Music Curriculum (Grades 1-2)

First and Second Grade Music Curriculum

Day 1

Focus Activities (5-10 minutes)
Begin with everyone sitting together in a circle on the floor. 

Echo After: Have the students echo four-count rhythm patterns using body percussion. Be creative. If the students aren’t catching onto the four-count idea then count "1-2-3-4" out loud along with the rhythm pattern until they start to catch on. 

Mirror Movement: Have the students mirror teacher movement (basically, move slowly and the children try to move at exactly the same time and in exactly the same way. Don't worry if the students aren't moving the opposite hand as you--they are, after all, sitting in a circle)

The More We Get Together (10-15 minutes)
Multiple examples of this tune are available on YouTube

Use these lyrics:
Oh, here we are together, together, together.
Oh, here we are together all sitting on the floor.

1. Continuing the movement mirroring from the previous step. Make a fist on the floor as if grabbing something and then “throw it in the air” (this is like “do” and “so” and will eventually go at the beginning of the song and every time the words, “Oh, here”, are repeated)
2. Follow the grab and throw action with three circles with index finger above head (like a lasso); the circles will eventually go with "together"; at this point, however, we aren’t singing—we are just doing the actions as an extension of the mirror activity.  
3. Finally, touch the floor with both hands where “all sitting on the floor" will eventually be.
4. Repeat the action sequence with the whole class mirroring.
5. Repeat, and this time sing the song.
6. Have the students sing “Oh, here” with your actions.
7. Invite the students to sing along, Stay on “oh” until everyone is ready (good practice matching pitch; change the starting pitch on subsequent repetitions).
8. Repeat the song standing and then everyone sit down at the end: "all sitting on the floor." 
9. Repeat the song standing and practice sitting down at the end rather than falling down or flopping down (make it a challenge, “Can you sit down like this, without falling?).
10. Ask three students what their names are: Cindy, Brandon, Casey, for example.
11. Sing to the tune of “for your friends are my friends . . .”, “There’s Cindy with Brandon and Brandon with Casey. Oh, here we are together all sitting on the floor.”
12+. Learn the names of the next three students and everyone repeat the verse. Continue adding three students until everyone has been named. These sections could be alternated by the chorus. Or, you could do a cumulative version: There’s Cindy with Brandon and Brandon with Casey and Casey with Steve and Steve with Xavier and Xavier with Susan and Susan with Bernard and Bernard with . . .” Have the students “point” with palm up (a nicer gesture than pointing the finger) towards the one whose name is being sung. Or maybe everyone could wave at each person and they could wave back. Make the game your own.

Rig a Jig Jig (5-10 minutes)
1. Invite the students to stand in a circle. The teacher is the-one-who-is-it. Sing the song and walk around the inside of the circle. When you come to the “hi ho” section, shake hands (using right hands) with the nearest student. Then take the student’s left hand underneath or over the right and alternate hand back and forth on “Rig a Jig Jig.” On “away we go” start skipping around the inside of the circle, stopping for the “Rig a Jig" part to do the back and forth thing again and then resume skipping. Thank the student for going down the street with you and then let them go back to their spot.
2+. Repeat the song/game choosing a different student and then sending them back to their spot. Repeat this process 2 or 3 more times.
3. Repeat and this time at the end ask the student if they would also like to go down the street. They will choose their own partner and that partner will then go down the street also. 
4. Keep repeating the song/game until everyone has joined in going down the street.
5. Play the game again if the students seem interested and if there is time.

Stretch up high. Stretch down low. To the side. To the other side. Sit quietly and wait for your name to be called to line up at the door. 

Day 2
Begin with everyone sitting in a circle on the floor.

Focus activities (5-10 minutes)
Continue mirroring and echoing in fours (expand use of body percussion and complexity of rhythms)

The More We Get Together (10-15 minutes)
Play the name game again as before. Invite the students to sing along. Vary the starting pitch.

A-Hunting We Will Go (5-10 minutes)
1. Have everyone line up in a line while you, the teacher, partners with one of the students to make the arch.
2. Invite the students to walk under the arch and then to the back of the line while you sing the song.
3. Catch one of the “foxes” on the word “catch.” Sing the gender neutral "them" (actually it will be "put'em in a box). Then instruct the student to join the catchers.
4. Continue the song over and over with the circle of catchers becoming larger and until everyone has been caught. You might need to sing the song quickly eventually in order for everyone to be caught.
5. Start the game over with two students as the ones-who-are-it.
6. If the class is large you can divide the class in half (or thirds) to play the game, or you can simply have multiple traps through which the foxes need to "run." I usually tell them to sneak rather than run so that it doesn't get too crazy. Remind the children to sing the song throughout and eventually fade your own voice into the background.

