Tuesday, 14 August 2012



Image: Iri5.com 

The most significant learning occurs when emotions are integrated with instruction, because all body systems are united.  The Arts are strongly linked to emotions, enhancing the likelihood that students will remember something.’ ~ Eric Jensen, author of Teaching with the Brain in Mind
As I sit here writing this post, I hear music all around me.
It’s to be heard in the laugh of the fat, fluffy kookaburra sitting in the gum tree, right outside my window; it’s in the caws and tweets of the marauding neighbourhood birds; the hum of an overhead plane, heading for faraway places. (I’m not even going to mention the rhythmic bang, bang, banging of new carpet  being laid, in my study! :-) 

Indeed, our world (to paraphrase a very famous song) is ALIVE with the sound of music! It’s in our DNA from the very beginning - children sing before they talk, rock and sway before they walk. We live in a  rhythmic world!

Image: Facebook ~ The Violin Channel

Singing is a very powerful, multi-sensory medium for helping children to achieve competencies and learning outcomes across key learning areas of the curriculum.

In my previous post, I touched on the use of song to achieve learning outcomes in the area of Literacy, so today, I’m going to suggest a few simple tips for integrating song across other Key learning areas.

I've chosen the universal theme, Multiculturalism.
First of all, select a multiculturally-themed, age and stage-appropriate song which will help children to understand various aspects of different cultures in our world.

I'm going to use the chorus and a couple of verses from a values-based curriculum song that my colleague, Kathryn Radloff and I, prepared earlier (but the suggestions are generic enough, that the same principles apply)!

© 2007 Lyrics by Nuala O’Hanlon/Music by Kathryn Radloff 
We are one world with different nationalities,

Some travel here to settle, from far across the seas;

All connected by our one humanity,

We are here because it is a great place to be!


Meeting or greeting we may say, ‘Hello’, ‘How are you?’, ‘Hi’,

Or ‘Guten Tag’, ‘Konnichiwa’, ‘Bonjour’ or ‘Come stai’.

You may have shopped in market places or big shopping malls;
Ridden donkeys, camels, elephants, trains or rickshaws!



Putting aside fiesta, siesta, we are all the same.
Forget skin colour, food and clothing, customs, different names.

Belonging to this human race, we’re all sisters and brothers,

So let us stand together now and be there for each other.

© 2007 Lyrics by Nuala O’Hanlon/Music by Kathryn Radloff 

Image: Facebook ~ Hippie Peace Freak 


  •       Research and sing songs from different countries/eras in history
  •      Research history of migrant families/indigenous people

  •      Students dress up in national costumes and present talks, told from the point of view of a   child/adult/rich person/poor person/slave…

, from different countries/historical eras   

  •      Discuss ways people are same/different
  •      Unpack song, line by line
  •      Explore the different ways people live, e.g. dress, eat, sleep, shelter, shop, celebrate...
 Research flags from other countries (children may bring in their own, from home)
  •        Research weather patterns around the globe

  •      Discuss the differences in climates and seasons of other countries 
  •      Brainstorm the ways in which these impact on people's lives          
  •      Make simple dishes from other lands 
  •      Share a playground picnic lunch, comprising foods from other lands
'... in the patterns of music and all the arts are the keys of learning.' ~ Plato  
  • Locate verses, chorus, bridge, interlude

  • Listen for specific instruments, e.g. bells, drums, sound effects, A Cappella (voices only)
  • Allow students to select simple instruments, such as castanets, maracas: each plays a line of the song, all play in last verse and chorus…

  • Discuss different music styles around the world – pop, rock, jazzp, current artists…

  • Research national anthems, dances, musical instruments from around the world
  • Students dress in national costumes, decorate stage with world globe, flags from other lands (and those painted in class), and display flashcard greetings written in various languages
  • Perform song, joining hands and circling ‘globe’, performing simple actions for chorus

  • Paint while listening to different types of music, fast/slow; quiet/loud, etc.
  • Paint flags from other countries, attach to rulers and use for assembly performance piece (see above)
  • Use various art mediums to illustrate different lines of song
  • Produce a power point to accompany the music with artistic images that reflect the message of the song

I     If you are new to the idea of integrating song, it's helpful to start by incorporating just one suggestion that suits your teaching style, and build on that. I guarantee that once you see the effect it has on the children and their learning, you'll be as excited as I am, about this educational practice!

I hope this has been helpful, and look forward to sharing more about song-based learning, in my next post!

Yours in Singing to Learn,
Nuala  ♫ 

©Nuala O’Hanlon & Kathryn Radloff

KEYSTONE CREATIONS ~ Educational Songs
'A Lesson In Every Lyric' ®

♫ ‘ONE WORLD’ is part of our primary school teaching resources, available from website (longer version, for middle & upper primary): http://www.keystonecreations.com.au/living_values_info.html
It is also available as a single, Mp3 digital download:

 ♪ Longer version, for Middle & upper primary, Track 2
♪ Shorter version, for lower primary (ages 4-9 years), Track 13:



WELCOME TO THE ARTS INTEGRATION MINUTE: ‘Arts integration is the use of the arts - dance, music… to teach students the academic subjects, math, science, reading, writing, and social studies.’

INTEGRATING MUSIC IN THE CLASSROOM: ‘…  in order to soak the learning IN and retain it, information has to be presented in a stimulating and engaging manner.’


  1. Great ideas and resources. I love to use songs in the classroom. Looking forward to your future posts.

    1. Thank you for your lovely comments, Nancy - very much appreciated. Great to hear that you use songs in your classroom! Do your students have a favourite?

      Have a Lyrical Thursday!
      N. ♫ :-)