With all the focus on STEM and standardized testing these days, the arts can wind up taking a back seat in the curriculum. That’s why it’s more important than ever to celebrate “Music in Our Schools” March. After all, research supports the idea that music helps young brains develop in important ways, so adding some music education to your classroom might just help boost your kids’ enthusiasm and performance in all academic areas.
Check out these creative ways to make your classroom a more musical place this month:
Create a Classroom Playlist
Ask your students to contribute a song to your new classroom playlist — all they have to do is name a favorite, and you can set up the playlist in your favorite mp3 or streaming program. Try making two lists: one for upbeat, shake-out-the-sillies transition times to get heart rates up and smiles spreading, and another one for quiet reading and studying. (The quiet list works best if you limit students to songs that have no lyrics.) Commit to playing the classroom playlist at least once per day to fill your classroom with beautiful music.
Team Beat Boxing
You can make transition time a little more fun with this easy team-building activity. Divide students into small groups, and have each group plan a short measure of rhythm (for example, the stomp-stomp-clap from Queen’s “We Will Rock You” is always a popular way to start). Encourage students to get creative with how they makes sounds (in addition to using classroom instruments, try drumming with pencils, making silly mouth sounds, snapping fingers, tearing paper, etc.). Get your classroom rhythm going by having one group start and maintain their beat; then gradually add in other groups until everyone is jamming together. Remind students that it only works when they’re listening to each other and working together!
Compose a Class Theme Song
Another great way to add music to your classroom and build community at the same time is to challenge your students to compose a class theme song. You can choose a popular tune and have students brainstorm to rewrite lyrics that have to do with the funny things about their group (and, of course, about you!). If your students are older, you can consider making this is a full-blown interdisciplinary unit with the music teacher to help kids compose an original tune. Writing the lyrics can dovetail nicely with a poetry unit, and you can add some art and computer skills by designing an album cover and/or music video for your song. This is an engaging project that can really bring a class together, and it can be as involved (or as simple!) as you like.
Choose one of these activities to make your classroom a little more musical during the month of March — you’ll be glad you did!