By October, school is in high gear and you are CRAZY busy! There is always way too much to teach and way too little time. Sometimes we can accomplish more by planning carefully and paring down lessons. Choosing only a few of your favorite elementary music lessons that meet strategically targeted learning objectives may produce better results.
Take a few minutes to evaluate your lessons from last year/last month. What lessons went especially well? What lessons did not go very well? Where are your students excelling? Where are your students struggling?
Check your yearly curriculum map and your monthly scope and sequence and focus your efforts. 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 elementary music lessons that have been highly successful in my classroom. Check them out. Maybe, they will become some of your favorites too.
If you teach around thematic units, I have also included special dates and observances that you might want to use to “tie everything together.”
October Holidays & Observances
- October 2 – World Farm Animals Day
- October 3 – Look at the Leaves Day
- October 6 – International Walk to School Day
- October 11 – Columbus Day
- October 11 – Indigenous People’s Day
- October 13 – National Bring Your Teddy Bear to Work & School Day
- October 21 – Unity Day
- October 25 – International Artists Day
- October 26 – Pumpkin Day
- October 31 – Halloween
- September 15-October 15 – National Hispanic Heritage Month
- October 1-3 National Storytelling Weekend
- October 3-9 – Fire Prevention Week
- October 18-22 – National School Bus Safety Week
- October 23-31 – National Red Ribbon Week
- Bat Appreciation Month
- Celebrating the Bilingual Child Month
- Fire Prevention 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
RIN, RIN, RIN, DO, RE, MI
Rin, Rin, Rin, Do, Re, Mi by by José-Luis Orozco with illustrations by David Díaz is a bilingual picture book written in both Spanish and English. This book “has two purposes–as a fun picture book and as advice for parents who want to give their children a foundation in literacy.” (GoodReads)
This book is a part of the Scholastic Lee y Seras literacy campaign, but it is also perfect for the elementary music classroom. Check out your Scholastic book order for this title or ask your librarian to order it for your school.
TREBLE CLEF NOTE NAMES
I am not sure how many music teachers would consider teaching treble clef note names as some of their favorite elementary music lessons, but I do! There are so many FUN ways to learn and practice. These PowerPoint Games are perfect for Microsoft Schools.
Note: Due to the interactive features, these MUST be used in PowerPoint.
Treble Clef Boom Cards
Boom Cards are always a favorite. And there is no better way to get started that with a FREE set. There are many different treble clef sets of Boom Cards available at BoomLearning.com or you can create your own. These sequential decks with a FUN soccer theme build students skills step by step – Treble Clef Boom Cards.
One of the great things about Boom Cards is that you can play the first four cards of any set FREE so you really know if that set is what your students need.
If you are new to Boom Cards, check out this blog post with a short video tutorial to learn more. Getting started is NOT hard, I promise. But, there are a few tips that you will want to know.
More Engaging Ways to Use Interactive Boom Cards
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. Learn how to use interactive music literacy sets with simple manipulatives and sign language or signals when you subscribe to our Boom Cards email sequence.
*Bonus: You will receive 5 FREE Boom Cards decks!
Interative Rhythm Flashcards
Do you need a FUN way to practice and develop students’ rhythm reading skills? These Halloween Interactive Rhythm Pattern Flashcards are differentiated into 8 different levels for grades K-5. Level 1 includes iconic reading while levels 2-8 build sequentially.
Do you need engaging ideas for using interactive rhythm cards? Check out this post for 10 Ways to Use Interactive Rhythm Pattern Flashcards for FUN ideas to integrate seamlessly into your lessons.
It’s 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. I LOVE this song and game. More importantly, kids love it too!
In Munich, the site of the original Oktoberfest celebration, the holiday is traditionally celebrated 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 one of these unique lessons which include two German pronunciation screencasts.
Pass the Pumpkin
OMG! My students want to sing this song all year. This K-5 differentiated lesson includes a full Orff arrangement with a game and something for each grade level as well as differentiation within grade levels.
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. 🎃
Pass the Pumpkin Pie
Not all schools or all families celebrate Halloween. If that is your school, take a look at Pass the Pumpkin Pie. This lesson has all the same type of 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. And as a bonus, you can use this lesson all season long.
I LOVE these listening maps! They help students identify the melodic and harmonic lines. And, the idea of texture becomes visual as well as auditory. This makes it very easy for students to identify thick or thin textures.
Danse Macabre by the Cleveland Orchestra also helps students learn to identify the sound of various instruments.
In the Hall of the Mountain King from Peer Gynt Suite is perfect for teaching about tempo. There are many fun listening maps for this piece. This one has a simple rhythmic attainable play-along accompaniment.
Planning Ahead | Winter Holidays
The winter holidays are right around the corner. If you are beginning to plan for holiday programs and classroom activities check out this blog post about using Diverse Winter Holiday Songs in the classroom and for performance.
Teaching diverse holiday songs provides the perfect opportunity to teach about cultures different from our own. Learning respect for other cultures is critical in our society. This post includes links to songs for Ramadan, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Chinese New Year.
Targeted Elementary Music LIteracy Activities
Need help finding the perfect song to teach a specific music element?
This easy-to-use Elementary Music Literacy Resource Guide includes a detailed index of music elements which makes finding the ideal activities simple. This helpful index includes MANY FREE as well as helpful paid resources.
Enjoy Your Fall Season
Planning and creating lessons that meet your student learning objectives can be very time consuming. Hopefully, some of the lessons presented here will become some of your new favorite elementary music lessons and help you take back some time to spend with your family. I hope you are able to enjoy the fun fall festivals (if they are being held in your area), the cooler weather, and the changing of the seasons.