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Patriotic Songs for Elementary Students – “The Big 6”

Are you searching for patriotic songs for elementary students? These 6 patriotic songs are a must for your lesson plans.

I know you have seen this on TV. A comedian asks a random person on the street if they know the name of our national anthem or if they can sing a few lines of one of our nation’s patriotic songs. Usually, they answer with absurd ridiculous answers. This makes for good comedy. But the citizens of our nations should know our most common patriotic songs.

Patriotic songs should be woven into elementary music lesson plans throughout the year. But they work especially well for patriotic holidays. Our public school has a tradition of starting each all-school assembly with the Pledge of Allegiance followed immediately by a patriotic song. The audience all joins in too. What a GREAT way to start an assembly.

6 Patriotic Songs that Every Elementary Student Should Learn | Elementary Music Classroom

Important Note: Teaching patriotic songs is ABSOLUTELY NOT about being political. It IS about teaching students the songs of our nation that UNITE us as a country. Take care to teach them as such.

The Big 6 Patriotic Songs All Americans Should Know

I have identified what I call “The Big 6” patriotic songs that I teach my students at each grade level beginning with the simplest and building to the most complex. This list is cumulative. So by fourth and fifth grades students can sing all of these songs from memory.

We revisit these songs (and other songs from our repertoire) frequently by singing them in assemblies, as we wait for their classroom teacher to pick them up, in the cafeteria as we put away trays, etc. This is NOT a one-and-done kind of lesson. The students at our school REALLY KNOW these patriotic songs of our nation.

Use Storybooks to Set the Stage

There are many different children’s storybooks depicting each of these songs. Add a storybook to enhance the activity. See Establish Historical Context Using Storybooks for more about setting the stage and learning the history behind the songs.

Core Repertoire of Patriotic Songs for Elementary Students

When you establish a core repertoire of patriotic songs, it makes it much easier to put together programs for any patriotic event such as 9-11, Veterans Day, Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, or the 4th of July. I almost always include a version of one of these songs in our annual Veterans Day programs. When possible, it is often a highlight of the program to invite the audience to sing along on one song.

By teaching songs in a standard sequence, each grade level has a chance to learn all of the songs. At the beginning of the year, we review each song at all grade levels and learn additional verses. This helped students who are new to our school learn these songs and feel a part of our school community too.

The range and vocabulary of many of our standard patriotic songs can be difficult for young elementary students. Adding sign language or actions makes songs easier to remember for young children.

Kindergarten

  • This Land is Your Land, Woody Guthrie (Refrain only)
  • Grand Old Flag, George M. Cohan

Grade 1

  • This Land is Your Land, Woody Guthrie (Add Verse 1)
  • America (My Country ‘Tis of Thee), lyrics by Samuel Francis Smith

Grade 2

  • This Land is Your Land, Woody Guthrie (Add Verses 2 – 3)
  • America, the Beautiful, Katharine Lee Bates

Grade 3

  • The Star-Spangled Banner, Francis Scott Key (Verse 1)

Grades 4-5

  • The Star-Spangled Banner, Francis Scott Key (Verses 1-4)
  • God Bless America, Irving Berlin

More Patriotic Songs for Elementary Students

Of course, these 6 songs are NOT the only patriotic songs that elementary students should learn. They simply form a CORE repertoire. Below are a few more of my favorites that I have used successfully for class and/or performances.

6 Patriotic Songs that Every Elementary Student Should Learn | Elementary Music Classroom
  • Allegiance Rap, by Teresa Jennings
  • Fifty Nifty United States, by Ray Charles
  • The Preamble (School House Rock), by Lynn Ahrens
  • We Remember, John Jacobson & Mac Huff
  • Yankee Doodle
  • Yankee Doodle Boy, George M. Cohan

Patriotic Collections & Programs

I don’t think I have ever used any music program completely as written without modifying it to some degree. Below are a few patriotic music programs that I can recommend. I have used at least a portion of the songs and/or narration from each.

Conclusion

When you teach these “Big 6” patriotic songs and make them part of your standard repertoire, your elementary students will know and be able to perform them throughout their lifetimes. You will NOT see them on late-night TV stumbling over and making up their own lyrics.

These are not just patriotic songs that all elementary students should know, they are songs all American Citizens should know.

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