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 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!

In My Heart

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.

A My Name is Alice – Popular Books, Activities, and Music

Blank Booklets to Create Your Own Verses

This TpT resource includes

  • a presentation with mp3s to learn the song
  • a simple Orff arrangement for xylophone, glockenspiel, and guiro
  • a booklet template for students to create their own verses
Lyric Writing Booklet for A My Name Is Alice Jump Rope Chant and Song

A My Name is ALICE

A, My Name is Alice by Jane E. Bayer, illustrated by Steven Kellogg. Kellogg is one of my favorite illustrators with his content-rich drawings and humor.

First verse: A, my name is Alice, and my husband’s name is Alex…

A My Name Is …

A My Name Is … by Alice Lyne, illustrated by Lynne Cravath. This version doesn’t always begin each verse with a girl’s name and replaces “husband” with “best friend.”

First verse: A my name is Alex, my best friend’s name is Angie…
Second verse: B my name is Becca, my best friend’s name is Billy…

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.

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.

Winter Wind

 

Take the classic canon, “Ah Poor Bird”, add new lyrics, and you have the perfect Winter song!   

Questions…

As I worked with this canon, three questions arose. After much research, I still haven’t found any definitive answers. If you have thoughts on it, please leave a comment!

  1. Should it be written in 2/4 or 4/4?
  2. Should it be a 2-part, 3-part, or 4-part canon?
  3. Should the “C” be natural or sharp?
Instrumental arrangement
Teaching Process
Extensions

Prominent melodic elements include the opening la, ti, do and do, re, mi and then the ending do, ti, la.

Rhythmic elements-quarter note, half note, eighth notes.

Add ukulele. The D minor chord is fairly easy because it’s the fingering for F with an added third finger. Play D minor for the entire song.

“One Piece of Pie” Round with Six Integrated Lessons

There are EIGHT unique sound files to support student learning!

  • melody lines
  • accompaniments
  • Orff parts
  • beat keeping for rhythmic practice
  • vocal lines for solfege highlighting low so
    • sms
    • sls
  • listen in “round” form
Sound file for song
An arrangement featuring the round melody with xylophones and glockenspiel.

See and Hear What’s In This Resource

Cephalopod Squid Game


What’s here!

  • The parts are a just a framework. Let the kids explore how to create the sounds in measures 4-6.
  • The second note “A” in the melody sounds bent to me so not quite A and not quite Ab.
  • I used the games they play in the show, but wouldn’t it be fun to let your classes create their own B section with their favorite games.
  • This is not the original key so you could play around with other tonalities.
  • The vocal part can easily be played on the recorder. Mmm…
  • The melody is really popular on TikTok right now but might not work at some schools. Discretion advised.

If you are subscribed to my blog you can receive a PDF copy of Cephalopod Games! Just drop me a comment below and let me know if you’d like one.

Pass the Pumpkin

Game * Orff Arrangement * Student-Created Springtime Version


This is a great beat passing game! Whoever has the pumpkin on the last beat of the song is OUT! Continue playing until there is a final winner. As students get out, they can go get sticks and play to the beat as the game progresses.


Pass the Pumpkin Orff Arrangement

Pass the Pumpkin beat passing song and game w/Orff arrangement

Other ideas

I LOVE teaching about minor keys and this has such a great descending line with the last 5 notes-mi, re, do, ti, la. It’s so fun to play in D minor with a simple D bordun on BX and other instruments playing the last five notes on A, G, F, E, and D.

Take a fun poem for a B section and you’ve got a performance piece!

There have been schools where I didn’t talk about Halloween and so my new lyrics were: Pass the pumpkin all around, listen to that pumpkin sound. Ooo, ooo, ooo, ooo, pumpkin time is here!

Written in 2/4

Springtime Version

My mystery song (only the rhythm to go on) today was Pass the Pumpkin. When they figured out that it was Pass the Pumpkin, they were challenged with creating a spring version of this fall song. “Pass the twister all around. Listen to that whirling sound. Oo, oo, oo, oo. Tornado season is here.” Then I drew the tornado on the tennis ball and we played the game.

The Monster Mash

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay 

Included on this page:

  • Song Analysis
  • A Stick Routine
  • Ukulele Resource
  • Xylophone bass line part

Stick Routine

Instead of using letters to designate the form, I used verse, chorus, and bridge!

Ukulele

You can play along with just four chords: G, Em, C, and D!


Monster Mash Xylophone audio example ↙️