At the beginning of each school year, I get to run the first assembly for the students in grades K-5 and it is one of my favorite assemblies. I plan our community sing-along where I make a keynote file of 17-20 songs and project the lyrics (along with some fun graphics) onto the screen so that the students can sing along. This is the first assembly for the Kindergarteners and all of the students enjoy it tremendously. So that it is not just me at a piano, I invite one of my good friends who is a drummer at night and a music salesman during the day, to accompany me. My drummer friend Tim always covers my mistakes and definitely makes me look a lot cooler to the kids.
Teachers have told me that it is one of their favorite assemblies and it truly does build the K-5 community with singing. The song list that I used this year was compiled from songs we sing in the classroom, to songs we sung in concerts last year, to current pop songs. It is a variety because I want to make sure that the music reaches all the students ages 5-11, and the teachers too.
Here was the song list:
- National Anthem
- Grand Old Flag
- 50 Nifty
- Take Me Out
- Shaky Egg (I know a Chicken)
- It’s a Small World
- Hard Knock Life
- My Favorite Things
- Doe a Deer
- Keep On Trying
- Lion and Mouse
- Upside Down
- The Sharing Song
- Born to be Somebody
- Music in Me
- I’m a Believer
- We Are The Young
Some background about this list:
National Anthem, Grand Old Flag, and 50 Nifty: Since it was September 14, I explained the significance of that day and the National Anthem during the assembly. In addition, my K-3 music classes were exploring this all week in music class. If you have an interactive whiteboard (IWB) software, then you can use the software to take the lyrics, mix them up, and have the students arrange them all back in the proper order. Great activity and takes only minutes to create. We continued with the patriotic theme by singing Grand Old Flag and 50 Nifty. Every year, the third graders explore and study every state of America. In music class, we compose our own state songs (eight measures), record them, and finally sing the 50 Nifty song-which they all love.
Take Me Out: Love this tune because even my shiest singers will sing out on this song.
Shaky Egg: If you teach PreK and K and you do not know Lauie Berkner, please go to Spotify (download it onto your computer) and listen to her for free. Then, make playlists in Spotify, all for free, and use them in your classroom. A future blog post about this coming soon.
It’s a Small World, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, Hard Knock Life, My Favorite Things, Doe a Deer: Some of these songs I trim down and perform the verses I believe that they will sing well and participate enthusiastically. To hear young voices sing “It’s a small world after all” always brings a tear to my eye every year. I always have a few Broadway babies in my group that love to sing the Broadway/movie songs. In addition, the Sound of Music is approached in my second grade curriculum as we discuss the life and immigration of Maria von Trapp, in correlation with their heritage/immigration unit.
Keep On Trying, Lion and Mouse: These are songs that I co-wrote for our first grade play last year. The second graders become very proud when they get to lead the singing.
Upside Down – Jack Johnson, The Sharing Song – Jack Johnson: This album is the soundtrack to the Curious George movie. My three-year-old loves this movie, so the music has gotten stuck in my head. However, it is a great soundtrack and the words to the songs are wonderful lessons for the music room (and life). Go to Spotify and listen to The Sharing Song (for free) and you will understand what I mean.
Born to be Somebody – Bieber: Our K-5 opening song for our Closing Ceremonies last year. The students loved the song and sang it well.
Mean – Swift: In the era of bullying, this song addresses it with a positive message. Plus, all of the girls in the audience sang the chorus for me. I did not have to sing much of this song.
Music in Me: This was our closer for our Spring Concert last year. When I started this song, all of the students got up to dance and sing.
I’m a Believer: Always a nice song from Shrek (though I will always be a fan of the Monkees version). Students sing and dance to it.
We Are The Young: Wonderful song to end with because it calms them down and we sing it every year. It is all about them and sends a wonderful message.
I hope that this post inspires you to hold an assembly or maybe a “Family Sing-Along” event at school. It is well worth the prep you put into it and to see and hear those students sing along, is worth gold.
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