The Best Children’s Literature for the Music Classroom

Elementary music lessons based on books.
Elementary music lessons based on books.

A growing compilation of great books and musical connections that work with them!

Books Reviewed + music connection ideas

The Year We Learned to Fly

“Fly Away” is a companion resource to “The Year We Learned to Fly.”

Change Sings

“The Change Is You” and “Change the World With Kindness” are companion resources to “Change Sings” by Amanda Gorman.

Ohana Means Family

A great book about Hawaiian culture to use with multiple grade levels! K-2 can use movement and un-pitched percussion and grades 3-5 can use movement and barred instruments!

A song that would complement the learning in the book.

This old chant was set to music by Winona Beamer. The kahuli (tree snails) or pūpū kanioe (land shells) are the singing snails of legend.  Winona Beamer was a champion of authentic and ancient Hawaiian culture, publishing many books, musical scores, as well as audio and video recordings on the subject.

In My Heart

Sun Wishes

Just Help by Sonia Sotomayor

Next books to be added:

  • Wutaryoo
  • The Earth Gives More
  • Holi Hai

Each new book addition will be announced in the Oodles Newsletter

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If you have a book you’d like for me to include, please comment below.

St. Patrick’s Day Special Activities With History, Songs, And Dances

On This Page

  • Slideshow (St. P history, Rattlin’ Bog, Irish Washerwoman, Sing a Rainbow)
  • Rattlin’ Bog with history and bodhran
  • The Broom Dance
  • Follow the Rainbow info

Google Slide Presentation ⬇️

At the bottom of the slide, click on the 3 dots to find the ENTER FULL-SCREEN link.

Click to Begin or Enter Full Screen & Begin

If you have a problem, send an email to oodlesofmusic21@gmail.com or comment below.

Rattlin’ Bog

The Broom Dance

  • Set up three chairs and two lines of students (facing into center is best) are lined up from the two outer chairs. There are three students sitting in the chairs and the student in the middle has a shamrock (or valentine or snowflake or whatever)
  • When the music begins, everyone claps the steady beat and the child with the shamrock gives the shamrock to either the person on their right or left. The person who just received the shamrock moves to the middle seat and the two others dance down the lane and join the end of their respective lines.
  • The empty chairs are taken by the student next in line from each of the two rows.
  • Use any fun Irish song!
  • This is a great movement activity for K-2.

Follow the Rainbow

This song by Teresa Jennings is FABULOUS and for the price of the singles kit on Music K8 ($14.95 currently), it is worth it because you can use it any time of the year and you WILL use it every year!

Valentine Themed Music Resources

The BEST Valentine Game for K-2

To the tune of This Old Man
Valentine, valentine.
Won’t you be my valentine?
Number 1, number 2, number 3 it must be you.
Take my heart along with you.

Sitting in a scattered formation or columns and rows is the most fun, although a circle will work, too. The first child is the leader and has a valentine in their hand and walks around the room as the song is sung. On each of the three numbers, the leader taps the head (or back) of the nearest 3 children. The third child is given the heart, stands up, and holds hands with the leader. The leader continues to slowly walk around the room, meandering in any direction, and when the song gets to the numbers, the child on the end who has the valentine taps 3 heads and gives the valentine to the third child. That child stands up, holds hands with the person who gave them the valentine, and now the group of three walks around the room. The game continues until there is only one child left. When that child gets the valentine, there is only one person left, YOU the teacher. So the end child gets to give the valentine to you.

Roses Are Red

This is a wonderful 6/8 Valentine activity for grades 3-5.

Using the old poem “Roses are Red”, echo speak with body percussion until everyone knows it.

1.  Individuals improvise the poem on pitched percussion/recorders.  When we do this, we start with someone and just proceed all around the room.  I keep a little bass beat on the BX and play a little interlude between each child.  It is so much fun and the 6/8 of course is lilting and beautiful!

2.  Finish the melody activity-On xylophones have students learn DRMS, DRMS for the first two lines of the poem and then they create the melody for the last two lines.  We vote on our favorite and that becomes their class melody.  I usually do it in C pentatonic.  It would work well on recorders in G major.  OR, you could do LDRM in E minor on recorders for a fun and accessible way to finish a melody using the notes EGAB.

