As you prepare for the beginning of the school year, consider organizing your day–and your lesson plans–around music. Music brings joy to both students and teachers. Songs are amazing tools for organizing a classroom, and for managing a classroom, in a very positive way. In this post, I’m focusing on my CD, “Start the Day With a Smile.” You will see that with simple songs, your children will be motivated to sing, think, learn…and smile!
Organization Tip #1: Teach Children to Focus First Thing in the Morning
To start organizing your day, why not teach your children to “Start the Day With a Smile?” This song is a great way to get children to gather together on the floor and focus first thing in the morning. At the beginning of the year, teach the first couple verses to your children.
Say, “Repeat after me: ‘Start the day with a smile'” (“Start the day with a smile.”)
“And let it last awhile.” (“And let it last awhile.”)
“Have you heard the new style?” (“Have you heard the new style?”)
“Start the day with a smile.” (“Start the day with a smile.”)
Next, tell them that they will be repeating “Good morning” in four languages. Practice repeating so they are ready for the song.
Starting the day with a smile is a great tradition that can last through the entire year. Starting from Day 1 helps the class to bond as a happy, loving community.
Here’s a little song sample!
Often, after singing this song, we gather in a community circle. On the first day (or on any day that a new student enters), we say our names and something about ourselves. On other days, we may say something we did last night, tell about our families, or do a math/language arts lesson.
Organization Tip #2: Set Rules & Expectations
You just got all your children to sit quietly and attentively on the floor, to join together in song, and to smile. They’ve introduced themselves…What’s next? How about discussing rules of the classroom? For younger children, I recommend focusing on 1-2 rules/day. I like to create student-generated rules and organize them based on “best practices.” While this CD includes an “I Can Follow Rules” song, I would skip to focusing on a simpler song first.
“Please Listen Quietly” teaches children to “Put your hands on your head. Put your hands on your shoulders. Fold your hands in your lap,” Enya-style! These are simple instructions that will last throughout the year when trying to bring the young ones “back” to focusing!
Organization Tip #3: Practice Lining Up
Standing quietly in line can be a challenge for little ones. “The Quietest Line” teaches children to stand in line as they learn to count forward and backwards to and from 10. Their brains are working, their fingers are moving, and standing up super-straight at the end becomes as fun as “The Quiet Game!”
Start by teaching the song, one section at a time, on the floor. Ask children to hold up their corresponding fingers as they count forward and backwards. Turn this song into a reading lesson when you connect it to words using a poster, a projector, or just printing it out. Use this song to introduce math lessons as well. You could gather in a circle, give children objects, and create lines with the objects. You could also choose ten children to stand in line and count them. Later in the year, use the “karaoke” version of this song to count starting with a number other than one, or to count by various numbers.
Here’s a sample page from the song book. Feel free to create a poster out of it, or photocopy it for your whole class. (Just scroll to the bottom of the Products page on this site to print this ENTIRE book and four more for FREE!!!)
There is one important thing missing from these words. At the end, we all say, “Shhhhhh” and stand with our hands at our sides, facing forward. I highly recommend singing this song without the music as you are leaving the room, if the children start playing in line, or as a “filler” for those times that you’re waiting in line, e.g., for the library–but the librarian’s not ready yet!
Organization Tip #4: Wrap Up Your Day
At the end of the day, gather on the floor. I like to pass around a stuffed animal and ask students about their favorite parts of the day. Next, teach them the song, “End the Day With a Smile,” using the techniques I described above.
Note that my “Start the Day With a Smile” CD includes more songs about working out, friendship, eating healthy foods, washing hands, cleaning up, and more. Karaoke versions are a fun way to get children to read and sing independently. You can also use them when modifying words to meet your students’ needs.
I hope that music becomes an integral part of your school day. It has always brought joy for me as a teacher, and I believe it makes learning fun, memorable, and meaningful to students.
I’ve organized some of my songs by grade levels at Teachers Pay Teachers. You can SAVE if you buy bundles–Or click on individual products in descriptions to purchase music separately.
I’ve teamed with the “Sharing is Caring” blogging cooperative to share LOTS of ideas for organizing your classroom this year. Click below for more ideas from your teacher-blogger colleagues!