Spring break is over. Testing is in full swing in many schools. What kind of projects will keep the students’ attention? Here are four great blog posts with ideas for end-of-the-year projects that your students will love.

Juba and Folk Instruments

My Floating Down the River blog has a post about a great project my 6th graders have always loved – a unit on Juba using folk instruments. It could also be used in younger or older grades. Be sure to talk about the history behind Juba, which makes it very interesting. The song and hand clapping can be challenging. I always teach the song well first. Then I add the Juba hand clapping slowly. Some students will have trouble with it. Do your best to encourage them to work slowly at it and then only add the singing once they are good at the clapping. Be warned that the Juba hand motions are VERY contagious, so they will take it back to the classroom and to the playground. That’s a good thing in my book, but the regular classroom teachers were telling me they wouldn’t stop. Oops.

Once they have learned the instruments and Juba hand clapping, you bring out folk instruments one at a time. I show them videos clips with some history of the instruments by David Holt, an expert in folk instruments, such as the washboard, spoons, paper bags, and more. It is easy to find spoons from home and buy a set of paper bags. I have accumulated washboards a little at a time or it would be a good Donors Choose project.

This project could take weeks. I eventually divide the kids into parts with the best at Juba hand clapping on that part and others on paper bags, spoon, and washboards. We practice and end up with a performance worthy ensemble. It is great fun!

Click on this link for video clips that teach about each part –  Best End of the Year Lessons: Juba and Folk Instruments

5 Easy Crafts for Music Class

If your students are fried from testing and need some more hands-on activities that are really fun, check out these crafts from The Yellow Brick Road.

  1. Make an origami piano. How cute is this! This is a fun hands-on paper-folding activity that your kids are sure to love! Be sure to talk about the country of Japan while you’re at it.
  2. Make a didgeridoo out of a cardboard tube and a balloon, plus paint for decorating them. Be sure to talk about Australia and its various cultures and show your students where it is. It can become a cross-curricular activity by using the book, “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”. I did this for a school literacy day and actually brought in a didgeridoo and played it (as well as I could) for the kids. It is a very difficult instrument to play.
  3. Make some Hawaiian Pu’ili – Hawaiian Rhythm Sticks. You use a paper towel cardboard tube, electrical tape, and stuff for decorating. I LOVE this! Every year, I teach the Hawaiian stick song with my first graders. How fun would this be – to create authentic-looking sticks. Be sure to teach about Hawaii while you’re at it!
  4. Make some Fiesta Shakers, perfect for your Cinco de Mayo celebrations on May 5th. This is the PERFECT time to get those clearance priced plastic eggs (I just saw some at Walmart this morning). Be sure to talk about the history behind Cinco de Mayo.
  5. Make a buzzing instrument- a perfect STEM night project. Be sure to talk about the science behind the sound and find a song you can sing while accompanying with your buzzing instrument!

I absolutely love all of these crafts! Check them out by clicking on this link – 5 Easy Crafts for Music Class

Elementary Music Lesson Ideas for the End of the Year

If you are looking for some fun end of the year smaller activities, look at two blog posts from The Organized Chaos.

The first blog post features the following shorter activities for the music classroom:

  1. Hula Hoop Conductors – One student conducts the students singing or playing instruments by doing movements in and out of hula hoops on the floor.
  2. Going Downtown – This is a game where students take turns copying each other as they “travel” down an imaginary street.
  3. Soundscapes – Soundscapes are like landscapes but with sound. You try to evoke a certain image with a combination of sounds.
  4. Silly Songs – These are several songs that are just pure fun.

Check out these activities by clicking on this link – Elementary Music Ideas for the End of the Year

Elementary Music Lesson Ideas for the End of the Year Part 2

The second blog post features the following longer activities for the music classroom:

  1. Country of Focus – Choose a country of focus to study for one month.
  2. Camping Theme – Sing some fun camp songs. My imagination is running wild with all you could do with this!
  3. Music Careers Project – This is great for 4th grade and up. You allow the students to research a career in music that they are interested in and give them an opportunity to experience what a career in that area would be like.

Check out these longer activities by clicking on this link – Elementary Music Lesson Ideas for the End of the Year Part 2

Check out products from The Crew that will help you at the end of the year by clicking on this link – Great End of the Year Packs for Your Classroom

Linda Seamons

Linda has over 30 years’ experience teaching early childhood and elementary music, as well as Jr high and high school band. She is also a teacher-author and blogger for Floating Down the River. She is fully certified in Kodály concept and also has enjoyed Orff and World Drumming certification.