Upper Elementary Music Activities

Ukulele on top of keyboard, with the text, "Upper elementary music activities"

Are you looking for music activities that work well for upper elementary? Hoping for activities for your lessons that will engage fourth, fifth, and sixth graders? Here are some of my favorites (and keep reading to download a free upper elementary music lesson!)

#1: Bim Bum

This song is super fun for upper elementary! It's great for tika-ti and fa, and helpful to just get kids singing and moving! Here is the notation and movement directions:

And here is a video I've used to teach the motions:

#2: Sevens

I just started using this activity this year, and my upper elementary students are loving it! Students can learn it slowly, then get faster and faster! Here is the video I've used to help teach it (by the same channel as “Bim Bum”):

#3: Poison

Poison is a fun game that my fourth and fifth graders have been loving (and it's a great way to review known concepts!) To play rhythm poison, students echo all the patterns you clap…except for the poison pattern! If you clap the poison pattern, they can make a cross with their arms to show you they know it's the poison pattern. If they do echo the poison pattern, they have to sit down.

To play melodic poison, instead of echo clapping, students can echo sing, or you can play a pattern on the recorder, and they have to sing it back (or not!)

To play, you can simply write the patterns on the board, or you could use sets like these:

#4: Centers

Centers can be a wonderful way to engage students, give them choice, and improve their learning. They can work especially well with upper elementary. For ideas on how to use centers, check out this post, about ukulele centers; the ideas can be adapted for rhythm, melody, and more!

#5: Creating music with technology

Upper elementary students LOVE to create music with technology. Here are some of my absolute favorite websites for having students create:

Looking for more fun activities for upper elementary? Download this free lesson, which includes a detailed lesson plan, visuals, and several songs that work well for upper elementary music!

I hope this is helpful as you write lessons for fourth, fifth, and sixth grade. Happy teaching!

5 Responses

  1. Awesome post! Thank you for sharing this information. I have utilized some of these activities within my classroom but look forward to trying new strategies in the current school year. Another way that I have tried to use Bim-Bum for more advanced classes is to try incorporating rounds. The kids have a great time and enjoy the challenge

  2. I also like the idea of utilizing centers in a music classroom. I used this strategy while teaching pre-covid but have struggled to come up with ways to incorporate this technique with all of the rules and regulations in schools today. Have you found this to be something that is a struggle during this time, as well? What ideas have you come up with to better engage students while many students are quarantining or in hybrid learning scenarios? I have found it difficult to create engaging activities for students who are learning both in-person and online.

    1. Hi Hayley! I have also found it to be a bit of a challenge. One solution that has worked well is to do digital centers. For this, all students would bring a Chromebook to music (or you’d have to borrow a cart from another class, if you don’t have any), and then they could do centers all on the Chromebook. Virtual classrooms and choice boards work really well for this! Here is a blog post about virtual classrooms and choice boards: https://aileensmusicroom.com/2020/06/activities-for-choice-boards-and-virtual-classrooms.html. Have a great day!

    1. Hi Ashley! It’s pretty open…I show them how to use it, and let them create whatever and however they want. 🙂

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