I remember feeling SO stressed when I thought about what to teach the summer before I started my first elementary music job. I had created a few weeks’ worth of lessons during student teaching, but it was no where near what I needed to get through a whole year. My district provided a textbook, but I honestly wasn’t thrilled about the activities and sequencing in them, and I had very little resources from my time in college.
My other problem was my budget. I received a small $200 per year music budget, and was making my district’s base salary. As I began browsing the internet for resources, I learned that the average price for lessons was $120 for ONE GRADE! But I needed SIX grades. Yikes! Back then, there were no affordable places to find resources like TeachersPayTeachers (TPT) or Pinterest. So, with no other options, I started working late writing lesson plans and assessments and creating resources. With all of the other requirements of teaching music (i.e. concerts, after-school clubs and rehearsals, leadership teams, assessing, etc.) it took me FIVE YEARS to complete all of my lessons, resources, assessments, rubrics, and curriculum. Looking back now, if someone told me I could have all of that plus resources for listening activities and composer units for only $150, I would have been ecstatic.
Below is a list of all the resources I would purchase if I were starting over as an elementary music teacher. Everything on the list (with the exception of #6) adds up to $136. While that might seem like a lot for a new teacher without much money, I believe that the amount of time and stress it will save you is more than worth the cost. Numbers 1-5 are all from my TPT store. I included these resources because I believe they form the basis for what every elementary music teacher needs. The other great part is that they were all created to go together! That means that my lesson plans were sequenced using my simplified curriculum, and the majority of the concepts found in my assessments and rubrics are taught in my curriculum and lessons.
When I created this list, I tried to imagine what I would HONESTLY purchase if I were a new teacher starting over again. So I had to be honest and include a product from another seller’s TPT store (that I find totally amazing) as well as a line of books that I love (although you would probably have to save up and buy one or two of these books at a time).
I hope you enjoy the list! Are there any other products from TPT or around the web that you think are must-have’s? Let me know in the comment section at the end of this post!
#1-2: Lesson Plans and Resources
I put these links first because they are, in my opinion, the most important thing for a new elementary music teacher to buy. The lessons include 6-8 lessons per month for each grade, K-3 and 5 (I spend the majority of the year teaching my students the Recorder Karate songs from Music K-8 in 4th grade. My school already had this resource, and I highly recommend it!) The resources include the majority of the PowerPoint presentations, posters, worksheets, and classroom management strategies mentioned in the lessons. You can also purchase the lessons and resources by grade level. Just click the images below to be directed to TPT and then search the product description for the link to the grade level you want to purchase! You can also click here for the lessons or here for the resources!
******UPDATE******I recently posted a new set of lessons to my TPT store, so I decided to add it to this post (this product is not included in the $150 total mentioned earlier in the post). This new set contains 120 lesson plans and over 1,500 pages of resources to go with the lessons. I designed it with a few perks that are not included in my first set including over 40 original songs and MP3 sound files (included with the lessons), alignment to the National Core Arts music standards, and lessons for K-5th grades (it includes 4th grade!). This set contains even more detailed explanations than the first set and is therefore perfect for teachers with minimal musical experience. You can also purchase the lessons by grade level. Just click the images below to be directed to TPT and then search the product description for the link to the grade level you want to purchase! You can also click here for the lessons!
Are you confused by the differences between my first and second sets of lessons or looking for more information? Click the link below to be directed to a FREE product that explains the differences in more detail.
#3: Simplified Curriculum
Anyone else have a “freak-out” moment when they first opened their district’s curriculum?! Or worse, maybe your district doesn’t even have a curriculum! This product is a simplified version of the MASSIVE curriculum I had as a new elementary music teacher. Each grade level contains three sections: Priority 1st Semester, Priority 2nd Semester (after Christmas break), and Nice to Know. This allows you to focus on a small group of concepts for the first and second half of the year. If your students get through all of the material before the year ends, then switch your focus to the concepts found in the Nice to Know category! You can click the image below to be directed to the curriculum page, or simply click here!
#4-5: Assessments and Rubrics
The assessments enable you to track student growth regarding specific musical concepts. Each grade level contains a cumulative assessment that measures a variety of concepts taught to that grade level. The rubrics are a great way to assess students without stopping class to administer a paper-pencil test. Simply observe students as they perform rhythms, sing, play the recorder, or display other musical skills and mark their score (either a 1, 2, 3, or 4) using the criteria on the rubric. You can click the images below to be directed to each product, or simply click here for the assessments and here for the rubrics!
#6: Listening Unit
As a new teacher, a great way to calm a class down (and give yourself a breather!) is to have students do some good old-fashioned listening. When I first saw this unit on TPT I thought, “Oh man, I so wish I had that when I first started!” It is adorable and contains listening selections from a wide range of genres. Granted, it’s a bit pricy, but I would definitely bite the bullet and purchase it if I were a new teacher. You can click the image below to be directed to the listening unit, or simply click here!
