TK (Pre-Kindergarten) Lessons
Our lessons are based on recommended Core Knowledge Curriculum by grade. However, these lessons are suitable for a wide range of ages, so we encourage exploration across grades. A few lessons, such as "What Is Sound / Music" overlap between grades, and may have similar content, but are useful to reinforce and expand learning.
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Music Genres - Coming Soon
World - Coming Soon
Lesson 1 - What Is Sound ?
"What is sound?" Objects that vibrate make sound. Sound always comes from something that is vibrating. Vibration is a kind of fast back-and-forth motion. When the vibration stops, the sound stops. Objects can be made to vibrate by plucking, hitting, blowing and much more. When an object vibrates, it moves the air next to it. Air is made up of tiny molecules so small we can’t see them without microscopes. Sound moves by these molecules bumping into each other, which carries the sound to our ears.
Sound moves in waves like when you throw a rock into a pond and the waves ripple out from the rock in all directions. Waves come in all different sizes and shapes. This affects how loud and what kind of sound we hear. The more energy put into a sound, the more vibrations are created. More vibrations will make the sound louder and go farther.
The following video is a look at how vibration produces sound:
1) Guitar oscillations captured with phone. Oscillations are back and forth movements, such as those caused by the vibration of a guitar string.
2) Drinking glass music. Musician lightly taps the side of a glass with a spoon to make musical sound. The pitch (how low or high the note is) depends on how much water is in the glass.
3) "Wee Willie Winkie"
4) "Higglety Pigglety Pop!"
5) "Hickety Pickety, My Black Hen"
6) "Head Shoulders Knees and Toes" - Some songs encourage us to follow along with movement. Stand up and try this classic.
Here are a couple of tongue twisters. It's all right if you can't keep up, it's just fun to try!
7) "Peter Piper"
8) "Betty Botter Bought Some Butter"
Play the animal sounds below. Animals commonly communicate via sounds. Sound travels differently in the air vs. the water. Echolocation is used by animals like sonar, to bounce sound waves off of objects to see how far away they are. Bats are practically blind and use echolocation to "see" by hearing. Note the similarities in the "clicking" sounds used by bats and dolphins.
Lesson 2 - What Is Music?
What is Music? That's both an easy and difficult question. Music is a group of sounds made in a way people hear as a pattern. The sounds fit together in a special way, like when we put letters together to make words. People have likely made at least basic music since they first walked the Earth. Beat is something we feel very early on, and even babies respond to music.
Why do people make music? People make music to have fun, communicate, worship, express their feelings, share in a way that goes beyond words, and so much more. Music begins with beat and rhythm. They are the foundation of music.
The following video is a look at examples of instruments we use to play music:
1) "Do-Re-Mi" - Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music - 1965 - Listen to the notes that make up a musical scale.
2) "Happy Birthday" - There are lots of musical styles, and each style can make a common song sound different or unique.
3) "There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly" - Music can be used to tell a story or make us laugh.
4) "Rain Rain Go Away"
5) "Peas Porridge Hot" - Does anyone really like it in the pot nine days old? This is called a medley. It's when more than one song is mixed together into a single song.
6) "Here We Go Loopy Loo" - Stay standing and dance along to the instructions.
7) & 8) "Six Little Ducks" - Talk about the differences between these two versions. The first one is traditional and the second has a more modern rap feel. We all have our own preferences. Sometimes it's fun to hear a song we know in a different way. Other times we may not like it as much as we are happy with the original.
Singing without musical accompaniment is known as a cappella. In addition to singing, the voice can produce percussion, often known as beat boxing. Pentatonix is a well known example of an a cappella group. Each member of the group has a special vocal range. When blending low and high notes, as well as beats, the combined sound fills the range a person can experience, which is more satisfying.
Play the video above to hear the a cappella group Pentatonix sing the evolution of music.
Lesson 3 - Moving to Music
When we hear music, for many of us our bodies just want to move. Our toes might tap to the beat, our heads nod, our bodies sway--it's like we're born to move to music! This is great, as exercise is vital to our bodies and mind. The beat is the thing we're most likely to move our bodies to. It sets the pattern that helps us make special repeated moves while dancing.
We don't need music to dance, but it sure helps! Dancing can be alone or in groups. It is the coordinated movement of our bodies usually set to music or beat. This means we have a plan and direction for our movements and match them to the sound.
The following video is a look at styles of dance over the years:
The following songs involve different types of movement. Sometimes the song gives us instructions on what to do. Other times, we can pretend we're acting out the song. For example, we can hold our arms like we're holding a baby.
