Do you use classroom music to help with transitions or teach content? Benefits of playing music in the classroom are undeniable, as long as you are using the right music at the right times. But where and when do you use classroom music? And what are some school-appropriate songs to play in your classroom?
The teachers on the Teach Starter team have pulled together some of our favorite relaxing music for the classroom, plus music games for the classroom, clean-up songs, and other songs you can use to help students remember important facts.
What Are the Benefits of Music in the Classroom Set-up?
The benefits of music in the classroom are well documented. Take the study from the University of Helsinki that noted that the simple act of listening to music while in class can help improve students’ memory and learning capability. Or another study from the University of Maryland that found listening to classroom music can help students with anxiety.
There is also evidence to show that music played at low volumes during class activities can boost creativity and concentration, while research shows songs and chants help reinforce learning.
But even with all this research proving the positive impacts of music on the human brain and within the classroom, it’s important to know what types of music to play and where the best places to find school-appropriate songs are! We can’t promise to help you avoid the inevitable Baby Shark, but we can try!
How Can Music Be Used in Education?
Start the Day with Music
When your students are filing in before the morning bell, use classroom music to set a tone for the rest of the school day!
Classical music can produce a calming effect by releasing the hormone dopamine and inhibiting the release of stress hormones, all of which generate a pleasant mood. Having the teacher and all students in a good mood is the ultimate start to any school day.
Download pre-designed morning message slides to project on your whiteboard while the music plays!
Teachers have long been using songs to help students memorize information — from the Alphabet Song to Schoolhouse Rock’s I’m Just a Bill. But classroom music can aid a lot more than memorization. By using music, teachers are able to engage students via different modalities and relax learners who may be feeling anxious.
It’s hard to provide a comprehensive list of our favorite learning songs — there are so many, covering so many learning areas — but here are just a few loved by teachers on the Teach Starter team to get you started!
- 3D Shapes I Know
- Wakko’s 50 State Capitols (from the Animaniacs)
- Silent ‘E’ Song By The Electric Company
Teaching primary students? You can also try singing a counting rhyme!
Use Music to Make Transitions More Smooth
Transitions in the classroom, especially in elementary school, are crucial. By using familiar songs during transition time, students quickly learn that when they hear that familiar song they need to move from one activity to another.
You may use a set of songs that are of different durations. This way when they hear a track that is only 30 seconds long, they know they need to do this quickly. A longer track gives the students enough time to finish off what they are doing and then move to their next activity or sit on the carpet for group work.
There are a number of great songs on YouTube that are of varying lengths — like this “come to the carpet” transition song for the classroom. It’s 28 seconds long so would be perfect to play for a quick transition.
Some of the Teach Starter team’s favorite transition songs for the classroom include:
Freebie alert! Print our free “walk like a” cards to use when students transition from lunch, recess, or specials!
If you’re teaching primary students, clean-up songs are a must to make this classroom chore more fun. The classic “clean up, clean up, everybody, everywhere” song from Barney is still well-loved by students and teachers both. But if you’re looking to change things up, here are some favorite clean-up songs from the Teach Starter team:
Add Music to Brain Breaks
As educators, we all know the importance of brain breaks in the classroom. It’s a simple fact — they improve concentration and brain activity. Incorporating some movement and music into your brain breaks throughout the school day adds another element to this much-needed energy outlet.
So where do you find school-appropriate music and some awesome moves your students will be begging you to do? Try GoNoodle! The songs are relevant and funky and definitely get stuck in your head!
Need brain break ideas? Try 24 of our favorite brain break ideas that get kids up and moving!
Use Relaxing Music for the Classroom Throughout the Day
Just as important as classroom music to get kids up and moving to get those wiggles out is providing students with 5 minutes to calm down and relax after high-energy moments such as recess. Playing relaxing music for the classroom can help calm them down and get ready for the learning session ahead.
Here’s a favorite GoNoodle “on and off” song to help students relax.
Use Music as a Lesson Hook
Coming up with creative ways to “hook” students into a lesson can sometimes get tricky! The hook of your lesson is a short opening that prepares your students for what they are about to learn. It is meant to be engaging and grab the interest and attention of your students immediately, and classroom music can do just that.
Get your students’ attention! Try these fun attention-getting cards.
Quiet Music for the Classroom
Using music in the classroom doesn’t have to be specific to a lesson or moment. A playlist of quiet music for the classroom can be just as valuable, played at a low volume to keep students relaxed.
Take time to think about how your students work best during different activities, at different times of the day. Let your knowledge of your class group guide what type of background music you might like to play and when.
How to Find School-Appropriate Songs
OK, so now you’re brimming with classroom music ideas, but finding school-appropriate songs for each moment is important. Here are some of our favorite spots on the Internet to find great classroom music!
- Flocabulary — Owned by Nearpod, this site is stocked full of fun raps to incorporate into your lessons.
- GoNoodle — This site is full of classroom songs that help you incorporate movement during the school day.
- Spotify — You can use the streaming music service to create classroom music playlists focused on relaxation or transition songs, find options for background music, and more. You can also browse to find other teacher-created playlists, saving you a whole lot of time! Using songs that are current and in the charts for older students is popular, but be careful — you want to avoid songs with inappropriate language.
- YouTube. The video platform is full of music for lesson hooks, quiet music for the classroom, and more! Teacher tip: Use YouTube in safe mode by adding _popup after the word “watch” in the URL.