Teaching music virtually can be a bit of a learning curve. In many ways, it's totally different from teaching in person. We can't sing “together” because of wi-fi latency. It's difficult to gauge student engagement, because they show up as small squares on your screen. Small group work is possible with breakout rooms, but would be challenging for your youngest students.
How can we adapt lessons so they can be taught virtually? In this blog post, I'm detailing a first grade lesson, and how it can be adapted for virtual learning.
Download the free first grade lesson here, then keep reading for my adaptations!
Overview of In Person Lesson
Here is an overview of the lesson; see the free download for the procedures, objectives, standards, etc.
- We are dancing game
- Here we are together gathering song
- We are dancing: practice sol, mi, and la
- Bounce High: new song
- Vocal exploration
- Bow Wow Wow: practice rest
- Naughty Kitty Cat: practice rest
- Seven Jumps dance
How to adapt for Virtual Lesson
To adapt this for virtual learning, I would likely switch some of the activities around, and play games differently. Here's how I would change the lesson:
- “Here we are together”: Start the lesson by singing the song, and singing all students' names (use the participant list in your video conferencing platform to sing all students' names)
- Vocal exploration: Continue warming up voices with some vocal exploration. Students can go on a scavenger hunt for a paper and pencil or dry erase board and marker; you could share your screen and use a timer like this to keep students aware of how much time they have for finding their materials. Then, they could write their own pattern, and you could have everyone click their microphone and sing their pattern! If you're comfortable with Peardeck, you could drop a student-paced link in the chat, and have everyone complete a Peardeck…and you can see their creations in real time!
- We are dancing: You could play the song on the recorder, and students identify. Then, sing the song (with microphones off.) Then, you could play the game detailed in this blog post, with a wolf puppet, having students freeze!
After playing, you could have students show you the melody on their body staff (touch head for la, touch shoulders for sol, and touch hips for mi.) This works really well for virtual lessons, as you can see students doing their body staff, as long as their cameras are on! Ask students what other songs we know about animals, or have them type titles into the chat! Tell them you are thinking about a song about a dog–“Bow Wow Wow”!
- “Bow Wow Wow”: Sing with microphones off. Have students sing the song, then do the motions from a seated position (clapping for the first phrase, pointing for the second phrase, pointing for the third phrase, and clapping again for the last phrase.) You could show them a video like this, to show how the game could be played if they were in person. Then, have them clap the rhythm as they sing. Then, show them a visual like this, and have them identify which color is “Bow Wow Wow.”
Then, have them read the rhythm as you read the other rhythm. You won't be able to hear them, but you'll just have to trust that they are reading it correctly (as, if all microphones are off, it will sound very messy!)
Then, you could have them read the other rhythm with you, and then identify which song it is. You might be able to use the chat to have students vote; if you are using Microsoft Teams, you can use Google Forms to have them vote on the song title!
Then, everyone could sing “Naughty Kitty Cat.” Usually, there is a chasing game, but since we're virtual, you'd have to adapt. Instead, maybe play a solo meow game. Change the cursor to a cat, like Katie Wardrobe describes in this blog post. Then, choose three students to unmute, and share your screen. When singing, point to the first student on the first “meow,” and have them meow. Do the same on the second rest with the second student, and the third rest for the third student! Then, repeat with three more students!
Lastly, to play “Seven Jumps,” you could share your screen and show a video like this, of the dance. To do the dance together, students could walk in place, then do each motion by getting out of their chair and doing that motion!
Looking for lesson plans which you could adapt for virtual? Check out these sets:
I hope this is helpful to you, as you figure out how to adapt your in person lessons for virtual! Happy teaching!