Many teachers are already aware of the importance of integrating music into lesson plans. In fact, there are thousands of resources that explain why music is a vital element in the classroom, how music can help build connections between content areas, and how using music effectively can reach students who may be struggling.
The following is a list of the best places to find music that will enhance classroom activities:
There are numerous sources that help educators identify music to use in their classrooms. Due to print limitations, these books may not include current song selections, but they are still valuable resources for traditional, classic music:
Music for Elementary Classroom Teachers
This book describes a range of age-appropriate songs that elementary teachers can use in any classroom setting. One of the book’s most helpful features is its list of cross-curricular activities that emphasize the use of music in multiple ways.
Lively Learning: Using the Arts to Teach the K-8 Curriculum
Written particularly for teachers who have no background in the arts, this book offers sample lesson plans and a comprehensive resource list that will help teachers of all grade levels. Cross-curricular activities include lessons in writing, math, science, and social studies.
2. Web Resources
Teachers today can take advantage of a plethora of web-based resources when searching for appropriate musical selections to incorporate into their lessons. For example, sharing sites like Pinterest provide user-based collections of classroom resources and teacher-generated playlists.
8Tracks—User-compiled playlists are filtered for specific uses. The “Classroom” page offers teachers a place to share their best classroom music finds. This site also offers a mobile app to allow for easy listening on the go.
Playlists—Teacher-generated playlists, which people can find on educational sites, such as scholastic.com, are a good way for instructors to see what kinds of music are actually working in real classrooms. One example, Mr. Vasicek’s Classroom Playlist, contains several different sublists, broken down by activity and theme. Among these are “Come-In Songs,” “Writing Time,” and “Subject Anchors.” Mr. Vasicek’s lists are especially easy to use because they include links to the songs and descriptions of how he uses each selection.
3. Other Sources
In spite of the numerous resources available, many teachers primarily select their classroom music by choosing songs their students may recognize and enjoy. Although the connection between students’ favorite tunes and the subject matter is sometimes tenuous, teachers who manage to forge links between the two find that their students are more engaged in the learning process. Some places to look for popular kids’ music include the following:
TV Theme Songs—Using proven resources, like Nielsen Media Research results, find out the top TV shows for kids in your students’ age group. The theme songs from these shows make excellent transition songs, attention grabbers, and background music for classroom activities.
Movie Soundtracks—Films, including cult classics, Oscar-award-winning movies, and popular or recent flicks are another great source of music that educators can put to work in their classrooms. Often filled with sweeping, emotional melodies, movie soundtracks can serve as classroom theme songs or help guide students through a particular lesson.
Pop Music—Top-40 hits, hip-hop songs, and other current music playlists can be a good source of classroom music. However, teachers need to take extra care to verify that the lyrics are age-appropriate before using these songs in the classroom.
Musicals—Show tunes are finding their way into youth culture, thanks to the advent of teen-friendly musicals such as Camp Rock, High School Musical, and Pitch Perfect. In fact, many schools’ drama departments perform these musicals every year, thus making them a perfect fit for classroom use.
Student Surveys—The most effective way to find out which tunes kids like the most is to ask them directly. Not only does direct communication with students engage them in the learning process, but it also helps form connections within the classroom. One way to find out what students what to hear is to conduct a survey. For example, a teacher can pass out two index cards to his or her students and ask them to use each side for a particular category. Side one may be a student’s three favorite TV shows, side two may be his or her all-time favorite songs. On the other card, students can list musicals they are familiar with or movies they loved. Teachers can then compile this information into a working list of source material—giving them plenty of musical selections that their students are sure to appreciate.
Finding music to use in the classroom does require some effort, but the results make the process worthwhile. Teachers who use music in the classroom find that their students are more engaged, more likely to pay attention, and more apt to look forward to their lessons.