Teach with Poems Set to Music = Songs!

Music is a magical AG-E - Attention-Getting Element!

Grab an inexpensive instrument, like a pair of maracas, tap out a beat and set a poem to simple music. Kids will be all eyes on you.

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

Pull Kids in with Poetry is the title of a popular post that I’ve published.

Now, here in the fall heading into the holidays, poems come to mind again for their power to catch and keep children’s attention.

Poems set to music can have an even bigger draw because poems set to music = songs!

Children love songs. Songs, of course, are part of music instruction in all grade levels of elementary education.

But, I’ve always thought that all teachers could use songs more often to help students master K – 5 curricula.

The trick…connect kids with poems set to music – songs…in age-appropriate ways.

The good news…you don’t have to be an accomplished musician to grab an inexpensive instrument, like a pair of maracas, tap out a beat and set a poem to simple music.

Eloise Greenfield wrote a poem about music, titled Way Down In The Music that references some specific American music groups, but the soul and sound of the poem are universal.

See if you agree. If you do, add this poem to your teaching resources. Way Down In The Music is from her collection, Honey, I Love and Other Poems (1978, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon; winner of the Recognition of Merit Award).

 Way Down In The Music

I get way down in the music

Down inside the music

I let it wake me

take me

Spin me around and make me

Uh-get down

Inside the sound of the Jackson Five

Into the tune of Earth, Wind and Fire

Down in the bass where the beat comes from

Down in the horn and down in the drum

I get down

I get down

I get way down in the music

Down inside the music

I let it wake me

take me

Spin me around and shake me

I get down, down

I get down

Get down to the business of teaching through poems set to music – songs – by offering students the opportunity to help you complete subject-based compositions.

Choose a familiar tune for each poem you write together.

Joey, the Snowman wishes he had hands!

Sing a Song of Science…Snow for play in many places is part of winter weather (coming soon).

Announce to the class that the _____________ (subject) lesson for the day will include composing a poem to set to this music __________________ (name of song).

Explain that poems set to music = songs.

Play the song, with instrumental music only, if possible.

If you don’t have the instrumental music, ask the class to join you in HUMMING the basic melody rather than singing the lyrics of the song you’ve chosen to use.

For example, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star is a popular children’s song in parts of the world.

Sing a Song of Science – Challenge students to write a poem about a science subject, like weather, with words that go with the melody of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.

If you can, play the music in the background during writing time.

Class project? Post kids’ suggestions for weather-related lyrics on the board. No music to play? Repeat humming the melody to move the process along.

Small group writing time? Give your songwriting groups permission to quietly hum the song they’re setting a poem to as they compose new lyrics.

Lyrics for Sing a Song of Science – Weather set to the music of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star might go like this…

Weather, weather, everywhere,

You are part of every day.

Sun, clouds, rain, sleet, snow for play,

In places near and far away.

Weather, weather, everywhere,

You are part of every day.

“Skies the limit” on subject-based songs you and your class can create by writing poems and setting them to music!

For kids in early grades to successfully set poems to music, the key is to choose easy and familiar songs.

Students in upper elementary school classes may enjoy composing their own music, including rap.

Rap is all about beat. In poetry writing, each syllable is a beat.

Let kids wrap themselves around learning by writing ready-to-set-to-rap music poems about their studies in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), Reading, Social Studies, Character Education, including being responsible about the conservation of natural resources, and other subjects.

Working with poems set to music = songs is fun and functional.

Music is an international language. Please let me know how you integrate music into your curriculum. Comments are always welcome.

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

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.
Quick tips for common classroom conundrums: K-5
Situation: Students are acting sluggish in class.

Solution: Show "The BIG E," for ENERGY, an enlarged letter E (or other first letter for the word energy in your alphabet), available in craft stores. Remind the class that energy is a must-have item to get good work done. Tell the class to show you "The BIG E!"

Related Posts: Show Off "The Big E"