Rig a Jig Jig (5-10 minutes)
Play the singing game. As students catch on to the song, quit singing with them.

Day 3
Sitting in a circle on the floor

Focus Activities (5 minutes)
Rhythm echoes, four counts (keep it interesting by finding the balance between simplicity and complexity so everyone can achieve; use creative body percussion).

Melodic echoes: Continue from the rhythm patterns, but add pitch. Include vocal exploration as well as so-mi patterns.

Name that Tune: Ask the students to see if they can guess your song. Have them raise there hands if they know the song, but don't say it. Hum or la the melody of A-Hunting We Will Go. Take guesses when it is over. Don't tell them yes or no. Sing it again and have them check and see, singing along in their heads, not out loud. This way everyone gets a chance to check and see and no one has to be told they are wrong. 

Freeze Dance (10 minutes)
This activity prepares students for a wide variety of activities later on by helping them move around the room without bumping or hurting others. 
1. Have the students move to a space in the room where they have space all around them (they shouldn't be able to easily reach out and touch walls, furniture, or other children. Have the students move to their space quietly and then sit down. Make it challenging by giving a time limit and saying "Can you . . .?"
2. Once the students are in their places, play the drum (or other percussion instrument) on the beat and invite them to move their heads to the beat. Have them freeze when the drum stops. Repeat the process with hands, shoulders, elbows, etc. 
3. Repeat the freeze dance by having the children stand and walk to the beat of the drum. When the drum stops, walk around to make sure everyone is frozen. Have them freeze with both feet on the floor (they may try to freeze standing on one foot and that doesn't seem to work out very well). Repeat the process with various tempos. 
4. Have the students return to the circle, walking to the beat, and sit down. If they need an additional challenge, have them see if they can get back to their original spot in 10 beats of the drum. Have them pace it so that they get there exactly on the tenth beat.

A-Hunting We Will Go (5 minutes)
Play the game

Down By the Bay (5-10 minutes)
There are plenty of versions of this on youtube. I like to play it as follows:
Down by the bay (G), where the watermelons grow (D7), back to my home, I dare not go (G). For if I do (C), my mother will say (G). “Did you ever see a cat, wearing a hat, down (D7) by the bay (G)?”
Have the students sing in echo while you play the accompaniment on an instrument like guitar or ukulele (you could also use a video). 
When you come to the part requiring a rhyme, pause and ask the students to come up with the rhyme. “Did you ever see a cat . . .” (pause) “What rhymes with cat?” “Fat!” “That was big a fat.” All sing: “Did you ever see a cat that was big and fat, down by the bay.”

Day 4
Sitting in a circle on the floor

Focus Activities (10-15 minutes)
Echo rhythms. You could also begin including rhythms spoken in rhythm solfege (I prefer the original Gordon system).

Hey, Hey, Look at Me (5-10 minutes) 
Available at:

1. Have the entire class stand in a circle with one student in the middle.
2. Sing the song and have the student in the middle make a statue pose (standing, not falling; or, the game could also be played sitting down).
3. Have everyone imitate the one who is in the middle. 
4. Start the song again. Eventually, the one who is “it” begins the song and everyone joins in. Then everyone makes themselves look like the one who is “it”. The one who is “it” chooses the next person to be “it” by saying that person’s name (it could be whoever did the best imitation) and asks, “Would you like to be it?” Make sure the name is spoken first, because that’s a good habit to get into and validates the one being chosen; everyone likes to hear their own name spoken.
5. Continue playing the game. When you are ready to move on, let the students know how many more turns there will be. This is important when playing singing games, so that students won't be so disappointed. If the game gets out of hand, have the students sit down and together come up with some additional guidelines, then try the game once more. Again, the entire game can be played sitting down (even sitting at desks). 

