oktoberfest, traditions, and more.

Enjoy!

This Halloween Song and Game is Infectious (in a Good Way)

OMG! My students want to sing this song all year. (And, that’s okay.) This K-5 differentiated lesson includes a full Orff arrangement with a game. There are unique activities for each grade level which may be used for differentiation within grade levels as well.

True Story – One year, my kindergarten teachers made me promise not to teach this song because they couldn’t get the kids to stop singing it in class. I reluctantly agreed. The next year, their kindergarten students began singing it on their own. They had learned it from older brothers and sisters. 🎃

Lyrics Changed into a Fall Song and Game

Not all schools or families celebrate Halloween. If this is your school, take a look at Pass the Pumpkin Pie. This lesson has all the same activities as Pass the Pumpkin but with a neutral fall theme. 

Please note that this is NOT a Thanksgiving lesson. If you have students who do not celebrate any holidays, they should be fine with these activities.

Bonus – You can use this lesson all season long.

Instrumental Listening Maps to Hook Your Students

I’m a huge fan of these listening maps! They’re perfect for guiding students in recognizing melodic and harmonic lines. And, the concept of texture becomes visual as well as auditory. This makes it very easy for students to identify thick or thin textures.

And the best part? Students LOVE these listening maps.

Toccato and Fugue in D minor, Bach

YouTube video

Danse Macabre, Saint-Saëns

This listening map by the Cleveland Orchestra also helps students learn to identify the timbre of various instruments.

YouTube video

Play-Along: In the Hall of the Mountain King, Grieg

This popular piece from Peer Gynt Suite is perfect for teaching about tempo. There are many fun listening maps for this piece. But, this one has a simple rhythmic play-along accompaniment that is attainable for most mid and upper-elementary classes.

YouTube video

Diverse Winter Holiday Music

The winter holidays are right around the corner. Do you have your holiday music program planned? Take a peek at our blog post about using Diverse Winter Holiday Songs in your classroom and for performance. Teaching diverse holiday songs provides the perfect opportunity to teach about cultures different from our own.

Developing respect for other cultures is critical in our society. This post includes links to fun songs for Ramadan, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Chinese New Year.

Find the Perfect Activities to Teach Specific Music Elements

Do you need help to find the perfect songs and activities to teach specific music elements?

This easy-to-use Elementary Music Literacy Resource Guide includes a detailed index of music elements that’s easily scannable. This makes it easy to find the ideal activities for your classroom. The guide includes many FREE and paid resources that you will find helpful for your elementary music classroom.

Guard Your Time and Enjoy the Fall Season

Planning and creating lessons that meet your students’ learning objectives can be time-consuming. We’re here to help you take back some of your time. Take a peek at some of the time-saving resources in this post and find a few lessons to fill in the gaps in your music curriculum. You’re bound to discover a few new favorites to enrich your elementary music repertoire.

Take time to enjoy the fun fall festivals, the cooler weather, and the changing of the seasons. Leave the CRAZINESS and hectic schedules behind when you leave school each day. 😊

Auf Wiedersehen!


More Ideas and Activities for Your Elementary Music Lesson Plans

Rin, Rin, Rin, Do, Re, Mi by José-Luis Orozco (Affiliate Link) with illustrations by David Díaz is a perfect addition to your elementary music classroom library for any time of year, but especially during Hispanic Heritage Month.

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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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