Let's Lesson Plan: 3rd Grade #10


In this video I share my 10th lesson with my 3rd graders. I love seeing how other teachers think through their planning process, and thought it would be fun to share my own.

Below the video you’ll find the PDF download of the lesson, as well as the sheet music I used and any other links mentioned.


Getting Started

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There are several documents I use to lesson plan. They save me time while they make sure each activity on the page is intentional, and seamlessly leads into other ideas.

All the templates I use are available to purchase as a part of my Elementary Music Planning Kit.

You can check it out here.

Scope and Sequence:

My scope and sequence keeps me on track throughout the year. This is the document I use to decide what I want to teach, and when I want to teach it.

3rd Grade Scope and Sequence

Concept Plans:

Concept plans are where teachers write down purposeful teaching strategies for specific concepts.

For this lesson I’m using a concept plan for takadimi and do. Both of these are partially completed - I don’t always necessarily have every single activity mapped out when I start a concept.

Below you’ll find my practice activities for takadimi and preparation activities for do.

Takadimi practice activities

Takadimi practice activities

Do preparation activities

Do preparation activities

You can watch these videos or read this blog post to see how I put together my scope and sequence and my concept plans.


My Teaching Situation:

I see my students for 45 minutes on a six day rotation. This is my second full year at this school, and I am still working to “catch up” many grade levels to where I want them to be. In this lesson you’ll that my third graders are working on concepts you might expect from a second grade classroom.


For this lesson I wanted to practice 16th notes and prepare do. To accomplish this, my objectives were to improvise using 16th notes, and aurally identify a note lower than mi.

The Lesson

Warm Up

As students entered the room, they made up a body percussion pattern of their choice. I didn’t care how many levels they used, or what specific rhythms they incorporated. I did, however, watch for a steady beat in their feet as they walked.

Once we entered the room we sang greetings using a sol-mi-do toneset. This was to prepare for our melodic focus for the lesson.

After some tonal work we echoed a few body percussion rhythms, and I included takadimi in these patterns to practice our target rhythm element.

You can watch a video on my elementary warm up routine here, or read this blog post.

New song: I See the Moon

This was a new song my students had never heard. I chose a simple song that highlights the melodic pattern, sol-mi-do.

My students didn’t need to do much with this material, simply hear the song as they copied my hand motions. For the melodic pattern I put my hands on my head for sol, hands on shoulders for mi, and hands on hips for do.

I sang the song again and had students copy my motions as we walked in a circle with a steady beat in their feet. At some point we ended I See the Moon and I went into the song, Apple Tree.

I used the circle formation from I See the Moon. Since students were already walking to a steady beat in a circle they had already set up the formation of the next game.

Main Concentration: Apple Tree

As I was writing this lesson I thought I would use the song, Sorida in this section. However, the more I worked on the lesson outline, I realized Apple Tree would work better as the main concentration material.

My students were in late preparation, which means they were ready to aurally discover a note lower than mi. To discover this note, I asked questions to guide students’ ears:

  • How many beats did we pat?

  • Which one had the lowest note?

We agreed that the new note was lower than mi, so I had the class sing the song on solfege, this time calling the last note “low”. We played the game again singing on solfege.

When we had played the game a few times, I had students continue singing the song in solfege as they walked back to their spots.

Game: Built My Lady a Fine Brick House

My students love this game! We used it to practice 16th notes, but since it has both our target rhythm and melodic elements in it, I could have used it as either a rhythmic or melodic focus.

We had just played the game to Apple Tree, so we sat down a few minutes while we sang the song and patted the steady beat. After that we played the rhythm of the chorus (the section with 16th notes) on our laps.

From there we moved to playing the actual game. You can find game directions in the sheet music.

To add some takadimi instrumental practice, I played the steady beat on a tubano and had a few other students play the rhythm of the chorus on woodblock. After a few rounds like this, switching who plays the game and who plays instruments, we read the rhythm of the chorus on the board.

After we read the rhythm I changed one beat at a time to turn the song into the opening of Tideo.

Secondary Concentration: Tideo

My students have played the game to Tideo before, so they’re pretty familiar with it. For this lesson I wanted to do an improvisation activity with 16th notes.

