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…

Waltz of the Drumsticks (The 1-2-3 Turkey)

This 2-chord song for voice, ukulele, and rainbow instruments (Boomwhackers & bells) is sure to be a hit! There’s no warbling going on here, just cantabile singing!

This song features:

  • 2 chords-G7 and C
  • 3/4 meter
  • ABA form
  • some terrific turkey rhyming

Sheet music is available on my Teachers Pay Teachers page.

Over The River & Through the Wood With Boomwhackers & Ukuleles

This resource of the Thanksgiving classic, Over the River and Through the Wood, includes parts for Boomwhackers, bells, and ukulele. Each part has audio and video files to support student learning AND in two different tempos-lento and adagio. Students learn about beats per minute (bpm) as they play their parts.

Play and learn in class or use it as a wonderful performance piece for winter concerts!

Music objectives include:

  • 6/8 meter and common rhythms
  • tempo markings
  • treble clef notation for melody
  • ukulele chords C, D7, F, and G7
  • classic American song repertoire
  • ensemble playing

Sound/Video File Example

Ukulele Seasonal Playalongs from Easy to Extreme


I’m always ok with exchanging a seven chord for a triad. If a song has G7 and you know G, substitute.

C, F, G7

C, F, G7, Am

C, F, G, Am

C, C7, F, G7

C, Dm, G7, Am

G, C, D7

C, D7, F, G7

Am, A, Dm, E7, C

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

America the Beautiful

One of the top ten songs EVERY child should learn to sing.


Included on this page-

Lyrics-Ukulele music-Performance options-TpT Link to an America the beautiful presentation-Free coloring page download, Great video examples of the song

Besides singing in the classroom or at a school community meeting, when have YOU had your students perform America the Beautiful?

(Leave your answers in the comments. Here are mine.)
  • Veterans Day
  • Presidents Day
  • Sporting Events
  • Peace Walks
  • Spring & Winter Programs
  • Earth Day
  • Women’s History Month
  • Memorial Day
  • Fourth of July

For ukulele (C, C7, D7, F, and G)

TpT is having trouble uploading video previews right now, so I’ll post the video here so you can see what’s in my product! ☺️

Teachers Pay Teacher Presentation in both Powerpoint and Google slide formats

Coloring Sheet Free Download

Patriotic tribute by two sisters

Virtual Orchestra and Choir Collaboration

Ray Charles

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 ↙️