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What to do on the first day of music class

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Group of children with instruments in music class, with the text, "What to do on the first day of music class"

Wondering what to include in your first day music lessons? In this blog post, I'm detailing five activities I love to include in my music lesson plans for the start of the year! Note: there are some affiliate links in this post, but I am only recommending materials which I love!

Name Game

Name games are so great, because they allow you to learn and/or review students' names, AND they can also review musical concepts, such as beat or rhythm!
Here is one of my favorites, for K-2, called “Rickity Rackity”:

The first time we do this name game, I have students simply say the chant while keeping the beat. Then when it's their turn, they say their names, then we all echo. In the next class, I have students clap the rhythm of their names, and we all echo. In the next lesson, students can play the rhythm of their names, on a hand drum or lollipop drum!

Rules and Routines

In the first lesson of the year, it's important to go over rules and common routines, such as what a student should do if having to use the restroom, how we line up, what we do at the start of the class, etc. Before the pandemic hit, I attended a Responsive Classroom training for special areas teachers. I LOVED the training, but then didn't get much time to implement the ideas, since we went virtual soon after. Recently, I found this book, which I had received in the training.

It's full of great ideas for how to effectively have students model routines, as well as how to set up rules for your classroom, so that students feel empowered and are confident with what to do. I'm excited to try these strategies in my classroom!

Another helpful strategy I first tried a couple years ago was to have a PowerPoint with my routines and procedures, then record my voice on each slide, so I could simply hit play and not have to repeat myself for each of my 25 classes! So helpful! Here is a set I've made for routines, for in person and/or virtual learning.

Song or Game Review

In the first lesson of the year, I love to revisit a song, chant, game, or activity that I know students love! For example, I'll be doing freeze dance with my younger students, because they love it, and it's a great way to get them moving! I'm also excited to try the “opposite world” activity found in the “Energizers” responsive classroom book, in which the students who are “out” from freeze dance have to freeze when the music IS playing, and move when the music is NOT playing! How fun!

Review rhythm or melody

I also like to include a song or chant that students already know, to help review rhythmic or melodic concepts. For example, with second grade, I'll be doing “Bee Bee” with them as a review chant. We'll play the game, then review beat, then review rhythm, then review ta and ti-ti! Here is the notation as well as the game directions:

For the game, the teacher holds a bee puppet, and students stand in a circle with one fist out. As the chant is spoken, the teacher touches students’ fists to the beat. After the word “out,” the teacher buzzes 4 students; those students are out and sit down. Repeat until only one child is left; that child is the winner.

Get to Know Students

In one of my first lessons of the year, I plan on having my upper elementary students fill out a survey, such as this one, telling me a little about themselves, and telling me what they have enjoyed about music class in the past. Then, I'll be able to use the information to craft future lessons!

Looking for ready to print first day lessons for your music room? Check out this set (and if you've already purchased, make sure to re-download for the new updates, including a new lesson plan template, a new class list version in Google Sheets, and more!)

Have a great start to your year, and happy teaching!

5 Responses

  1. Love the game review of the ‘opposite world’ idea so that those who are ‘out’ of a game are still included IN the game! What fun! Will definitely have to check out that book! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Do you have some lessons that would be best for 3-5 graders? You know they are hard to get on board sometimes – thinking they are older.
    Thanks, Julie

  3. These look great for younger students. Do you have some lessons that would be best for 3-5 graders? You know they are hard to get on board sometimes – thinking they are older.
    Thanks, Julie

  4. Thankyou so very much for your inspirational and refreshing suggestions.
    Your ideas have encouraged me greatly.

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Hi, I'm Aileen

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