3.  Building bricks with 6/8-students brainstorm.  Three eighth note examples are valentine and chocolate.  Dotted quarter examples are love, heart, red, candy.  Put combos together in groups to create B, C, D, E, F, etc. sections in rondo form with the song above as your A section.  Or pick favorite group creation as the B section for a more simple binary form.  These can be transferred to non-pitched percussion.

4.  If you’d like to explore writing poems in the style of “Roses are Red”, try changing the colors and then the rhyming words.

Roses are blue.
Violets are red.
If you agree,
You’ve got rocks in your head.

Amanda Gorman Music Resources and Ideas

Music Resources & Ideas for the works of Amanda Gorman.

Change Sings

With her poetry of words, Amanda Gorman’s “Change Sings” uses a story full of music vocabulary to invite children to be the change in the world with acts of kindness. Here are songs that fit into that theme.

The Change Is You

Amanda Gorman’s book, “Change Sings”, inspired this new 3-part round song that uses an African proverb to begin the journey of a call to action to be the change in the world.

Change the World, With Kindness

Written for younger singers, this song reinforces the act of kindness themes in Amanda Gorman’s book, “Change Sings.” With lots of repetition and sequencing, this easy-to-learn song is a perfect concert selection. The resource includes suggested movements and opportunities to create your own movement.

I Dream A World by Andre Thomas

This gorgeous melody set to Langston Hughes’ words is in 2-parts which could easily be adapted to a single melody line. In “Change Sings” Gorman writes, “I scream with the skies of red and blue streamers. I dream with the cries of tried-and-true dreamers.” Hughes writes, “”I dream a world where man, no other man will scorn. Where love will bless the earth and peace its paths adorn.”

I’ll Make the Difference by Moses Hogan

The Dream Keeper by Rollo Dilworth

Black History Month Songs & Curriculum

Lift Every Voice for Black History Month curriculum resources.

On This Page

  • *Song Info Lift Ev’ry Voice, Sister Rosa, Bessie Jones documentary, What Can One Little Person Do?
  • *Musician & Song Database Google Sheets database
  • *Resources African Drumming/Dance, Music History Is Black History, Culture Bearer-Namibia, Black Stringband music, History of We Shall Overcome, African American Women and Rock and Roll, Paying Royalties, American History through the lens of Black American music (Diaspora)
  • *Bulletin Boards

Song Info

Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing (Black National Anthem)

Kings Return

Sister Rosa by The Neville Brothers

Documentary About Bessie Jones

What Can One Little Person Do? by Sally Rogers

A composed song about important black leaders and the power of one.

Musician & Song Database

I’ve tried to use songs written by Black artists that are accessible to children. There is a multitude of current songs (or within the past 10 years) that could be used as well that I haven’t added to the list. Also, there are SO MANY amazing Black performers who weren’t composers that you can highlight as well.

Resources

African Drumming & Dance

In this series, dancer Rujeko Dumbutshena and drummer Farai Malianga show you how to dance traditional African dances and drums and their place in African history. This is a YT playlist from the Kennedy Center.

Music History, Is Black History

This resource page by Reverb has lots of information about Black musicians who were innovators and had groundbreaking achievements.

Teaching Idea: Let students choose a musician to research, putting all the research together into a timeline of Black music history.

The final student product could be online or hard-copy.
ONLINE-a Google slide, Flipgrid video presentation
HARD-COPY-poster board, report on 8.5 x 11, info on record-shaped album

Namibia Culture-Bearer, Garth Prince

Prince is a musician, vocalist, drummer, and educator who has knowledge of traditional folk songs of Namibia.

Black Stringband Music

This resource, by musician Jake Blount, has some essential and relevant information about Stringband music but other information about Black music and musicians. Mr. Blount has such thoroughly researched information.

A History of We Shall Overcome

A fascinating and thorough search of the evolution of this famous song. After watching, I definitely subscribed to Genie Deez’s channel because he is amazing!

His YT playlist on Culture & History includes great information on Funk, Civil Rights, syncopation, and so much more.

Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll.

In Black Diamond Queens, Maureen Mahon draws on recordings, press coverage, archival materials, and interviews to document the history of African American women in rock and roll between the 1950s and the 1980s.”

