What I Teach the First Month of Kindergarten

So we’ve decided what we want to teach. We’ve chosen our musical materials. Now it’s time to plug it all in.

Today I’m sharing how I’ve planned the first month of Kindergarten.

What to Teach The First Month of Kindergarten Music_9-26 Kindergarten Music.png


My main musical goals this month are to develop steady beat, and an awareness of the 4 voices. I also want them to get used to following classroom procedures and learn how to move in our classroom space.

Nuts and Bolts:

I see my kindergartners for 45 minutes on a 6 day rotation. That means roughly 3 times a month. It’s not much time so we have to make the most of it!

Rhythm: Developing Steady Beat

These are some of my favorite songs and rhymes for developing steady beat this month:

  • Engine Engine
  • Apples Peaches
  • Chop Chop
  • Hey Betty Martin
  • Jonny Works with 1 Hammer

Pitch: Developing the Singing Voice (4 voices)

To help awareness of the 4 voices I use many of the same pieces and songs.

  • Engine Engine
  • Goodnight, Sleep Tight
  • Little Kitty Cat
  • Doggie Doggie
  • Apples, Peches

Putting It Together: A Peek at my Unit Plan

With pieces and songs all figured out, we need to decide what to do with them. That’s where my unit plan comes in.

Mix of Kodaly, Mix of Orff

This unit plan follows the large Kodaly structure of Prepare, Present, Practice. I absolutely love this approach because it makes you think about the point of each element - what does it look like broken down? Within the prepare and practice structure, typically teachers think through the physical, visual, and aural activities they want to do. That’s where the tweaks come in.

After my Orff level training this summer I decided I need a better way of incorporating the Orff process in my mostly Kodaly model. I was especially inspired by Jane Frazee’s book, Artful, Playful Mindful.

I replaced the traditional physical, visual, aural with Imitate, Explore, and Respond. I still think through the different modes of learning I ask my students to do, but with a new emphasis on individual student creation and exploration of concepts.

So far, I love it.

Here’s a peek at what part of my concept plan looks like for steady beat.


Lesson plan time!

Once this is done, the easy part begins. I simply transfer these ideas into my lesson plans and create a teaching process. 

Thinking through how I will introduce each activity is really valuable. I may choose to repeat an activity to give students enough time to explore it. Or I might combine more than one activity in each class.


Of course you know that sometimes unit plans go the way you expect and sometimes they don’t. Information from the pre-assessment may cause me to tweak or extend some activities. Alternatively, information from the pre-assessment may cause me to zoom through material on which I would have spent large amounts of unnecessary time.

The details in this unit plan will change, but the process stays the same. It’s so exciting to look at my Kindergarteners and know that I have a plan for their learning, ways of assessing them, and pathways toward their own unique creativity.

If you think the unit plan would be helpful to you, I'd love for you to check it out. You can find it here.

Happy teaching!


A Free Orff Arrangement for Practicing Rhythm vs Beat

Miss White had a fright
In the middle of the night
Saw a ghost eating toast
Halfway up the lamp post!

Here's a fun arrangement to use with your young students, just in time for Halloween!


About the Arrangement

The name of the game here is simplicity! 

I can't even begin to tell you the number of times I've looked at an arrangement and thought "Oh yeah, we can learn that in time!" and grossly underestimated the amount of time it would take to put the arrangement together. 

This arrangement is designed for simplicity. This is made to be able to be thrown together in a few lessons if your students have already been practicing rhythm vs beat. 


For this arrangement I've given the steady beat to the metals (finger cymbals and triangle). Membrane instruments have the rhythm (congas and bongos). This was to give just one more layer of differentiation of the rhythm and beat through the texture of instruments. The wind chimes add some spooky ambiance to make this perfect for halloween.
That said, you could use whatever instruments you have available in your classroom as well! 

A Learning Plan: 

Rhythm vs Beat

Before students play this arrangement they should already know the terms rhythm and beat, and be comfortable speaking and playing both

They'll also need to be very familiar with the rhyme, Miss White

Rhythm vs Beat

1. Speak and Clap

Have one half of the room speak and clap the rhythm of the words while the other half speaks and claps the steady beat. Make sure to switch the groups so that all students can practice both parts.

Be sure students speak this in their spookiest, most expressive, whisper-like voices!

2. Audiate and Clap

This flows very easily after students are comfortable speaking and clapping rhythm and beat. Simply ask them to "speak the rhyme in their heads" and repeat the activity from step 1. 

3. Put on instruments! 

Now the fun begins! The transition to instruments should be an easy one but always take time to remind students about how to treat the instruments with respect (remind them instruments are not toys).

They'll simply have the instrument "speak for them" while they speak the rhyme in their heads. Lastly, you can add the wind chimes. 

For an Extension: 

For an extension of this arrangement, have students create some ostinati they make themselves. Something like "Ah! A ghost" or "Ghost eating toast" would be perfect. These can even go on instruments if you have time!

Click to download the arrangement! 

Happy teaching!