The More We Get Together (10-15 minutes)
Standing in a circle

1. This time sing: The more we get together, together, together. The more we get together the happier we’ll be. Same actions, but have the students walk amongst each other while singing. Then stop still at the end of the song. This may take some practice and multiple repetitions of the song to get the students to walk amongst each other without bumping, etc. The freeze dance from a previous day will hopefully have prepared the for this. 
2. Sing the verse: For your friends (palms upturned, finger towards everyone else) are my friends (palms down, fingers touching self, etc.) and my friends are your friends. The more we get together the happier we’ll be. (Return to original actions on “The more”)
3. Start from the beginning again and instruct the students to find a friend on the “Your friends are my friends” part.Pause to make sure everyone has a partner
4. Then with their friend (along with the rest of the class) they sing their own name and their friend’s name like this: “There’s Cindy with Brandon and Brandon with Cindy, the more we get together the happier we’ll be.” Demonstrate with one group and then have everyone do it. 
5. Start from the beginning again with the students walking by themselves.
6. Eventually the students can go with their friend and end up in a group of four, etc. Maybe not today.

Down by the Bay (if there is time)

Day 5
Sitting in a circle on the floor

Focus Activities (5 minutes)
Echo rhythmic and melodic solfege; Echo solfege patterns sung on “so” and “mi” in four counts. While singing "so" and "mi", show the relative pitch by touching high and low on body (touch your nose on "so" and chin in "mi", for example). Include a hand staff with palm in front of you and fingers to the side--touch two consecutive fingers for "so" and "mi". Eventually, do the rhythm of the first phrase of Hey, Hey, Look at Me. Do the second phrase, make yourself look just like me. Students still echo after each repetition. 

Song Exploration (5-10 minutes)
Sing the entire song with solfege and have the students guess the song. Don't let them shout it out. If they know the song they should raise a hand without telling anyone else what it is. Call on someone to guess. Don't say yes or no, simply repeat the song so that everyone can check. Invite the students to sing the solfege with you and show the relative highs and lows on hand staff, face, etc. Invite them to discover additional ways to show "so" and "mi". 

Bluebird (10-15 minutes)
1. Have the students stand in a circle making windows by pressing palms against neighbors’ palms up high on both sides. It took me five years of doing this game to realize that pressing palms together rather than holding hands solves a lot of potential problems. 
2. Choose someone to be “it” and instruct them to fly through the windows (windows must remain stationary) while the teacher sings the song and then stop in front of someone when the song ends (sing the child’s name in the last phrase—Oh, Johnny aren’t you tired?” (At this point everyone can put their hands down for a rest.)
3. Instruct the one who is “it” to say the name of the person they are facing in the circle and then ask, “Would you like to be the bluebird?” If the answer is “yes” then that person becomes the bluebird and the game starts over. If the child says “no” then the one who is “it” asks, “Will you ask someone else to be the bluebird?” Then the child who answered “no” says someone else’s name and asks the same question. (Usually everyone says “yes”.)
4. The game starts over with the new bluebird. (If there are many students, this game can be played with multiple bluebirds and everyone needs to choose whose name they will put into the last phrase.)
5. Eventually the students will join in singing. If they don’t after 5 or 6 times, start inviting them to sing along. When you are ready to move on, let the students know how many more turns there will be.

Down By the Bay (5 minutes)
Sing the song with guitar accompaniment if there is time

Day 6
Sitting in a circle on the floor

Focus/Literacy Activity (5 minutes)
Echo rhythmic and melodic patterns and solfege

Song Exploration (10-15 minutes)
Have the students guess A Hunting We Will Go by hearing the rhythm
Play the rhythm with sticks while singing the song
Try playing the rhythm without singing the song
Play a beat pattern (for example, tap the floor then tap sticks together) while singing the song
(Find additional ways to explore the rhythm and beat)

Puncinella (5-10 minutes)
Children standing in a circle
Everyone walks or stands around the outside of the circle
Choose someone to be “it” and explain how to play the game.

Rig a Jig Jig (5-10 minutes)
Explore new ways to do the “Rig a Jig Jig” part
Play the game so that each new way to do “Rig a Jig Jig” is performed one after the other in a cumulative fashion (A rig a jig jig, a rig a jig jig, a rig a jig jig, a rig a jig jig, and away we go . . .)

Day 7
Sitting on the floor in two rows facing the front

Focus Activities (5 minutes)
Echo rhythmic and melodic solfege

Choreography (10-15 minutes)
Use any song recording that has a steady beat.

As a class, choose actions to include for choreography. Possibly, each action could take up 8 counts of the song. Actions, of course, could be repeated. Make a note of the actions on the board. Perform the choreography for all or part of the song. This activity could also work well with props.

Bluebird (5-10 minutes)
Play the game as before. Or, another variation is to ask a second question: "What kind of bird would you like to be?" Then, put that bird in the place of the bluebird. If there are multiple birds, have them flock to the center initially and decide what kind of bird they would like to be. 

