The Educational Songs and Children's Music Blog

5 Ways to Teach Cooperation in Your Classroom

CLICK HERE to find music by Mary Miché!

CLICK HERE to find more songs about Cooperation!

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Why Shop At Songs for Teaching?

Reposting this article from last year as a friendly reminder.

We know you have many choices as a consumer, and we here at Songs for Teaching want to win your business. So here are our top 10 reasons to shop at for your children's educational music.

Number 10. We've done the research! - We know that you want the best for your buck. We preview all the cds listed on our site for the following criteria:
a. The music must be of high quality.
b. The content must be educationally useful and appropriate.
c. The production value must be professional quality.

Number 9. We provide music in a variety of formats Hard Copy CDs, Mp3 downloads, Videos, Sheet Music, Lyrics etc. Many of our songs even have teaching materials as well.

Number 8. We are on the up and up with current trends in Children's Music. As Corporate Sponsors of Children's Music Network, a consortium of musicians, educators, producers, songwriters etc., we connect regularly with other like-minded folks who are committed to bringing quality music to children.

Number 7. Hard-to-Find Titles - We carry many items that never made it on to those "big dog" web sites. Some artists prefer to sell exclusively with Songs for Teaching! Looking for that folk song your grandmother used to sing? We probably have it!

Number 6. Lyrics, Lyrics, Lyrics - Nearly all of our products include lyrics. This is heaven for teachers who utilize lyrics as a teaching tool in the classroom. Lyrics matter and having a printable version saves teachers precious time and energy! Can't get that from the big dogs!

Number 5. Recommendations - Not sure what to buy? Tired of searching among thousands of songs and cds on those "big dog" sites? We have recommendation pages for nearly every topic. Just click the next to the topic of your choice on our Home Page and it will list out song suggestions for that topic.

Number 4. I answer the phone! - Customer Service is my favorite part of the job. I enjoy talking to parents and educators helping them with their orders or offering personal recommendations. I like email too! If you leave me a voicemail or email, I try my hardest to get back to you as soon as I can. You aren't getting the customer service department, you are getting me - an educator, a parent, a musician and the owner of Songs for Teaching.

Number 3. We take Purchase Orders. - Simply fax in your signed purchase order (866-769-8528) and I will take it from there! I am happy to jump through whatever hoops required to become a "Preferred Vendor" for your organization.

Number 2. Support Small Businesses - While "shop local" doesn't quite describe us, the sentiment is similar. We feel like we have a little shingle hung on the Main Street of the World Wide Web. We know it might be the trend to shop at one of those "big dogs" but this Mom and Pop are committed to helping you!

Number 1. We are Artists too! - We have been writing and recording educational music for years and really believe in it's power as an incredible medium for education. Our ultimate goal to get quality educational music in the hands of parents and teachers.


David & Alice Burba,
Songs for Teaching Owners

Making the Music & Reading Connection

This post is published with permission from Liz Buchanan's excellent blog.

Many academic studies have shown a strong connection between musical activities and early literacy learning. One study that especially interests me is detailed in“Early Language Learning With and Without Music,” by Douglas Fisher, published in Reading Horizons in 2001.

The study evaluated four classrooms of students in kindergarten and first grade. The students were all English Language Learners who spoke Spanish at home. Two of the classrooms began the day with a song and added particular musical activities to reading instruction time, while the other two did not. The students in the classrooms that used music scored higher on reading assessments.

Most of the preschool and kindergarten teachers I meet understand the power of music for their students, but they often don’t know how best to use music to enhance student learning. Most early-reading curricula give some lip-service to singing (no pun intended). A song may come with each week’s lesson plans, but the song seems an afterthought and not that engaging. To put it nicely, these songs aren’t destined for the top 40.

In the Fisher study, the songs seemed more integral to the lessons, as though each lesson would lose its heart without the song. For instance, in one activity, the children had to find a mystery word in scrambled letters. For the classes using music, the mystery word was a song title, and when the students discovered the mystery, the teacher would play a recording of the song. As one teacher commented, “See how they love to find the mystery word? They know we’re going to sing a song and that the CD with the words will be available in the classroom library after we learn it. The connections they make are great. They know the words because we sang together. On their own, they get to see the words in print and hear them over and over again.”

As I’ve worked as a teaching artist in kindergarten classrooms, I’ve had teachers ask for particular songs to work on certain skills. The teachers (and their students) were tired of rote chanting of letter sounds and rhyming word families: B-Buh-Baseball and fat-cat-sat-mat. I was able to make musical connections that made the lessons more engaging for both teachers and students.

