I love to sing with my students. I love to sings songs about what we are learning, and I love to sing songs about men who play the ladle and have hair made out of spaghetti. I get made fun of for turning just about anything into a song. But I also know that music is a powerful learning tool. It saddens me when teachers say they are afraid to sing songs in their classroom, because they feel like they are "wasting instructional time." Music can support instruction and benefit students in so many ways! So here you go: Five good reasons to sing with your students.
Phonological awareness is a strong predictor of a child's reading ability down the road. Songs are perfect for teaching rhymes, alteration, syllables, and phonemes. Here are some of my favorite resources for building phonological awareness with music.
2. MUSIC REINFORCES MEMORY
I rarely teach a skill without a song to reinforce it. Because of music, I will never forget the Fifty Nifty United States (from 13 original colonies). I will also never forget the phone number if I ever need to call Jenny Craig. Music is the ultimate memory tool! Some of my favorite CD's for learning are Heidisongs, for letters and sight words, Jack Hartmann for math, and Dr. Jean for everything from shapes to the presidents.
3. MUSIC CREATES COMMUNITY
Music brings people together. It can create an atmosphere of caring, motivation, and excitement. The music you play in your classroom can truly help set the tone of your day or even the school year. Start every day with a song. Each year, I like to have a "theme song" that I sing a lot with each class. Sometimes it's a children's song and sometimes it's not (think, Pharell's Happy). This year, our song has become Tim McGraw's Humble and Kind. It makes me cry ugly tears, but it's been a great community builder in my classroom.
4. MUSIC IS THE PERFECT BRAIN BREAK
Brain research tells us that brain breaks between periods of instruction are optimal for student learning. Go Noodle and YouTube are my favorite sources for brain break songs. Anything that gets your students up and moving is a bonus. A song can refresh you and bring you back together as a class to prepare you for the next thing.
5. MUSIC IS FUN
We should not undervalue this important aspect of music. I love that my students get to see me be silly and carefree when we sing and dance together. My favorites are the Old School Classics--Baby Beluga, Down by the Bay, The Green Grass Grew All Around. When our students are adults, they will not remember us for our well-aligned assessments, or our rigorous instruction (although they will have certainly benefited from them). They will remember us for what we did to stand out. The goofy, fun memories we create together are what I hope stick with my students long after they leave my classroom. Check out a little Raffi and Greg and Steve for some great songs to sing together.
So there are five reasons we should all make time for singing in our classroom! Music does not need to take away from rigorous instruction and high standards. In fact, it can enhance both of these things. So use your classroom time wisely, and SING with your students!