Set the Stage to Engage Week 4: Tons of Freebie Songs

I'm back from Vegas. I've recovered. {That's a lie!} And I am ready for week #4 of my Set the Stage to Engage Series! {That's the honest truth!} ;) 

This week is all about how I engage my kids through music. One thing that I have noticed in my time teaching first, second, third, fifth...{you get the idea} is that regardless of grade level, kids love music. They know the lyrics to every current tune on Radio Disney and then some. Yes, yes...even my first grade friends could rap like a champ! 

Long story short, I quickly learned that when I put my toughest content to music, my kids completely retained, understood, and applied that information or concept. If they can rap the latest Drake tune, they can for sure rap some educational content. 

So pump up the jams and get ready to get your groove on. 

How do you write songs? 

Ok. So I don't even know if there is an answer to this. Let me begin by saying that when I started writing songs for my classroom, I was the absolute worst song writer on the planet. Thank goodness I was in first grade at the time and have refined my skills a little since then. I guess what I am trying to say is practice makes perfect. However here are a few tips: 

Rhyme Zone: 

Rhyme zone can be your best friend. You are welcome! :) 

When I am in the midst of writing a song, sometimes I get writer's block and can't think of rhyming words. This will help you out. I visit it a good 15 times when I am writing a song. 

Select a good beat: 

I always go take a visit to Radio Disney and listen to their top songs. Don't choose anything too fast because it makes it extra difficult to a) write and b) the students to sing. Then I find the instrumental version on Youtube to get my rhythm. 

Drive home the content: 

Let me first say this: you do not want to have a song for every single thing you study. It would be like karaoke mayhem in your classroom. If you want to write a song, begin by selecting your hardest and most challenging content. Many times this content has a lot of vocabulary words to cover. For example, when I taught 3rd grade, I wrote a song for our rocks and minerals unit. It was extremely content and vocabulary heavy. Songs are also great if you are teaching something in math or any other content area that requires following multiple steps. 

Then once you have that content that you know you want to include...make it happen. Make it work. Fit it all into your song. You will see all of the content in some of my examples below. 

Just do it! 

Go for it! You gotta start somewhere. Right?  Don't be afraid to try to your hand at writing your own lyrics. Sometimes it has taken me a week to write a song. I always revisit and edit. Then as I begin to teach my students the lyrics, I make even more edits. 

Free songs for you...If you dare! 

Alright. This is a no judgement zone. Right? I once would refuse to record any of my songs but everyone would complain that they couldn't catch the rhythm. I have stated many times that I would love to be a rockstar. However...and this is a big listen up. I am anything but that very thing. Don't judge my voice. Turn it way down. Your dogs will howl. That's a promise. :) But here are some of my songs that I have used with my kids to really engage my learners and nail that tricky content. Brace yourself...

BRAND NEW: The Plot is What You Need
Grab the lyrics {HERE!}

I haven't shared this one before, so it's brand spankin' new just for you. I use this song to help my kids understand the process to comprehending and understanding parts of the plot. The sound quality is not the greatest on this one, y'all! Sorry! I am also putting the rhythm that I use in class below. The rhythm in this video is a little slower than I prefer, but I couldn't get it to record properly! :) 

Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required.

Karaoke Version: 

Super Roots: Use with Greek and Latin Roots

Somehow I managed to squeeze 36 roots into one song! :) You can find that song in this post!

Rocks and Minerals

Morning Songs: 

When I taught first, second, and third grades, I would always begin my day with a song. It was filled will all sorts of excitement and motivation. I am a firm believer in how you start your how you will end your day. We've got to get our kids on fire for learning from the minute they walk in your door. Right after our morning work, this song would come on. They would begin preparing for the day and then meet me at the carpet to show me some of their best moves. 

 2014 Morning Song 

You can download the words in my TPT shop HERE! It will also give you a link to the instrumental version of Really Don't Care by my girl, D. Lovato! 

And one more morning song! 

My husband and I also created a little TPT unit with more songs for the classroom. You can check it out in my shop by clicking on the picture below! 

How to make it work: 

Alright. Now that the terribly embarrassing part is over, let's talk about how you can make songs work in your classroom. People always email me and ask how they can get their students into singing the songs. They say their kids are shy...and I get it. I totally do. But then I ask them what they are doing while their kids sing. Many say they stand up front and point to the words. 

Alright, so if you really want to make this work in your classroom, and you find that it just ain't've got to be the change. You've got to get in front of your kids, sing your little heart out, and show them your killa moves. You can't just tell your kids to sing. Sometimes you've just got to show them how it's done. 

Does that make you uncomfortable? Good! Remember at the beginning of this series when I told you it was time to get comfortable with being uncomfortable? These quotes are my absolute favorite, and even though I am a little crazy {if you haven't already figured that part out} I still use these to motivate me to be bigger...and better than the day before. 

...and then there's this. #justsayin ;) 

Along with enthusiasm, it is so super important that you really break down the songs for the kids. You want them to be able to apply the songs and use the lyrics to help them better understand specific content. 

You want the content in your class to match the content you are singing. Meaning, if you are singing a song about the steps to long division and you have only taught them to divide and multiply...only teach them those two pieces of the lyrics first. Then add as you go. 

Do you accept the challenge? 

So what are you waiting for? I need some new songs, and I am counting on you! ;) I am going to be featuring some new song titles here on the blog in the next few weeks. If you write or have written and song and would like to have your song featured, here is what you need to do. 

1. Write a song. 

2. Share the link on instagram. 

3. Tag me @elementaryshenanigans. 

4. Use the #setthestagesongchallenge

I can't wait to feature some amazing songs and add to my little playlist. 

That wraps up yet another week of my Set the Stage to Engage series. I'll be back next week with some fun games. {For real this time around!} Until then, you can check out any of the posts that you missed below! 



  1. Love this! I just wrote "Best Year Of Our Lives!" and need to record it! I'm so excited to share it with my kids this Friday. I love love love using music in the classroom and I'm getting better at writing as I write more. LOVE your "Make it There" It's awesome! I also make dogs howl when I sing, so we'll be iin the same boat! Hope I get to meet you in October when I visit RCA!!

  2. THIS IS AWESOME! You are so creative! :) I'm sure your kids LOVE this! I have a few songs I resort to for a few lessons, but I need to get to writing!

    Fervent First Grade Frenzy

  3. I love changing the words to songs. Most of the time it's on the fly with my kiddos so I don't always sing the same song twice. Thank you for sharing these!
    Stories by Storie

  4. I LOVE your songs!!!!!!!! You are just bursting with talent!
    Fun In First

  5. I used your Demi song Make It There (I Really Don't Care) this past year in my 2nd Grade Classroom. We sang it every morning before we began our day. We loved it! I was dancing and singing right along with it and sweating (haha). We used the version of you singing so we had your inspiration everyday. In fact, some of the lyrics made it into our class mission statement. Thanks for such a great and inspiring song!

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Thank you so much for sharing songs, Hope! I wrote a 7 Habits song to the tune of "Shut Up and Dance with Me" but I'm not sure if I'm allowed to post the link publicly because it's about the 7 Habits. Any thoughts on this? Thanks so much! :)