1) "I'm a Little Teapot"
2) "Teddy Bear"
3) "Jump and Jiggle"
4) "This Is the Way the Lady Rides"
5) "Ride a Cock Horse"
6) "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush"
7) "Hush Little Baby"
8) "Ring Around the Rosy"
There are all sorts of ways we can make movements with our body. One special way is to pretend that something is there when it is not. That is called miming. A mime is a person who acts out stories and helps us picture things without using words. For example, you can pretend to ride a horse, be a teapot or hold a baby. You may already have been doing this to the songs above. This video gives examples of this technique. See if you can follow along!
Lesson 4 - What Is Beat and Clap-Along Songs
The beat is the steady pulse that you feel in a tune, like a clock’s tick. It’s the beat that you naturally clap along to, or tap your foot to. Your heart beats in a steady way similar to the beat in a song. Not all music or sounds have a steady beat.
In this video, you can learn more about beat and take a mini-quiz. See if you can tell if the sample has a steady beat or not. Pause after each sample and give a thumbs up if it does, or a thumbs down if not.
Listen for the beat in the following songs. Clap along, tap your feet, nod your head or do whatever you'd like to follow the beat.
1) "If You're Happy and You Know It"
2) "Polly Put the Kettle On"
3) "Who Took the Cookie?"
4) "A-Hunting We Will Go"
5) "Lucy Locket" - In this song, we play a game where an object is passed to the beat.
6) "Bingo" - In "Bingo" the steady beat is still there, but we may choose to skip clapping on some of the beats as part of a game.
7) "Pussy Cat" - Some beats are harder to find, but they are usually still there. In "Pussy Cat", we have a "1..2..3.." beat instead of a "1..2..3..4.." beat. Can you hear it? Pussy Cat has three beats per "measure" and three syllables, Pu-1-see-2-cat-3. A measure in music is how long we count until we start repeating from "1" again.
8) "One Potato, Two Potato"
9) "One Potato, Two Potato Game" - This song is also a classic game. Watch the video to see how it's played.
In this lesson you learned about beat, which is the steady pulse of the song that you can clap along to. In a later lesson you'll learn about tempo. It is an important topic in music, so let's take a quick look now. Tempo is how fast or slow a song's beat is. In this video, Mr. Greg talks about how tempo is the speed of the song.
Lesson 5 - What Is Rhythm?
We've learned about beat, so how is rhythm any different? First let's review beat: beat is the steady pulse that you feel in the tune, like a clock’s tick or your heartbeat. It’s the beat you hear naturally when you clap along evenly to a song.
Rhythm is trickier. It’s what happens when you combine different notes of different lengths (duration) and different strengths. If you sing a song, your words follow a rhythm. You don't sing each word the same way on a beat or you'd sound like a robot! The rhythm is a pattern in which a song's notes flow. This can be short or long, soft or strong, while the beat is even and steady.
This is all difficult to describe and easier just to hear. The following video gives an example of rhythm and how it compares to beat.
The following songs have distinctive rhythms. Instead of clapping steadily to the beat, try to clap to the rhythms. One technique is to clap on each word of a syllable. For example, follow the pattern to Hickory, Dickory Dock. Hick-or-y, Dick-or-y, Dock would be seven claps. The rhythm includes emphasis on the first syllable each time. Here we use CAPS for emphasis. HICK-or-y, DICK-or-y, DOCK. These stronger syllables should have a louder clap. That's a rhythm! They pattern is BOM-ba-ba, BOM-ba-ba, BOM. If we were a drummer, we might hit the drum harder for each "BOM". This is an example for louder/softer. Rhythms are also made with longer/shorter. See if we can find examples below.
1) "Sweet Beets"
2) "Clap and Stomp Rhythm"
3) "Diddle Diddle Dumpling"
5) "Do You Know the Muffin Man?"
6) "Clap Your Hands Song"
7) "Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater"
8) "Old MacDonald"
We've learned about beat and rhythm. In a later lesson, we'll learn about pitch. It's a really important topic in music, so let's have a peak now. In music, the pitch of a note means how high or low a note is. If you sing a note or play one on most instruments, it has a pitch. This video uses a piano to give us an idea of notes that have low, medium or high pitch.
Lesson 6 - Loud and Quiet (Dynamics)
In music, dynamics means how soft or loud the volume of the sound is at different parts. If we yell or whisper a song the entire time, that's not as interesting. During the song, it's more pleasing to hear the music grow louder and softer. Even when the whole song seems only quiet or loud, you can still often hear differences in volume if you listen carefully. Perhaps it's a few notes or a single word that is sung louder to make it stand out. As you listen to the songs below, see if you can hear how the dynamics change in each song, and how they make you feel about the music.
The following video talk more about musical dynamics.
