Five Rules for the “Subversive” Preschool Music Specialist

Children’s musician, Susan Salidor, posted these five rules recently encouraging music teachers to not be afraid to select materials that address social justice issues. This caught our attention as an important message for anyone working with young children.

When reviewing these rules, I am reminded of the many young people who have made an impactful difference in our world . . . Ruby Bridges, Anne Frank, Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai, and also the neighbor kids who donated their lemonade stand money to a homeless shelter or the girl who shared her lunch with a classmate who had forgotten his.

In this new decade, let us commit to building strong character and developing a culture of kindness and peace.


Susan Salidor
Susan Salidor is an award-winning songwriter, performer and educator. She has published numerous children’s music albums and most recently published a children’s book based on her wildly popular song, Peace in My Fingers. Stay tuned! Susan’s book and albums will soon be added to Songs for Teaching! Visit her website.

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Chanukah is For Families

Candles and menorahChanukah has always been a holiday that is traditionally celebrated in the home.  The word Chanukah means “dedication” or “rededication.”  It celebrates the victory of a small band of Jews, led by Judah Maccabee and his family, who were victorious in defeating the Syrian-Greeks in the 2nd century BC.  They rededicated the 2nd Temple in Jerusalem.  Legend says that the eternal light which is always lit in the Temple was knocked down and the oil that lit it (remember there was no electricity back then) spilled.  The Jews scraped up the tiny bit of oil that was left to rekindle the light. And, they sent a messenger by foot to get more oil.  It took the messenger 8 days to get back with the oil, but miraculously, the light stayed lit until he returned.  This is the miracle of Chanukah and why we celebrate the holiday for 8 nights.

Each night of Chanukah families gather in their homes to light the Chanukah lights in a candle holder called a menorah.  Each night, a new candle is added until all eight are shining bright.  We say special blessings when lighting the candles and sing songs and then eat foods fried in oil like potato pancakes (latkes) and jelly donuts (sufganiyot).  Many families exchange small gifts each night as well.  We also play a game with a toy top called a dreydl.

This year (2019) we light the first Chanukah candle on Sunday, Dec. 22nd and the last Chanukah candle on the evening of Dec. 29th.

This post was submitted by Rabbi Judy Caplan Ginsburgh (also our Songs for Teaching December Artist of the Month!) See Judy’s music here!  She published multiple award winning CDs, several of them dedicated to Jewish families. Her CD, Chanukah Favorites is a popular one for the upcoming Chanukah holiday. 

See more holiday music from Songs for Teaching!

And don’t forget our Holiday Radio App that streams over 100 Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanzaa songs! Available on the App Store and Google Play.

6 Back to School Tips – Don’t Forget the Music!

This blog post was originally published in August, 2017. 

BACKtoSCHOOLcanstockphoto39451008Teachers have a tall order preparing for the new year. They often spend weeks setting up their classroom so that when the kiddos arrive, they will have an inviting organized space for learning. My teacher friends have been posting pictures of their classrooms on FaceBook to show how ready they are. I love seeing the creative bulletin boards and desk combinations, but I just want to say one thing. . . “Don’t forget the music!”

Here are some tips for teachers planning for music in their back-to-school classroom. These tips are great for establishing routines that will not only engage learners, but also diffuse some of those negative behaviors we see when kids are anxious.

1. Morning and End of Day Routine Songs —
When kids enter the classroom at the start of each day, there is a bustle of activity which can often be extremely chaotic. Kids push into the classroom with their backpacks, lunch boxes, sweaters and jackets — all needing to get settled before the child can sit at their seat ready to learn (not to mention attendance, lunch orders, homework collection, notes from home, announcements, the pledge,  etc. etc). Many teachers assign classroom responsibilities and chores as well that need to be completed.


Morning routine songs and end of the day songs can help define these chaotic times. Playing an up-beat hello song as the children come in the door can set a tone for a positive, productive day. Once the children understand their tasks, challenge the children to finish their jobs and be in their seats by the end of the song. Same for the end of the day routine. Kids will sing along and happily get ready to go in a timely fashion.

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2. Transition Songs —
As you plan out your daily schedule think about ways to transition your students from one activity to another. We have countless transition songs tailored just for this purpose — everything from going to art class, lining up, starting a math unit, or going to the bathroom.

Some children struggle with transitioning from one activity to another. They either cannot leave the last activity (hyper-focus) or they cannot attend to a new activity (lack of focus). Music can really be a boost for these children and help them close out one activity and move to another. It’s a lot more engaging than simply announcing, “Class, time for math now.” Choosing songs that have academic content for these transitions also can have the added benefit of introducing or reinforcing subject matter.

