One word: Singing

Happy Wednesday! This is Aileen from Mrs. Miracle's Music Room. Today I'd like to explore one of my favorite quotes by Zoltan Kodaly:

"If one were to attempt to express the essence of this education in one word, it would only be - singing."

Singing is the foundation of any Kodály-inspired classroom. In the elementary school, from the time Kindergarteners step into our rooms on the first day of school until the time fifth or sixth graders leave us on the last day of school, we are exploring or voices and singing as much as we can!

In the spirit of Kodály's quote, I will share strategies to keep your kids singing as much as possible!
  • Have students come into the room singing. This way, the beginning of music class starts musically, gets them immediately engaged, and keeps them singing!
  • Have students sing from point A to point B. Instead of just saying, "Everyone get into a circle," or "Everyone go back to your seats," you can have them sing a song as they are moving. This is something they will need some training and experience with--many students will feel a need to talk instead of singing!
  • Similar to above, instead of having them sing aloud back to their seats, you could either have them "loo" the song (sing the melody, but all on the word "loo") or have them sing inside their heads. I love doing this, because when a student talks instead of singing inside his/her head, we can have a talk about how it is impossible to both sing inside your head and have a conversation aloud! This strategy is a great way to improve their inner hearing! (Thank you to Bruce Swank for these two strategies!)
  • Another great inner hearing activity that improves their singing is the use of puppets. One of my favorite puppets is "Donnie the Dinosaur" (click the picture below to purchase it on Folkmanis!)

When Donnie is outside the shell, students sing like normal, but when he goes inside his shell, students have to sing inside their heads. Students LOVE this activity; I even have my upper elementary kids take turns being Donnie. My student teacher just used this puppet to help first graders with one of their program songs and it really helped them solidify their singing of the song. There are a few other puppets that you could also use for this, all of which you can purchase by clicking on the picture (can you tell how much I love Folkmanis puppets!??!)

Bear in a tree trunk:

A barrel full monkey! The lid even closes when he's inside the barrel!
 This one can also be bought as a hand puppet, but if you want to save money this finger puppet will work just as well!

A raccoon in a trash can...seriously so cute!

This one could double as an inner hearing puppet and a puppet for "Snail Snail"!
  • In the younger grades, have students explore their voices at some point in every music class. There are so many great resources for vocal exploration (and it just occurred to me, this might be a great idea for my next blog post!) so I will save those ideas for next time I blog! I will say that the vocal exploration could be short--students pretend to throw a frisbee or a snowball, students make animal sounds like a rooster or wolf, or you could have students explore their voices with a picture book.
  • Have high expectations. If your students sing incorrectly and you don't correct it, they will keep singing it incorrectly. If I notice my students making a mistake, I model what they are doing and then what it should sound like. If my students are not singing well while playing a game or playing instruments, I stop the game or instrument playing until they sing well. These high expectations help develop their accuracy and pitch-matching.
  • Be mindful of how much you are singing with your students. We all love to sing, so it can be hard to not sing along with them! But sometimes they are depend too much on us, so it is good to back out and see if they can still hold it together!
  • Include songs in your lessons that students have to sing over and over again...the more they sing, the better! One of my favorites is "Paw Paw Patch," shown below:

Second verse:
Come on boys, let’s go find her (x 3)
Way down yonder in the paw paw patch.

Third verse:
Pickin’ up paw paws, put ‘em in your pocket (x3)
Way down yonder in the paw paw patch.

For the dance, students stand in a longways set, preferably girls partnered up with boys. On the first verse, the girl at the head of the girl set skips around both sets back to her spot.
On the second verse, the boy at the head of the boy set leads the boys around (like a tall, narrow oval—not all the way around the girl set) so that all boys end up in the same position.
On the third verse, students peel the orange, so that the head couple is now at the bottom of the set. Keep dancing and singing!

I hope you found some useful strategies! If you have other singing strategies, please share your ideas in the comments below. Have fun singing with your students!


  1. I've never had kids sing a song inside their heads as they walk to their seats, but I'm totally going to use that. What a great idea for inner hearing! You could even have them sit down on the last word, to see who is really hearing the song in their heads, I suppose. I'm going to try it this afternoon with my third graders, we'll see how it goes!

    1. I love the idea of having the students sit on the last word! How did it work for you?

  2. Great ideas! I have that snail puppet and she is well loved. "Shelley" is very inquisitive, but only understands singing. The kids love to answer her questions in their singing voices. Somehow, singing to the puppet is far less scary than singing to me or the class.

  3. Aileen!!! Thank you for these great strategies and reminders. I have to constantly remind myself to not sing along with the kids. My kinders get a kick out of a little game we play...once I think they're comfortable with a new song, I challenge them to sing it without me...if I sing, at all, they have to cross their arms and pout!!! LOL! I usually ham it up on purpose to have them practice even more. I also love Folkmanis for puppets! I have a turtle from them, I named "Tempo" and the kids ADORE him. He teaches the kids about different speeds of music and gives "turtle 5s" when he hears kids using their singing voices in Kindergarten. Last year, a little girl gave me a turtle stuffed animal with a pink bow and said, "Tempo's going to marry her." We had a "wedding" and sang, "Here comes the bride!" hahaahaa!!!


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