SEL themed children’s Literature with possibilities for music integration:
Our Class is a Family by Shannon Olsen
This book is a wonderful way to introduce yourself within the context of the classroom as a whole—especially if you are on a cart, pushing into each homeroom. It presents families of all shapes, sizes, colors, and configurations and explores ways in which classrooms function as a family. It can also serve as a jumping-off point for whatever musical warm-up or ice-breaker activity you plan to use.
I Promise by LeBron James
LeBron James has given us a way to create a dialogue with our students about personal conduct, responsibility, and accountability. This story can be used to create a Safe Space Contract between members of the classroom community that reaches beyond the basic school rules. After reading the story, the students and teacher—together—can generate three to four “We will” statements as guiding principles for conduct that all agree to follow. This should be a student-led, teacher-facilitated discussion. Students I have worked with have generated statements like, “We will be our best selves,” and “We will respect our time together.” The final contract is signed by everyone—even the teacher—and displayed on a large piece of butcher paper or poster board each day the class meets for music. For more behavior management ideas, click on this YouTube link: https://youtu.be/fDc16tggeIY
You Matter by Christian Robinson
This story celebrates and values diversity. In addition to being a wonderful way to welcome a class back to school, the text can be used to create ostinati–using spoken chant and body percussion–to create a complete four-part, layered rhythmic piece. To see how to put this together, click on this YouTube link: https://youtu.be/zKiLLHzgZ5o
These stories validate emotions and feelings during a time when students are experiencing a multitude of changes to their daily lives. In addition, they help students expand their emotional vocabulary to express what they might be experiencing. What they glean from the stories can be used as a launching point for sustained, active listening and musical interpretation. Some possible prompts to engage students in a musical listening exercise are:
Some suggested listening examples:
Because by Mo Willems
The musical value of this story is evident because it starts with a composition by Beethoven and ends with a concert of original music by the main character. Beyond the musical ideas presented, the book highlights how our lives are influenced by and connected to others. Discussions can be launched with sentence prompts like, “Because _______, I was able to finish my homework,” or Because________, I had a great day.” These ideas and more come from this resource: Because by Mo Willems activities – Book Companion on Teacher Pay Teacher
Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo by John Lithgow
This delightful book introduces instruments of the orchestra as well as an abundance of new vocabulary. The main character overcomes his initial terror and exasperation and just “rolls with it,” only to discover he was dreaming all along. Retelling the story with a new title provides students the opportunity to turn something potentially frightening into something funny. Potential titles could be: “Never Play Soccer, Never Have a Dance-Off, Never Have a Food Truck, Never Build a Library, or Never Have a Birthday Party Right Next to the Zoo.” Bonus: the hardback edition comes with a CD!
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