Puncinella (5-10 minutes)
Play the game as before

Day 8
Sitting in a circle on the floor

Focus Activities (5-10 minutes)
Echo rhythmic and melodic solfege

Hey, Hey, Look at Me (10-15 minutes)
Let the students guess the song from silent hand signs (teacher signs the song and students guess). Some guidelines: Students are developing inner hearing by trying to think the tune. Ask them not to vocalize or shout out the name of the song. Ask them to raise their hands if they know. Then call on someone to guess. Don’t tell them if they are right or wrong, but have everyone check to see while you sign the song again (still no vocalizing). If the class thinks it doesn’t fit, then take another guess and try it. Eventually, the class will say it fits. No one has to feel on-the-spot with their guess; we’re just trying them out without judgment calls of rightness or wrongness.

Play the game as before.

When I Was a Baby (5-10) minutes
If you want to change the grammar, that’s fine. There are a number of possible approaches to teaching this. Maybe teach just the first verse by rote and then simply tell the students what comes next before each subsequent verse.
Try the entire song again once they know it.

You Are My Sunshine (5 minutes)
Sing the guitar with the class with guitar accompaniment

Day 9
Sitting in a circle on the floor

Focus Activities (5 minutes)
Echo three-count rhythm patterns using body percussion; vocalize “1-2-3” (no rest before the repeat)

Pass out rhythm sticks and continue echoing

The More We Get Together (10-15 minutes)
Develop an accompaniment pattern using the rhythm sticks on the beat showing the meter (tap on floor, tap together twice—for example); Practice this pattern as a class; Let the students come up with some other ways to who the three-count pattern while singing the song; Have individual students demonstrate what they came up with; Let the whole class try doing it that way; Repeat

You could also make up patterns to do with a partner or as a group in the circle (exchanging sticks, for example); When partnerships or small groups are demonstrating what they came up with, they should sing the song for the rest

When I Was a Baby (5-10 minutes)
Review the song/game
As a class, come up with a way to show and perform the life-cycle of a butterfly or some other animal or plant. Change the actions.

She’ll Be Comin Round the Mountain (5 minutes)
Sing-along with guitar accompaniment

Day 10
Game day
Write a list of singing games that you have played in class so far and let the students choose which ones to play. (This isn’t a cop-out by any means. It gives you a chance to find out what the students value and its gives them an opportunity to practice singing and interacting joyfully. As they learn the game well enough to play it without continual guidance and direction, you can walk around and listen to individual students.)

Day 11
Focus Activities
Keep the beat with recorded music
Have the class do what you do to keep the beat
Let individual students be the leader for a time

Movement Map: Tchaikovsky—Dance of the Reed Pipes (10-15 minutes)
Hands, palms down, cross right over left twice and then left over right twice.
Snap fingers. Roll arms around each other and then out like calypso
(Repeat from beginning, but roll arms out the other way)
Right hand closed, flick fingers open to the right twice
Left hand closed, flick fingers open to the left twice
Both hands closed, flick fingers open four times (low, higher, higher, way up high)
Shake hands very briefly up high and then shake it down
(Repeat from the very beginning)

Pretend to have a lighter or cell phone and slowly move it back and forth along with the phrases. Eventually it will come to the center. Shake it down.
(Back to the very beginning again)

Right index finger goes for a walk in a circle 16 counts
Left index finger goes for a walk in a circle 16 counts
Right fingers go for a walk in a circle 16 counts
Left fingers go for a walk in a circle 16 counts
All fingers, both hands, go for a walk (about 12 counts), slowing down (Back to the very beginning, strike a pose at the end)

Day 12

Focus Activities
Pass out rhythm sticks (establish guidelines for when they can be played, etc.)
Echo rhythms with rhythm sticks
Pass the lead around the circle (each student makes a four-count rhythm that everyone else imitates)

Day 13

Focus Activities
Keep the beat with recorded music
Have the class do what you do to keep the beat
Let individual students be the leader for a time

Day 14

Focus Activities
Echo melodic patterns on neutral syllables
Echo melodic patterns in solfege (teacher sings the solfege pattern and students imitate, use so and mi)

Day 15

Focus Activities
Echo three-count rhythm patterns using body percussion; vocalize “1-2-3” (no rest before the repeat)

Pass out rhythm sticks and continue echoing

Day 16

Day 17

Day 18

Day 19

Day 20

Day 21