Since the first three phases have the same rhythm, that became the call. The last phrase became the response. Students have trouble moving straight into an independent improvisation activity, so it’s best to go through some steps to prepare them for your expectations. Here was my outline for this lesson:

  • I clapped the call and the whole class gave a response (we did this several times)

  • The class offered suggestions of how to fill in the four beats, and I wrote down three rhythm possibilities. Students could choose one of these three, or make up their own.

  • Students turned to a partner - one partner clapped A, the other improvised B.

One addition I made after I had already filmed the video was to have partners share their improvisations with the class. For that I brought out two tubanos and had students share their ideas, each partner playing individually.

After that we kept that same partner and moved into the game to Tideo. This time there was a variation of the game: the inside circle clapped A and the outside circle improvised B.

Closing Activity: Sorida

Students already had their partner from Tideo, so it was easy to move into the clapping game to Sorida.

After playing the clapping game with their partner, students turned to the board and traced the melodic contour.

We ended the lesson with the option of playing the game or tracing the melody on the board.

My students loved this lesson. The pacing was fast, and I was challenged to keep things moving in order to fit everything in.

If you take any of these ideas from this lesson, be sure to adapt them to fit your own education needs - every child, every classroom, and every teacher is different!

You can download a PDF of the lesson here, and look for the templates I use in the Elementary Music Planning Kit.

Happy teaching!


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How to Prepare La

Our songs have been picked out - now it’s time to prepare la! Here are some of my favorite ways to get this melodic element in students’ ears.

We’ll explore this new element through listening, singing, and moving!

How to Prepare La

1. Sing Known Songs and Play Games

The easiest way to prepare any element is by singing songs!

Any of the songs I used in this post work great, or you can find plenty more in the Folk Song Index.

Don't Rush This Step!

It might seem like this is a step to move through quickly - after all, aren’t we just singing and playing games? But this step of the process is crucial for students.

As we sing and play games, students are internalizing our target melodic element. They are becoming familiar with the material so they can have a true understanding of it later.

2. Discover a Note Higher Than Sol

After students have had experience with la through singing, it’s time to make them aware of a note higher than sol. You can follow a script like this:

Apple Tree We Are the Music Makers
  • Students sing Apple Tree

  • Students aurally decode the first four beats of the song (“apple tree, apple tree”) and sing on solfege (“sol sol mi, sol sol mi”)

  • Students sing the next four beats of the song (“will your apples fall on me”).

  • Teacher asks students how many beats we just sang (4)

  • T: “Which beat had the highest sound?” (beat 2)

  • T: “Was that sol, or a pitch higher than sol?” (higher than sol)

  • Tell the class that we’ll call that new high note, “high”.

  • Sing those four beats again with “high” for the mystery pitch

But Don't Stop There! 

Repeat this activity using several different songs from this post, or some of your own favorite songs!

I also love to go back to games like Apple Tree or Bluebird and have students replace the word on la by singing “high” instead.

3. Create a Visual Representation of What You Hear:

After you’ve sung and played several different songs, and discovered “high” in several different songs, students may be ready to create a visual representation of what they hear.

Start Away From the Staff

A great place to start with notation is actually away from the board, using hand signs.

  • Ask students to figure out the sol, mi, and “high” to the first eight beats of apple tree. (The first four beats should be easy, especially if they have used this song before to explore sol and mi.)

  • In the next four beats, they’ll discover the new note, “high”. At this point you can introduce a hand sign for high.

I always have my students use body solfege at this age, and then switch to the traditional curwin hand signs later (around 3rd or 4th grade).


From Hand Signs to the Staff:

We start with hand signs because we always want students to connect what they see visually to what they feel and hear kinesthetically and aurally. Once they’re comfortable signing known material, we can transfer it to the staff.

Students “guide” the teacher write the melody on the staff using their knowledge of sol and mi. When they get to the new note, “high”, I simply use a question mark, since students don’t know the real name of the element yet.

Lindsay Jervis

Lindsay Jervis

By the way, if you're not familiar with "Solfa Street" you should check it out. It's a great way to help students visualize the steps and skips of the solfege sequence. Lindsay Jervis has a great product on Teachers Pay Teachers - you can take a look here.  


With the first eight beats of Apple Tree done, students can go on to write down portions of their other favorite la songs in another lesson.

These teaching strategies are perfect for any teacher looking for a step-by-step sequence of how to train young musicians in this melodic element.

I love that they are rooted in moving, singing, listening, and thinking, and I love that the process calls on our students to be curious about what they hear. We have the best job in the world.

Happy teaching!