#7: Composer Unit
This unit includes resources for 23 different famous composers. It is unique, in comparison to other composer products I have seen, in that informational PowerPoint presentations are included for each composer. These presentations include historical and geographical information from the time-period as well as information on the composer’s life and most popular compositions. You also get research pages, writing prompts, coloring pages, posters, trading cards, and exit tickets for each of the 23 composers included in the set! You can click the image below to be directed to the composer unit, or simply click here!
Want to try this product out to see if you like it? Check out this free sample!
#8: Freddie the Frog book series
Each book in this series tells a fun tale of Freddie the frog and his friends and focuses on specific musical concepts such as rhythm or the lines and spaces on the staff. The books come with a CD (perfect for days you are sick or lose your voice!) along with supplemental activity ideas. Check out the website to view products as well as free online games and coloring sheets!
Thank-you. Even though I have taught for many years i am always looking for new ideas. Does this bundle connect to the common core standards? Pat Houck
***UPDATE: My second set (listed below the first set) is aligned to the core arts standards!****
Hi Pat! No, I did not intentionally connect the lessons to the common core standards (however I’m guessing that the lessons hit on the majority of concepts in Common Core). Let me know if you have any other questions!
Sarah Jones says
Love this! I will be purchasing some of these! I’m curious…what age group do you use the Freddie books?
Emily Conroy says
Great question, Sarah! Here are the grades I would use with each book:
3rd Adventure-K or 1st grade
1st Adventure–2nd grade (introduces the staff)
4th Adventure–3rd grade
2nd Adventure– 4th or 5th grade (introduces the Bass clef)
5th Adventure-Any grade that happens to be doing a unit on Jazz
6th Adventure- 4th or 5th grades
Let me know if you think of any other questions, and I hope you enjoy any products you purchased!
Katie Garner says
Hi! I just wanted to say that I admire you so much. I am a first year music teacher in south alabama. I teach at 2 schools Monday and Tuesday at one school and Wednesday through Friday at another. It is stressful and I have no curriculum to go by except the standards. I’m making everything up as I go and your store has helped me tremendously. I search TPT for resources constantly and I would say 75- 80% of the items that are on my lists are from you. This post is another example of items going into my cart. I just wanted to say thank you so much for helping through my first year of chaos!
Emily Conroy says
Aw, your comment just made my night, Katie. You are so welcome. I seriously have to hold back tears every time I get a message similar to yours from a new music teacher because I was in almost the exact same situation my first year, and I remember how stressful it was. Not only are you still learning your profession, but you have two buildings to get used to and no curriculum to guide you! I feel so much empathy for you, and I am so grateful that all the work I did as a new teacher is now helping people like you 🙂 I hope you come back and read my response because I would love to give you a free $5 product from my store as a thank you for your sweet comment. Just shoot me an email at email@example.com and let me know what you want 🙂
Dani LaDue says
So cool to see what you’ve done since graduating! I agree that we didn’t come out of our college with many elementary level resources…aside from a ton of singing games. After 7 years of 6-8th grade choir, I’ll be doing k-4 plus 7-8 choir in the same district (instead of two teachers traveling, it’ll just be me traveling). I’m excited but elementary is a whole new ball game to me. I’ll definitely be going through your TPT store and stocking up. Do you have anything for ukulele by chance?
So exciting to see what you’re doing now!
Emily Conroy says
Aw Hi Dani! It’s so great to hear from you. Yeah, from what I’ve heard, elementary is VERY different from middle school. That will be a big change! Yeah, we did have a lot of singing games. I think the program should have included a lot more elementary music classes. Way too much music history and theory and not enough elementary. Shoot me an email when you get the chance at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll send you the link to a good ukulele resource and a few other helpful things.
Alicia Alexander says
I am teaching two mixed music classes. The younger group is K-3rd and the older, 4th-8th. Any suggestions on what to teach?
Emily Conroy says
Hi Alicia! That sounds super challenging. I would suggest purchasing my set 2 lessons to start. I would take the younger group (K-3rd) through the lessons together starting with the 1st grade lessons (I think your kindergartners could handle starting there) and ending with the 2nd grade lessons. My 4th and 5th grade lessons are fairly advanced, so I actually think you could take your older group through the 4th and 5th grade lessons without losing the attention of your 6th and 7th graders. They might be a little “young” for 8th graders, but you don’t have a great option since you have to teach 4th graders at the same time as 8th graders. I might have the 8th graders function as my helpers for part of the year and help the younger kids on things they are struggling with. I would also consider giving the 7th and 8th graders 2 or 3 “advanced” songs to sing and having the younger students practice being the audience for the older kids as they sing. Feel free to email me at email@example.com if you have any other questions.