I’d love to see more teachers trying these songs in their classrooms. In my collection, Songs for Rhyming and Reading, there are songs for clapping syllables of words, emphasizing starting consonants, reciting long and short vowels, guessing rhymes and making word families. You can find this collection and many other early literacy-related songs on my page at Songs for Teaching.

For instance, in my song Animal Hand-Clapping Rap, students can learn about interesting creatures such as a cockatoo or coatimundi while clapping syllables. Teachers can change the pace by using the same song featuring food words. (For an article with more musical syllable clapping ideas click here.

The rhyme-guessing songs can turn rhyming skill learning into a game. In Icky Sticky and Ooey Gooey, kids guess rhyming body parts.

In I Like My Hat, students have a chance to expand the song into a writing activity about their favorite hat color. They’re invited to make up rhyming lines such as “My hat is blue, I stick it on with glue,” or “My hat is yellow, I wear it and say hello!” There’s also a chance to be creative and color a fancy hat.

In Vowel Jamboree, students sing long and short vowel sounds, rather than simply reciting them. It adds extra fun to letter sound lessons. For starting consonant sounds, teachers can try the classic Muffin Man with many added verses for other starting consonant sounds.

For more songs about Phonological Awareness click here!

10 Ways to Use Music in Your Classroom

Due to several requests, we are republishing this blog post, originally published in March 2014.

Most teachers agree that using music can enhance learning. Yet, many teachers get stuck, not knowing what to play or how to use music to the fullest. Here are 10 ideas you can implement today in your classroom!

1. Transitions – music is a great tool when switching subjects of changing directions for your students. It has a way of resetting the stage so that children can mentally switch from one topic to another. Play a song to summarize what was just finished, or a song about what is coming next. Allow the children to stand up, march around the room or do hand movements to mark the transition. You will find your children fresh and engaged for the next subject. Click here for some great transition songs!

2. Energize – When children have been focusing on a subject for a time and begin to get fatigued (usually marked by restlessness, inattention, disruptive behavior), take a break from the class and call a music break. Play a activating song, best if related to the topic, to re-energize the children. Click here for some great suggestions!

3. Use Lyrics – display lyrics on a whiteboard, smart-board or on flip chart paper. Have the children find sight words, diagram the sentences or pull out academic vocabulary. Using the text while the song plays, gives relevance to the lyrics and allows the children to learn conventions, build vocabulary and enhance reading and literacy. Nearly all the music at Songs For Teaching is sold with lyrics.

4. Write Lyrics – collect a few instrumental tracks of familiar songs and as an assignment have the children write their own lyrics. This can be done individually, in small groups or with the class at large. The teacher can incorporate a current theme or target information learned from a particular lesson. It might be a great project for a poetry lesson! Here are several suggestions for instrumental tracks.

5. Power of the Pause – Pausing the music at key spots in the music can increase engagement. Pause before the end of a line and ask the children to finish the line. Then think of other words you could substitute for the actual lyric. Brainstorm other words that rhyme or words that may change the meaning! Use the pause button with any song (remember musical chairs?). For rhyming songs try Jack Hartmann's Rap, Clap, Rhyme. Also see Marla Lewis' Rhyme Riddles!

6. Pair with Literature – There are a number of ways to pair songs with the books the children are reading. Teachers can select songs that relate directly to the book. For example, if your class is reading Mr. Popper’s Penguins, you can incorporate this song also titled Mr. Popper's Penguins directly about the book. Or you can find songs about a related topic such as Penguin Partyabout the different types of penguins or Puffin's Summer Picnic to learn about animals of the Arctic. This can be a great way to address the Common Core directive to integrate science, social studies etc into reading. Or . . . flip it! Listen to a song before going to the library and have the children find related books! Click Here for more songs inspired by Children's Literature.

7. Make Music Video – This is a great project to integrate the sciences. Children can find photos on the internet and arrange them in a slide show to convey meaning in the song. Take the song Hibernation for example. . Children can collect photos of hibernating animals and sync them to the music. How about a song about amphibians . . . or a song about the solar system. Not only do the children enjoy the science lesson, they build their technology skills as well.

8. Coordinate with Holidays - Most teachers are used to playing songs related to the big holidays, but don’t forget the other special days of the year. For example, Earth Day is coming soon. It is a great time to play music related to conservation such as Music with Mar.'s Can It, Save the Planet. It also can be a great way to integrate songs about historical figures related to that holiday. For Earth Day, you could play a song about John Muir and learn the history of the day.

