The coronavirus situation is still pretty stable, so schools here are open for the foreseeable future. But with schools in harder-hit countries closing, I know I’ll have more colleagues around the world who are forced into online learning or some other kind of remote learning (for students without dependable internet access). So here are twelve easy ideas for continuing the learning even when you can’t be with your students. (For now, we are hoping the distance learning won’t last long, so these activities are a bit on the laid-back side.) This post focuses on early childhood. Please see this post for upper primary/middle school ideas.
Have them learn songs that you pick out, or post yourself, on YouTube. You can ask your students to record themselves singing the song once they’ve learned it. If you want to level it up, then ask them to show the melodic contour by moving their hands up and down as they sing. Invite parents to record it on a phone and send it to you.
Ask them to fold a piece of paper in half and look for sounds around their home. They can draw pictures of things that make loud sounds in one half, and things that make quiet sounds in the other half. Label one side “high” and one side “low”. They can also do this with “loud” and “quiet”.
Can your students learn a new song from a family member? Ask them to find a family member (or babysitter, or family friend) to interview. The other person can teach them a song they knew when they were in primary school—but it has to be something the child doesn’t already know.
Students with internet access can play with Incredibox. The browser version is free, and students can explore texture and rhythm with this fun tool!
Students can listen to their favorite music at home and find creative ways to move to the beat. Invite them to send you a video of their best dance moves.
The students can design and make an instrument out of materials they can find at home (things that would have been thrown away or recycled). They should determine how the instrument will make sound: scraping, shaking, plucking, tapping.
Your youngest students will love Sesame Street’s Monster Music. They can explore on some popular characters’ instruments, as well as follow along to play familiar tunes.
Send this Music Bingo home to your students to get some music-making going.
Looking for ideas for distance learning activities or choice boards? Check out this collection of 250 ideas! Plus, both pre-filled and blank, editable Music Bingo and Listening Bingo cards to get you started right away!
Have you introduced your students to the concept of dynamics? Make a video of yourself expanding and contracting a Hoberman sphere as you sing, or with a recording, to show dynamic changes. Invite the students to show the dynamic changes with their hands along with you.
Share a video of yourself singing an echo song, so students can sing their part back. Make it even better by having a child, a puppet, or even yourself (I can put up a tutorial on this later) sing the echo part in the video.
Students can enjoy Classical Kids Storytime. You could assign specific stories and provide some guiding questions or some suggestions of what to listen for, or you can just point them to the site and let them choose a story that looks interesting.
Ask the students to find a piece of art, or a photo, in their homes. If they had to compose a “soundtrack” for that art/photo, what would it sound like? The students can describe it (fast/slow, loud/quiet, happy/scary/sneaky/sad, etc.), or record themselves vocalizing it.
Keep it fairly simple, remembering that students may not have a lot of support at home, particularly with something that requires specific musical skills or understanding. The instructions should be clear and concise, written as steps rather than a paragraph. If you are posting videos, I really recommend keeping them short, like 2-4 minutes.
One more thing:
If you are using a copyrighted resource, be sure you are not violating it. Sharing is caring, but if you are using resources that you have purchased (for example, from TeachersPayTeachers, iTunes store, or a music publisher), be sure that each teacher has purchased their own, and if you need a copy for each student, that each copy is legal.