Preparing for Halloween in the Elementary Music Classroom
Where I teach, you can use Halloween-themed music and activities to assist in teaching musical concepts in class. That is not always the case and when you cannot, many elementary music educators will use a theme about fall that could include leaves, pumpkins, and more. When I need resources for fall or Halloween related material, I tend to search out activities and ideas from various music educators and networks. Here are a few that have worked well in my classroom:
Super Simple Songs
Ok. I know, I know. This is the site of the infamous Baby Shark song. However, this site also has some easy-to-go-to simple songs for young students. I have used Snowflake twice in a concert, and it has been a wonderful song for students in K and 1 to sing at a Holiday Concert.
This year, I found Can You Make A Happy Face?, which is a song about the faces you can make when you carve a jack-o-lantern. My PreK and kindergarten students quickly learned this song and love to sing it. This song also nicely coordinated with the classroom’s ongoing unit of feelings. The site also includes sheets for the children to create their own pumpkin faces. The students could then create new verses and sing them or create an arioso around the new faces they draw on their pumpkin workshop sheets.
When I need to find songs for PreK and K, I will sometimes utilize a Google search. For this year’s PreK/K Halloween parade, I found numerous from the website, Pre-K Pages. My young student love Five Little Monsters fingerplay and Five Little Pumpkins. These fingerplays are wonderful as we sing them, act them out, and bring in cross curricular connections like take-aways (subtraction).
Denise Gagne’s Sing and Play on Special Days
This is a wonderful collection of 67 unison and part songs, including songs with piano accompaniment, songs with Orff instrument accompaniment, rounds, game songs, readings, poems and reader’s theater for special days and holidays throughout the school year. The fall and Halloween songs and activities are loved by my students. Plus, if you have a subscription to a streaming service, you can stream these songs on most streaming services.
My favorite is the song, Falling Leaves. My first graders sing this song, find the descriptive words to help them use scarves to move to the music, and then perform the song with a simple two-part Orffestration based on the tonic. This song is also in minor, which gives a beautiful and mysterious mood.
Here are my first graders performing Falling Leaves:
Some Favorite Videos
- Line Rider’s In the Hall of the Mountain King and the Rhythm Playalong In the Hall of the Mountain King by E. Grieg– Combine these videos with a music and movement activity using Hair Up from the Trolls movie. I review the rhythms patterns in the playalong, then compare it to the line rider video, and end with a movement activity to the Trolls version. It is a nice lesson on Halloween.
- Bonus: Line Rider has a video to Beethoven’s Fifth.
- Saint-Saëns Dance Macabre Listening Map – This is a very well done listening map showing the themes along with the instruments that playing the theme.
- Musication’s Ghostbusters DoReMi or ABC – These versions have two-parts playing together. You can have students perform the chords or the melody, or divide the class up to play both parts at once.
Perform a Google Search
When I need more choices for Halloween or Fall songs, I will perform a google search. This will result in finding other music educator’s ideas posted on their websites, blogs, podcasts, music education networks, and more. Some of my favorites are:
- Tracy King’s Mrs. King’s Music Class – Music Class and Halloween
- David Row’s Make Music Matter – David has a website, TPT store, podcast, and youtube channel that shows what he does in the music classroom. It is a great resource of ideas, songs, activities, and so much more!
- Aileen Miracle’s Mrs. Miracle’s Music Room – Halloween Posts
- Teaching With Orff – Halloween Ideas
- Kodály Inspired Classroom – Halloween Posts
Enjoy this las week of October!
Amy M. Burns is an elementary music educator, clinician, author, and musician. She currently works at Far Hills Country Day School in Far Hills, NJ teaching PreK through Grade 3 general music, grade 5 instrumental music, and grades 4-8 instrumental band. She is the author of Technology Integration in the Elementary Music Classroom, Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with a SMART Board, and Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with One or more iPads! She is also an author for Online Learning Exchange™ Interactive Music powered by Silver Burdett. She has given numerous presentations on integrating technology into the elementary music classroom as well as being a keynote speaker for music technology conferences in Texas, Indiana, St. Maarten, and Australia. She is the recipient of the 2005 TI:ME Teacher of the Year Award, the 2016 NJ Master Music Teacher Award, the 2016 NJ Governor’s Leader in Arts Education Award, and the 2017 Non-Public School Teacher of the Year Award. You can find out more about Amy at her website: amymburns.com