1) "John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt" - The song gets softer and softer, except for shouting the name: "John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt!!"
2) "Rock-a-Bye, Baby" - This song is sung soft and gently, especially to help a baby sleep.
3) "You Are My Sunshine" - Louder, faster and upbeat
4) "You Are My Sunshine" - Quieter, slower and more serious
5) "An Old Person of Ware" - By Edward Lear - Introduction of the poem
6) "An Old Person of Ware" - Sung by a choir. Notice how the song has softer and louder parts for emphasis.
7) "A Tisket, A Tasket" - Sung here by Ella Fitzgerald. Listen for the "Big Band" instrument dynamics backing up her voice.
8) "Pop Goes the Weasel" - How do the dynamics change when we get to the "Pop" part?
We can communicate with each other with music, words and our movements. American Sign Language (ASL) is a language we can "speak" with our hands. It is used by many Deaf communities in the United States and elsewhere. In this video, we can learn how to recite a poem with ASL. The poem is "Singing Time" by Rose Fyleman.
Overcoming disabilities: Beethoven was deaf when he wrote one of his most famous pieces: "Ode to Joy". Andrea Boccelli is blind and is known as one of the top opera singers ever. Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles overcame blindness to record numerous hits in a variety of genres.
End of Lesson Dance Party Songs
"Shout" - The Isley Brothers - 1959 (Example of call and response.) Enjoying dancing along to this version from Just Dance Kids.
"Twist and Shout" - Written by Bert Russell in 1961. Clip is from the movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off". Ferris is lip syncing to a recording by The Beatles.
Lesson 7 - Fast and Slow (Tempo) and Fingerplay
Tempo is a musical word for how fast or slow a song is. The speed of the song changes the feel of the music. We can hear the tempo by following the beat, which is the steady pulse that you feel in the tune. Usually slow beats are calmer and faster beats are more exciting. Just like the beat of your heart is slower when you're sleeping. A typical song keeps the speed (tempo) about the same until the end. Some songs change tempo while playing, like starting slow and speeding up. The following video talks more about tempo.
Songs that change in tempo. See if students can recognize when the song changes speed.
1) "See the Pony Galloping" - In this song you can pretend to gallop and then slow down and pretend to be very sleepy.
2) "Oh Dear What Can the Matter Be?" - Lita Rosa jazzy version
3) "William Tell Overture" (finale) - This is another famous orchestral piece by Gioachino Rossini from 1829. Rossini wrote his overture inspired by the legend of William Tell. The finale is often used in film and television. It is particularly familiar through its use in the American radio and television shows of "The Lone Ranger." Kids can pretend to be on horses and gallop (carefully) around the room to the music.
4) "Open, Shut Them" - This song has both tempo changes and finger play.
Songs that involve finger play and other movement with our bodies. Have the students follow along and try to do the movements.
5) "Five Little Monkeys"
6) "Here is the Beehive"
7) "The Eensy, Weensy Spider" or "The Itsy Bitsy Spider"
8) "This Little Piggy Went to Market"
9) "The Wheels on the Bus"
Rossini wrote his overture inspired by the legend of William Tell. The finale is often used in film and television. It is particularly familiar through its use in the American radio and television shows of "The Lone Ranger" as seen in this video of the famous TV show (opening and closing theme).
The Lone Ranger is a fictional character, a masked ex-Texas Ranger who, with his Native American companion Tonto, fights injustice in the American Old West. The character has become an enduring icon of American culture. He first appeared in 1933 in a radio show.
Lesson 8 - High and Low Notes (Pitch) and Musical Rounds
In music, the pitch of a note means how high or low a note is. If you sing a note or play one on most instruments, it has a pitch. You can't sing a melody or play a tune without pitch. In music, we assign letters of the alphabet to notes of different pitch. They are "A, B, C, D, E, F and G". Once we get past "G" we start back over at "A", but we keep getting higher and higher (or lower and lower). Each set of A to G is called an octave.
The following video explains more about pitch.
1) "Two Little Blackbirds" - One of the blackbirds is sung low and one higher.
2) "Oats, Peas, Beans and Barley Grow" - Can you hear how the song raises in pitch as it goes? In this case, when the whole tune is repeated higher or lower, it means that the "key" of the song has changed.
3) "High, Low"
4) "Do Your Ears Hang Low?"
The following songs are musical rounds. Talk about how some songs are made in a way where you can sing each part of the song at the same time as the other and still sound nice. This is because the notes are made to go together in harmony. Perhaps the best know example is "Row, Row, Row Your Boat".
5) "Row, Row, Row Your Boat"
6) "Hey Ho, Nobody Home" - 16th century song
The following three rounds all use the same tune, but different words.
