Music and the Classroom: Joyful Learning

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Have you ever been in a room full of children and instruments? The result is generally a lot of movement and noise!

Children love to play with things that can be shaken, hit, or otherwise made to produce sound.

If you’re wondering “why music?” then hop on over and read The Value and Importance of Music for Children

Music and the Classroom

How can these two topics work together for the benefit of our students?

Adaptability is a great feature music possesses.

It can help create a calming atmosphere or ignite the “dance party” feel. It can give a “voice” to those who would otherwise be silent. It can allow children to express themselves in countless ways.

Adults and children playing with instruments


Music can be a powerful ally in the classroom.

Have you ever asked your students to line up “quietly” as they prepare to go outside for recess or go home for the day? They usually hear the “line up” part but the “quietly” part seems to escape them.

Would you like an idea you could add to your bag of tricks that could keep the students learning as they wait?

Look no further!

Using music in your classroom can keep the learning train moving while teaching new concepts and keeping kids happily engaged.


Instruments are a great way to introduce students to different kinds of music makers and can be a fun alternative activity when you have a few extra minutes in between scheduled activities.

You may be thinking, how can I do this AND keep my sanity?

First things first, set ground rules.

Long before the instruments make their big debut, establish the rules of who, what, why, where, and how.

Who will be playing the instrument?

What will they be playing?

Why are we doing this?

Where will each child stand or sit?

How do you use each instrument?

Depending on the size of your class, divide up the instruments to as many (or few) children as you’d like.

After handing out the instruments, clap a rhythm then have the students with instruments shake, hit, or clash the rhythm in return while the students without instruments would clap.

The students loved having the opportunity to lead this and clap out their own rhythms. To jazz it up a bit they would sometimes add in a hop or spin.

This could provide a great opportunity to teach your students a little about each instrument.

**This music moment doesn’t need to take long at all, I know you have TONS of things to cover in such a short amount of time! **

Some fun instruments that could be used:








Clash cymbals

clash cymbals

















Bongo Drum

bongo drum









Rainmaker stickrainstick

I had the opportunity to create my own rainmaker stick in one of my university classes, which I still have!

I found many opportunities to use it in the classroom.

One such opportunity was using it as a behavior management tool.

When I wanted the student’s attention, I would turn the stick so the beans dropped and made the “rain” sound. The goal was to have everyone’s voices off and eyes on me right after they heard the stick.

This definitely took a lot of practice with high expectations, but we got it to work. The children also loved having the chance to be the one to turn the stick and create the sound.

Learn how to make your own rainstick here! ↓

Create a Rainstormrainstorm

This is a really fun class-wide activity! I did not come up with the idea, but I have heard it passed around for years.

Invite the students to join you in creating your very own rainstorm.

Begin by snapping your fingers together lightly to signify light raindrops falling down.

Slowly change into rubbing your hands together to signify more raindrops falling down.

Finally, hit the palms of your hands on your legs to signify the heavy rain of a thunderstorm.

To add to the setting we were creating, we would also turn the lights on and off to represent lightning.

After you reach the pinnacle point of the thunderstorm, repeat the process in reverse to symbolize the rainstorm letting up.


Background Music

I often played music in the background to set the mood and to calm students as they worked.

We talked a lot about the expectations beforehand, but when the students entered the classroom from recess or p.e, . for example, they would hear the music playing and know they needed to settle down and find their seats.

play/pause button

We frequently used this technique during independent writing time.

We would have a writing lesson all together and go through the beginning of the process together.

When it came time for the children to write on their own, they were instructed to stay in their seats and work quietly so they could hear the music.


Background music can also be a used as a noise meter as well. During activities where students were permitted to talk, their voices still had to be soft enough to still be able to hear the music.

Brain Breaks

You know the look.

The students are all fidgeting with things on or in their desks. Their feet are bouncing up and down and their eyes are darting around the room.

They just can’t focus anymore.

Time to get up and moving!