9. Have a Performance! This can be something simple like a performing for the classroom, perhaps across grade levels or with reading buddies. Or it can be for a school assembly or parent night. Using instrumental tracks saves the day when an accompanists cannot be found. Click here for some suggestions for performances! Make costumes and write your own scripts. Try one of our great musicals that come fully scripted complete with vocal and instrumental tracks.

10. Just plain fun! Try some silly songs for the simple joy of it. Make the classroom environment one that nurture’s children’s creativity and natural desire for learning.

Adventure Day: Surviving the Summer Doldrums in Phoenix

Summer is fast approaching, and while we all love the extra time with the kids, we dread those summer doldrums. Looking for guidance, I would peruse the magazine rack at the grocery store for creative ideas and find countless articles titled, “Explore the Outdoors” “Celebrate Nature this Summer” or “Send the Kids Outside to Play”. . . These are all great themes for this time of year, except . . . we live in Phoenix, Arizona where the average temperature in the summer exceeds 105 and often rises above 110.

The problem for most Arizona parents is that the kids are off school when the weather is at its worst. When my kids were young, I would look forward to the relaxed time with them, but dreaded being locked inside. (I suppose those of you with severe winters can relate). It was a time for creativity, so I declared one day a week devoted to library day (always a bonus that libraries have great air conditioning) and one day a week for Adventure Day.

Adventure Day was a big hit with the kids and became a sacred tradition that my now adult children still talk about. We would all brainstorm local places and activities we wanted to go or do during the summer break and write them down on individual slips of paper. Each of us (myself and my three kids) got to select two of their choices. Mom had the right to veto those items that were out of the budget, unsafe or just plain unrealistic (I had to cut flying to the California beach for the day, skydiving, and running with the bulls).

After we shared our selections we folded up the pieces of paper and put them in an Adventure Day jar. Every Sunday night before bed, we would take turns picking one paper out of the jar for that week’s Adventure Day. Adventure Day was a bit later in the week so we could plan our time. When the day came, we would hop in the car belt out our Adventure Day theme song (a parody of Hurray for Hollywood) in true Ethel Merman style.

There was no grumbling allowed if you didn’t like the week’s pick because you knew yours would come soon. I had to endure arcades and laser tag, but my kids had to cheerfully go to the art or science museum. Some weeks I would allow the kids to bring a friend, but we had the most fun when it was just us (The kids sometimes got embarrassed when mom belted out the Adventure Day theme song in the car, but that was part of the deal if you brought a friend). If the budget allowed, I would close the Adventure Day season at the end of summer break with a big-ticket item like a visit to a local water park.

Some of my favorite Adventure Days were:
• Breakfast at the Zoo (the Phoenix Zoo opens early in the summer and we would pack a picnic breakfast and eat with the chimpanzees).
• Our local children’s museums or science museum – they sometimes offered summer discounts.
• Going to the airport to watch the planes take off and land (when the kids were little this was a kick, but didn’t make the list as they got older).
• We don’t have a beach, but the local “wave” pool was always on the list.
• Early morning hikes in the nearby mountains.
• Ok , I admit it . . . I did love laser tag, but the arcades drove me crazy.

Now grown, my kids will sometimes spontaneously bust out with our Adventure Day theme song when we gather! It just warms my heart (but not too warm, it is after all, Phoenix!)

Alice is the owner of Songs for Teaching. She has three adult children who still love to go on adventures together.

Create a playlist of songs for your Adventure Days this summer! See our suggestions for Songs for Summer Break See also our list of Folk Songs, Campfire Songs
and out list for Library Summer Reading Program Theme Songs.

Rachel Carson, John Muir, and the Origins of Earth Day

The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970 at a time when Americans needed an environmental wake up call. Cars with gas guzzling V8 engines crowded the highways. Unregulated factory smoke stacks spewed tons of poisonous gases into the air and waterways.

One of the heroes on my new American Heroes #4 album indirectly played an important role in the creation of Earth Day.

Rachel Carson (1907-1964), “Voice for the Earth,” was an author and scientist whose courage, selfless spirit, and sense of wonder inspired the modern environmental movement. Her books about nature helped people realize our interconnectedness with the world of plants and animals. In 1951, her book The Sea Around Us was published. It remained on The New York Times best-seller list for 81 weeks and was translated into 32 languages. In 1962, Carson wrote Silent Spring, a book that spoke courageously about the irresponsible use of poisonous chemicals. Though powerful chemical companies labeled her an alarmist, her book awakened millions of people to the importance of caring for the planet. In 1980, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States, was awarded in her memory.

