The months of June and July have many fun and important observances. Many of these lend themselves to fun thematic music activities for elementary grades. Consider using a few of these observances as themes for summer learning.
Whether you are teaching in the music classroom, a daycare center, summer camp, or homeschooling, you are sure to find several fun themes that you will want to incorporate into your music lesson plans. Read on.
June Holidays & Observances
- June 1 – Pen Pal Day
- June 3 – World Bicycle Day/National Donut Day/Repeat Day
- June 4 – National Trails Day
- June 5 – World Environment Day
- June 6 – D-Day WWII/National Yo-Yo Day
- June 7 – Daniel Boone Day
- June 8 – Best Friends Day/World Ocean Day
- June 9 – Donald Duck Day
- June 11 – King Kamehameha Day
- June 12 – Red Rose Day
- June 14 – Flag Day
- June 18 – Go Fishing Day/International Picnic Day
- June 19 – Fathers’ Day/Juneteenth
- June 21 – First Day of Summer/World Day of Music
- June 27 – Sun Glasses Day/National Bingo Day
- June 28 – Paul Bunyan Day
- June 30 – National Meteor Day
June Monthly Observances
- African American Music Appreciation Month
- National Zoo and Aquarium Month
- National Camping Month
- National Accordion Awareness Month
- National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month
- National Oceans Month
- National Rivers Month
June Weekly Observances
- National Bike Week – May 30-June 5
- Fishing & Boating Week – June 4-12
- National Garden Week – June 5-11
July Holidays & Observances
- July 1 – Canada Day/International Joke Day/National Postal Worker Day
- July 4 – Independence Day (U.S.)
- July 7 – World Chocolate Day
- July 10 – Teddy Bear Picnic Day
- July 11 – Cheer up the Lonely Day/National Blueberry Muffins Day
- July 12 – National Simplicity Day
- July 13 – Barbershop Music Appreciation Day
- July 14 – Bastille Day/Shark Awareness Day
- July 16 – World Snake Day
- July 17 – World Emoji Day/National Ice Cream Day
- July 18 – World Listening Day
- July 20 – Moon Day (a reminder of the first day that man walked on the moon in 1969)
- July 23 – National Day of the Cowboy
- July 24 – Cousins Day
- July 29 – International Tiger Day
- July 30 – International Day of Friendship
July Monthly Observances
- National Children Make a Difference Month
- National Ice Cream Month
- National Hot Dog Month
- National Picnic Month
Storybooks – Music Activities for Elementary Students
Down by the Bay
Using storybooks is always a fun way to introduce a new song. There are several different versions of Down by the Bay. I have two different storybooks, but my preference is this one by Raffi. My favorite verse is “Did you ever see a llama eating his pajamas?”
Making up their own verses is always fun for kids. My students have gotten very creative with this song. We have even made our own class books including an illustrated page from each student.
Row, Row, Row Your Boat
If your students are ready to sing rounds, Row, Row, Row Your Boat is a staple. Your younger students will enjoy singing it in unison. If the song is new for younger students, this storybook is fun to introduce the song.
Use each phrase of the song as a simple Orff-style melodic accompaniment for the song. If you students are ready, learn to play the entire melody. Perform it in unison first. Then, when students are ready, play it in a round.
Once again, there are several different versions of this storybook. This version I have is by Iza Trapani.
We’re Going on a Lion Hunt
We’re Going on a Lion Hunt by David Axtell is an adaptation of the old camp favorite, Goin’ on a Bear Hunt. This storybook can become interactive by reading in an echo fashion.
Set the tempo by patting the footsteps on your lap, one hand at a time. Then, add sound effects and actions for each area you travel through as you “echo read” the book.
- Grass – rub hands together
- Lake – swimming arms
- Swamp – stepping hands on lap as if stepping through thick mud
- Cave – tiptoe hands on lap with whisper voices
As you “make your way back home,” increase the tempo as if running or hurrying back home.
Summer is Time for Camp Songs
There are SO many fun camp songs that can teach a variety of music skills including harmonic singing. All may be sung in unison. But, many camp songs lend themselves to learning simple harmonic singing as well. Simple descants, rounds, and partner songs make successful harmonic singing experiences for the upper elementary grades.
