Tips for Teaching First Grade Music

Tips for teaching first grade music: Activities and strategies to make your elementary music lessons fun and engaging!

First graders are at such a fun age. They are curious, but can follow directions a bit better than their Kindergarten counterparts. They are excited, they are joyful, and they can really start diving into musical literacy! In today's blog post, I'm writing with tips for teaching first grade.


In this blog post, I wrote about my tips for teaching Kindergarten, which included routine. With first grade, routine is still important. Just like I do with Kindergarten, I start with a singing game, such as “Apple Tree” or “We are dancing,” and then we do the song “Here we are together,” which is to the tune of “The more we get together.” I use the words:
Oh, here we are together, together, together,
Oh, here we are together in music today.
With Macy, and Jenna, and ….(sing all students' names)
Oh, here we are together in music today.

After that, we do greetings, in which I listen to four students sing solos, and then we sing the first song of the lesson and do concentrated work with it, whether it be with rhythm or melody. However you structure your lesson, it's wonderful for there to be aspects of it that are routine, so kids know what to expect.

Try centers

Although I have tried centers in Kindergarten with success, I feel like in first grade they are even more ready to work independently in centers. They love the autonomy and being able to showcase their knowledge!

If you haven't tried centers and are wondering what they might look like in the music room, here is a video I recently posted on my YouTube channel:

This video shows specific ideas for rhythm centers with first grade:

Challenge them

Even though they are only six or seven years old, first graders are ready for a challenge! Whether you have them keep the beat in their feet and the rhythm in their hands as they speak “Bee Bee,” or have one half of the class read one rhythm with ta and ti-ti while the other half of the class reads another, they are SO excited to show you what they are capable of! My friend Amy Abbott created this game to practice partwork skills that is both challenging and fun!

…But don't forget that they are six!

Even though they are ready for more challenging tasks, they ARE still six or seven, so they love a LOT of the same activities that they loved in Kindergarten. Check out this blog post for some of my favorite Kindergarten activities…first graders still beg for the bunny game! The fun part about that game is that you can make it more challenging for them, by having the distance between the high and low trills decrease, so students really have to differentiate between high and low.

Give chances for small group work

At this age, first graders are more ready to work in small groups–to create, to make musical decisions, and more! In this blog post, I wrote about using composition cards to have students compose. This past November at the AOSA conference,  I found the book “Rain,” linked below, at the West Music booth. I decided to use it with first grade, to assign a page to each small group, and then have them decide movement and/or instruments to accompany the reading of each page. Students were so creative with their choices, and had tons of fun performing! (Note: This is an affiliate link.)

If you're looking for more first grade ideas, I have a free first grade lesson; you can download by clicking below.

If you'd like more, check out these First Grade lesson sets:

Anything you want to add about First Grade? Please comment below! Happy teaching!

2 Responses

  1. Thanks for all you share! I’ve been a fan of your tpt products, blog, and podcast for a few years now. My students just adore The Bunny Game as well as several other games and lessons you’ve shared. I have my Kodaly Level 1 and hope to complete my levels someday.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hi, I'm Aileen

Recent Posts

New In The Shop

You might also enjoy...