“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” —Rachel Carson

Silent Spring started a movement that included not only the first Earth Day, but also the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. My song (co-written with Dave Kinnoin) about Rachel Carson is “Interconnected” from my American Heroes #4CD.

John Muir (1838-1914), who appears on my American Heroes #3 CD, is remembered as the most influential conservationist and naturalist in America, is known as “the father of our national parks.” An ingenious inventor who was blinded by an injury, he vowed that if his sight were restored, he would devote himself to the study of the inventions of Nature. Gradually, his vision returned, and he courageously took a stand against the destruction of America’s great western forests. With his poetic writing, he taught us that wild places are precious and fragile spiritual resources that must be preserved. A compassionate dreamer, he forever changed the way we see our mountains and forests. Muir’s birthday is, not coincidentally, April 21, the day before Earth Day.

For more Earth Day Songs, click here!

Grammy nominated singer/songwriter, Jonathan Sprout, has dedicated the past 21 years to creating meaningful and captivating music for children. Jonathan’s four American Heroes albums have won 25 national awards and critical acclaim as groundbreaking CDs in the field of educational children’s music. Click here to see more music from Jonathan Sprout

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Spring Song About Seeds! (and a bit about POTENTIAL)

What could I become? I’m just a little seed…

Last spring, I started singing a brand new song about seeds on the way to a school where I work. I arrived and wrote the whole thing down in the parking lot. Yep, it’s one of those “organic” tunes that just happens before you know it! The song’s refrain is: “I’ve got potential! I’m a little seed.” The refrain repeats, encouraging participants to sing it back, call-and-response style. Click Here to view lyrics.

Seeds, of course, are not the only things with potential. This song invites discussion with children about the meaning of “potential,” as well as the life cycle and the characteristics all living things share. You can also encourage children to rewrite the song by adding their favorite flowers, plants and trees.

This is a great song to pair with a book. There are many, but the first ones that come to mind for me are Lois Ehlert’s Growing Vegetable Soup and Planting a Rainbow, or Eric Carle’s The Tiny Seed.

There are also many songs you could pair with this one. Here are some suggestions (some are from my friends at the Children's Music Network!) I’m impressed by Pam Donkin’s Planting Seeds of Love.

Here are some others:
Growing Sound's Seeds of Hope;
MMMKids From A Seed Into A Tree;
Kiboomu's The Gardner Plants A Seed;
Bobby Susser's The Seeds In The Spring Are Going To Grow (With A Little Help);
Miss Jenny's Let Your Garden Grow;
Music with Mar.'s Seed To a Flower
Marla Lewis' I Love to Talk to Plants.

This post was first published on Liz Buchanan's blog. To see all of Liz's music on Songs for Teaching, click here!

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Music Hath Charms To Soothe The Savage 4th Grader - Or How My Terror of Nine-Year-Olds Launched A Career Composing Educational

These days, kids are far more sophisticated and hip to pop culture than we were at their age. I discovered this first hand when I started volunteering in my sons' classrooms as a music teacher, and I soon realized that traditional kids' music turned off even the kindergarteners. It was fine as long as I was doing fun 'extra' music - there's plenty of upbeat pop music with clean lyrics and not to much 'mushy stuff.' But teachers wanted more than fun, they wanted the music time to reinforce curriculum.

My older son's 4th grade teacher came to me with a musical she'd found online about the California gold rush, and she asked if I could use my time more efficiently by teaching those songs - which included historic details but sounded like something from Romper Room (or "Barney," for those of you too young to remember Romper Room). As it was, by 4th grade these kids could have made eye-rolling into an Olympic event, and I realized there was no way I would survive trying to teach them the equivalent of "I love you, you love me."

Before I had kids, I was a full-time music director and had written a number of comedy songs and musicals for adults, so I decided to try my hand at writing something that would satisfy the teachers and yet appeal to the kids. I wrote a rock musical about California history and the kids actually got excited about singing the songs! (Granted, that was less about my writing and more a result of the screaming electric guitar accompaniment, but hey, when you're trying to appeal to jaded nine-year-olds, you do what you can!)

While you may not find fun-yet-educational-music on the Billboard Top 40, fortunately Songs For Teaching is a great resource, connecting teachers with music that will make them AND their students happy. And if those songs can sneak in some great information, all the better - think of it as the musical equivalent of hiding pureed spinach in spaghetti sauce!