Allowing children to take a quick break in between tasks that require them to sit down makes a world of difference.child dancing

A few tried and true suggestions:

  • Turn on a song and let them dance! You’ll be impressed at some of the skill that is suddenly manifested in students’ dancing.
  • Sing “If Your Happy and You Know It” Let the children lead the song and choose each new action.
  • Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes (with variations like faster, slower, high/low voice, like a bear)
  • Do The Hokey Pokey


Go Noodle

A fun site for teachers and parents is

On Go Noodle, children can choose a brain break activity from a variety of categories.

There are many different songs and different types of actions and videos linked with the songs.

Some are popular kid songs with choreographed dancing the kids can follow on the screen.

Others could be covering particular subjects such as math or science and focus in on a specific topic like the water cycle or counting (I used the counting videos a lot in First Grade!).

Yet another example is running a race (running in place, of course!) and jumping over hurdles.

The class earns points for the number of minutes they spend on go noodle. The points add up and go towards earning a new monster, which ends up being a paper certificate you could print out if you want to.

My students really enjoyed this! These are they types of activities they would beg to do. I used it to my benefit in encouraging their good behavior and along with using it as a quick break and a reward.


Wrap It Up

We had a lot of fun with music in my classroom! All of these ideas can definitely be used at home as well.

Music is a fabulous way to help children learn and grow.

Teach them to appreciate and love music early on and it will help them for a lifetime!


Have fun as you explore the wonderful world of music!


What are other ideas you have tried to connect children with music? Please share your comments and questions below!





Click here to learn more about Delightful Social Skills Activities For Kids!


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12 thoughts on “Music and the Classroom: Joyful Learning”

  1. I love the idea of music in the classroom. When I was in the classroom I would play music all the time during the study time, as a way to regulate noise, (you are being a little loud as I cannot hear the music), as a way to set the mood (funk and dance music) to wiggle the bugs out. It is worth noting I was in a classroom of older children so Pandora was what was perfered over making our own music. I will keep this information stored away for the younger kids if I ever get back to teaching. Thanks for sharing these wonderful ideas!

    • That is awesome you taught older children before! Pandora is also a great place to find a huge variety of music. I definitely think it could work for all groups, with some tweaking to fit their needs. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I have always been partial to music and introduced my sons to music at a very young age, and music was a great way to soothe my sons when they were sick and moody.

    I use music myself to control my own mood, and I really feel music should be used more in classrooms for children starting with pre-school. You have provided some easy ways to use music for children, and there is something for every budget so all children can benefit from music

    • I am happy to hear that you were able to use music for yourself and your sons! It really can make a big difference in our lives. I hope more children and families will have the opportunity to benefit from music and hopefully be able to use some of the ideas above!

  3. We do agree that music is a powerful tool that can be leveraged in the classroom. It can definitely allow children to express themselves in so many creative ways.

    We also liked your notes with regard to the rainmaker. We got one of these made of bamboo from a trip to Palawan, Philippines a few years ago. They are indeed very interesting and can be a powerful tool in the classroom. Did you make yourself the one you got?

    • That is awesome you have one made of bamboo from the Philippines! I’m sure it is beautiful! They definitely can be a great thing to have in the classroom. I did make the one I have. I had an opportunity in a university class to make it and I’m so glad I did! I have used it quite a bit since then. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  4. Great ideas for incorporating music into the classroom. I’m not a teacher and I don’t have kids, but I remember the chaos of lining up to go to lunch, P.E., etc. I also remember how popular our music class was. It was the one activity that it seemed everyone in the class enjoyed.

    • That is great to hear you have positive memories about music class, that is a good sign! I hope children now will have the chance to create those positive memories at school and at home:)

  5. When I was a nipper, in what then called “Low Babies” and “High Babies” classes, I played the Triangle. Ok, it’s not what you’d call a fun instrument, and it does one thing – play a single note. But when that note is played can be critical! Just like at the end of “The Tourist” by Radiohead 🙂

    If all else fails, you can use it to call people for dinner.

    • Sometimes what may be viewed as small or insignificant can actually make a huge difference! That is a fun memory to have, playing the triangle.

      Dinner is important too!


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