Camp songs also lend themselves to easily creating rhythmic or melodic Orff accompaniments. Need some ideas for using camp songs? Click to see the helpful blog posts below.
Online Music Activities for Elementary Students | Music Literacy Boom Cards
Do you need some resources for a few quieter afternoon activities? Do you need to get your children out of the hot summer sun for a little while? Click to preview these Music Literacy Boom Cards.
These Music Literacy Sets include melodic and rhythmic dictation, treble and bass clef note name identification, higher/lower note identification, melodic direction, identification of rhythmic and melodic patterns, and more.
Best of all, this collection includes many FREE sets of Music Literacy Boom Cards to help you get started.
Yes, Boom Cards can be a valuable tool to help develop real music reading skills. If you have never tried them, the summer is a good time to try them out. You will find that these sets will be a valuable addition to your lesson plans year round.
Click to see more advanced sets in this post – Boom Cards for Developing Music Literacy.
No-Prep/Low-Prep Music Activities for Elementary Ages and Beyond
Don’t do all of the work when introducing the following activities. The more of the planning the children take on, the more they will learn. Think of these activities as loosely planned PBLs (Project Based Learning).
Sound Scavenger Hunt
Students may simply write a list of found sounds or use a device to record them. Ask students to create some kind of classification system for their sounds. Some examples might be natural/man-made sounds, birds/mammals/insects/amphibians, night sounds/morning sounds, inside/outside sounds, kitchen percussion/natural percussion, etc.
Challenge students to create a piece of music with these sounds of a representation of the sounds.
Give students a storybook and ask them to create sound effects to go with the story. Depending on the age of children, these sounds could be created vocally, as body percussion, or by using “found instruments.” The “found sounds” could be nature sounds, recorded online sounds, instruments made from recycled materials, or classroom music instruments.
Freesound.org is a good source for free sound effects.
Consider recording the performance as an audiobook.
Write and Perform a Play
Sometimes all kids need to alleviate summer boredom is a few simple prompts. Give your students a few ideas about creating their own play.
Children may recreate an existing storybook or fairy tale with an original twist or come up with their own unique script. Depending on how elaborate you want the project to be, you may want to prompt them to include costuming, staging, sets, etc. Or, you may want to perform a “black-box” style production using minimal staging and props. Video the performance to save or share.
Many children who are reluctant to be “on stage” and act in front of others will take on another persona behind a puppet. Puppets can be as simple as paper puppets or they may be very elaborate. Shadow puppets are another option.
Host a Recital, Concert, or Talent Show
Performances may be online or in-person. Contact a few friends or family members and set up a live online performance using Zoom, Google Meet, or another online platform.
Giving kids a goal and a date to work towards provides focus. Be sure to give them enough time to refine their performances, but not so much time that they lose interest. Help them schedule practice/rehearsal time each day.
Film a Movie or Music Video
This is a little different from a play because a movie will be filmed scene by scene. A play should be able to be presented live.
Every summer, my cousins would come and spend several weeks on our farm. We had a tradition of making a movie during every visit. The script was usually not thought completely through and the story line developed as we filmed.
The twists and turns our “plots” would take made for some unusual and creative final projects. They were usually loosely based around the costuming and props we could scrounge up. Gather up some existing props, costumes, and some pencils and paper. Then, see what develops.
We still LOVE watching those videos. They are family keepsakes! Don’t think your children are too old for this. We are in our second generation of making movies, although admittedly not as many. Our children are now the stars.
Whether you are at school or at home, get your “movie stars” motivated and start filming!
Chrome Music Lab
Students may explore and experiment with all the fun features of Chrome Music Lab. Encourage them to create their own songs with the Song Maker feature. They may even want to create lyrics or use an existing poem and set it to music.
They may use their creations as background music for plays, films, or puppet shows. Or, maybe it could be presented as a part of a recital or talent show.
Summer is for Being Creative
Everyone’s summer break is going to look different. However you are spending your summer, make time to be creative. Music activities for elementary students, middle school, and adults too can be the highlight of their days.
Be joyful. Be creative. Experience music.