My Favorite Songs for Teaching Sol Mi (Music in First Grade)


First grade is such a fun time.

My curriculum goals for first grade include reviewing what we learned last year, and prepping for sol mi and practicing ta ta-di.

To do that, we need songs. Songs that are high quality, that can be used both for having fun and for learning a lot.

First Grade Music: Favorite Songs for Sol Mi

Apple Tree

If you’re not familiar with the song, Apple Tree, you’re in for a real treat.

Apple tree is a song and game I use with Kindergarten through third grade at the beginning of the year. My students love this game so much that it makes it okay for me to sing every day for several months!

To play the game, students sing and walk in a circle keeping the steady beat. Two students (the “apple tree”) hold their hands above heads, creating an arch for students to walk under. On the word "out" the apple tree quickly lowers its branches and traps an apple.

That caught student becomes a new apple tree with the teacher and the game continues - catching more apples, creating more trees, until there is only one apple left.

Other Musical Uses:

  • Rhythm vs beat

  • Ta, ta-di

  • La

  • Do

Bell Horses

I always pair Bell Horses with the rhyme, My Little Pony.

The game that goes along with this song uses one “horse” and one “driver”. The horse is given bells to play as he or she moves. The driver uses a scarf around the horse’s waist and they walk, trot, or gallop around the circle. When the song is done, a new set of students become the horse and driver.

I don’t use this game with my students.

Instead, I ask students to move around in open space as they sing the song. Sometimes they simply walk in open space, and sometimes they listen to my woodblock to tell them if they should trot, walk, or gallop.

When the song is done, students freeze where they are and we go straight into My Little Pony. (You can get the free sheet music to these songs in the Folk Song Index.)

Other Musical Uses:

  • La

  • Ta, ta-di

  • Rhythm vs beat

  • Movement in free space

  • Quarter rest


Burnie Bee

“Burnie Bee” isn’t actually about a bee at all. “Burnie bee” is an old english term for a ladybug! Your students won’t care though, and I pair this song with Bee Bee Bumblebee.

I’m not aware of a game that goes with Burnie Bee. With my class we sing the song while students move (“fly”) throughout the room. By the time the song is over they need to be back in their spots.

After we do that a few times, we sit down and go into the rhyme, Bee Bee Bumblebee. 

Other Musical Uses

  • Rhythm vs beat

  • Ta, ta-di

  • La

  • Movement in free space

  • 2 bar phrase length

Doggie Doggie Where’s Your Bone

Again, if you’re not aware of this game you’re in for a real treat! Doggie Doggie is one of my young students’ favorite games to play.

Kids this age love guessing games so this song is a big hit in my room.

One student is given the “dog” role and is not allowed to look at the class. Another is secretly given the bone. All students sing the main part of the song. Then the dog sings, “who stole my bone?”, and the person with the bone answers, “I stole your bone”. When the dog turns around everyone’s hands are in their laps, so the dog cannot see who has the bone. Instead he has to guess whose singing voice he heard.

Students love it, and ask for it again and again.

Other musical uses:

  • Rhythm vs beat

  • La preparation

  • Ta, ta-di

  • Singing assessment of the soloists

Sheet Music to the Songs

Free Sheet Music Library

All of this music is available - totally free - in the Folk Song Index.

(You’ll also find more sol mi songs there, plus more melodic and rhythmic elements!)

After learning the songs, students can start to explore sol and mi in new, creative ways. Stay tuned for next time when I share some of my favorite ways to prepare this interval!