Here are a couple of examples -

Learning about coins: Marvelous Money
Early science: Life Cycles
Telling Time: It's About Time

Click here for more great songs by Lauren Mayer

Lauren Mayer draws on her experience as a children's musical composer, a school music teacher and a mom to create award-winning educational music for a variety of subjects. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Yale University, where she studied composition, conducting, and music theory, and she has taught school music, choir, and theatre for grades K-12.

Raiders of the Lost Bark

During studies for my master’s degree at Lesley University, I had an opportunity to take a class on early literacy learning with Professor Jean Ciborowsky Fahey. Jean works closely with a group called Reach Out and Read, a non-profit organization that partners with pediatricians’ offices to encourage reading-related activities for very young children.

Jean enthusiastically encourages parents and early childhood teachers to play literacy games regularly – daily if possible – with their young children and students. You can play these games anywhere – the breakfast table, on the way to school, the supermarket line or the playground line. One game involves taking apart compound words. For instance, children might be asked:

Say “something.” Say it again without the “thing.” Some.

Say “pinwheel.” Say it again without the “pin.” Wheel.

Say “motorcycle.” Say it again without the “cycle.” Motor.

Games can also help children learn to separate out the onset and rime; that is, the initial consonant sound of the word (onset) and the remaining vowel and consonant sounds (rime). The child could be asked:

Say run. Say it again without the ‘r.’

Say dog. Say it again without the ‘d.’

Say find. Say it again without the ‘f.’

By learning to separate the starting sound from those that follow, the child begins to understand the families of words that have the same ending sounds. Reading the words in the families becomes that much easier, as cat, fat, mat, bat, rat and sat all have the same end letters, just different beginnings. I’ve written a Word Families song – click the link and you can check it out on my Songs for Rhyming and Reading at Songs for Teaching.

What follows is silly song that invites children to play with beginning and ending sounds. Make a flash card for each of the words, and separate the beginning sound from the rest of the word. Have different letters available to form the nonsense words. Ask a children to pick out the correct letter to begin the word.

My Dog Lost the ‘B’ from Her Bark Tune: “If You’re Happy and You Know It”
By Liz Buchanan

Oh my dog lost the B from her bark (repeat)
My dog lost the B from her bark bark bark
Now all she can say is “Ark!”

Until she found a “G” and went “Gark”
Oh, then she found an “S” and went “Sark”
Oh, what she really needs is a B you see
Please find a B for me.

Oh my cow lost the M from her moo …
Now all she can say is “oo”

My turkey lost the G from her gobble
Now all she can say is “obble”

My Frog lost the R from his ribbet
Now all he can say is “ibbet.”

Click here to view more of Liz Buchanan's Songs on Songs for Teaching! This blog post was originally published on Liz Buchanan's blog site Antelope Dance Music & Literacy.

Worth Singing About! Upcoming Patriotic Holidays

In planning lessons for the months of January and February, teachers often think of Dr. Martin Luther King and the U.S. Presidents. With all the necessary standards in different subject areas needing to be covered, what can a teacher do to make sure they recognize these great individuals in American history? As a 23-year veteran teacher, I found that singing about them can help the students learn valuable information. To make sure that happened, I created my own songs to honor these men: Dr. Martin Luther King and We Salute the Presidents.

I wanted children to feel part of history, so for example, words expressed by Dr. Martin Luther King in his “I Have a Dream” speech are right in the song: people’s “hands joined” all around, and his repeated passionate plea to “Let freedom ring…” became “Freedom song, for all people it does ring.” In the “We Salute the Presidents” song, the children learn that George Washington was the first President and helped us win the Revolution. Abraham Lincoln was our sixteenth President and kept our country united through the Civil War. My hope was that this melodic means to learning would not only be fact-filled, but would make the whole learning process easy, memorable, and fun for the students.

These songs are just two of twelve songs on one of my CDs called Learning About Patriotic Holidays and Symbols by Song, designed so that a teacher could honor and recognize all our important national holidays and patriotic symbols throughout the year with this novel approach. To reinforce the students’ learning, I added an accompanying workbook with enlarged song sheets, activity pages, scored melodies, line drawings for coloring, and instrumental song tracks that could be used for performance purposes.

In the shrinking teaching day that seems to be increasing every year, it is so important as educators that we not neglect our American heritage. We can (and must) carve out a few minutes of the school day and participate in patriotic rituals (like singing) to show our great love and pride for the United States of America, remembering our many blessings.

Click here for some great songs by Barbara Speicher!

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