7) "Are You Sleeping"
8) "Frere Jacques" - This is a French song. "Are You Sleeping" is this song roughly translated to English. Here it is sung by a barbershop quartet. A quartet is four singers, just like you need four quarters to make a whole (or a dollar). This is a great example of harmony as well.
9) Where Is Thumbkin? - This could also be sung as a round, but this example does not. A round can be sung like a normal song as well. Have the students follow along with their fingers while singing.
If you remember all the way back to your first lesson, you'll recall that sound is made by vibration. The faster the vibration the higher pitch or note. The slower the vibration the lower the pitch. Not all musical instruments give notes of a particular pitch. Many percussion instruments like drums are instruments used for rhythms. They do not play tunes because they have no definite pitch. This video shows how vibrations of various objects can cause different pitches.
Lesson 9 - Melody and Lyrics
A melody is the tune or the "main" notes of a song. It is likely what we hear first in a song, and what we normally sing along to when a song is played. A melody is a series of notes played together with different duration (short and long notes) and pitch (low and high notes).
Lyrics are simply the words to a song. If you wrote a poem and then made a song out of your poem, you'd say those words are the lyrics to the song.
The following video talks more about melody.
1) "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, Baa, Baa Black Sheep, The Alphabet Song" - All three of these famous songs have the same melody, but very different lyrics! Here's all three songs rolled into one.
2) "Nursery Rhymes Medley" - A medley is when more than one song is sung together in a single song. This is Nat King Cole singing the following: Mary Had a Little Lamb/London Bridge/Go In And Out The Window/Pop Goes the Weasel.
3) "Merrily We Roll Along" - Recognize this tune? It is the same melody as Mary Had a Little Lamb and London Bridge.
4) "Lazy Mary" - Here it is again! I guess song writers can't get enough of it!
5) "Once I Saw a LIttle Bird"
6) "Bobby Shaftoe"
7) "To Market, To Market"
8) "Bat, Bat"
9) "Doctor Foster"
10) "There Was a Crooked Man"
11) "Mix a Pancake" - A poem by Christina Rossetti set to music.
Twelve Variations on "Ah vous dirai-je, Maman" (French for "Oh! Shall I tell you, Mama") is a piano piece composed by Mozart in 1781. The French melody first appeared in 1761, and has been used for many children's songs, such as "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star", "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep", and the "Alphabet Song". In this video, South Korean Sohyun Ko plays the Mozart piece on violin. She recorded this when she was only 8 years old!
Lesson 10 - How Music Makes You Feel
We've learned that sound is made from vibrations. We've learned that beat is a steady pulse and the rhythm is a the pattern in which a song's notes flow. We discovered that music has dynamics, or loud and soft parts. We found out about tempo, which is the speed of the song. We learned about pitch, or how high or low a note is. Finally, we talked about melody--the tune that we normally sing along to when a song is played. This is all great learning, but the most important quality to music is how it makes us feel! Listen to the following video. How does the music change to express the character's feelings?
Let Those Feelings Out!
Music helps bring out our feelings and emotions. It is a special gift we can give and receive as people across languages and cultures. It can make us feel happy or sad, silly or excited. It can lift us up when we're having a bad day, or bring us to tears. Emotions are feelings we don't want to bottle up. At the appropriate time and in a respectful way, it's important to let them go and express them. Music helps us do that. Listen to the video here and express yourself!
1) "At the Seaside" by Robert Louis Stevenson set to music.
2) "Did you Ever See a Lassie?" - first published in 1909 - circle singing game - same melody as "The More We Get Together"
3) "Oh Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone?" - Septimus Winner - 1864 - added lyrics to a German folk melody
4) "Yankee Doodle" - Yankee Doodle is a well-known American song, and early versions date before the American Revolution. It is often sung patriotically in the United States today and is the state anthem of Connecticut.
5) "Kookaburra"- Marion Sinclair - 1932 - popular Australian nursery rhyme and round. The kookaburra bird makes a sound that sounds like it is laughing
6) "The Teddy Bears' Picnic"- melody by American composer John Bratton in 1907, lyrics by Irish songwriter Jimmy Kennedy in 1932
7) "One Misty, Moisty Morning"
8) "1812 Overture" - Tchaikovsky - 1880 - Best known for its climactic volley of cannon fire, ringing chimes, and a brass fanfare finale. It has also become a common accompaniment to fireworks displays on the U.S. Independence Day.
Let's play a game. Do you know the story of Jack and the Beanstock? Listen to the music in this video. What part of the story do you think would fit best with this music? If you're not sure, ask yourself how does each piece of music make you feel?
What is your favorite kind of music and why? Do you sing or play an instrument? What instrument are you looking forward to learning in the future?