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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

SEL-Focused Music Lessons

We all know how critical it is to care for our students' social emotional well-being right now. The question, of course, is how! In my last post I shared some overall strategies that I have found successful for fostering social-emotional wellbeing, and today I'm sharing some specific lesson plans, that can be used in person or online, that more overtly focus on social emotional learning (SEL) for different age groups.

1. Allie All Along

I absolutely love this lesson for Kindergarten, and I think would work well with Preschool up through 1st grade students. The book gives some great strategies for managing emotions in a way that is so relatable for young children, and it is a perfect segue into a very basic introduction to the idea of communicating emotions through music! This lesson can easily be adapted to any teaching situation, but if you're posting an asynchronous lesson online and don't have time to make your own video reading the book, I recommend this read-aloud done by the author herself. Click below for the full lesson plan I use with this story:

2. Niko Draws a Feeling

This lesson works best with 1st grade through 3rd grade- the book introduces the idea of abstract drawing, which I have found very helpful for getting students away from visualizing concrete things as a response to music and focusing on abstract ideas like colors, emotions, and patterns. Again, if you need a read-aloud video, I recommend this one, and you can click below for the full lesson plan:

3. Soundscapes

This is a great one for older students: assign individuals or small groups the task of creating their own music to convey a specific emotion, then have them share it with the class and see if others can identify the intended emotion. This is a great conversation starter for older students to talk about emotions because sometimes people have different conceptions of what an emotion might "sound like"! Click below for more details on how I use soundscapes and how I guide students in coming up with a soundscape based on a feeling- the ideas for using classroom instruments can be adapted by using only vocal or found sounds, and/or with online software like Song Maker or Mario Paint Composer:

4. Movie or Video Game Music Creation

For middle and high school students, exploring the role of music in film and video games in conveying emotion is a great way to get students talking about emotions and connecting it to music! I have used these projects with my 5th-8th graders but others have used them successfully with older students as well. Click below to see an explanation of how I teach these units and the resources I use:

I hope these ideas are helpful! I'd love to hear about your favorite lesson ideas that focus on SEL in the comments below. And if you're looking for more ideas to help you through pandemic teaching, be sure to check out this page where I am collecting all of my related posts:

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