If a teacher uses transition songs consistently, children will tune in to the routine of the day and are better able to switch their focus. Lastly, putting movement to these transition songs (marching, fist pumps, crossing the midline, etc) has the added benefit of providing a Brain Break for the learners and helps reduce learning fatigue.
3. Set up a Listening Station —
boy_w_headphones_iStock_000005494750XSmallMost primary classrooms have a reading nook or book table. Why not have a listening station as well! This can be used as a part of a rotation of centers or it can be a place where kids can go to when their seat work is done.


Teachers can go old-school and set up a boom box with headphones, but technology has made this much easier. Using a tablet, computer or even cell phone, the teacher can create a listening station playlist. This can be powerful when using content driven music. Align the playlist for different units or themes in the classroom to reinforce topics covered in class. One tip is to plan for songs that match the current literature study, or your current social studies, science or math unit. As the year goes on, you can tailor this station to the differentiated needs of your students.
4. Substitute Teacher Playlist —
The day will come in the not too distant future where you will need a sub for your classroom. Whether you have the sniffles or you’re headed to a great PD session, planning for your sub can be a chore. As a teacher, you are not always sure who will be in your classroom and how skilled they might be. You certainly don’t want the day to be a loss for the kids.


Creating a playlist just for subs can serve as a great tool for the substitute. The kids will be engaged and it might help reduce some of the classic shenanigans that go on when the teacher is away! Again, using content based songs, you can reinforce topics you are learning in class. In your sub instructions, simply tell the teacher when to play each song. You might even want to designate a student to teach the substitute teacher the movements!
5. Mindfulness & Growth Mindset Songs —

GIRLFLOWERcanstockphoto10919689There has been a lot of research on mindfulness in the education of late. Mindfulness allows for children to be in tune with their body and their feelings and how one can, in turn, become empathetic and mindful of others. Planning for a few minutes of centering each day with songs that sooth, encourage or teach self awareness can create an environment for social-emotional learning.

Likewise, Growth Mindset has been the push in many classrooms. Growth Mindset is based on the belief that children can always grow and learn – that learning is not limited or fixed. When students believe they can get smarter, they understand that effort makes them stronger and therefore they are motivated to take on challenges. Songs that encourage positivity and character can help teachers create an environment of persistence so that kids see effort as the path toward mastery.


Weaving these social-emotional and character education songs throughout your lessons, can have long lasting effects on the children in your classroom.
6. Plan for Upcoming Holidays —
Once the year starts, it is amazing how quickly it goes. Before you know it, it will be Halloween, then Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, then the winter holidays! Sometimes these holidays can catch up on you by surprise.
It isn’t too early to gather some music for these seasons. You can switch up your routine or transition music with holiday songs or create a playlist for a party. (We have some great streaming apps that do just the trick!). Looking for a good song for a school performance? We have several for holidays or by topic that come with instrumental tracks or sheet music for performing.




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LYRICS, LYRICS, LYRICS! Top 10 Tips for Using Lyrics in the Classroom

Lyrics At Songs for Teaching we believe in the power of music and the power of lyrics! That is why we include lyrics with nearly every song on our website! Having lyrics available can be an incredible tool for any classroom.

Top Ten Tips for using LYRICS in the classroom!

1. Print out lyrics OR project on a screen/smart board and have the children follow along. (Promotes literacy, word recognition and listening skills.)

2. Print out lyrics and have the children circle sight words. (

Letter L - little lamb3. Print out the lyrics and have the children circle words that begin with a certain letter. Extend it with having the children create a small poster with the chosen letter and cutting out the sentences or words in the song with that letter. Then play the song and have the children point to the words as they hear them in the song.

4. Pull spelling words from lyrics. – You can start with a song and create your own spelling list OR you can start with spelling words and find songs with those words in the lyrics. Then have the children circle the spelling words.

5. Write out lyrics on flip chart paper leaving out a word at the end of a line. Then have the children fill in the blank with rhyming words to change the meaning of the line.  “Mary had a little lamb” becomes “Mary had a little spam . . .”  or  “Mary had a little ham . . .”




6. Print out the lyrics for each child and have them circle the nouns and put a rectangle around the verbs. Do the same for adjectives and adverbs or pronouns and prepositions! For those who dare, try diagraming sentences!
Mary had a little lamb.

7. Create a mad lib with song lyrics. Then have the kids sing the song with the mad lib lyrics. This works best with a well-known tune and an instrumental track. “(proper noun) had a (adjective) (noun)”

8. Make a book. Give children the lyrics and have them illustrate the song. (A great one for songs like This Land is Your Land). Assemble the illustrations in to a book. Read the books together while singing the song.

9. Print each line of the lyrics on tagboard sentence strips. Give each childSentence Strips a piece of the tag board and have them arrange themselves in order. Play the song and see if they got the correct order. The class can sing karaoke style!

10. Have a class camp out. Print out lyrics to a number of songs and create a songbook. Then gather on the floor around a pretend fire and play the songs you have learned. If you don’t mind a little clean up, serve s’mores or popcorn!

If you have other ideas that you have used, we would love to hear them! Email me at alice at

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