AMAZING video. I highly recommend watching for teachers and upper middle school/high school students.

Paying Royalties

The United Parish in Brookline introduced a unique program to help carry on the legacy of this music in Roxbury, and they’re hoping to be a model for others.

“There was growing discomfort around how to use Negro spirituals, appropriately and respectfully,” said the congregation’s minister of music Susan DeSelms.

Black Music of the African Diaspora

This blog post is from two educators who created a new seminar that looks at American history through Black American music. The greatest thing is that they have shared their playlist on Spotify!

Bulletin Boards

Super (RONDO) Bowl

Google Slide Presentation ⬇️

Click to Begin or Enter Full Screen & Begin

At the bottom of the slide, click on the 3 dots to find the ENTER FULL-SCREEN link. I’ve never tried embedding a Google slide, so please let me know if you have any problems with it. Comment below or send an email to oodlesofmusic21@gmail.com

Learning About MLK Through Music

Image by John Hain from Pixabay.

His Life*Songs That Tell His Story*Resources

There is a mixture of videos for all ages, K-8.

His Life

R

A FABULOUS video is by NUMBEROCK. It tells his story through music.

Songs That Tell His Story

Resources to Make Music In Your Classroom

Martin’s Dream of 1963

Here’s a fresh and engaging song arrangement about Martin Luther King, Jr in a presentation featuring Orff, Kodaly, and optional recorder sections for your teaching for MLK Day, Black History Month, or any time of the year.

Dr. King Had a Dream

Lyrics about MLK’s dream have been set to the tune of the two-chord (F, C7) “He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands”, perfect for beginning ukulele players, with a newly composed “B” section that can be used as a harmony partner song for the big finale.

How to Implement Dazzling Lights for that Fun Concert Vibe

Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay 

This is an ever-growing resource for implementing lights into your concerts.

Finger LightsGlow SticksFlashlightsBlack LightsResourcesBucket Drumming LightsLight up Drumsticks

Finger Lights

Finger Lights from Amazon. Bundled in a pack of 80 Finger Lights come in 4 colors: blue, green, white, and red. Each color has 20 pieces. Powered by high capacity batteries, each finger light lasts up to 24 hours.

Glow Sticks

Foam LED Glow Sticks, 3 batteries from Amazon.

More foam glow sticks from Amazon. Click on the pic below for the link.

This is a glow stick routine that could also be used with neon scarves, sticks, etc and Black Lights.

Here’s the Routine in Action

Danse Macabre Routine

Carol of the bells

Medley

Sleigh Ride

Flashlights

Transiberian Orchestra Carol of the Bells Medley

Winter holiday medley

Sleigh ride tutorial

Sleigh Ride

Sugar Plum Fairy

Black Lights

From Amazon. Teachers typically use 2-3 of these in an average-sized classroom.

Blacklight Reactive Invisible Blue Ink Marker from Amazon.

UV Flashlights
Invisible Ink Marker
Keychain UV Lights

Invisible ink marker and blacklight flashlight for “Write the Room” activities such as scavenger hunts, escape rooms, etc. Marker washes off with wipes or magic erasers.

Resources

Black Light tape

Lights that sync with music. Fun for classroom decor.

Bucket Drumming Lights

These lights from Walmart go under the buckets and are controlled with a remote that will change colors, power on/off. Each light needs 3 AAA batteries.

Light-up Drumsticks

Walmart Firestick & Amazon Rockstix

Woodwind Brasswind Co.
Guitar Center

Who Has Seen the Wind? Song & Lesson Rhythmic REMIX

The classic song, “Who Has Seen the Wind?” has been REMIXED and is ready for winter, spring, summer, and fall windy weather!

Perfect for teaching half notes, low la, and minor tonality, the teaching process includes Orff and Kodaly approaches along with recorder and movement sections.

The One-Beat Diner for Remarkable Rhythms


The One-Beat Diner is a 2-page resource that features a menu full of one-beat yummy foods that can be turned into a delicious 4-beat take-out order. Page 1 is a place to create your one-beat foods and page 2 is where you put them into 4-beat patterns.

How about the #1 special with


Diner 1-Beat Food

What other foods do you want at YOUR diner?