Teach with a Child-Pleasing International Language – Music!

"Let's shake the maracas to feel rhythm we can write into poetry."

Keep a pair of maracas handy to keep the class focused during transition times.

Hi and welcome back to Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers!

Holiday seasons especially are filled with music, but throughout the year, songs add joy to learning in every culture and country around the world. Like smiles, music is an international language.

Teaching with musical bits and pieces added to classroom management strategies and lesson plans can help you catch and keep students’ attention.

Hold the Drumming for Writing Time

Do you have students who drum with pencils or fingers on their desks between and even during lessons? It’s a distraction that I quickly address when it happens.

But, I don’t simply demand that the drumming stop for the moment. I surprise my student drummers when I offer this attention-grabber…“I like your drumming; you’ve got good rhythm and you’ll be able to use that in your writing – writing has rhythm and flow – but please hold off on the drumming right now.”

Give Us a Maraca Minute!

Keep a pair of maracas handy to remind students to stay focused during transitions between lessons.

For example, after you wrap up math time, announce to the class that you’d like a volunteer musician to give the class a Maraca Minute.

Choose a student to come to the front of the room, “center stage;” hand her/him your maracas; command the class to listen to the musical lead-in to the next lesson.

After a minute or so, thank the volunteer and tell the class, “On that note, it’s time to turn our attention back to learning!”

What other musical tricks catch and keep students’ attention? Try asking… How Does the Sun Sound? 

Start a cloudy school day with this statement to set a positive, upbeat tone…Say, “I know that it’s cloudy outside today, so we’ll have to make our sunshine indoors,

If the sun made a sound, what would it be? Answer: Laughter

“If the sun made a sound, what would it be?
Answer: Laughter”

class.” Then ask, “If the sun made a sound what would it be?” Your answer after the kids’: “Laughter!”

Create a Crazy Word Teacher’s Cue

Kids LOVE crazy-sounding words!

Make up a loooong, silly sounding, attention-getting word with exaggerated spelling (like loooong) and introduce the word to the class as a cue for students to stop, look and listen to you.

Optional approach to this trick: At the beginning of the school term, tell your class that you need them to help you create a crazy word cue for attention-time.

Invite suggestions. Write the words on the board. Hold a vote for the class favorite.

Post the winner on a classroom wall or bulletin board with a sign identifying the word’s translation: Stop, Look, Listen to (insert your name).

Challenge students to count the notes of a song played on a single instrument, like a trumpet.

Challenge students to count the notes of a song played on a single instrument, like a trumpet.

Count the Notes

Roll a math problem into teaching with music.

Play a recording of the music of a single instrument for your class, like the famous bugle composition, Taps, by  American Daniel Butterfield  (1831-1901).

Ask the class to count the notes. Taps has only 24.

Tambourine Time

Try this quick and easy variation of the game Musical Chairs.

This trick works well for transitions between lessons or class activities, especially when students’ attention levels appear to be waning.

Announce to the class that it’s Tambourine Time…time to stop, stand and stretch while you play a tambourine.

Advise students to listen, move to the music, and sit down when the music stops.

Who sat first? Kids need a longer break? Play the game again.

Play Quiet Music for Quiet Private Writing Time

Many teachers I’ve worked with play quiet instrumental music during class writing time. The music serves several purposes…Quiet melodic sound can be a writer’s muse.

It relaxes listeners, freeing up their thinking. Quiet background music in class also sends this signal: It’s no talking time.

Fun with Music Beyond Music Class

Teachers other than music specialists can add attention-getting fun to learning with music.

Music has the power to move us…all of us…young and old alike. Put this power to work in your classroom by teaching with this child-pleasing international language.

Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in any instructional setting!

Please send comments about how you use music to help children learn.

Talk with you again soon,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

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Barbara Cleary has been serving as a resource to hundreds of educators for more than 25 years. An award-winning writer, producer, teacher, and trainer, Barbara’s focus is on offering easy, fun tools and tricks that support K-5 curricula and assist teachers with classroom management.
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