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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

End of Year Lesson Ideas for Elementary Music (2021)

It feels like we've been running a marathon for the last year and a half, but here we are staring down the end of the craziest school year ever. It can be hard to keep the energy up when we're all just so tired and overwhelmed, but ending the school year on a positive note will do so much to ease the pain and set us up for a positive start in the fall! Here are some of my favorite ideas for those last few lessons in elementary music that work in virtual, in-person, and hybrid models, require very little preparation, and are loads of fun!

1. Talent Show

One of the best ways to celebrate at the end of the school year is by letting students share their musical talents! I'm doing a school-wide music talent show on flipgrid, which is way easier to run than it might sound (read about how I do it here). But I also love having in-class talent shows the last few lessons! I give students some time in class to prepare their performance, and I include everyone by giving students the option to write or draw about a musical topic of their choice to show the class if they aren't keen on performing. The students get so excited and it's a fun, relaxing way to celebrate each other's success at the end of the year.

2. Hula Hoop Conductor

I've mentioned this in previous posts on end of year activities but I'm thrilled to say this works in synchronous/ hybrid and virtual models too! I lay out 3 (or more) hula hoops and split up the class into the same number of groups. Each group is assigned to one hoop and they only play when I stand inside their hoop. The great thing is this can be done with classroom instruments, found sound, or even body percussion or vocal sounds! If you're doing this with both virtual and in-person learners like I am, just make sure the students online can see all the hoops through your camera. You can read about other variations I've done on this game over the years to reinforce different musical concepts in this post.

3. Dance Games

Dancing is always a good idea! Yes, freeze dance can *technically* work in any school model, but because of the sound delay it's not really fair to be calling people out for being the last to stop moving, so after a few rounds it gets old quickly, especially for older students (at least in my experience). Instead, my favorite dance game for the end of the year is to call out each student's name and have them make up a move for everyone else to copy. 

4. Play-Along's 

Yes, rhythm play-along's have been completely overdone this year because they are one of the few things that work really well in a range of school settings, but there are some fun twists I've found work well to save for the end of the year and the students and I still find exciting! The Ready Go Music YouTube channel has several "duet versions" (see them all here) that work well, especially for 3rd grade and up (it's a little too much for the younger ones to track). And this Bouncing Ball Beat has students counting the beat numbers rather than reading rhythms, and it sounds super cool! Putting all the parts together is fun for older students, but I was able to use this with students as young as 1st grade by having the whole class read one line at a time all together, and it was a great way to get them counting the beats.

I know it can be hard to find the motivation to keep going some days, but I hope you and your students are able to find joy in the small moments as you finish out this school year! If you are looking for more ideas to keep things fresh at the end of the school year, you'll find lots more ideas, many of which will also work in any school model, in these previous posts below:


  1. Thanks for these great ideas! I am also planning a lot of folk dance opportunities for my kids this year. This blog ( has some wonderful dances. I've modified a lot of them to be done in the classrooms as I am still on a cart. The students use their desks/chairs as their partners. Perfect for keeping them in self space!

    1. That's a great idea to have them think of their desks/ chairs as their "partners"! Dancing is always a good idea at the end of the year :)