Music: The Ultimate Time Filler for Elementary Classrooms

Every elementary classroom teacher (at least in the United States) is required to have up to date lesson plans including materials needed with goals and objectives. However the times allotted and procedures are only estimates. Of course experienced teachers may be a little bit more accurate, barring the unforeseen interruptions like fire drills or the dreaded barfing student occurring right after the four-star lunch ingested in the fine cuisine school cafeteria. In the other direction teachers find themselves with extra time with students because of cancelled recesses due to inclement weather or late buses for the same reason. These teachers may need a time filler for elementary classrooms.

Invariably though, even the most seasoned teachers occasionally find themselves with an extra fifteen or twenty minutes of air time at the end of the school day before the dismissal bell rings. So what do they do? I, as a traveling minstrel moving from classroom to classroom on a cart, saw many things that happened while passing those bastions of knowledge……… Students filling those gaps by cleaning and organizing their personal desks while others played board games like “Chutes and Ladders”. The one activity that really amazed me was students watching totally irrelevant movies or even cartoons until the bell rang! (Not exactly school board or tax payer approved)

By now you are probably thinking how easy it is for me to say what not to do, but have no positive option. Believe me as an active teacher for thirty years, I found myself feeling the same way for oh, I don’t know, aah thirty years.

Now for the ultimate time filler within your interdisciplinary school curriculum…. Oooo “Powerful terms”. There is an elementary band supplement called “The Yankee Collection” At first your question might be: What does band music have to do with my classroom? Here is the answer. There are free downloads on the website for band students to use at home. These are back-up accompaniments for over 170 songs for the band program in your school, but can be used for vocal back-ups as well. You can choose any instrument that’s listed on the page and sing along with it. I would recommend starting out with the flute music pack.

These songs are relative to the subjects you may have taught that day. What a re-enforcement for almost every topic you focus on.

Just go to the website, choose the appropriate song or songs you want to use, then adjust the key that suits your vocal range. You will have to do a little research for the lyrics. Ex: If the class is studying about the American civil war, in advance, you might download the words to “Tenting Tonight”. Make copies and put them in your files.
When you need them pull them out, find the accompaniment, adjust the key, and you and your class will have fun with a meaningful activity.

The last thing kids will do during the school day will end on a happy note (pun intended) and go home happily singing about what they learned. You will be the hero, and your principal will be impressed. As a former public school music educator for 30 years, this is my gift to you!

I hope to compile the lyrics with interesting anecdotes of all the 170 songs for your convenience in the near future.