Every music class is different. The song that might be the favorite of one class of Grade 4 students, another class might not like. If I introduce a song or activity and the students really dislike it, I’ll put it aside for another year.
What do I do with the (fortunately very rare) student who says that they don’t like music. Does every student like math? reading? art? Music is a required part of the curriculum, just like math, reading, and art. There are skills that they are expected to learn, even if it isn’t their favorite subject. As a teacher, I’m expected to write report cards, do outdoor supervision and attend staff meetings — even if those aren’t my favorite things to do. This is life.
What do you do with the kids who want to listen to pop songs and don’t want to sing folk songs? In language arts do the students read Archie comics? No – they read literature that has been selected because it’s “quality” literature. In music class will I teach pop songs? Sometimes, for a specific purpose, I will. But I would never teach just pop music, any more than I would feed a child junk food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Folk songs have survived for hundreds of years because there is something in them that is timeless and they teach us not just musical skills, but teach us about our past.
There are some games and actitivities that are always favorites! If you start the year with activities that the students really enjoy, you’ll have more success introducing new activities.
Find all of the singing games listed below at www.musicplayonline.com . There will be song videos AND there will be kids demo videos available to help you learn how to play the game. Get more information on the Musicplay curriculum at http://musicplay.ca/.
* Wake Me! Shake Me! – create a B section
* Good Morning (#5) – what my students liked most about the game was introducing themselves
* Cut the Cake (#28) – every student I’ve ever taught loves chase games
* Sarasponda (39) – kids love the stick game, especially the toss
* Ma Ku Ay (#22) – kids love the stick game – they’d borrow rhythm sticks at recess to practice
* Pass the Pumpkin (26) – the challenge of doing the rhythm chain keeps kids engaged
* Stella Ella Olla (#34) – my students would play this game every music class from Sept – June! Loved it!
* Categories (#64) – this game took a few classes until they “caught on” but we’d often use it after that.
* My Bonnie (#35) – going up and down each time there’s a B is fun!
Ickle Ockle (#8) – the song is simple, but the kids love the chase!
Four White Horses (#10) – the clap pattern is tricky to teach, but not really that hard and the kids like the challenge.
Button (#13) always engaging – they have to see if they can guess
Our Old Sow (#28) my students favorite game!
Green Sally Up (#33) – this is a clap game with a handshake. The creating was fun too!
Old Maid (#46) – fun stealing partners
Waddally Acha #88 – fun with the Boomwhackers
Dollar #19 – played like Button, it’s an engaging game
COFFEE #46 – try the tennis ball routine with the round – fun!
Hanky Panky #30 – this is played like Stella Ella Olla
Un Elephant #117 is the same kind of game with French words.
Creating Activities – Using the singing game song as a theme, have students create a B section. If you have Orff instruments, teach the Orff arrangement, then have students improvise melodies using a tone set from the song as a B section. If you don’t have Orff instruments, create ostinatos using ideas from the song and try song + ostinato. Or, create word rhythms with ideas from the song, transfer to body percussion or unpitched instruments as an introduction/ending to the song or as a B section. The Orff Source vol. 1-2-3 (or the Orff arrangements at musicplayonline.com) have many creating ideas for most of the singing games listed above.
Listening Logs A teacher from St. Michael’s boy school once wrote and told me that her 5th grade classes favorite activity was to do listening logs. It wasn’t what I would expect, but it was this class’s favorite!
Cup Games – In the Listening Kits 3-4-5 (also listening section at musicplayonline) there are cup games. I like to teach one or two patterns, then have the students make up their own. The only patterns they can’t use are ones that they’ve learned somewhere else – has to be brand new!
Rhythm instrument play alongs – kids love to play rhythm instruments!
Head and Shoulders Knees and Toes – From Listening Fun book.
– kids loved this when we did the videotaping. They really liked all the tennis ball routines as well!
This Little Light of Mine – this is familiar, so is easy to teach. I find a sing along song at the beginning of the school year gets the kids singing. It might be that it’s familiar, and they have confidence singing it.
Bats – Kids love the balloon sound effects in this song
Chester – Kids love the challenge of doing the actions as tempo increases
Scotland’s Burning – this is a round that is easy enough for your students to have success in 2 parts. I found adding the actions made it even more appealing.
Little Tommy Tinker (#3) – very successful round
Ronald McDonald #17 – fun action song
We Love to Sing #95 – great warmup – stand up each time you sing “We love to sing!”
Shalom #23 – great for Remembrance Day, we added sign language for part 1.
Jack was every Inch a Sailor – #14 – this is a fun folk song and easy to accompany with I and V chords. There are lots of songs in Musicplay 5 that use just two chords – accompany with ukelele, guitars or . Boomwhackers! There are too many favorites to list them all! Same with Musicplay 6 – lots of excellent choral pieces!
beat/rhythm with sticks – Yankee Doodle Stick Game in Musicplay 4 works well If you’ve found other favorite songs in 4-5-6 for doing beat/rhythm switch, please let me know!
Beat Boards – drumming along with pop songs. Get the students to create their own pop song playalongs!
Review note values: draw a whole, half, quarter, eighth on the board. Kids play what you point to. Do this with a fun pop song in 4/4 time – Sugar Sugar works well. Try this with tennis balls!
Creating rhythm compositions – use the note squares that are in Musicplay 6, or give students a template and have them create their own rhythm compositions. Turn the composition into 2 or more parts by adding an ostinato or playing it as a canon.
Composing piggyback and raps – this unit is part of Musicplay 6. Rap tracks are on CD#4. If you haven’t tried this unit, copy the reproducibles (in the back of the binder worksheets 17-22) and get your kids creating rhythm compositions, verses, then piggyback songs, then raps and rhythm and blues songs.
Pop Song Assignment – Musicplay 6 pg 6-7
Guitar or Ukelele – Many of the songs in Musicplay can be accompanied with instruments. Musicplay 5 includes many songs that can be accompanied with just 1 or 2 chords.
1 chord minor #20, 21, 33,
1 chord major #6, 8, 24, 62,
I-V #2 Concentration, 3 Little Tommy, 10 Four White Horses, 15 Alabma Gal, 25 El Torojil, 26 He’s Got the Whole world, 27 Peace is FLowing, 28 Our Old Sow, 38 Winter is Here, 45 Early to Bed, 54 I’ve a Car, 75 Funga Alafia, 77 Old Woman, 79 John Kanaka, 89 Play that Rhythm, 91 Clementine, 92 I Let Her Go, 96 Boll Weevil . If you don’t have guitars or ukeleles, you can accompany with Boomwhackers.
Create accompaniments for poems or simple songs: Use word highlights or ostinato to create accompaniments for poems or simple songs
Does music class have to be fun? Practicing scales on the piano or a trumpet isn’t something that I’d call “fun” but I know that I have to do the technique to improve my skills on my instrument. I think that students get a great deal of satisfaction from doing something well – singing well, accurately playing a part on their instrument, creating a movement that looks neat, learning to read a new rhythm. It’s not always “fun” – but it’s very satisfying – and that makes me want to keep doing an activity.
Coming Soon – Ideas for Earth Day!
Artie and Denise – in Dulles, VA . July 17-18, 2018
Join Artie Almeida, Denise Gagne, and Katie Grace Miller for a 2 day elementary music conference that will give you a wealth of ideas and inspiration for teaching elementary music classes. Close to Dulles airport – -GREAT workshop and close to Washington DC for sightseeing! Workshop registration includes a one year subscription to musicplayonline.com – it’s like a free workshops!!! Register: http://musicplay.ca/