Editor’s Note: Back by popular demand! Originally this blog featured eleven ideas for using music in your lessons. But the post was so popular we’ve added 34 more ideas below — all from our teachers on the Teacher HELPLINE! ! Enjoy!
*WeAreTeachers disclaimer- In the words of teacher Randolph M.: “Whatever songs I use, I make sure to preview and screen every one and I even imagine potential red- flag scenarios before using any song!”
We asked our Facebook friends to share their favorite popular songs they use to teach educational concepts. Here’s what they said:
- I love Dr. Stephanie Pasley-Wright’s “Math Party.” I put on the 100 song and make them do jumping jacks while they count. The energy level goes from a level 10 to a level one. Exercise and learning at the same time! —Melissa F.
- I use Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” to teach compare and contrast essays. “All the similarities … all the similarities …” —Coco S.
- Mr. Parr’s channel on YouTube is the best for science songs! —Samantha B.
- I play “Show Me the Money” by Jack Hartmann to teach money concepts. —Laura C.
- I use Nathan Elder’s Biomusic CDs—Rachel E.
- We love Flocabulary. It’s educational hip-hop! —Kendall G.
- Check out the videos made by the Rock Asylum. They only have a few and they are aimed toward middle schoolers, but I’ve used the scientific method and rounding ones with ninth graders who enjoy rock music. —Deb H.
- I use “The Macarena” to teach patterns and cross laterality in P.E. class. —Cheryl G.
- “One Is the Loneliest Number” is great for introducing prime numbers. —Donna S.W.
- Pancake Manor! They have songs for counting, letter concepts and more. —Jason K.
- I use Alanis Morisette’s “Ironic” to talk about irony. —Tyler W.
- Taylor Swift’s songs are full of figurative language. Just used “Red“ for metaphors and similes.” -Dianne G.
- Katy Perry has a couple songs that make great use of allusion, similes, and metaphors– specifically “Pearl“ and “Who am I Living For“. Both of those songs could also be tied into Social Studies or novel units, depending on what you’re learning or reading.” – Amanda L.
- To teach writer’s voice, I play three different versions of the same song; specifically, I use “Umbrella“ by Rihanna, by The Baseballs, by Lillasyster, and by Thirsty Merc (original, swing, hard rock, funk).” -Andrea R.
- I use “Happy“ with linking verbs, ‘Jingle Bells’ for helping verbs, and ‘Mary had a Little Lamb’ for prepositions.” -Dianne G.
- I’m using Hamilton to teach U.S. history to 8th graders currently- they love it! Next week I’ll be using “Cabinet Battle #2” to teach Hamiltonian vs. Jeffersonian visions for the US.” -Gabrielle B.
- I like using “Revolution“ by the John Butler Trio to teach indigenous perspectives, social comment and metaphor. I actually teach a unit called Perspectives in Songs that looks at the poetic devices, social comment and positioning in songs… The list of songs that have make social comments and contain effective use of poetic device is endless from Pink to the Beatles to Macklemore! I love using music in the classroom.” -Jennifer D.
- If you Google “Teaching with Katy Perry’s ‘Firework‘”, you’ll find a lesson plan- lots of figurative language, etc.” -Cindy G.
- I used the “Fresh Prince of Bel Air“ to introduce narrative poetry to my second graders. We then write our own rap about a change in our own lives. I read them out loud in my rapper voice and ask the class for suggestions. So fun!” Theresia C.
- I recently used Beyonce’s “Love on Top“ to teach unit fractions and decomposing fractions. We replaced “love” with “one.”- Ashley F.
- I know a fifth-grade teacher who has a sign that says “When computing with decimals, remember Beyonce’s rule: ‘To the left, to the left …’”- Deborah B.
- I have found “Titanium“ by David Gueta effective for some lessons in bullying, depression and trust. “Uptown Funk“ by Mark Ronson has been useful for lessons of societal mores and values. “Shake it Off“ by Taylor Swift has been effective with getting across lessons on rumors and confrontation. – Randolph M.
- Recently I used the songs “You’re Gonna Miss This“ by Trace Adkins and “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Green Day to compare themes with The Catcher in the Rye. I also used Tom Petty’s “It’s Good to Be King“ to introduce Macbeth. – Shelley B.
- I like “Monster” by Eminem (the clean version, of course) to teach alliteration/assonance. – Andrea T.
- I use the song “We Didn’t Start the Fire“ by Billy Joel paired with a ReadWriteThink lesson plan to teach history. -Natalie G.
- When completing a piece of literature I ask students to change the lyrics of a song of their choice to fit the plot of the text. One student’s version of Lord of the Flies to “Bohemian Rhapsody“ was a standout! – Kieran M.
- I use “Don’t Drink the Water“ by Dave Matthews Band to teach about colonialism for 8th-grade US history. – Amy C.
- For algebra I use MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This“ to teach asymptotes, Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together“ for parallel lines. Kids love the songs! – Mandy B.
- I use “If I Had a Million Dollars” by the Barenaked Ladies for Kindergarten writing. I have also used “Dream On“ by Aerosmith after talking about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – Nancy O.
- “7 Years“ gave us a very enlightening week-long discussion about what we want to do with our lives and how what we do today directly affects our future. – Helinka H.
- For teaching the Declaration of Independence, I use Taylor Swift’s ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’ as a break-up letter and a parody version of “It’s Too Late to Apologize” by OneRepublic. – Kayla T.
- I teach Kindergarten and sing the letter sounds to “Who Let the Dogs Out“- “Who let the A out a, a, a, Who let the B out b, b, b….etc.” It’s a Dr. Jean song. – Sarah H.
- “Brave“ by Sara Bareilles is one that I use often. The video is hilarious and the lyrics are easy to dissect. – Erin KD
- I like “While My Guitar Gently Weeps“ by the Beatles for personification and “Boom Boom Pow“ by The Black Eyed Peas for onomatopoeia. – April M.
- So many songs have improper grammar that you can use them to have your students fix them. – Jules B.
- I open my unit on weather with “Under Pressure“ by Queen and David Bowie. – Joe P.
- I use “Thinking Out Loud“ by Ed Sheeran to teach parts of the body. – Daiana S.
- I use “All About That Bass“ by Meghan Trainor (the clean version) for teaching perimeter and say “it’s all about that base times height.”- Ann B.
“Roar” by Katy Perry is great for talking about the need to speak up for yourself. It also uses similes and metaphors. – Brenda G.
- I use “You Lie” by The Band Perry to teach similes. – Paula L.
- To introduce the substitution method in Algebra 2, I use The Who’s “Substitute.” – Tiffany C.
- I like “Am I wrong“ by Nico Vinz, “Shake it Off“ by Taylor Swift, and “Let it Go“ by Idina Menzel to teach theme. – Jennifer P.
- Weird Al Yankovic’s “Word Crimes“ is hilarious! – Katie M.
- The YouTube version of “Stereo Hearts” by Gym Class Heroes is a great song to teach metaphors and analogies! – Taylor D.
“Mean” by Taylor Swift, “Live Like You Were Dying” by Tim McGraw and “Hall of Fame“ by the Script to teach analyzing text for theme worked great with my 8th-graders. Then I had students find their own songs/lyrics to analyze for theme.” -Amanda R.
What about you? Do you have any favorite songs that you use for teaching?